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2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI Review

VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI MPG-o-Matic Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sportwagen Review Summary: . The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sportwagen raises the bar among the most fuel-efficient cars, by virtue of its wonderful clean diesel engine, delivering a winning combination of performance, utility, and fuel economy, in a fun-to-drive package.

The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI is the first small car in America to offer a highly-efficient and powerful clean diesel engine, and is available in both 4-door sedan and Sportwagen variants.

All 2009 Jetta TDIs are equipped with a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder turbocharged clean diesel engine, mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Jetta TDI’s common rail direct injected inline four produces 140 horsepower (HP) and 236 foot pounds of torque.


The official mileage estimates for the 2009 Jetta TDI are 30 city / 41 highway miles per gallon (MPG) for the manual transmission and 29 / 40 for the automatic.

We put over 550 miles on our six-speed automatic 2009 Jetta TDI Sportwagen review unit, and had no problem exceeding the official estimates, scoring an average of 46 MPG on the Interstate highway, with 35.6 MPG combined. Test period temperatures ranged from the thirties through the sixties, with freeway speeds between 60 and 72 miles per hour (MPH).

The Jetta TDI’s turbo diesel and six-speed DSG automatic performed superbly, providing a fuel efficient alternative to the less-than-thrilling performance of some hybrids. When you mash on the Jetta TDI’s accelerator, the car responds with a whoosh unlike a conventional gas engine or hybrid system, as the transmission runs through the gears. Drop the transmission into manual Tiptronic mode and it’s a blast to take charge.

The TDI’s multi function trip computer is controlled by steering wheel stalk and provides both average fuel economy and real-time MPG gauges in an easy to read orange LCD. The TDI is well-suited to light-footed driving and the real-time display is a big help in getting the lightest touch on the throttle.

The trip computer also provides a compass and radio station display, along with data on trip time, trip length, average trip speed, and miles to empty (which, with the TDI, can be quite considerable indeed).

We saw striking differences in fuel economy when driving with the cruise control on and off at highway speeds. We were able to crack the 50 MPG barrier on one highway circuit by driving with the cruise control off with a target speed of 60 miles per hour (in a range from 55-62 miles MPH). We’d expect mileage to increase once the diesel engine is broken in … our test unit was delivered with just over 1000 miles on the clock.

55-62 MPH, Cruise Off, (low sixties) – 51.6 MPG
60 MPH Cruise On – (low sixties) 46.9 MPG
68 MPH Cruise On – (high twenties) 41 MPG
60-72 MPH Cruise Off – (high twenties) 44.5 MPG

To get the best fuel economy from the Jetta TDI, upshift early (if you’re in sport mode), drive conscientiously with a light foot, lift off the throttle whenever practical, watch the real-time MPG gauge, and let inertia do its thing … the DSG automatic is your friend.

The cabin is comfortable and well designed for long road trips. Front bucket seats feature manual lumbar support and fully adjustable heating. The Sportwagen’s enormous optional panoramic sunroof gives the interior a wide-open feeling.

There are two 12-volt outlets – one in the center console and the other in the cargo area. A 115-volt power outlet is tucked into the back of the console providing easy access for rear seat passengers.

An auxiliary audio input jack is standard. iPod users may want to spring for the optional center console USB hookup. The optional satellite navigation package includes the USB port and provides a large touch screen for audio control. While we did not have the opportunity to test the iPod controls or nav system, due to a delivery glitch, we plan to fully test the system in the coming months.

All-in-all, we loved the Jetta TDI Sportwagen. This car delivers on the clean diesel promise, with a wonderful combination of performance, handling, comfort, and fuel economy. While our only nit to pick is the lack of OEM steering wheel audio controls and Bluetooth, it is available as a dealer installed option.

