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2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Review

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is a highly rated wagon with an upscale interior and plenty of intuitive features. It has loads of cargo and passenger space along with engaging performance and reasonable cost of ownership metrics.

Pros & Cons

  • Engaging handling
  • High-end interior materials
  • Ample cargo room
  • Low-mounted rear seat
  • Sluggish acceleration when wagon is fully loaded

New for 2016

  • Updated infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • USB port and rearview camera standard
  • New optional driver assistance features
  • Diesel model discontinued

Rankings & Awards

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen's #3 ranking is based on its score within the 2016 Wagons category. It was a finalist for our 2016 Best Wagon for Families award. Currently the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen has a score of 8.3 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 27 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 9.2
Performance: 8.5
Interior: 8.1
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.1
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Overview

Is the 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen a Good Used Car?

The 2016 Golf SportWagen is a good used wagon. It combines the best attributes of a car and an SUV: excellent passenger and cargo space, responsive steering, and a smooth ride even over rough roads. The SportWagen also has good safety and reliability scores. Still, the engine underwhelms when the wagon is packed full of people or stuff.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve researched 31 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability scores and cost of ownership estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars since 2007, and our team has decades of automotive industry experience combined. While we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To ensure our reviews remain impartial, we refuse expensive gifts and trips from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen?

Prices for the 2016 SportWagen range from about $13,700 to $22,000, with the average price landing around $16,800. This data comes from more than 100 listings for the 2016 Golf SportWagen on our site. Prices fluctuate depending on each vehicle's features, mileage, condition, and location.

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How Much Does the 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Cost to Own?

You can expect to pay around $22,100 over five years to fuel, insure, repair, and maintain the 2016 Golf SportWagen. This estimate lands in the middle of the SportWagen’s class. In comparison, a 2016 Subaru Outback's five-year costs are typically about $900 less than the SportWagen's, while the 2016 Volkswagen Golf's are about $800 more. The luxury 2016 Audi Allroad will run you a whopping $7,500 more.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Golf SportWagen?

Both the 2016 and 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen belong to the car's first generation. For 2018, Volkswagen updated the exterior styling a bit and introduced an optional 8-inch touch screen. The 2018 SportWagen also comes with VW's new six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. That coverage is the best in the industry – and it backs up the powertrain, too. Prior to this year, most Volkswagen models were sold with a three-year/36,000-mile new vehicle warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Buying a new SportWagen will also give you the options of 4Motion all-wheel drive and the off-road-oriented Alltrack model, both of which were introduced for 2017. If these improvements aren’t important to you, you may be better off sticking with a used SportWagen. It can save you a bunch of money.

Read about the new Volkswagen Golf SportWagen »

If you'd still prefer a new 2018 car, you won't have a lot of options that can compete with the average price of a used 2016 Golf SportWagen. Even the cheapest new wagon, the 2018 Fiat 500L, costs almost $4,000 more.

Several new compact cars are available as hatchbacks that almost match the SportWagen's cargo capacity, but it will be challenging to balance features against price. The hatchback-only 2018 Kia Soul starts at about $16,000, but midrange trims with a touch screen and rearview camera retail for over $20,000. The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT hatchback starts at $19,350 and comes with standard features like an 8-inch touch screen, satellite radio, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. Both the Soul and the Elantra have a 10-year/100,000-mile new-car powertrain warranty. These are solid cars to consider, and though they may cost a little more than a used SportWagen, current car deals and our Best Price Program may shrink the price difference.

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How Reliable Is the 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen?

The 2016 Golf SportWagen has a reliability score of three out of five from J.D. Power. That’s considered average for all vehicles across the industry.

Read more about Golf SportWagen reliability »

2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Recalls

As of this writing, there are no open recalls that apply to the 2016 Golf SportWagen.

See more information on Volkswagen Golf SportWagen safety recalls »

Which Model Year of the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Is Best?

The Golf SportWagen was introduced as a new vehicle for the 2015 model year. Of the three years of used models available (2015, 2016, and 2017), the 2016 SportWagen has the lowest average price. It's a better choice than the 2015 Golf SportWagen because its standard features include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a USB port, and a rearview camera. In addition, a bunch of new driver assistance features were introduced.

The main reason to consider a 2017 Golf SportWagen is if you want all-wheel drive (termed 4Motion) or the performance-oriented Alltrack model. Both were introduced for 2017.

Compare the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Golf SportWagen »

Which Used Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Model Is Right for Me?

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen comes in three trims: S, SE, and SEL. For the best combination of features and value, go with the midlevel SE model. You'll get leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, a nine-speaker Fender premium sound system, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a panoramic sunroof, and the Car-Net App-Connect infotainment system. The SE model can also be found with numerous advanced safety features, such as adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, and park assist, or amenities like bi-xenon headlights. The top-of-the-line SEL model adds things like navigation, automatic climate control, and front sport seats.

See 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen trims and specs »

What Does Volkswagen's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Volkswagen offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles seven years old or less and with fewer than 75,000 miles. You receive the balance of the new-car warranty when you purchase a CPO model. Depending on your car’s model year, you get a limited comprehensive warranty that takes effect once the new-car warranty has expired or on the sale date of the CPO VW vehicle. For 2018 and newer VWs, the limited comprehensive warranty is good for one year or 12,000 miles. The length of the warranty increases to two years or 24,000 miles for 2017-and-older gas, hybrid, and electric vehicles. Finally, 2016 and older TDI vehicles get a two-year/unlimited miles warranty.

VW CPO vehicles must pass a 100-plus-point inspection. Additional benefits like towing, a Carfax vehicle history report, a three-month SiriusXM All-Access satellite radio trial subscription, and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Volkswagen warranty page carefully.

