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2020 Volkswagen Golf Review

A deft blend of lively handling, a high-class cabin, a large cargo hold, and plenty of advanced safety features help the 2020 Volkswagen Golf land in the top third of our compact car rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Agile handling
  • Upscale interior
  • Quiet, comfortable cabin
  • Lots of cargo space for the class
  • Low safety score for the class
  • Few optional features

New for 2020

  • Lineup condensed to one trim level
  • e-Golf discontinued
  • Additional high-tech safety features now standard
  • Infotainment upgrades
  • Shorter warranty than in recent model years

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Volkswagen Golf's #4 ranking is based on its score within the Compact Cars category. Currently the Volkswagen Golf has a score of 8.3 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 47 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.3

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.2
Performance: 8.2
Interior: 8.3
Safety: 9.2
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Volkswagen Golf a Good Car?

Yes, the VW Golf is a good compact car. Some critics say this hatchback feels almost like a luxury vehicle inside. Elements such as heated front seats and synthetic leather upholstery (both standard) contribute to its premium atmosphere. The Golf also stands out for its user-friendly tech features, enormous cargo hold for the class, and spacious, supportive seats. However, while the Golf has a fine safety score, it’s on the lower end compared to its rivals.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen Golf?

The Volkswagen Golf is one of the more expensive cars in the class, but you get a lot of bang for your buck because it comes with many upscale features. If your budget allows, this VW is worth consideration. That said, the same is true for rivals such as the Kia Forte and Toyota Corolla. Both earn slightly better safety scores and predicted reliability ratings.

There are several models in the Golf lineup. The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the sportiest member of the pack. The VW Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack are wagon body styles with even more cargo space. This automaker builds the Jetta as well, a four-door sedan that also belongs to the compact car segment. See our separate reviews for more information on the GTI, SportWagen, or Jetta.

Compare the Golf, Forte, and Corolla »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen Golf?

For the most part, it's better to buy a used Golf. This generation launched with the 2015 model, and its sweet spot falls in the 2016 through 2018 model years. These models come with a livelier base engine, an enhanced infotainment system, and advanced safety options. You'll also need to buy used if you want the all-electric e-Golf, as that trim is not part of the 2020 lineup.

For 2020, VW offers the new Golf in only one trim. It gets additional standard safety features, though these were available in older models as options. The automaker also says it will expand the compatibility of its remote app to work with smartwatches in early 2020. If these changes aren't important to you, then you can probably save some change and still get a nearly identical car if you buy a used Golf from this generation instead.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 Golf, 2018 Golf, and 2019 Golf reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used cars.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Golf »

We Did the Research for You: 47 Reviews Analyzed

Our Volkswagen Golf review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from more than 47 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety scores, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

This 2020 VW Golf review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which launched for 2015.

Why You Can Trust Us

The Best Cars team – a division of U.S. News & World Report – has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007. With more than 75 years of combined automotive experience, our editors, writers, and analysts rank a wide variety of new and used cars and issue three annual awards: Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands. To keep our recommendations unbiased, we decline expensive gifts from carmakers, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Volkswagen Golf Cost?

Prices for the 2020 VW start at $23,195. This is on the higher end of the spectrum for the compact car class.

For more information on prices, standard and available features, and trim levels, see our Which Volkswagen Golf Model Is Right for Me? section below.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our VW deals page.

Volkswagen Golf Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Golf or Volkswagen Golf GTI?

The Volkswagen Golf GTI occupies one of the top spots in our compact car rankings, and it's a better car overall than the mainstream Golf. Much of its high score is a result of its brisk acceleration and athletic handling. Many of the GTI's other specs match those of the Golf. That said, if you can't afford the extra $5,400 to buy a GTI, the Golf is a decent runner-up.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Golf or Mini Cooper?

The Mini Cooper is a lot more fun to drive than a Volkswagen Golf. It's frisky and responsive, with engine ratings that range from 134 to 228 horsepower. Additional high points include a perfect predicted reliability rating; a handsome, upmarket interior; and a generous options list that provides for lots of ways to customize your ride. However, the Mini Cooper's back seat and cargo area are cramped compared to the Golf's. Unless you need that extra space, go for the Mini.

Compare the Golf, GTI, and Cooper »

Golf Interior

How Many People Does the Golf Seat?

The Volkswagen Golf is a four-door hatchback with five seats. Though it doesn't set any records among compact cars for passenger space, adults can comfortably fit in the front and the rear seats. Heated front seats and synthetic leather upholstery come standard.

Golf and Child Car Seats

There are two full sets of LATCH connections for the rear outboard seats. The middle seat has an additional tether anchor.

Golf Interior Quality

The VW Golf has an impressive interior. It boasts high-quality seats and switchgear and features soft-touch plastics on most surfaces. Its cabin has a luxurylike finish not often seen in base models of this segment.

Golf Cargo Space

The Golf has 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space in its rear hatch. Fold down the 60/40-split back seat and this expands to 52.7 cubic feet. This is one of the largest cargo areas among compact cars, and it's even larger than what most subcompact SUVs offer.

