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2016 Volkswagen Golf Review

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf ranks in the top half of the compact car class. It blends poised performance with a posh interior, but its poor reliability rating keeps it from ranking higher.

Pros & Cons

  • Athletic handling
  • Comfortable seats
  • Premium cabin materials
  • Large cargo area
  • Poor reliability rating

New for 2016

  • Redesigned infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • New optional driver assistance features

Rankings & Awards

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf's #11 ranking is based on its score within the 2016 Compact Cars category. It was a finalist for our 2016 Best Compact Car for Families award and a finalist for our 2016 Best Hatchback for Families award. Currently the Volkswagen Golf has a score of 7.9 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 33 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.9

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.5
Performance: 8.1
Interior: 8.2
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.0
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2016 Volkswagen Golf Overview

Is the 2016 Volkswagen Golf a Good Used Car?

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf is a great option if you’re shopping for a used compact car or a hatchback that doesn’t trade performance for practicality. The Golf is fun to drive, striking an excellent balance between agile handling and ride comfort. It’s also fuel-efficient. It has a roomy, upscale interior, an easy-to-use infotainment system, and advanced safety features. However, this hot hatch has a poor reliability rating that might give some shoppers cause for concern.

Why You Can Trust Us

We analyzed 37 Volkswagen Golf reviews to give you an idea of this car’s pros and cons. We’ve also included information on fuel economy, safety, and reliability to help you decide if the 2016 Golf is the right car for you.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking the best vehicles since 2007, and our editorial staff has decades of combined experience in the automotive industry. To keep our reviews impartial, we don't accept expensive trips or gifts from car companies, and an external partner places and sells the ads on our site.

How Much Is the 2016 Volkswagen Golf?

Our site has more than 150 listings for the 2016 VW Golf. Prices range from a low of $12,000 to a high of $34,000, with the average list price sitting at $18,000. Our listings include the TSI model and the much more expensive Golf R. The model, condition, mileage, and location of the vehicle you’re looking at can all affect its price.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2016 Volkswagen Golf Cost to Own?

Over five years, you can expect to pay around $23,000 for fuel, insurance, maintenance, and repairs on the 2016 VW Golf. That's about $4,600 per year. The upkeep costs of rivals like the Ford Focus and Mazda3 are predicted to be lower.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Golf?

A new 2018 Golf starts around $21,000 and tops out around $27,200. The 2018 Golf R starts at about $39,800 and climbs to about $42,800. You can find used 2016 Golfs for significantly less money (listings range from $12,000 to $34,000). However, there are some advantages to buying new. This hatchback was redesigned for 2018, and it includes a larger touch screen. You’ll also get the benefit of a new car warranty. Unless the new look and touch screen matter significantly to you, you’ll be better off with a used Golf.

Read about the new Volkswagen Golf »

If you are looking at used Golf R models but would prefer a new car, you have options. The best new compact cars on the market will probably cost less than a used Golf R. These include the 2018 Honda Civic, 2018 Kia Soul, and 2018 Mazda3. You may even be able to get a compact SUV, like the 2018 Mazda CX-5 or the 2018 Honda CR-V. For those looking at a TDI, you’ll probably have to step down a class to find a comparably priced new car. Consider the 2018 Honda Fit, 2018 Chevrolet Sonic, or 2018 Toyota Yaris iA.

See the Best New Car Deals »

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How Reliable Is the 2016 Volkswagen Golf?

J.D. Power gives the 2016 Golf a reliability rating of two out of five, which is the lowest possible rating. Within this class, most cars earn a three or better.

Read more about Golf reliability »

2016 Volkswagen Golf Recalls

There are three recalls on the Golf TSI and two on the Golf R. They cover issues ranging from fuel system leaks (which may lead to a fire) to the rear child locks potentially disengaging. If these issues affect the 2016 Golf you are considering, be sure they are addressed before you buy.

See more information on Volkswagen Golf safety recalls »

Which Model Year of the Volkswagen Golf Is Best?

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf is part of a generation that debuted in 2015. Updates for 2016 included a new infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as additional safety features with the optional Driver Assistance package. Buying a used 2015 Golf will save you money, but you’ll have to do without these helpful features. If you step back to the previous generation with a 2014 or 2013 Golf, everything from features to styling to powertrains will be different from the 2016 model. You should stick with either the 2015 or 2016 Golf, as models from the previous generation have less cargo space and lower fuel economy.

Compare the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Golf »

Which Used Volkswagen Golf Model Is Right for Me?

