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MSRP: $21,845 - 41,495

Rankings & Research

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf ranked #9 in Compact Cars. Currently the Volkswagen Golf has a score of 8.4 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 45 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.4

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.9
Performance: 8.5
Interior: 8.5
Safety: 8.7
Reliability: TBD

2019 Volkswagen Golf Review

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf ranks in the top half of the compact car class. It's fun to drive, and it has ample space, making it a practical choice. This is a good car, but several rivals in this competitive class have more all-around appeal.

Pros & Cons

  • Handsome cabin
  • Large cargo hold
  • Lively handling
  • Numb steering
  • Infotainment screen has dated graphics

New for 2019

  • 1.4-liter base engine
  • Optional eight-speed automatic transmission
  • More standard safety features

Is the Volkswagen Golf a Good Car?

The Volkswagen Golf is a good compact car. It provides a smooth, agile ride while also delivering quick acceleration. This VW has lots of cargo room, and its infotainment system is easy to use. This hatchback has few major weakness other than the touch screen’s slightly dated graphics. The Golf doesn’t rank in the very top of its class, but that is more a testament to the strengths of rival vehicles than any faults on the part of the Golf.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen Golf?

The Golf is worth considering, but it is a bit pricier than some rivals. Higher-ranked classmates that can save you money include the Kia Forte and Honda Civic.

Compare the Golf, Forte, and Civic »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen Golf?

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf belongs to a generation that launched for the 2015 model year. Volkswagen has made a few major changes to the Golf since then. The 2016 Golf gained a new infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as several new safety features. The 2017 model dropped the two-door body style, and for 2018, Volkswagen lightly refreshed the Golf with new exterior styling, a larger touch-screen option, and a longer new-car warranty.

For the 2019 model year, the Golf receives further updates. A new 1.4-liter engine replaces the 1.8-liter turbocharged unit in earlier cars. A new eight-speed automatic transmission debuts too, and the Golf gains more standard safety features, such as blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. If those updates aren’t important to you, consider saving money by shopping for a used vehicle instead of a 2019 model.

To further research used models in this generation, read our reviews of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Volkswagen Golf. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles. 

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Volkswagen Golf »

We Did the Research for You: 45 Reviews Analyzed

To make our car rankings and reviews as consumer-oriented as possible, we do not rely on our personal opinions. Instead, we analyze hard data such as crash test results and features lists, as well as the opinions of the automotive press. This Volkswagen Golf review draws on 45 reviews and incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which spans the 2015 through 2019 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. We care about cars, but we care more about providing useful consumer advice. To ensure our impartiality, an independent party handles our advertising, and our editorial team doesn’t accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Volkswagen Golf Cost?

With a starting MSRP of $21,845, the VW Golf is more expensive than some compact cars. That trend continues up through its higher trims. The performance-oriented Golf R starts at $40,395, which is higher than the starting price of some luxury small cars.

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

Volkswagen Golf Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Golf or Volkswagen Golf GTI?

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the best compact cars on the market. Although we cover it in a separate review, it is essentially a Golf trim that fits between the base model and the Golf R. It shares many of the Golf’s strong suits – including dynamic handling and a handsome, spacious cabin – but it features a more potent engine. It’s also pricier, with a retail price that’s around $5,800 more than the base Golf’s, though it is quite a bit cheaper than the Golf R. The GTI and the Golf’s other trims are all great choices, so choosing between them is a matter of personal taste.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Golf or Volkswagen Jetta?

The Volkswagen Jetta underwent a redesign for the 2019 model year. While it’s a decent vehicle, the Golf is a better one. The Jetta is a sedan with great gas mileage and a more affordable starting MSRP, retailing for around $3,100 less than the Golf. However, the Golf takes the edge in most other areas. It’s a hatchback with more cargo room, more standard safety features, and a nicer cabin than the Jetta. These two vehicles are equipped with the same base engine, but the Golf has more potent ones available. If it’s in your budget, pick the Golf. 

Compare the Golf, GTI, and Jetta »

Golf Interior

How Many People Does the Golf Seat?

The Volkswagen Golf seats five people on standard cloth upholstery. Synthetic leather upholstery and heated front seats are available. Leather upholstery and a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat are standard in the Golf R.

The front seats are comfortable and supportive, but the rear seats are positioned a bit low, which can limit comfort for tall passengers.

Golf and Car Seats

This vehicle has two complete sets of LATCH connections for securing child-car seats, as well as an additional upper tether anchor. The tether anchors are easy to find and use, though the lower anchors can be hard to maneuver around.

Golf Interior Quality

The Golf has an upscale cabin full of high-end materials. It’s nice enough to rival some luxury vehicles’.

Golf Cargo Space

The Volkswagen Golf hatchback has 22.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 52.7 cubic feet with them folded down. That’s more room than what many rivals offer, including the Honda Civic.

