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MSRP: $20,910 - 40,885

Rankings & Research

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf ranked #6 in Compact Cars. Currently the Volkswagen Golf has a score of 8.6 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 40 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.6

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.2
Performance: 8.5
Interior: 8.4
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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2018 Volkswagen Golf Review

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf finishes in the top third of our compact car rankings. It's more fun to drive than many other cars in the class, and it has a quality cabin.

Pros & Cons

  • Energetic engines
  • Adept handling
  • Large cargo hold
  • Spacious, upscale interior
  • Below-average fuel economy

New for 2018

  • Updated exterior styling
  • Larger infotainment touch screen
  • New, longer warranty

Is the Volkswagen Golf a Good Car?

Yes, the Volkswagen Golf is a good car. It handles well, rides smoothly, and accelerates quickly. Its quiet cabin uses plenty of top-notch materials, and both rows of seats have ample space. The Golf’s cargo hold outpaces many rivals in terms of space, and its user-friendly infotainment system headlines the model’s tech features. However, the system does feel outdated compared to rival setups, and some other compact cars get better gas mileage.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen Golf?

The Golf is definitely a worthwhile choice in this class. However, considering its above-average starting price, you’ll likely find a better value by shopping around. Competitors like the Kia Soul, Honda Civic, and Mazda3 all make fine choices.

Compare the Golf, Soul, and Civic »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen Golf?

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf is part of a generation that began with the 2015 model year. The 2016 model received a redesigned infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also added several active safety features, including automatic braking, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, and active parallel park assist. The 2017 model dropped the two-door body style and replaced the SE and SEL trims with the Wolfsburg Edition trim. It also offered fewer driver assistance features, dropping adaptive cruise control and park assist from the list of options.

The Golf sees a light refresh for 2018 that includes exterior styling updates, a larger available touch screen (8 inches), and a longer new-car warranty than VW previously offered. Adaptive cruise control is once again available for 2018.

You can potentially save thousands of dollars by buying a used vehicle, but be aware that you may miss out on some features. If you're interested in a used model, be sure to visit our overviews of the 2016 Volkswagen Golf and 2017 Volkswagen Golf. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Golf »
We Did the Research for You: 44 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank.

This review uses research and data from the 2015 through 2018 model years, which are all the years of the current Golf generation.

VW makes a performance-tuned version of the Golf – the Golf GTI – that slots between the base model and the high-performance Golf R. There are also two wagon variants, the Golf SportWagen and the Alltrack. These vehicles are covered in separate reviews on our site.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years’ worth of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Volkswagen Golf Cost?

The VW Golf has a starting price of nearly $21,000. That’s higher than the starting price of many compact cars, and the Golf can get a lot more expensive if you want a top trim. The Golf R carries a starting price in the high-$30,000s, which is more than you’d pay for many fully loaded rivals (though in fairness, only a few rivals' top trims are as performance-focused as the Golf R, and those that are have similar pricing).

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.

Volkswagen Golf Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Golf or Kia Soul?

The Kia Soul is another compact hatchback. Its base engine feels a bit weak, but an available turbocharged engine turns the Soul into a fun-to-drive little vehicle. Both cars have two rows of spacious seats, but the Soul has more cargo space than the Golf. A five-out-of-five predicted reliability rating helps vault the Soul to the top of the class. On top of all that, you can pay less for the Kia and still get its midlevel engine and more features than the base Golf. It’s the clear choice.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Golf or Honda Civic?

The Honda Civic finishes near the top of our compact car rankings and comes in three body styles: coupe, sedan, and hatchback. In any style, the Civic is a fun-to-drive car with an upscale, feature-laden interior. The Civic also gets better gas mileage and costs less than the Golf. In the end, there's not much reason to choose the VW over this Honda.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen Golf or Mazda3?

Available as a sedan or a hatchback, the Mazda3 is one of the few cars in the class that is arguably more athletic than the Golf. The Mazda's engines deliver good power and fuel economy, and its well-built cabin offers plenty of features. In either body type, the Mazda3 has a lower base price than the Golf. The VW has more cargo space, though. These are both great choices, but the Mazda3 is hurt in our rankings by a very low predicted reliability rating.

Compare the Golf, Soul, and Civic »

Golf Interior

How Many People Does the Golf Seat?

The Golf seats five people, and both rows have plenty of room for adult passengers. The front seats provide all-day support, but the positioning of the rear seats can be a little too low for tall people to sit comfortably.

Golf and Car Seats

The Golf has two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors. The tether and lower anchors are easy to find and use, but you may need to move the front seats forward to fit some car seats.

Golf Interior Quality

When it comes to materials quality, the Golf rivals some luxury cars. It’s more than just well-built, though. It also has a stylish interior that’s well-insulated from outside noise.

Golf Cargo Space

Few compact cars can match the Golf for cargo space. This hatchback has nearly 23 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, which is room for a weekend’s worth of luggage for the whole family (and then some). Fold the seats down, and you have more than 53 cubic feet of space, which lets you haul large pieces of outdoor gear and even some furniture.

Golf Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the Golf include a USB port, an eight-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, an infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Available features include a sunroof, a Fender premium audio system, satellite radio, navigation, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen.

