Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

#4 in Wagons Overall Score: 8.3 / 10
2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen View More Photos »
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2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Overview

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen ranks 4 out of 9 Wagons.

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen combines the agility of a small car with the spaciousness of a compact SUV. It also has an upscale, roomy interior. Besides its low-mounted back seats, you'll find little wrong with this wagon. 











See full 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen specs ยป

Pros & Cons

  • Sporty handling
  • Roomy, comfortable seats
  • Ample cargo room
  • Upscale interior
  • Low-mounted back seats

Notable for 2017

  • Golf Alltrack introduced
  • All-wheel drive now available in Golf SportWagen S

Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Rankings and Research

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen ranking is based on its score within the Wagons category. Currently the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen has a score of 8.3 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 40 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.


Overall: 8.3
Critics' Rating: 8.9
Performance: 8.5
Interior: 8.1
Safety: 9.3
Reliability: 2_5


2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Pictures

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Review

By Courtney Jones June 22, 2017

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen combines the agility of a small car with the spaciousness of a compact SUV. It also has an upscale, roomy interior. Besides its low-mounted back seats, you'll find little wrong with this wagon. 

Is the Golf SportWagen a Good Car?

Wagon shoppers have few options, but you won't need to look much further than the Golf SportWagen to fulfill most of your needs. Inside, the SportWagen has handsome styling and upscale materials that give the impression of a pricier car. It also has an appropriate amount of standard and available features for the class. The Golf SportWagen's front seats are exceptionally comfortable, providing good side bolstering and plenty of comfort. Its back seats also have plenty of head- and legroom, though some may find their knees awkwardly positioned because the seats are mounted low. The SportWagen should be able to accommodate your storage needs with its big 66.5-cubic-foot cargo hold, which rivals those of compact SUVs.

In terms of performance, the SportWagen has a strong turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Better still, you won't have to give up gas mileage for quick acceleration since the SportWagen gets the best nonhybrid and nondiesel fuel economy estimates in the class. It also feels more composed and agile than other wagons. There is also a performance model of the SportWagen – the Alltrack – that comes with a raised suspension, all-wheel drive, driving modes, and off-roading features. Additionally, the SportWagen performs well in crash tests and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety names it a Top Safety Pick.

The one down side is the SportWagen’s poor predicted reliability, which means frequent repairs may be in your future.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen SportWagen?

If you've been reluctant to consider a wagon, you should examine the 2017 Volkswagen SportWagen ($21,580). It’s sporty, spacious, and affordable. The Golf SportWagen is also practical, thanks to its spacious interior and sizeable cargo area, though a few rivals, like the pricier Subaru Outback ($25,645), offer a little more room in both areas. The SportWagen also has a more upscale, stylish cabin than most of its rivals. With its strong base engine and small-car-like handling and agility, the SportWagen offers one of the strongest performances in the class. The Volkswagen Alltrack ($26,950), the SportWagen's performance model, offers even sharper driving dynamics. The Outback's base four-cylinder engine is not only underpowered, but it also uses more fuel.

If you're trying to decide between the SportWagen and the Volkswagen Golf ($19,895), you should know that both models offer nearly the same performance dynamics, power, and features. You'll gain some city maneuverability with the Golf's smaller dimensions but lose some interior and cargo space.

Compare the SportWagen, Outback, and Golf »

We Did the Research for You: 40 Pieces of Data Analyzed

We analyzed 40 pieces of data, including reliability ratings, professional reviews, and crash and safety test results, to provide you with all the materials you need to see how the 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen compares to other cars. The Golf SportWagen replaced the Jetta SportWagen as an all-new model for the 2015 model year and has seen few changes since. As a result, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2015 through 2017 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our team has 75 years of collective experience in the automotive industry, and we've been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs for nearly a decade. We're committed to providing helpful car-buying advice. Additionally, we don’t accept expensive gifts or take trips paid for by car companies, and the advertising on our site is handled by an outside team.

How Much Does the Golf SportWagen Cost?

The Volkswagen Golf SportWagen ($21,580) has one of the lowest starting prices among wagons. Only the Fiat 500 ($20,995) is cheaper, and by less than $600. Competitors like the Subaru Outback ($25,645) are significantly more expensive and offer a similar amount of standard features.