According to our analysis, Volkswagen’s CPO program is the least robust of all auto manufacturers.

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How Safe Is the Golf SportWagen?

The Golf SportWagen was named a 2016 Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety after it earned the highest score of Good in five major crashworthiness categories. The car received an overall safety rating of five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with five stars in the side crash test and four stars in both the frontal crash and rollover tests.

All 2016 SportWagens come with a rearview camera. Other available driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and automatic parking assist.

See Golf SportWagen safety scores »

2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen or 2016 Subaru Outback?

The 2016 Subaru Outback and Golf SportWagen both have spacious, high-end interiors with lots of cargo room. Still, the Outback has slightly more cargo space, at 35.5 cubic feet with the rear seats in use and 73.3 cubic feet with them folded. All Outbacks feature all-wheel drive, which did not become available in the Golf SportWagen until 2017. Subaru's wagon is also available with a powerful six-cylinder engine that has plenty of muscle, even when the car is fully loaded. By comparison, the Golf SportWagen’s sole four-cylinder engine option struggles when the wagon is packed to the brim. In the end, the Outback is the car to choose – just note that its average price is thousands of dollars higher than the Golf's.

Which Is Better: 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen or 2016 Audi Allroad?

Despite being a luxury car, the 2016 Audi Allroad isn't quite as good as the Golf SportWagen. The Audi also costs much, much more; its average list price is more than double the SportWagen’s. You'll also spend about $7,500 more in five-year upkeep costs with the Allroad. While the Audi has a nicer interior than the Volkswagen, it comes up short on rear-seat legroom and cargo space. The Allroad only has 27.6 cubic feet of space with the rear seats in use and 50.5 cubic feet with them folded. You'll get standard all-wheel drive with the Allroad, but it has worse fuel economy than the Golf SportWagen: only 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The Allroad has a composed ride, but the Golf’s more athletic handling makes it the better car overall.

Which Is Better: 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen or 2016 Volkswagen Golf?

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf is a compact car. While it doesn't have the cavernous cargo space of the SportWagen, it still has a lot of room. A maximum cargo space of 52.7 cubic feet and spacious back seats make the Golf easy to live with day to day, and you can choose from either two- or four-door hatchback body styles. The Golf has an upscale interior with comfortable and supportive seats. Both of these Volkswagens have athletic handling and the same 170-horsepower turbocharged engine under the hood. Acceleration can be slow in both vehicles, either when the car is fully loaded or just from turbo lag. The regular Golf offers more powertrain options than the one-trick-pony SportWagen. You can opt for the high-performance Golf R or the electric e-Golf. These two Golf variants are similar in many ways, but if you need more cargo or passenger space, the SportWagen is the way to go.

Compare the Golf SportWagen, Outback, and Allroad »

2016 Golf SportWagen Performance

How Does the 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Drive?

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 170 horsepower. Two transmissions are available: a five-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. The SportWagen's engine delivers plenty of power for quick acceleration, but it can feel taxed at highway speeds if you're hauling a full load of cargo or passengers. Enthusiasts will prefer the manual transmission, but the automatic makes the most of the engine's power.

The Golf SportWagen has a composed and comfortable ride, both in the city and on the open road. Its steering is sharp and responsive, allowing it to handle corners with ease. The suspension soaks up most road imperfections.

Does the 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Get Good Gas Mileage?

With the manual transmission, the 2016 Golf SportWagen gets up to 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Those estimates are good for the class. Models with the automatic transmission lose 1 mpg on the highway.

Read more about Golf SportWagen performance »

2016 Golf SportWagen Interior

How Many People Does the 2016 Golf SportWagen Seat?

The Golf SportWagen seats five on standard cloth upholstery. Higher trims come with V-Tex leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated front seats. The front seats are supportive and the back seats offer ample head- and legroom, but tall passengers may find that the seat cushions are mounted too low for optimal comfort.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen?

The Golf SportWagen has two sets of lower anchors in the rear outboard seats and three top tether anchors. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the system a rating of Acceptable for ease of use. The lower connectors can be easily accessed and are clearly labeled, but it's a little hard to maneuver your hands around the anchors. The IIHS also noted that the middle top tether anchor is hard to find and other parts of the seat can be confused for the anchor.

2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Features

Standard features in the 2016 Golf SportWagen include satellite radio, a USB port, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and a touch-screen infotainment system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were introduced and made standard for this model year, allowing you to integrate your smartphone into the infotainment system. Other available features include proximity key entry, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a nine-speaker Fender premium sound system, a 115-volt power outlet, voice command activation, and navigation.

Volkswagen updated the Golf SportWagen's infotainment system for 2016. It responds more quickly to inputs and features a USB port in place of the input cable from previous model years. Its Fender audio system is among the highest-quality systems available for its price.

See 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen specs »

Read more about Golf SportWagen interior »

2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Dimensions

Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Cargo Space

With the second row of seats upright, the Golf SportWagen has 30.4 cubic feet of cargo space. Cargo volume expands to 66.5 cubic feet when the back seats are folded down. These numbers are midrange compared to those of rival wagons, but they compare favorably to vehicles like compact SUVs.

2016 Golf SportWagen Length and Weight

The 2016 SportWagen is 15 feet long. Models with the manual transmission weigh 3,063 pounds, while those equipped with the automatic weigh 3,120 pounds.

Where Was the 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Built?

2016 VW Golf models for the North American market were built in Puebla, Mexico.

Is the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Affected by the VW Diesel Scandal?

The 2016 Golf SportWagen is not affected by the VW diesel scandal. However, it is worth noting that the 2015 model is.


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