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2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Review

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen finishes near the top of our wagon rankings. It delivers solid performance, plenty of interior comfort, and user-friendly technology.

Pros & Cons

  • Upscale interior
  • Above-average cargo capacity for a wagon
  • Energetic engine and solid handling
  • Touch screen responds slowly to inputs
  • Occasional turbo lag from engine

Rankings & Research

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen's #1 ranking is based on its score within the 2018 Wagons category. Currently the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen has a score of 8.2 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 45 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 9.0
Performance: 8.5
Interior: 8.2
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.9
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Overview

Is the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen a Good Used Wagon?

Yes, the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is a well-rounded wagon. It brings a lot to the table without taking very much off of it, making it a great choice for any wagon shopper.

Here are the 2018 Golf SportWagen's main strengths:

  • Higher cargo capacity than many other wagons
  • Energetic engine good for both city and highway driving
  • Solid handling in tight quarters or on winding roads
  • Attractive interior with high-end materials
  • Comfortable, supportive front seats and roomy rear seats

And here are its noteworthy weaknesses:

  • Touch screen sometimes responds slowly to inputs
  • Engine occasionally exhibits some turbo lag
Why You Can Trust Us

Our Volkswagen Golf SportWagen review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from 49 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

The U.S. News Best Cars team has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than a combined 75 years of automotive industry experience. To ensure our impartiality, we never accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen?

Based on listings for the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen on our site, the average list price is $20,000, which is below average for the class. Prices range from $18,000 to $22,000 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Cost to Own?

At the time of writing, the 2018 Golf SportWagen’s projected five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are not available.

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

The 2019 Golf SportWagen comes with a starting price of $21,895, and it sees some important changes from the prior model year. For 2019, front-wheel-drive models feature a new 147-horsepower turbocharged base engine, which is available with a new eight-speed automatic transmission (prior models only offered a six-speed). Also, the previously range-topping SportWagen SEL trim has been discontinued, along with some of the features that upgrade included, like a built-in navigation system. The Alltrack still offers this trim and navigation.

Read about the new Volkswagen Golf SportWagen »

Volkswagen introduced the Golf SportWagen for the 2015 model year. There have been some small changes since its debut, but few of these are significant. For 2017, the all-wheel-drive Golf Alltrack model debuted, and VW offered all-wheel drive for the first time in the regular SportWagen. The 2018 model brings some styling updates and the addition of a larger infotainment touch screen.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Golf SportWagen »

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How Reliable Is the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen?

J.D. Power gives the 2018 Golf SportWagen a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Read more about Golf SportWagen reliability »

2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Recalls

At the time of writing, there are three recalls for the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen:

  • Rear coil springs may fracture
  • Key may be removed while not in park
  • May be insufficient coating on brake caliper pistons

Before buying any used vehicle, make sure all recalls have been addressed.

See more information on Volkswagen Golf SportWagen safety recalls »

Which Used Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen comes in three trims: S, SE, and SEL. There's also the Golf Alltrack, which is very similar to the SportWagen and is available in the same three trims. All Alltrack models come with all-wheel drive, an off-road mode, and a little more ground clearance than the SportWagen, but that's basically all that separates the two models.

To get a good number of features in the SportWagen, you’ll have to step up beyond the base trim. The SportWagen SE makes a great choice for many buyers. It adds a lot of nice technology upgrades, including several driver assistance features. The features lists of the SportWagen and Alltrack are nearly identical, so the SE is also a good choice if you're shopping for an Alltrack.

  • Volkswagen Golf SportWagen S: The VW Golf SportWagen S comes standard with a 170-horsepower turbo-four engine, a five-speed manual transmission, and front-wheel drive. Standard features include an eight-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port, a rearview camera, and a 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system with smartphone integration. You may find SportWagen S models with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive (the SportWagen S 4Motion).
  • Volkswagen Golf SportWagen SE: In addition to the base trim's features, the Golf SportWagen SE comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, satellite radio, an 8-inch infotainment touch screen, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.
  • Volkswagen Golf SportWagen SEL: The top-of-the-line SEL trim comes with power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, a Fender premium audio system, and adaptive cruise control.
  • Volkswagen Golf Alltrack: These models come standard with all-wheel drive, a six-speed manual transmission, and an off-road driving mode that includes hill descent control. The Alltrack is available in the same trim levels as the Golf SportWagen, and their features lists are nearly identical. However, the Alltrack SEL comes with lane departure warning and parallel park assist, which aren't available in the SportWagen SEL.