Golf Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The base 2019 Volkswagen Golf S features the MIB II infotainment system, VW Car-Net App-Connect, a 6.5-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an eight-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, and a USB port.

Available features include an 8-inch touch screen, a navigation system, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, satellite radio, HD Radio, and a Fender premium stereo. The e-Golf has an available 9.2-inch infotainment touch screen that can be controlled with gestures, such as swiping your hand in order to view different items on the screen.

Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto offer convenient smartphone integration, and the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit draws high praise. Available only in the Golf R and e-Golf, this innovative system replaces the traditional gauge cluster with a 12.3-inch digital display. The infotainment system has a responsive screen and physical controls, though its graphics aren’t as crisp as some rivals’.

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

Read more about interior »

Golf Performance

Golf Engine: Capable Turbo Options

The 2019 VW Golf comes standard with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 147 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and an eight-speed automatic is available.

The e-Golf pairs a lithium-ion battery with an electric motor to produce 134 horsepower. The high-performance Golf R has a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine that puts out 288 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a seven-speed automatic is available. We review the Volkswagen Golf GTI separately.

The base engine is fine for daily driving. The Golf R is more muscular but also a lot more expensive.

Golf Gas Mileage: Up to Par

The base Golf gets an EPA-estimated 29 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway with both transmission. Those numbers are about average for the class. The Golf R is more of a gas guzzler, with ratings of 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. It also requires premium gasoline.

The Volkswagen e-Golf gets excellent mileage. It is rated at 126 MPGe in the city and 111 MPGe on the highway, and has an all-electric range of 125 miles. For more information, check out our What Is MPGe? article.

Golf Ride and Handling: Relaxed and Fun

This vehicle provides a gentle ride, with few road bumps penetrating the cabin. It also remains composed and agile around turns, though some critics say its numb steering limits its appeal as a sporty car.

Read more about performance »

Golf Reliability

Is the Volkswagen Golf Reliable?

The 2019 Golf belongs to a generation that typically receives a J.D. Power predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Volkswagen Golf Warranty

Volkswagen covers the Golf with a six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. That’s a longer warranty than what many class rivals provide.

Read more about reliability »

Golf Safety

Golf Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2019 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. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Golf an overall rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in side crash tests and four stars in front and rollover crash tests.

Golf Safety Features

Standard safety features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and a rearview camera. Available safety features include automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Read more about safety »

Which Volkswagen Golf Model Is Right for Me?

Volkswagen offers the Golf in three basic trims: S, SE, and R. The Volkswagen electric Golf comes in two trim levels: SE and SEL Premium. We review the Volkswagen Golf GTI separately.

Since the Golf R and e-Golf have significantly higher price tags, most shoppers just looking for an everyday car may want to stick with one of the lower trims. The Volkswagen Golf SE is a good pick. It has more standard tech features and more available driver aids than the base model.

Volkswagen Golf S

The Volkswagen Golf S has an MSRP of $21,845. It features a turbo-four engine, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a 6.5-inch touch screen, an eight-speaker sound system, a USB port, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, pedestrian monitoring, rain-sensing windshield wipers, cloth upholstery, automatic headlights, and alloy wheels.

No major packages are available with this trim, though an eight-speed automatic transmission is available for $1,100.

Volkswagen Golf SE

With an MSRP of $24,145, the Volkswagen Golf SE has an 8-inch touch screen, HD Radio, satellite radio, voice controls, a panoramic sunroof, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, and larger alloy wheels.

The automatic transmission remains an option. For $1,295, you can add the Driver Assistance package, which includes lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Volkswagen e-Golf

The Volkswagen e-Golf SE has a retail price of $31,895. It generally has the same features as the Golf SE, though it comes with cloth upholstery and a DC Fast Charger that recharges up to 80 percent of the battery within an hour at a fast charging station.

The e-Golf SEL Premium retails for $38,895 and adds front and rear parking sensors, synthetic leather upholstery, a 9.2-inch Discovery Pro unit with navigation and gesture control, and the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit.

Volkswagen Golf R

The Volkswagen Golf R has an MSRP of $40,395. It comes with almost everything you can get in this Volkswagen, including all-wheel drive, the stronger turbo engine, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and a Fender premium stereo.

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 Volkswagen deals page.

See 2019 Volkswagen Golf specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Volkswagen Golf is a fine pick among compact cars. Its sharp handling and comfortable ride make it enjoyable to drive, and it also features a premium cabin and handy tech features. It’s not a class leader, but it is a well-rounded vehicle with a lot of appeal. If you have a little leeway in your budget, the Golf is worth considering.

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

  • "The 2019 Volkswagen Golf is a compact hatchback with ideas above its station. While rivals from Korea or Japan tend to be resolutely mainstream and built to a budget … the Golf is classy enough to approach the premium bracket." -- 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 and the performance-oriented Golf R. There’s even the all-electric e-Golf, but its range pales compared to rivals. … 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
  • "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)
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