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37 comments ↓

#1 2009 Jetta TDI: Automatic Transmission on 02.22.09 at 1:49 pm

[…] The 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI’s optional automatic transmission is one of its best features. While it doesn’t provide trendy paddle shifters, it does provide complete control with a Tiptronic slapstick shifter and six speeds that allow you to get the most out of the engine. While we normally prefer manual transmissions, the six-speed auto only added to the pleasure of reviewing the 2009 Jetta TDI Sportwagen. […]

#2 An Anti-Diesel Conspiracy in America? on 02.24.09 at 10:00 am

[…] piece opens and closes with the word from Volkswagen. The 2009 Jetta TDI is flying off the lot. VW put in the work to bring a clean diesel engine to the States and the […]

#3 Keith Walling on 03.09.09 at 4:54 pm

Recently visited UK why can we not get Eos, Tiguan, Passat CC in TDI form as available in UK now that the engines are clean

#4 jeff on 03.17.09 at 1:08 am

Some dealers are reeeeealllly proud of these cars! So proud they are packing them with $2500 of added dealer profit. Buyers beware. I have been trying to buy one for a while, but refuse to pay the markup. Some dealers are also lying about the msrp as well. Do not pay this, unless you are willing to throw money down the drain. I have been trying to find one with the roof system and manual, which the article neglects to mention, which is a six-speed. I currently have an 06 Beetle TDI and love it, but it is small for my family.

#5 Hybrids Sit Unsold While Diesels Command a Premium on 03.17.09 at 1:03 pm

[…] can understand the demand. Our week-long 2009 VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI test drive proved the point … this is one of the best vehicles for the money in America […]

#6 David on 04.11.09 at 3:53 pm

I’ve had my Jetta wagon now for almost 2 months and it’s finally broken in. I’m averaging about 40 miles per gallon and thrilled about it. Coming out of F-150 w/ 11 miles per gallon, I feel like I need to go to confession. The car rides good and feels safe. The bucket seat are a bit small but everything else is wonderful. I’m very happy about buying this car, clean diesel and the gov’t is giving back $1300 on your taxes. Lots of room in the wagon, handles good in city or highway. Yes you pay a bit more for diesel but the mileage out weighs the cost. We got very lucky and did not have to wait for our car, the dealer had one the next day that was not ordered and we took it that same day. The interesting part was the next days as we were coming to pick it up, a person wanted my car and was willing to pay $1000 over sticker. If that does not tell you whats what about the mileage and demand, nothing will. We looked at the Toyota hybrid but it was just way to light and did not feel safe like the German style cars. VERY HAPPY DRIVER!!!!!!

#7 Brandon on 04.16.09 at 2:30 pm

Alright guys… The fact that you are blogging about the markup online kinda proves how high demand these TDI’s really are. I don’t think its a ripoff… It’s basic supply and demand. You are just CHEAP:) And cheap people don’t deserve these cars… Go look at a Kia or something…

#8 Cheapskate on 05.10.09 at 2:24 pm

Let the dealers who mark up keep there cars. I am sure Toyota will sell me a car that’s better anyway. Nothing better than a ripoff dealer trying to jack the price.

#9 Dave on 05.28.09 at 8:59 pm

Once again, Detroit has been asleep at the switch. Fiat has a “cubo” (like the Nissan cube) that is a turbo diesel that gets about 62 mpg. But Americans want performance too, so the hybrid leaves them wanting. It certainly costs less to refine diesel fuel than gasoline, but the gov’t has discouraged buying diesel vehicles by slapping huge taxes on diesel fuel. The truckers (and eventually, the consumers, us) must pay this tax. Why not just set emission standards and let the market produce products. Let engineers run car companies, not marketers and MBAs (I am both an engineer and an MBA so I can say that). Something tells me that engineers run Audi, Daimler Benz, VW, BMW, Honda, Toyota, and Nissan (I know that Ghosn runs Renault and Nissan, and he is an engineer). Really, really sad what happened to Westinghouse, Chrysler, and now GM – I wonder if Ford can be far behind. When will Americans realize that our standard of living is based on our ability to produce value. When that is gone, everything (retail, sports revenue, charity, tax base) is gone. Commerce drives everything. … enough, sorry.

