Rick Popely: Ask.Cars.com
3:50 PM PST, January 15, 2013
What is the essential difference in the engine and other technical features between a Jetta and a Golf? Why is the Golf considered more reliable than a Jetta? Also is there such a thing as a Golf wagon or is it only a Jetta SportWagen?
The Golf and Jetta are built on the same front-wheel-drive platform and share engines, transmissions and other major components. Among the differences is that Golf comes as a two- and four-door hatchback and has a 101.5-inch wheelbase (distance between front and rear wheels), and the Jetta is a four-door sedan with a 104.4-inch wheelbase, giving it more interior room.
One key difference between U.S. and Canadian models is that on our side of the border Volkswagen sells the Jetta SportWagen, and on your side it's called the Golf Wagon. Same car and same engine choices of 2.5-liter gas or 2.0-liter diesel, but different names. The Jetta SportWagen/Golf Wagon has the same 101.5-inch wheelbase as the Golf hatchbacks, so maybe Volkswagen Canada deserves props for making the right call on the name. We're not so sure about the trim-level designations used in Canada, however, such as Trendline (the base model) and Comfortline (next step up).
In addition to the engines mentioned above, in either country you can get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in lower-priced versions of the Jetta and a turbocharged 2.0-liter gas four-cylinder in the Golf GTI and Jetta GLI. U.S. and Canadian buyers also can opt for the all-wheel drive Golf R, powered by a souped-up 2.0-liter turbo four.
As far as reliability, Consumer Reports magazine gives the Golf higher marks than the Jetta. Consumer Reports bases this on responses to owner surveys it receives from subscribers, and this apparently reflects the feedback they have received.