The base Golf SportWagen comes with a rearview camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, and a 6.5-inch touch screen. The Volkswagen SportWagen SE ($27,030) adds push-button start, an upgraded stereo, and a panoramic sunroof. This trim level is also available with driver assistance features including lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and active park assist. The top trim, the SportWagen SEL ($29,970), adds blind spot monitoring, a power-adjustable driver's seat, and navigation.

For a closer look at each trim and its standard and optional features, take a look at the “Which Golf SportWagen Model Is Right for Me?” section below. Looking to buy? 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.

Golf SportWagen Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Golf SportWagen or Subaru Outback?

The Subaru Outback ($25,645) and Golf SportWagen are closely matched, but there are several reasons to buy the Golf SportWagen instead of the Outback. First, the SportWagen has a much more attractive starting price; you'll pay upwards of $4,000 more for the base Outback. When it comes to performance, the SportWagen's base turbocharged four-cylinder engine has plenty of gusto for highway speeds, while the Outback's base four-cylinder struggles. There is a more powerful 256-horsepower six-cylinder engine available in the Outback, but the trims in which it's available start at almost $35,000. Inside, the SportWagen has a more polished and stylish cabin, and it comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which make it a breeze to connect your smartphone to the infotainment screen. The Outback isn't available with either connectivity feature.

The Outback bests the SportWagen in just a few areas: Its cargo bay is 6.8 cubic feet larger, and its back seats recline and offer more space than then SportWagen's. Additionally, the Outback receives a higher score from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for its front crash prevention technologies. Still, the SportWagen is better priced and a more appealing performer.

Which Is Better: Golf SportWagen or Volkswagen Golf?

The Volkswagen Golf SportWagen and Volkswagen Golf, a compact hatchback, are some of the roomiest vehicles in their respective classes, but the SportWagen offers an additional 13.8 cubic feet of cargo room. Both have the same powertrain, thus similar fuel economy, but the Golf has an advantage of 1 extra mpg on the highway when comparing models with automatic transmissions. The Golf and Golf SportWagen both offer performance models, the Golf R ($39,375) and Alltrack ($26,950), respectively. Both racier models offer sportier driving dynamics and standard all-wheel drive, but the Golf R boasts a more-potent 292-horsepower engine.

The Golf offers nearly everything the SportWagen does, minus some cargo and interior space. If you don’t need more storage room, the Golf provides the better value, and it's still one of the most spacious compacts available. Additionally, if you spend a lot of time driving on city streets, the Golf's small turning radius and easy maneuverability may be more beneficial to you.

Compare the SportWagen, Outback, and Golf »

SportWagen Interior

How Many People Does the SportWagen Seat?

The 2017 Golf SportWagen has seating for five. Its front seats are some of the best in the class. They're not only comfortable, but they also provide good side bolstering to keep you in place during more spirited driving.

Those seated in the back have a good amount of head- and legroom. Still, some may find the back seats to be mounted too low, which can put your legs in an awkward position and limit thigh support. For taller friends and family who regularly occupy the back seats, the Subaru Outback's outstanding back-seat space makes it the more comfortable wagon. Its back seats also recline.

The Golf SportWagen has seats for five on standard cloth upholstery. Higher trims and the Golf Alltrack come with leatherette upholstery.

SportWagen and Car Seats

The Golf SportWagen's LATCH car-seat system consists of a tether anchor and two lower anchors in each rear outboard seat and one tether anchor in the rear middle seat. This LATCH system received an Acceptable rating (the second-highest) from the IIHS for their ease of use. The upper tether anchors are easy to find and distinguish from other hardware. The lower anchors are not too deep in the seats and easy to attach, but they can be hard to find and confused with other seating hardware.

SportWagen Interior Quality

With its superior build quality, the 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen’s interior gives the impression that it's a more expensive car. Its cabin materials are generally nicer than those of competing wagons.

The all-new Golf Alltrack features some exclusive styling aspects that set it apart from the regular SportWagen. Its faux aluminum trim and hard plastic materials in some areas may be disappointing to you, however.

SportWagen Cargo Space

Behind its back seats, both the Golf SportWagen and Alltrack have 30.4 cubic feet of cargo space. With the back seats folded that space expands to 66.5 cubic feet, which closely rivals those of 2-row SUVs. For instance, at 75.8 cubic feet, the Honda CR-V has one of the largest compact SUV cargo capacities. Meanwhile, most wagons offer less than 60 cubic feet of overall cargo space. The Subaru Outback is one of the few wagons with more space than the SportWagen. It has up to 73.3 cubic feet of space. The Volkswagen Golf has a maximum of 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space. While that's not quite as much space as the SportWagen, it's still much more than most compact cars.