#10 dan on 06.06.09 at 7:41 am

Detroit was not asleep at the switch. It’s called a recession and the fact they had invested money in bad places; they became greedy chasing short term profits and intentionally made big suv’s. In the days past the government had higher taxes on diesel because it was extremely high in sulfur content but new diesel technology allow for much less pollution. The US gov should review this diesel tax.

“Let engineers run car companies, not marketers and MBAs (I am both an engineer and an MBA so I can say that). ” Really? I personally would not want an engineer to run anything except a project. It’s not that we Americans cannot run companies or make good products but short term gains have trumped common sense.

As for the European counterparts take into consideration Europe is FAR more liberal than America will ever be! Oh by the way, Henry Ford did not even have a HS diploma and could not engineer anything but people to work for him. Worked out well I would say!

#11 JasonT on 06.17.09 at 3:32 pm

Great review and comments. I’m currently looking to purchase the sportwagen, and having a terrible time finding stock in Northern California.

Maybe I’m just being picky in the options I want???

Anyway, I had a quick question or two regarding the model you tested… what size wheels did it have? I’m guessing smaller wheels will deliver the best fuel economy. Do you know of any test data available for 16, 17, and 18″ wheels?

Thanks again.

#12 Richard W. Bricker on 09.28.09 at 6:02 pm

I have had 3 VW diesels since 2000 and obviously like them except the trip computer always averages 15% high when compared to dividing miles driven by fuel used. A marketing strategy I don’t appreciate. I have to question mileage reported in various reports and expect that most of them are from the mileage computer and so are a built in exageration.

#13 mpg-o-editor on 09.28.09 at 7:57 pm

@Richard – Our combined mileage figures are calculated from tank fills, using the same exact pump whenever possible. Our highway mileage figures do rely on the data supplied by the in-car computer. At some point in the future, we’d like to increase our test periods to accomodate extended highway testing.

#14 Richard W. Bricker on 09.28.09 at 9:22 pm

Your approach is correct and I commend you. I was primarily refering to individuals many of who are inclined to take as gospel anything derived electronically. I was very pleasantly surprized to receive a response. Thank you.

#15 mpg-o-editor on 09.28.09 at 10:01 pm

Many thanks, Richard! I’m at this every day of the week, for more hours than I can count. We can all get better mileage, no matter what we drive … it’s all a question of going about things the right way … 🙂

#16 Lin M. on 10.12.09 at 8:58 pm

My husband and I very close to purchasing the TDI Sportwagen–but we live in a very cold climate (sometimes it reaches 30 below here) Will the interior heat up quickly or will we be freezing for the first 20 minutes or so of driving?

Also, can you put an automatic car starter on this car?

#17 anonymous on 10.14.09 at 1:21 pm

this is to jeff, i work at a vw, and you cannot get the tdi without paying the mark-up, it just won’t happen.it’s because we know for a fact that if you don’t pay for it someone else will. these things sell so fast and so well that the likelihood of you finding a dealer that we’ll back down off the price is slim to none. it sucks but it is what it is.

#18 robert on 10.19.09 at 9:27 am

I also work for Vw, i manage a store, i sell them at list or maybe a few hundred off for local customers…the increased markup over sticer is not right. this is one thing that saturn had right, price the cars fair and if you don’t like it move on..people want you to lose your shirts selling a car then they get upset when their brother, sister or cousin looses a job because a store can’t stay in business. i have got probably 10-12 tdi wagons in and they were all sold 3 months ago, i will have my first tdi stick available for regular retail so far this model year…the demand is there and will be for a long time..

#19 ED on 10.29.09 at 12:58 pm

I just bought a JSW TDI in the Bay Area without markup. Don’t pay it! Shop around or just wait a few more months until the eager buyers have their fill and production catches up. I just checked and the cars at dealers who refused to sell to me without markup are still sitting on their lots.

