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  1. #1
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    Jan 2010
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    Jetta sportwagen TDI - Ski Car?

    Anyone know how it handles in the snow? I typically drive to where it is snowing the hardest in the NE, will be using good non-studded snow tires. Does it get bounced around a lot or get sucked into slush easily? I am in the process of doing research on them to decide if I want to drop $25,000 on a car and have a hard time finding credible reports on how they handle in the snow. Figured this place would most likely offer credible snow handling observations. Lots of reviews of people saying either, yeah my Jetta is great in the snow I just make sure that I have decent 4 seasons on it, or no my Jetta sucks in the snow, but it might have something to do with my tires being completely bald.

    With the long drives I make for skiing and hiking on a regular basis, the gas mileage, reliability, and storage capabilities make it seem like the perfect EC ski car to me.

  2. #2
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    Buddy bought the turbo diesel and we drove to Maine and back. 2 of us, roofbox and gear in the back, Awesome gas mileage. Handled well in snow but low clearance will cause problems in more than 10" of snow. He had snow tires on it. We got stuck in a drift on his friend's driveway up there.
    Silent....but shredly.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    northern BC
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    I drove them for 10 yrs and many kms in bad weather a great handling car with NO clearance ,I kacked 2 oil pans in the 10yrs I drove them ,but with studded HAkv's I could plow thru 12" of fresh pow

  4. #4
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    Feb 2008
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    Bolivar/Davis, WV
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    I have the 1.8 T gas jetta wagon and as others have said the handling is ok in 2-4". The traction system works fine, they need to have snow tires. I got a deal on HakV studded tires and mounted them on steel wheels. I also have a set of cables that I use on occasion. Not the best snow vehicle but if you are a careful driver it will get you there and back.
    You are the mission Bob.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    monument
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    i have a 2.0 normally aspirated gas jetta.
    it handles well enough in snow (at least i pass plenty of stick SUVs on the way to the hill) and i just have all seasons on it at the moment.
    but i echo what others have said (NO clearance).

    i would love to have a TDI, great mileage, and you can make them wicked fast.
    In search of the elusive artic powder weasel ...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    whitefish
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    809
    I agree with whats been said so far. I owned an older mid 90's jetta and my buddy has a fifth generation tdi. We were both careful/conservative drivers in the snow and got around just fine. A good set of winter/studded tires and you'd be set. Hard to get wrong with FWD + good driver + good tires.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Tahoe
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    I drive a TDI wagon. Great vehicle. I'm really happy with it. Especially for summer climbing road trips. Excellent gas mileage. Plenty of room (I've also got a box on top). Drives great. As far as the gas mileage goes, diesels get better mileage on the freeway after they've been warmed up a little. If you do a lot of this type of driving, it's a good fit. If you're doing mostly city driving, you'll see nowhere near the 40 mpg they advertise.

    In snow, it does OK but does not excel in any way, but I've got factory tires. You'll get there, but you'll be getting passed in the snow. Anything deep and you'll be needing chains. It will be above average with snow tires but it's still a 2WD.

    Our other car is an outback with AWD. It crushes it in the snow with the right tires. The deal breaker for me is out here in CA they'll stop you and make you put on chains if you don't have an AWD car during times of chain control. Chains are a huge PITA if you ask me.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    7,292
    buy a honda rob. all other brands are a compromise as far as reliability and costs to run go. my old 95 accord wagon crushed it in the snow with dunlop non-studded snows with close to 20k a season from nh to the chic chocs to utah to west virginny from year to year.

    i've owned vw, subaru, and others and nothing comes close to a honda. my crv with 4wd has been amazing and to put snows on a 4wd vehicle is overkill unless you suck at driving in winter conditions.

    whats wrong with the ford? i was stoked to see you rockin that thing!

    wanna ski this week?

    rog

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Great North East
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    188
    Can you get them with 4-Motion? If so that seems like it would be a benefit for your uses.

    I drive a Mazda Protege w/ dedicated snows (worn Haks on back, Nordfrost on front) and it does everything I ask. I also live in MA and likely do a lot of the same driving as yourself (up into North East Kingdom, Presidentials, etc). This was my very first front wheel drive car, and I am used to cars that excel in the snow (rear-engine VW Bug, Porsche 911, Jeep Cherokee x 2) so I was worried it wouldn't be able to handle what I wanted. While it's no Jeep Cherokee in the snow, the mileage more than makes up for it on most trips! Rooftop box adds cargo room to help fit lots of gear.