All Golf SportWagen trims include 60/40 split-folding rear seats that are easy to collapse when you need increased cargo space. They also have an under-floor storage bin for keeping items hidden from prying eyes. With standard roof racks, the all-new Golf Alltrack offers even more space for transporting hefty sporting equipment like skis or a kayak. 

SportWagen Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen and Alltrack come with a good amount of features for the class, including a rearview camera and a 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system. The rearview camera is unique in that it emerges from behind the VW badge when you put the car into reverse. While this can help keep dirt and grime off the camera, the sound it makes when it pops out may annoy those who prefer minimum noise until after the first morning coffee kicks in. 

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are newly standard for 2017. Both features allow you to connect your smartphone to the infotainment system and access features like navigation and text messages on the display screen. These features can save you money since you won't have to spend extra for a factory-installed navigation system. The VW SportWagen's dashboard controls, including those for audio and climate, are easy to operate.

The Volkswagen Golf has the same standard infotainment system as the SportWagen. If you want navigation built in, you’ll have to purchase the Golf R. But with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the Golf, you probably won't need it. The Subaru Outback comes with a straightforward infotainment system with a 6.2-inch touch screen. However, it lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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 »

SportWagen Performance

SportWagen Engine: Mighty Power

The Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack both have a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower. The engine produces brisk acceleration from a stop or when getting around slower cars on the highway.  

The base model Golf SportWagen comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, while higher trims come with a six-speed automatic. The Golf Alltrack comes with a six-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission.

If you need more strength, the Subaru Outback has an available 256-horsepower 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine that offers ample power for hauling and towing.

Unlike most compact cars, the Volkswagen Golf comes with a strong engine that provides quick acceleration. It's the same engine found in the SportWagen, and since the Golf is a smaller car, it can move just as quickly as the SportWagen. The Golf R also has a more powerful turbocharged 292-horsepower engine that's even stronger.

SportWagen Gas Mileage: Exceptional Efficiency

The 2017 Golf SportWagen uses less fuel than the majority of wagons. Aside from wagons with diesel and hybrid powertrains, it's the most fuel-efficient car in the class. 

The base SportWagen, which has a five-speed manual transmission, earns 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. With the automatic transmission, the 2017 Golf SportWagen gets 25 mpg around town and 34 mpg on the highway. The Golf Alltrack and SportWagen with all-wheel drive earn 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

The VW Golf hatchback with an automatic transmission gets the same fuel economy estimates as the base SportWagen. The Subaru Outback also gets 25 mpg in the city, but it gets 32 on the highway.

SportWagen Ride and Handling: Comfortable Ride, Composed Cornering

Most drivers will be pleased with the Golf SportWagen's driving characteristics. On paved roads it is smooth and poised. Take it out on a winding road, and it easily maneuvers around corners.

The Golf Alltrack delivers a sportier performance. It has a slightly raised suspension, standard all-wheel drive, and drive mode settings that make it at home in most environments. It can take on moderate off-roading, manage inclement weather, and handle twisty roads with confidence. 

The Subaru Outback has good manners both on and off the pavement. It has a smooth ride, absorbing bumps along the way, and it's quiet. Around corners, the Outback has sharp steering and poise, but it isn't as agile as the SportWagen.

The Volkswagen Golf has a small turning radius and composed handling, so it feels nimble on winding roads and while navigating city streets. The Golf R is to the Golf what the Alltrack is to the SportWagen: It offers stronger handling characteristics and all-wheel drive.

SportWagen Off-Road Performance

The SportWagen Alltrack is the model to choose if you plan to travel off the pavement. It has a slightly raised suspension, standard all-wheel drive, and drive mode settings that adjust to most environments. It can manage moderate off-roading and inclement weather, and it can handle twisty roads with confidence.

The Subaru Outback comes standard with all-wheel drive, so it’s ready for modest off-road excursions without any added costs.

Read more about performance »

SportWagen Reliability

Is the Golf SportWagen Reliable?

The Golf SportWagen has a fairly low reliability score of 2.5 out of five, according to J.D. Power and Associates. That's a below-average score compared to other vehicles.

