The Volkswagen brand dates back to the 1930s and Hitler-era Germany. Hitler wanted a more popular, more accessible car and talked Porsche into having a go at the idea. The result was the Volkswagen Beetle, which became a huge success in Germany and, eventually, around the world. The Volkswagen Jetta Wagon, or SportsWagen, as they now call it, came from that tradition.
There were some steps in between, of course. As the Beetle dropped in popularity, VW developed the Rabbit, and after that, beginning in the 1980 model year, the Jetta Sedan. The Jetta was, like many Volkswagens before it, a huge success, becoming the best selling European car in America.
As a direct result of the popularity of the Jetta, Volkswagen introduced the Jetta Wagon in the 2001 model year. The Wagon, too, was well received by Americans, having good cargo space and front seat capacity. It was a little small in the rear seat, but large enough to fit small children comfortably, which made it a good fit as a car for young families.
That initial Jetta Wagon had a base price of $18,600. For that you got either a 2.0 liter, 115 horsepower I4 or a 2.8 liter, 174 horsepower V6 engine, both gasoline powered. They were matched with either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission, either with overdrive. Mileage was up to 24 miles per gallon in the city or 31 miles per gallon on the highway.
When the fifth generation Jetta hit the streets in the 2006 model year, the Jetta Wagon was not among them. It remained absent from the Jetta lineup until the 2009 model year, when it was reinstated as the SportsWagen.
The new SportsWagen is powered by a choice of three engines. First is a 2.0 liter, 140 horsepower I4. The second is also a 2.0 liter I4, but with 200 horsepower, and is used in the more upscale of the SportsWagen's seven basic trims. Finally, there is the 2.5 liter, 170 horsepower I5, which is somewhat unusual, but then, unusual is a VW trademark.
You can get either a five-speed or six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. In spite of the upgrade in horsepower, the best mileage is now a whopping 31 miles per gallon city and 40 miles per gallon highway. The Volkswagen Jetta Wagon of today, the SportsWagen, now sells for a base price of $19,075 - just $475 more than the original.