2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen


#3 out of 9 in 2016 Wagons

$21,625 - $29,385

2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen was new.


Performance: 8.5

Testers say the 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is a satisfying car to drive. Some reviewers report that its four-cylinder engine feels powerful, though a few others say it could use more power when hauling heavy loads. The Golf SportWagen has a comfortable ride and nimble handling, according to auto journalists, and they add that its steering provides plenty of feedback.

  • "[F]or those who prioritize the driving experience, the Golf's strong foundation yields a premium feel. Adding the bigger cargo area and stiffer rear springs to accommodate the payload, plus a full foot of length and about 100 pounds of vehicular mass, doesn't diminish the virtues of a rigid structure, tight assembly, and driver-friendly handling." -- Car and Driver
  • It generally fails to make good on the 'Sport' part of its name, but overall we like the way this VW drives." -- Edmunds
  • "[T]he Golf SportWagen will please in just about any circumstance. It manages body roll in fine style, but its ride is always smooth and compliant." -- AutoWeek (2015)
  • "You may rightly assume, being a Golf with a big rear end, it drives like a Golf with a big rear end. More accurately, it drives like a slightly heavier Golf. The fact that the extra weight is in the back makes little difference. The Golf SportWagen rides just as well as the standard Golf, which rides quite nicely with a touch of sporty firmness." -- Motor Trend (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Golf SportWagen comes standard with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. According to the EPA, the Golf SportWagen gets up to 25/35 mpg city/highway when equipped with the automatic transmission, which is excellent for a wagon. The Golf SportWagen diesel model is currently unavailable in the U.S.

Some auto journalists say the Golf SportWagen's four-cylinder engine is refined and delivers brisk acceleration off the line. However, others report that the SportWagen feels slow when fully loaded or traveling at higher speeds, and that it is loud under hard acceleration.

  • "The 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is blessed with a refined 1.8T engine that never feels like it is deficient in the power department. Peak torque arrives very early in the rev range. … , so the SportWagen is rarely more than a downshift away from a decisive passing maneuver." -- Edmunds
  • The 1.8-liter engine is perfectly adequate to get around town and deal with the daily commute, but load the car up for a vacation and you'll want to stay in the slow lane when climbing mountain highways." -- CNET (2015)
  • The gasoline EA888 inline four-banger offered plenty of low-end kick from the start. It doesn't do so quietly, although it calms down considerably once the Golf reaches cruising speed."-- Left Lane News (2015)
  • The 1.8T engine is plenty peppy off the line, but acceleration suffers a bit at higher speeds with the manual transmission, so we recommend the responsive automatic (and its extra 15 lb-ft of torque) in this case." -- AutoTrader (2015)

Handling and Braking

The 2016 VW Golf SportWagen has a comfortable ride over rough pavement, and it is agile through corners, according to reviewers. Critics say its steering is responsive and provides good feedback. The Golf SportWagen's size makes it easy to maneuver in small spaces, a few auto journalists write.

  • "On time-worn pavement, the rigidity of the Golf SportWagen's structure shines through, as the ride is controlled yet supple, with little harshness to speak of. If you've driven a regular Golf, you'll notice the extra foot of length when you're parallel parking, but the SportWagen remains small enough to be an asset in tight urban spaces." -- Edmunds
  • "The steering, brake and other inputs are generally spot on, just like the switch operation, and the SportWagen creates a nice, comfortably tight Euro flavor wherever you're driving." -- AutoWeek (2015)
  • "The suspension in both cars strikes an excellent balance between comfort and handling, making the SportWagen just as satisfying to hustle through corners as it is to just cruise down the highway." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "From the driver's seat, the Golf SportWagen felt much like its hatchback sibling. The steering wheel offered the same tight response and linear electric boost." -- CNET (2015)

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