The Volkswagen Golf gets the same 2.5 rating, while the Subaru Outback receives a three.

Golf SportWagen Warranty

Volkswagen covers the 2017 Golf SportWagen with a three-year/36,000-mile new vehicle warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Subaru Outback and Volkswagen Golf have the same warranty terms.

Read more about reliability »

SportWagen Safety

SportWagen Crash Test Results

The Golf SportWagen earns solid safety scores for the class. It receives perfect scores across all five Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, and it earns a Top Safety Pick award. It also receives five-stars overall – the highest score – from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Subaru Outback earns a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the IIHS. The Volkswagen Golf hatchback also receives a five-star overall score from the NHTSA, as well as perfect scores and a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.

SportWagen Safety Features

The Golf SportWagen comes standard with a rearview camera, and it's available with a number of active safety features, including blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and active park assist. The Alltrack SEL is the only model available with adaptive headlights, which automatically adjust the direction of the car's headlights to illuminate the road around corners.  

Read more about safety »

Which Golf SportWagen Model Is Right for Me?

The base Golf SportWagen S ($21,580) will satisfy most wagon shoppers with its impressive list of standard features, including easy smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These features can save you money by allowing you to use your phone's navigation through the touch screen instead of purchasing a navigation system from Volkswagen. You'll need to spend $29,970 on the SportWagen SEL – the top trim – to get standard navigation. However, if you want active safety features beyond the standard rearview camera, the SEL trim is the one you'll need to purchase.

If you're considering the Golf Alltrack ($26,950), the base model will do you just fine, offering the same standard features as those in the base Golf SportWagen.

Golf SportWagen S

The base VW Golf SportWagen S starts at $21,580. It comes standard with satellite radio, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and a 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic transmission is an $1,100 option. The SportWagen S 4Motion, priced at $24,930, adds all-wheel drive.

Golf SportWagen SE

The next trim level, the Golf SportWagen SE, is priced at $27,030. It adds leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, push-button start, a Fender premium audio system, rain-sensing wipers, and automatic headlights.

Golf SportWagen SEL

The top-of-the-line SEL trim, starting at $29,970, comes with a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, blind spot monitoring, and navigation.

Both the SE and SEL trims come with a six-speed automatic transmission. They are also both available with a Driver Assistance package, which includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and active park assist for $1,995.

Golf Alltrack

The all-new 2017 Golf Alltrack starts at $26,950. Alltrack models come standard with all-wheel drive, a six-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission, and an off-road driving mode that includes hill descent. It's available in the same trim levels as the Golf SportWagen. Each trim comes with the same standard features as the corresponding Golf SportWagen trim. The Alltrack S is priced at $30,530, while the Alltrack SEL costs $32,890.

The Driver Assistance package will cost you $895 with any Alltrack model. LED headlights and an adaptive front-lighting system is added to this package for the Alltrack SEL. The Alltrack SEL's navigation system also displays a compass, the steering angle, and the altitude.

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.

See 2017 Golf SportWagen specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2017 Volkswagen SportWagen takes some of the best attributes from other car classes: It's as practical and spacious as some compact SUVs and as easy to maneuver as a small car. In addition, its ride is comfortable and it won't have any trouble making its way around a fast corner. The all-new Golf Alltrack adds sportier handling, standard all-wheel drive, and off-roading features. The SportWagen has a powerful engine that also requires less fuel than rivals' engines.

The SportWagen has one of the lowest starting prices in the class, and it has a good amount of standard and optional features. Its cabin is exceptionally comfortable and quite spacious in both rows. Cargo capacity is high for the class, though some rivals have a bit more room.

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

  • "The cargo area is spacious, and the rear seat backs fold level with the cargo floor and nearly flat. Total cargo volume lags that of the top-selling compact SUV, but not by much." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 2017 Alltrack boasts over 30 cubic feet of room with the rear seats up, and 66.5 with them folded. That's more than some small SUVs, including Volkswagen's own Tiguan." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The rear of the Alltrack features a robust 30.4 cu ft. of space behind the rear seats and a whopping 66.5 cu ft. with the rear seats folded down. If that's not enough space for your gear, the standard roof racks allow for even more capacity. Given the fairly low roof height of 59.7 inches, loading and unloading kayaks or other gear to and from the roof rack should be no problem for most average-sized adults." -- Autotrader

Research Prices: 2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

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$21,580 - $32,890
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