See 2018 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.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the Golf SportWagen?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2018 Golf SportWagen 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 SportWagen earned the second-lowest rating of Marginal for how well the headlights illuminate the road ahead. Properly equipped VW SportWagens received the top score of Superior for frontal crash prevention.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 SportWagen an overall rating of five out of five stars. It also earned five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera

Available advanced safety features:

  • adaptive cruise control
  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • forward collision warning
  • automatic emergency braking
  • pedestrian detection
  • lane departure warning (Alltrack only)
  • parallel park assist (Alltrack only)

See Golf SportWagen safety scores »

2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen or 2018 Subaru Outback?

The 2018 Subaru Outback provides stiff competition for the SportWagen, and each wagon has some notable advantages over the other. The VW handles better than the Subaru and comes equipped with a more energetic base engine. However, unlike the SportWagen, the Outback has an available six-cylinder engine. The SportWagen is more stylish inside and offers a few more tech features, but the Outback has more cargo space. Both are excellent wagons, so pick the one that best suits your needs.

Which Is Better: 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen or 2018 Volkswagen Golf?

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf is the head of the family that the SportWagen belongs to (the parent Golf, if you will). The Golf is a hatchback that doesn't have as much interior space as the SportWagen, but it still has a decent amount of cargo room. The Golf offers more powertrains than the SportWagen, including two performance variants and an electric powertrain in addition to its standard four-cylinder engine. The only hatchback Golf offered with all-wheel drive is the performance-oriented Golf R, whereas all variants of the SportWagen are available with it. In terms of features and interior quality, these two are nearly identical.

Compare the Golf SportWagen, Outback, and Golf »

2018 Golf SportWagen Performance

How Does the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Drive?

Whether you want the SportWagen or the Alltrack, you're getting the same turbocharged four-cylinder engine. That's a good thing, as the engine delivers reasonably quick acceleration and has enough power for all driving situations. There's a little turbo lag at times, but that's a minor issue.

SportWagen models have sharp steering and handle winding roads well. The ride is smooth, and the SportWagen is easy to maneuver in confined areas, such as a parking garage. Alltrack models have a firmer suspension, but the ride isn't uncomfortable. The Alltrack also comes with an off-road drive mode that engages hill descent and adjusts the character of the accelerator and brake.

  • Base engine: 170-horsepower turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive (standard in Alltrack models)
  • SportWagen Transmission: standard five-speed manual in FWD models, standard six-speed manual in AWD models, available six-speed automatic
  • Alltrack Transmission: standard six-speed manual, available six-speed dual-clutch automatic
Does the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Get Good Gas Mileage?

The base SportWagen gets typical fuel economy ratings for a nonhybrid wagon. Gas mileage drops slightly if you opt for an all-wheel-drive model, including the Alltrack.

  • SportWagen, FWD: 24/33 mpg city/ highway
  • SportWagen, AWD: 22/29 mpg
  • Alltrack, AWD: 22/30 mpg

These estimates are for automatic-equipped models. Ratings are about the same with the manual transmission.

Read more about Golf SportWagen performance »

2018 Golf SportWagen Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 Golf SportWagen Seat?

The 2018 Golf SportWagen seats five people in two rows. The cabin looks good, and there are lots of soft-touch materials. The front seats have plenty of side bolstering to keep you in place, and they're supportive and comfortable. The rear seats are pretty good too, and they have ample head- and legroom for adult passengers.

Standard seating features:

  • cloth upholstery

Available seating features:

  • synthetic leather upholstery (standard in Alltrack models)
  • heated front seats (standard in Alltrack models)
  • power-adjustable front seats
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen?

The 2018 Golf SportWagen has two complete sets of LATCH child car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the SportWagen's LATCH system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for ease of use. The lower anchors are a bit tough to maneuver around and the middle-seat tether is difficult to find, but there are no other notable issues.

2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Features

The standard infotainment system's touch screen is easy to see and reach from the driver's seat. It doesn't have the quickest responses to inputs, but the screen works well otherwise. It even magnifies the on-screen buttons when it detects an approaching hand.

  • Standard infotainment features: an eight-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port, a 6.5-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink
  • Available infotainment features: navigation, a Fender premium audio system, satellite radio, and an 8-inch touch screen
  • Other available features: panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, and push-button start

See 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen specs »

Read more about Golf SportWagen interior »

2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Dimensions

Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Cargo Space

The Golf SportWagen has 30.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up and 66.5 cubic feet with them folded down. That's more room than you get in some wagons. Additionally, the rear seats fold nearly flat to create an even loading floor, and there's an under-floor storage compartment.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Length and Weight
  • Length: 15 feet
  • Curb weight: 3,053 to 3,395 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Built?

Volkswagen built the Golf SportWagen in Mexico.


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