Golf Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Golf comes with a touch-screen that recognizes smartphonelike gestures such as pinching and swiping. Connecting with your smartphone is easy, thanks to standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

For 2020, the Golf gets an enhanced version of Car-Net. In addition to providing navigation and traffic information, this system allows you to remotely start the car and check the fuel level, among other things. Car-Net now comes standard with a Wi-Fi hot spot. Later in 2020, Car-Net apps will be compatible with iOS and Android smartwatches.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Golf Performance

Golf Engine: Polished and Peppy

The 2020 Golf comes with a turbocharged 147-horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that's reasonably lively. It's paired with a six-speed manual transmission, and an eight-speed automatic is an $800 upgrade. Though both transmissions are excellent, the manual is especially engaging.

The high-performance Golf-R is not currently available. For a performance-oriented hatchback, consider the Volkswagen GTI, which we review separately.

Golf Gas Mileage: OK

With the automatic transmission, the 2020 Golf earns EPA estimates of 29 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Those are about average for the class.

Golf Ride and Handling: Comfortable and Animated

The Golf is nimble and lively, though it's tamer than sporty trims of the Mazda3 and Honda Civic. With its stable handling and smooth ride, this hatchback is ideal for daily driving. Front-wheel drive is standard. Performance upgrades – including all-wheel drive – are not available for 2020.

Read more about performance »

Golf Reliability

Is the Volkswagen Golf Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2020 Volkswagen Golf a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Volkswagen Golf Warranty

VW decreases its new-car warranty for 2020, covering the Golf with a four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Read more about reliability »

How Much Does It Cost to Insure a Volkswagen Golf?

The cost of insuring a Volkswagen Golf will depend on a variety of factors, including your deductible, the level of coverage that you want, and the type of insurance that you choose. Your age, gender, location, credit score, and driving record can also have an impact on your insurance rates. Check out our car insurance guide to find the best policy for you.

Golf Safety

Golf Crash Test Results

The 2020 Golf has a five out of five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests. 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2020 Golf the highest rating of Good in five crash tests and the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front test. Its headlights received the lowest rating of Poor for outward visibility.

The IIHS uses a different scale for grading collision avoidance features. This VW earned the highest rating of Superior for its vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system and the midlevel rating of Advanced for its vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system.

Golf Safety Features

The Golf TSI comes with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, automatic post-collision braking (which applies the brakes after a collision to help avoid secondary impacts), pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a rearview camera.

Read more about safety »

Golf Dimensions and Weight

The Golf is 14 feet long. Curb weight is not yet available.

Where Is the 2020 Volkswagen Golf Built?

Volkswagen builds the 2020 Golf in Mexico.

Which Volkswagen Golf Model Is Right for Me?

The Golf hatchback comes in only one trim: the TSI.

Spirited drivers may prefer the high-performance Volkswagen Golf GTI, which we review separately. It comes with a more powerful engine but costs about $5,400 more.

Volkswagen Golf TSI

The Golf TSI ($23,195) comes standard with a turbocharged 147-horsepower engine and a six-speed manual transmission. An eight-speed automatic transmission is available for $800.

Standard features in the TSI include synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, a synthetic leather-wrapped steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, proximity keyless access, push-button start, manual climate control, and 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

The infotainment system consists of a 6.5-inch touch screen, one USB-C port, six speakers, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and Car-Net navigation and traffic services. Smartphone integration is possible through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

Standard advanced safety features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, automatic post-collision braking, pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a rearview camera.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local VW dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

See 2020 Volkswagen Golf specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Volkswagen Golf brings together practicality and driving enjoyment. Its spacious interior and comfortable ride are ideal for everyday driving, while its lively handling keeps you engaged on your commute. That said, it doesn’t have as many optional features as its rivals do, and its safety score, while fine, lags that of its classmates. If these drawbacks concern you, consider one of the higher-rated hatchbacks or sedans in our compact car rankings.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • The Volkswagen Golf has long been one of the most overachieving vehicles in its segment. At the price tag of a mainstream hatchback, the 2020 Volkswagen Golf offers a slightly nicer interior and slightly better driving dynamics than you'd expect. … But even as it's being phased out, the current seventh-generation Golf remains one of the finer compact hatchbacks for sale in the U.S. today." -- Autotrader
  • "The 2019 Volkswagen Golf is fun, efficient, practical and more sophisticated than its price suggests. … The Golf lineup is broad, spanning from the standard 4-door Golf hatchback to the sporty GTI. … For 2019, the VW Golf hatchback gets a less powerful but more efficient new engine, plus new safety features. The updates help keep the Golf an athletic, premium-feeling alternative to mainstream rivals." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • "Right from the first door thunk, the Volkswagen Golf exudes a quality feel not found in your average econobox. The Golf has long been a cut above other small cars, being more fun to drive and finished like a more expensive German sedan." -- Consumer Reports (2018)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: February 6, 2020

Poor Sales: Volkswagen dealers moved 11.5 percent fewer Golf models last year compared to 2018. Among compact cars, the Golf sold near the bottom of the segment. Its sedan sibling, the Volkswagen Jetta, outsold the Golf well over 2 to 1.

Research more buying advice »
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