    I guess my point is that most any car can be made to work sufficiently well with a skilled, cautious driver and a good set of snow tires (duh). Chains are great for closer access to trailheads in VT/NH as the roads can get sketch when you're off main routes, as I'm sure you know.

    Since Rog tossed out Honda as an alternative, I'll put a plug in for the Mazda wagons. The quality is exceptional on these cars, they have good warranties, parts and repair are inexpensive, and the driving dynamics really are great for a Japanese economy car! As much as I love German cars, I really have trouble bringing myself to get one in light of the rock-solid performance you can get from the Japanese makes. I was flat-out blown away by how connected my little Mazda feels, which I think is a result of Mazda's experience with the Miata spilling over into their other cars. I would strongly endorse at least a test drive in a Mazda wagon -- you might be impressed with how well they handle. It can certainly cover all the other bases that a Jetta can, and probably do it for a lot less $/mile over the course of your ownership. The only thing it can't do it offer you diesel - can you even buy those in MA?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    7,292

    AGREED^^^^^^^^^^

    MAZDA 3 wagons are great little cars. i dated a couple of chicks that skied every week and we'd take the mazdas a bunch. reg non studded snows and great handling=unstoppable.

    too bad they stopped making the 6 wagon. was maybe gonna replace my 5 speed accord wagon with one, but found the crv the way i wanted it.

    another great option is the toyota matrix. very reliable, inexpensive, and a bunch of room.

    rog

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Reno, up on the hill
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    I have a 2010 JSW TDI 6 speed stick. I have had it just over a year with 22K miles. I have it mounted up with snows on some Mille wheels and it has been very good. Overall mileage has been just over 40 in the summer and just under in the winter. On a 2300 mile trip from Tahoe to Summit County, we gut 37 with a 21 Cu ft Yak on top and snows. If it had 4motion, it would be about the best ski car for us.
    Click. Point. Chute.

  12. #12
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    Jan 2010
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    Not available with all wheel drive unfortunately... If it was, I would buy one in a second.

    After more research, I am a bit scared by the HPFP issues that have been reported on the new VW TDI's though. Nothing like a 8,000 repair on a car that happens at any time (reports of it happening with less than 10,000 miles). Some dealers try to blame it on the user too.

    I hear what your saying about the honda's, (and toyotas, etc) but I really want a car that can get 40 - 50 miles to a gallon though.

    As much as I would like to ski this week, I am sitting at work as we speak, sick, and trying to pur through a suddenly endless pile of work. No chance this week, maybe next week.

  13. #13
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    Jul 2005
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    Moose, Iowa
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    Quote Originally Posted by neufox47 View Post
    Not available with all wheel drive unfortunately... If it was, I would buy one in a second.

    After more research, I am a bit scared by the HPFP issues that have been reported on the new VW TDI's though. Nothing like a 8,000 repair on a car that happens at any time (reports of it happening with less than 10,000 miles). Some dealers try to blame it on the user too.
    Wow. VW tends to specialize in $9500 repairs for ridiculous problems. I googled this one and found a bunch of threads/websites dedicated to this problem. Probably not that widespread but $9500 is going to total out a bunch of cars down the road when they are out of warranty and the pumps detonate. Google the Passat W8 sometime for even more expensive and nightmarish stories.

    Sucks but I can't take that kind of risk either.

  14. #14
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    Jan 2006
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    Cyburbia & Tahoe, CA
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    Too bad they don't make a 4motion. But I'm thinking the A3 TDI with snows on it would be the perfect California snow car. I could remove the TDI badge and put a Quatro one in its place. Then just flash four fingers at the Caltrans guys at chain check and Bob's your uncle. I drove FWD cars with snows my whole life in New England. The only reason I have a 4wd car now is because putting on chains with the amount I drive in snow would be retarded. If I could afford a new car right now, no question I'd get an A3 TDI and make the aforementioned badge change.
    **
    I'm a cougar, not a MILF! I have to protect my rep! - bklyn

    In any case, if you're ever really in this situation make sure you at least bargain in a couple of fluffers.
    -snowsprite

  15. #15
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    Apr 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinecure View Post
    Too bad they don't make a 4motion.
    They do, just not sold in US (ie. VW Jetta Sportswagon is a Golf Variant and just renamed for the US marked for some odd reason).
    Quote Originally Posted by RootSkier
    You should post naked pictures of this godless heathen.

