2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen

Much about the Jetta Sportwagen didn't surprise us: the fold-flat back seat, the nicely finished interior, the slightly sporty demeanor. But we did raise an eyebrow at the five-cylinder engine's newfound liveliness--now with 170 hp and 177 lb-ft, it's not the sulky lump we remembered. Still, the 200-hp, 2.0-liter turbo (with VW's DSG automatic) or the new 2.0-liter, fifty-state TDI (140 hp, 235 lb-ft) with DSG or a six-speed manual strike us as more tempting options. We were also surprised at the massive glass sunroof (it's an option on all trim levels); too bad the mesh shade doesn't actually create much shade. But we were most surprised by the Sportwagen's starting price--it's expected to be just under $20,000, which strikes us as good value in the small world of small station wagons.

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