#20 anonymous on 11.10.09 at 10:50 pm

ED, what dealership did you buy yours? I’ve been in RC and they want $4k over sticke which I’m refusing to pay…

#21 JV on 12.05.09 at 11:19 am

Just bought 2010 JSW TDI here in PA, just outside of Philly. I agonized over the purchase of this car. So far I love it. It was hard to find with DSG but no glass roof (I hate the sun) but once I did I pounced on it. I paid 200 below sticker but that was just because it was from younger brother’s high school pal. It was sticker if not for that but no mark-up discussed, offered or implied.

#22 PJ on 12.14.09 at 1:30 pm

This is my second TDI. My first one was a ’99 golf. It got a consistant 50 MPG. The new ’09 was advertised to get 58MPG. I am getting between 38 to 44 with almost 16K miles. I was wondering if anyone is getting over 50 MPG’s.

#23 Pepe on 12.24.09 at 8:16 pm

Mark-up, blah! Mark-ups are a big joke. Best to wait it out or keep looking. If they refuse, it’s their loss. More and more people are dissing Mark-Ups as robbery. I think I can hear a lawsuit coming up, am I right? I hope so!

TDI’s the best. We’ll demo-drive it to get the feel of it. Real soon.

#24 Jesse on 01.01.10 at 6:02 pm

Have had my TDI sportwagen (manual) since March– I was on the waitlist for 8 months but paid sticker price and got a discounted dealer installed iPod adapter (better than the factor iPod connector because you get to keep the stereo plug auxiliary input). I’ve averaged 37mpg overall without being light on the accelerator… to address a comment above, my calculated fuel economy from logging my fillups matches the trip computer exactly. One of my concerns was cold weather startups and I’m happy to report no problems on a recent -10F Vermont morning. I LOVE this car.

#25 Vince on 02.11.10 at 11:13 pm

I am considering this vehicle also. One question, how’s the AC? It gets 100+ degrees here frequently during summer. My co-worker’s Passat can’t cool his car enough. Anyone with first hand experience with the AC in hot weather?

#26 Professor Fugi on 03.19.10 at 4:29 pm

I have had the Sportwagon TDI for 11 months and three weeks. With regards to AC, is very good, however, from a parked car position in the sun, does a little longer than other vehicles to cool down. Same holds true with heat in winter. Both (seemingly) take a little while longer than other cars I have perchased; Neither falls into the cateqory of unbearable. I have been getting GREAT fuel economy in all weather conditions. With the AC on drops a bit. I needed to get to (bought new – 13 miles on odometer) 8500 mile mark to where car started to get that great mileage – Towit, business has me making a regular run from Columbus, Ohio to Cincinnati, Ohio and running around 70 – 75 mph I have been average plus/minus 1 of 52 MPG – will type again 52 MPG. Check with on board readings against fill ups and the number is accurate.

#27 Christine on 05.08.10 at 2:27 pm

I have had my 2010 TDI Jetta Sportswagen, 6 spd. manual, for 6 weeks and love it! I have been averaging 45 mpg overall, with a very impressive 55 mpg on a highway trip. This is actual calculating, not the computer, and I feel like I am telling tall tales about the mileage. After having the Passat wagon for 9 years, with using the premium fuel with about 18 mpg, this car is incredible! I did pay sticker (internet)price, no markup and had to wait 2 1/2 months as I didn’t want a sunroof. It was well worth the wait! I just hope it likes NH winters!!

#28 Volkswagen Jetta Gas Mileage on 06.27.10 at 10:32 am

[…] We spent a week road testing a 2009 Jetta TDI and found the car to be well worth the wait. Check out our Jetta TDI Sportwagen Review: […]

#29 Kevin on 08.14.10 at 5:54 pm

I purchased a new 2010 JSW TDI DSG automatic in October of 2009 from Mico at Royal Motors in San Francisco at list price – no mark up at this dealer. After 10 months and 10,500 miles I still LOVE this car. On 3,000 mile highway road trip vacation this summer at 65-75 mph with a roof top cargo box was 39 mpg – calculated, not trip computer. Computer reading is usually 10-15% above calculated figure. Highway trips w/o roof box at 55-65 mph are typically at the advertised 42 mpg w/ cruise control on. Since purchase my overall calculated mileage is 36 mpg in combined city/highway driving. Oh, and the driver room in this car is far better than many small cars – I am 6′-5″ tall and this car is actually comfortable.

