2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Performance


#3 out of 6 in Wagons

MSRP
$21,895
U.S. News Best Price Program

2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.8

The 2019 Golf SportWagen offers one of two turbocharged engines, depending on whether you get a model with front- or all-wheel drive. The new-for-2019 base engine for FWD models is a little short on power, but the stronger engine in AWD models is energetic. Handling is great for the class, and the SportWagen is agile and delivers a comfortable ride. This VW gets better fuel economy than most rivals.

  • Ruts and potholes are smoothed over by the compliant suspension tuning. The SportWagen is composed on the highway, too." -- Edmunds
  • "Sharing its suspension and engine with the Volkswagen Golf makes the 2018 VW Golf SportWagen one fun little machine." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "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)

Acceleration and Power

The Golf SportWagen comes standard with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 147 horsepower. This engine comes with a six-speed manual transmission in the standard configuration, but an eight-speed automatic is available. This base engine gets the job done, but it's hardly exciting, and it moves off the line with something less than urgency. The automatic transmission also delivers inconsistently timed shifts.

All-wheel-drive Golf SportWagen 4Motion and Golf Alltrack models come with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 168 horsepower. A six-speed manual comes standard, and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is available. The larger engine feels noticeably more energetic than the base engine, and it provides quicker acceleration.

According to EPA estimates, the SportWagen with the automatic transmission gets 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Those are great 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.

  • One drawback to the smaller turbo engine is in low-rpm power delivery. If you dip into the throttle with the engine much below 2000 rpm in the higher gears, there's just nothing for a couple of beats before boost builds and the car moves off. … Otherwise, power is adequate, but no more." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The automatic transmission hampers drivability. You'll often notice small lurches when you accelerate from a stop or when you need a quick change in speed. You either need to let it creep slowly or stomp the gas to override this behavior." -- Edmunds
  • The 1.8-liter turbocharged engine is energetic off the line, but acceleration suffers a bit at higher speeds." -- AutoTrader

Handling and Braking

The SportWagen and Alltrack both handle well, particularly by wagon standards. They feel very similar to the Volkswagen Golf hatchback, which is one of the most agile cars in its class. The SportWagen doesn't sacrifice ride quality for its handling prowess, either. It still rides smoothly over most road surfaces, though the ride is a touch on the firm side.

The Alltrack also comes with an off-road drive mode that engages hill descent control and adjusts the accelerator and brake pedals for optimal off-road performance. Front-wheel drive comes standard in the SportWagen. All-wheel drive is available in the SportWagen and standard in Alltrack models.

  • "One area in which the SportWagen always excelled was in ride quality – both from a comfort and noise standpoint. That's still a strength, even though this Sportwagen didn't seem to exhibit quite the composure offered by earlier ones we've driven. Handling is also a notable plus, particularly if you compare it to that of a taller crossover." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The SportWagen also drives like the Golf, displaying the same confident handling and taut-yet-supple ride." -- AutoTrader
  • "Compared with 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 transferred power to the rear wheels when needed." -- Car and Driver
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2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

MSRP: $21,895 - $36,095

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