To the left is a picture of my knee.
What's wrong with this picture? I'm short. And my knee is brushing against the steering wheel column of the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI.
This is definitely a new one.
In my far forward position, with the seat adjusted for height, my knees were pushed so high in the air that they actually cradled the steering wheel. And since this car was a manual transmission, every time I took my foot off the clutch, my knee slammed into the steering wheel column. OUCH!
That just ain't right.
To quote Dave Thomas of the Kicking Tires blog who responded to my tweet about this curious problem:
@jill_ciminillo that's your knee? No offense but if you have issues fitting in a car it's a BIG problem. (she's tiny people)
Yes, a big problem for the petite folk. (And BTW, Dave, none taken.)
But the thing is, aside from the really uncomfortable driving position (and the bruise I had on my knee at the end of the test week), I actually kind of liked this car. For a wagon.
It was peppy and roomy while still being compact enough for a city ride. I liked the rear hatch, and the decent backseats. And I really liked the manual transmission. It was a smooth and easy shifter, and during the snow last week, I really felt like I had better control over the car with the gear options.
The test car was a TDI, which for you automotive neophytes translates into diesel. While this also translates into higher fuel prices at the pump ($2.53 for gasoline vs. $2.75 for diesel in Chicago today), it also means better fuel economy. City/highway mileage ratings for the TDI are 30/42 vs. 23/30 in the regular model. I averaged 27 mpg during the test period in highly trafficked slow snow driving with bursts of steady highway speeds.
Given the fact that I'm a known lead foot, I consider this pretty darn good.
Other than the whole steering-column-leaving-a-bruise-on-my-knee thing, there isn't much I'd change about the SportWagen. Except for perhaps the color. Gray is B-O-R-I-N-G. And other than adding a cargo net to the back so I could actually leave my gym bag in the wagon bed while parking somewhere in the city, I probably wouldn't add any additional options either.
At a pretty basic level (the test car added a sunroof), the price was just under $27K.