CARS.COM — Call us crazy, but Cars.com just welcomed the problem child from Volkswagen’s diesel scandal to our long-term fleet: a 2013 Jetta SportWagen TDI. Under the hood of model-year 2011 to 2014 SportWagen TDIs is the diesel engine that likely will require extensive modifications to make the Jetta’s emissions legal. Volkswagen’s proposed fixes haven’t gone over well with regulators, so a final fix and whether TDI models’ stellar fuel economy, mileage or performance will suffer from the fix still are unknowns.
Related: VW Diesel Recall
Those unknowns are exactly why we bought one. We’ll measure acceleration, horsepower, torque and fuel economy as the car exists now in pre-recall mode, and we’ll repeat the same tests when Volkswagen releases an approved remedy. As with most TDIs, our Sportwagen now is registering fuel economy and mileage higher than its EPA fuel rating.
Making the decision to buy easier was the fact that VW TDI prices are dropping like a lead balloon. The 2013 Jetta SportWagen TDI leads the way with pricing down 12.9 percent in Cars.com’s national used vehicle inventory from Sept. 15 to Dec 31. Aside from price, we sought a SportWagen TDI for its wagon usability as well as its EA189 diesel-fuel engine and first-generation exhaust-treatment filters — these components are in the bulk of VW’s scandal-affected vehicles in the U.S.
TDI Jetta SportWagens aren’t exactly plentiful in the used-car market, so we were lucky to find a fully loaded 2013 SportWagen TDI Jetta with a sunroof, navigation and six-speed dual-clutch auto transmission with 47,000 miles in the Chicago area. Or maybe it wasn’t luck and just the huge diesel scandal because right away we knew the mpg-and-emission-cheatin’ wagon had been sitting on the lot for months. Greenery in the Cars.com advertisement’s photos screamed of Jettas in summer, while we were vehicle shopping in gray mid-January.
Nearly six months had passed since this Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen went on sale at an initial price of $19,995. We stumbled onto the vehicle with pricing reduced to $16,898 and immediately went for a test drive. The turbocharged diesel car still drove like new, rode on a fresh set of Michelin tires, had good brake-pad life and a full service history. Plus, there were 20 months or 13,000 miles left on the TDI Jetta SportWagen’s powertrain warranty and it came with an aftermarket backup camera; you couldn’t get a backup camera as a factory option.
We sat down with the salesperson and negotiated another $835 off the asking price, bringing the final number to $16,063, which is a 19.7-percent drop from its original asking price. When new, a car equipped such as our Volkswagen Jetta retailed for $30,290 with destination, and we paid just $17,998 out the door with taxes, doc fees and registration.
The plan is to keep the Jetta SportWagen TDI in our long-term fleet for a few years, assuming Volkswagen doesn’t buy back and scrap our vehicle if a fix to make it emissions-legal doesn’t pan out. That would present a whole new direction for this experiment. Either way, we’ll see this Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI adventure to the end.