The Golf’s infotainment system isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good. The screen’s graphics could be sharper, and some of the buttons are on the small side, but the responsive touch screen has intuitive menu layouts, and there are physical controls for those who want them. Features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, while they’re merely options in some rivals.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Golf Performance

Golf Engine: Multiple Powertrain Choices

The base Golf comes with a 170-horsepower turbo-four engine that moves the car with ease and feels stronger than many competitors’ engines. If you want more power, however, you can opt for the Golf R, which features a 292-horsepower turbo-four. Fuel-conscious buyers may want the all-electric e-Golf, which features a 134-horsepower electric motor.

Another Golf trim – the Golf GTI – slots between the base model and the Golf R. To read more, check out our full review of the Volkswagen GTI.

Golf Gas Mileage: Room for Improvement

The Golf gets worse gas mileage than many competitors. With the automatic transmission, the base model earns 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The e-Golf, on the other hand, gets excellent mileage. According to the EPA, it gets 126 mpg-e city and 111 mpg-e highway, for a combined rating of 119 mpg-e. The e-Golf has a range of 125 miles.

Compared to driving the Golf, you’ll spend about $4 more per month on gas in the Kia Soul. However, you’ll save about $12-$17 per month on gas driving the Honda Civic or Mazda3.

Golf Ride and Handling: Plenty of Fun

The Golf is one of the most athletic cars in the class. Its precise steering and adept handling make it more than a match for both winding roads and city streets. This isn’t just a one-trick pony, though. It also delivers a cushioned ride over most road surfaces.

Read more about performance »

Golf Reliability

Is the Volkswagen Golf Reliable?

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five from J.D. Power. That is considered average for all new cars, but many compact cars have higher ratings.

Volkswagen Golf Warranty

The Volkswagen Golf is covered by a six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, which is a longer warranty than many class rivals provide.

Read more about reliability »

Golf Safety

Golf Crash Test Results

The 2018 VW Golf has a five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earns four out of five stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests. At the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Golf receives the highest score of Good in five individual crash tests.

Golf Safety Features

The Golf comes standard with a rearview camera. Available driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Read more about safety »

Which Volkswagen Golf Model Is Right for Me?

There are a few trims to choose from when buying a Golf. If you’re looking for the most fuel-efficient powertrain, you’ll need one of the e-Golf trims. The Golf R is your only choice if you want the nearly 300-horsepower engine. The Golf GTI is reviewed separately.

It’s worth noting that both the Golf R and the e-Golf carry significantly higher price tags than the Golf S and Golf SE, both of which have the base 170-horsepower engine. For that reason, many buyers will prefer to stick with one of these two lower trims. The SE may provide slightly more value because it offers a few more features, including some driver assistance options, and its price is about $2,750 more than the base trim’s.

Volkswagen Golf S

The Golf S has a base price of $20,910. It comes with a 170-horsepower turbo-four engine, a five-speed manual transmission, and front-wheel drive. Standard features include a rearview camera, a USB port, an eight-speaker audio system, HD Radio, Bluetooth, an infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and VW's Car-Net. You can add a six-speed automatic transmission for $1,100.

Volkswagen Golf SE

The Golf SE has a starting price of $23,655. In addition to the S trim’s features, the Golf SE comes with push-button start, leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen. As with the base trim, you can add a six-speed automatic transmission for $1,100.

Volkswagen Golf R

The Golf R starts at $39,785. Standard features include a 292-horsepower turbo-four engine, a six-speed manual transmission, and all-wheel drive. The R also comes with almost every convenience and tech feature you can get in a Golf. You can upgrade to a seven-speed automatic transmission for $1,100.

Volkswagen e-Golf

The e-Golf SE has a starting price of $30,495. It has a 134-horsepower electric motor and front-wheel drive. Its features list is the same as the gas-powered S trim’s.

For $36,995, you can get the e-Golf SEL Premium. It has a few more standard features than the e-Golf SE, like leatherette upholstery and navigation, but it offers many more features, including several driver assistance technologies.

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 2018 Volkswagen Golf specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf is enjoyable to drive and provides a spacious, upscale interior. It’s not a perfect vehicle, but it has a lot going for it, which is why it finishes well inside the top half of our compact car rankings. It’s worth considering if you’re in the market for a new compact, but you may want to shop around and see what the competition offers.

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

  • "The refreshed Volkswagen Golf family lineup is still made up of great little cars. They're still fun, fast, reliable cars, and with a new six-year, 72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty, they'll be cheaper to maintain making them a hell of a bargain for the average consumer." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "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
  • "It's possible to own a practical-minded car and still get a luxury-car-like experience. We think 2017 Volkswagen Golf will impress you with its versatile hatchback design, upscale and well-equipped interior, and turbocharged engine that's both peppy and fuel-efficient." -- Edmunds (2017)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: November 9, 2018

Slumping Sales: Volkswagen dealers have sold 37.9 percent fewer Golf models in 2018 than they did to this point in 2017. The compact car sales-leading Honda Civic is outselling the Golf by more than 7 to 1 this year.

Research more buying advice »
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