#30 Jason Carpp on 10.09.10 at 12:06 pm

Who needs paddle shifting? I prefer either fully-manual shifting or fully automatic shifting. Or how about a cvt transmission? Either of those would work with such a car as this. I’d buy a VW TDI if available where I live. Fuel economy, for me, is more important than all out acceleration.

#31 JR on 10.16.10 at 9:53 am

I have a Jetta TDI Wagon. Originally I was getting 47+ highway mileage, calculated. For the past 8 months or so i’m getting <40 mpg. I brought it to the dealer and they said tough luck – no engine errors so there's nothing they can do. What gives? I always buy my gas from the same place.

#32 mpg-o-editor on 10.16.10 at 10:15 am

@JR – Something had to have changed somewhere. Have you added a roof rack or changed your highway speed/route? The good folks at the TDIclub.com forum are likely to have some ideas …

#33 Matt on 01.16.13 at 6:27 am

Hello all, I have a 2011 JSW TDI with the DSG. I bought it used with 17k miles. I have driven it for about a 1k miles now and in my mostly city driving (traffic) i only get about 25 mpg. In a mix highway and city i get about 32mpg. Is this normal? The temperatures during this time have been between 20 and 30 degrees farenheit. I read up that diesel engines get better milage with time. Is that true? Anyone else have the same experience?

#34 mpg-o-editor on 01.16.13 at 7:59 am

@Matt – Cold weather and city driving are tough on MPGs. How many miles/minutes are your typical driving cycles? With a short cycle, the engine never fully warms up. At 17K, your TDI should be settling in, but you might want to check in with the TDIClub forum.

Here’s one experiment to try …

The next time you’re on the highway for an extended period (over 10 miles or so), reset your average MPG gauge as soon as you get onto the highway. Set your cruise control, if possible. After you’ve covered a suitable distance, the display will provide a good idea of how efficiently the car is running.

Highway cruising speeds have a significant effect on MPGs, as well. Keep track of how fast you’re cruising vs the average MPG.

#35 Dick Starita on 02.13.14 at 12:42 pm

I have had my Jetta Sportwagen for a year and a half. There is some confusion re the transmission. The DSG is an Audi origination 6-speed MANUAL 2 clutch gearbox which can be shifted by the computer, where it gets on average 48 mpg in town and 55mpg on the highway driving at 75. It drops rapidly above that speed due to injection design and drag.
Traffic lights will kill you, losing 2-3 mpg each stop.

#36 Rudy on 02.16.14 at 9:18 am

I got a VW ’13 Jetta TDI drove from X-4 NJTPK to X-15 cruise on at a 68mph and got 51.1mpg. This car is awesome! Also, I love the power it has. If one drive smart enough and not be a “speed-craze” driver, one save a lot of gas money. It will be hard for me to buy another gasoline vehicle again after having this TDI!

#37 Bill on 08.21.14 at 7:28 am

We purchased a 2010 Sportwagen in Oct. 2009. We loved it a first. It has plenty of power and was fun to drive until I had to start servicing it myself. It is very expensive to maintain. The 10000 mile oil changes are great, but you have to use an oil that is VW certifed. The oil, filter and new drain plug was $50 from ID Parts. The DSG transmission had to be serviced every 40000 miles. The fluid and filter would have cost me $115. It is a very strange transmission to service and I did not trust my self to do it even though I have lots of experience with auto maintenance so I payed $ 300 to have it serviced. The final straw was when the Diesel Particulate Filter in the exhaust clogged up at 96000 miles and cost $2000 to replace. Yes the DPF does clean itself over time the ashes from burning off the material collected on the filter will eventually clog up every DPF and the only thing to do is replace it. Yes it is a great car, but you will not really save money by driving it.

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