  16. #16
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    Aug 2008
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    Boston/Vermont
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    I don't have a Jetta wagon, but have contemplated getting a diesel version. Anywho, my Mazda 3 hatch with a 5 speed, 4 snow tires and loaded up with gear is a fucking champ in the snow. I've driven through many snow storms and up and down many snow roads with no issue.

    I'd say a Jetta wagon with a stick and snow tire would be a solid ski car.

  17. #17
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    Nov 2009
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    You might want to look at some of the smaller awd suv/crossover type cars too. They're getting better mileage these days and are not that crazy compared to a vw. Remember with diesel prices being about 20% higher than regular gas the 40MPG is really equal to about 32. At this point a subaru/suzuki sx4/small suv w/awd is in the same category in terms of MPG, will do well in snow, cost about the same and lack the possible $6k repair at 120k
    Take everything you like seriously, except yourselves.

  18. #18
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    Dec 2005
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    Reno, up on the hill
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    Quote Originally Posted by chatton18 View Post
    You might want to look at some of the smaller awd suv/crossover type cars too. They're getting better mileage these days and are not that crazy compared to a vw. Remember with diesel prices being about 20% higher than regular gas the 40MPG is really equal to about 32. At this point a subaru/suzuki sx4/small suv w/awd is in the same category in terms of MPG, will do well in snow, cost about the same and lack the possible $6k repair at 120k
    None of the AWD small SUV's are getting real world MPG's out of the high 20's, especially in AWD form. I came out of a 09 Forester that was getting 24MPG..if I was light on it, my 06 LEG SW was better at 27MPG bit still well below what I am getting with my TDI. Most of these small SUV's barely have over 60 Cu ft of storage compared to the Jetta which has close to 70, if they do have a good mount of volume, it is in height and not length and no chance of putting anything longer than a 175cm ski in them. As far as the repairs, it is like saying ALL Subaru's will blow head gaskets. Also, take a look at resale, VW TDI's are off the charts compared to any other car under $30K. Overall cost of ownership is less here too.
    Click. Point. Chute.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    far out
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    306
    The difficulty with these reviews is that people are talking about a "great snow car" but in totally different driving conditions. The Jetta sounds like a highway car for plowed road when clearance is not an issue. That is, it's a great highway car than can be equipped for the easiest snow driving. Surely, a Suby, Honda or Toyota with AWD would be a better snow car and a worse highway/sport car. Life's full of tradeoffs.

  20. #20
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    Nov 2003
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    Can a sportwagen TDI tow a small boat? I need to replace my gas SUV with a diesel and was thinking of going with something a little smaller. I don't tow a lot, but need to tow a Ski Nautique a couple of times a year.

  21. #21
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    May 2009
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    low clearance is only good for plowed snowy roads, bad for fresh or unplowed parking lots or potholed trailheads

    diesel is great even at $4.30/gal (!!!!) - which is what i paid just yesterday [WTF will summer be like?]

    whacked is right - you have to decide where you're going to be driving. i like my tdi passat but it's a frustrating car when the snow gets at all interesting. i'm dreaming about a truck now that my son is skiing regularly with me and we're hitting the hill more. the passat needs to be retired to city work only

    btw, i don't have the frustrating repair bills others have cited. YMMV

  22. #22
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    Dec 2005
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    We just went through one of the snowiest winters in Tahoe. While we live in NW Reno, the commute from Reno to Truckee was not bad at all, granted we took the Yukon most of the time, there were few if any times, we could not have taken the JSW (w/ 4 snows). While this might not have been the case if we lived in Tahoe Donner but for our needs, we would have been fine with the JSW and 4 fingers at chain control.
    Click. Point. Chute.

  23. #23
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    Aug 2006
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    The hardest part of owning Honda is telling your father you own one.
    Johnny's only sin was dispair

  24. #24
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    Jan 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shredhead View Post
    Can a sportwagen TDI tow a small boat? I need to replace my gas SUV with a diesel and was thinking of going with something a little smaller. I don't tow a lot, but need to tow a Ski Nautique a couple of times a year.
    It's a weight issue. I think you have 1000 lbs max, including trailer weight. 100 lbs max hitch weight. I'm under the impression that my buddy had to go aftermarket for a trailer hitch for this wagon. Had something to do with hooking up the electrical.
    Silent....but shredly.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    104
    U-Haul sells a class 1 hitch for the Sportwagon, but that is still only rated for 2000 pounds. It's not really a car for towing, though you could probably get away with towing something up to the size of a Sea-Doo Speedster.

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