2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Performance


#2 out of 7 in Wagons

$21,685 MSRP
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2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.5

The 2018 Golf SportWagen’s solid performance may surprise you if you think of wagons as stodgy grocery-getters. Its engine delivers satisfying acceleration, and it has a composed ride and good cornering poise. The Golf Alltrack generally shares these attributes, along with standard all-wheel drive and an off-road driving mode. Fuel economy numbers aren't bad, but they're nothing special.

  • "Sharing its suspension and engine with the Volkswagen Golf makes the 2018 VW Golf SportWagen one fun little machine." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Alltrack offers an engine with more power than Subaru does with its XV Crosstrek and Outback, and the Volkswagen's dual-clutch gearbox is more responsive than Subaru's continuously variable transmission (CVT). Overall driving dynamics, such as handling, high speed stability, and braking, also tip in favor [of] Volkswagen." -- Forbes (2017)
  • "The Alltrack is even fun off the pavement, where the longer wheelbase compared with the regular Golf makes sliding around on fast dirt roads intuitive and predictable. Flick the nose in abruptly, wait a brief moment, then lean on the throttle and power your way out of corners with 100 percent of the little turbocharged 1.8-liter's 199 lb-ft of torque tugging you out." -- Car and Driver (2017)

Acceleration and Power

All Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack models come with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 170 horsepower. That may not sound powerful, but this engine has plenty of juice. Acceleration isn’t lightning-quick, but it is brisk. Even at higher speeds, the engine has enough power to keep you moving with traffic and passing those slowpokes in the right lane. However, there's a little turbo lag at times.

Front-wheel-drive models (SportWagen only) offer the choice between a standard five-speed manual transmission and an optional six-speed automatic. All-wheel-drive models (some SportWagen and all Alltrack) offer either a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic.

According to EPA estimates, the SportWagen gets 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway when equipped with the automatic transmission. Those are average ratings for a nonhybrid wagon. The Alltrack's numbers are slightly worse; it earns 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

  • "With its stout 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the tiny Alltrack provides just enough power to keep things interesting. When prompted, the VW's 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque make for a bit more excitement than you might expect from a compact SUV, but not quite as much as you'd get from the GTI." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "Despite its relatively small displacement, the 1.8-liter proves a more than adequate match for this tall Golf; its early torque delivery ensures the Alltrack never seems winded." -- Car and Driver (2017)
  • "The Alltrack is peppy enough, in part due to the quick-shifting DSG. … The VW never felt overtaxed on the highway or when climbing gravel-strewn mountain two-tracks, and it's an engaging powertrain …" -- Autoblog (2017)

Handling and Braking

Front-wheel drive comes standard in the SportWagen, and all-wheel drive is available. AWD comes standard in Alltrack models. The SportWagen rides smoothly and handles well; it's also fairly maneuverable in tight spaces and has sharp steering.

The Alltrack's ride is firmer than that of the regular Golf SportWagen, but it's still fairly supple. The Alltrack also comes with an off-road drive mode that engages hill descent and adjusts the character of the accelerator and brake.

  • "Compared to a standard Golf, the all-wheel-drive SportWagen carries additional weight and an extra 12.1 inches in length-but when you get to a twisty road, these attributes are practically invisible. The SportWagen shares its siblings' finely honed road manners, with a supple and well-damped ride, crisp steering, and intuitive handling. Indeed, the SportWagen behaves like a more expensive car – an Audi A3 comes to mind. We also pushed our test car hard on some of Michigan's ubiquitous dirt roads and found the all-wheel-drive system seamlessly shifted power rearward. This bigger, heavier Golf variant doesn't give up any roadholding to its smaller brethren, either: The all-wheel-drive SportWagen edged out the front-wheel-drive Golf hatchback in our skidpad test." -- Car and Driver
  • "Alltrack rides a little more firmly than the AWD SportWagen (which offers a great combination of suppleness and control), and provides capable if not quite sporty handling." -- Consumer Guide (2017)
  • "Given that the Golf Alltrack shares a few strands of DNA with the Golf GTI, it should come as no surprise that the soft-roader is a competent handler. The Alltrack's suspension is perfectly tuned, returning a ride that is comfortable yet still sporty." -- Left Lane News (2017)

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