Before buying a 2016 Golf, you'll need to decide which powertrain you want. The TSI has a 170-horsepower four-cylinder engine, while the performance-oriented Golf R has a 292-horsepower four-cylinder. The e-Golf is an electric vehicle (EV) with a battery pack and an electric motor.

VW offers the Golf TSI in four trims: base, S, SE, and SEL. Only base and S models are available in the two-door body style; all other models have four doors. The base Golf TSI has a 5-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, and power doors and windows. Most buyers should step up to the Golf TSI S, which adds a 6.5-inch touch screen, a rearview camera, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and satellite radio. The Golf TSI SE adds heated front seats, keyless entry, and a Fender sound system. The Golf TSI SEL adds navigation.

The e-Golf is available in two trims: SE and SEL Premium. The e-Golf SE shares most of its standard features with the TSI SE trim. The e-Golf SEL Premium adds an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, and parking sensors.

The Golf R also shares many of its standard features with the TSI SE trim, but it adds all-wheel drive, a 292-horsepower engine, a sport-tuned suspension, front and rear limited-slip differentials, and upgraded brakes. An adaptive suspension and navigation are available.

See 2016 Volkswagen Golf 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, and depending on your car’s model year, you get a limited comprehensive warranty that takes effect once the new-car warranty has expired. 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?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2016 Volkswagen Golf a Top Safety Pick+ and gave it the highest safety rating of Good in five crash tests, as well as the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front test. The Golf also earned the second-highest rating of Acceptable for the effectiveness of its optional front crash prevention features.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Golf an overall rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

Volkswagen offers an array of advanced safety features with its optional Driver Assistance package, but feature availability differs by model. The Golf TSI SE and SEL models are available with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with brake assist, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and steering assists for parallel parking. Golf R models are available with all these features except parallel park assist. The e-Golf SEL has standard parking sensors and is available with parallel park assist and forward collision warning with brake assist.

See Golf safety scores »

2016 Volkswagen Golf Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2016 Volkswagen Golf or 2016 Mazda3?

The 2016 Mazda3 and VW Golf have a lot in common. Both compact cars have quality interiors, sporty handling, user-friendly touch screens, and long lists of available safety features. The Mazda3 is a better option for most shoppers, as it’s available in both sedan and hatchback body styles and gets better fuel economy ratings of up to 30/40 mpg city/highway. The Mazda has a better safety score and a superior reliability rating, too. However, the Golf offers more cargo space.

Which Is Better: 2016 Volkswagen Golf or 2016 Ford Focus?

The 2016 Ford Focus offers two key benefits over the VW Golf. It’s significantly less expensive – the highest list price for a Focus on our site is lower than the average-priced Golf – and it has superior fuel economy of up to 30/41 mpg city/highway. However, the VW feels more refined, from its engine to its interior, and it has a roomier back seat and more cargo space. Unlike the Focus, the Golf offers forward collision warning with brake assistance. The Focus has a slightly better, but still unimpressive, reliability rating, which gives it a marginal bump in our rankings.

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

You’re likely to find used 2016 Volkswagen Jetta sedans at much lower prices than Golf hatchbacks, but the Jetta is far from cheap. It offers a silkier ride, more rear-seat space, higher fuel economy, and nearly all of the same features. The catch is that the Golf boasts a higher-quality cabin and far more cargo space, making it a better family hauler.

Compare the Golf, Mazda3, and Focus »

2016 Golf Performance

How Does the 2016 Volkswagen Golf Drive?

Regardless of powertrain, the Golf feels athletic and has lively handling, while still remaining comfortable over bumpy roads. The Volkswagen Golf TSI has a 170-horsepower four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive are standard; a six-speed automatic is available. The turbocharged engine zips the Golf up to speed briskly and provides ample passing power. The manual shifts smoothly but feels heavy. The automatic operates well, though it can hesitate in stop-and-go traffic. VW also offers the Golf R with a 292-horsepower engine, along with all-wheel drive and the choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The racy Golf R can blast to 60 mph in under 5 seconds. The 2016 e-Golf, an electric vehicle, has a 115-horsepower electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack.

Does the 2016 Volkswagen Golf Get Good Gas Mileage?

The Golf TSI gets an efficient 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, while the Golf R gets only 22/31 mpg city/highway. The e-Golf has a range of 83 miles.

Read more about Golf performance »

Read more about mpg-e »

2016 Golf Interior

How Many People Does the 2016 Golf Seat?

The Volkswagen Golf seats five and has a quiet, premium interior. The dashboard is elegantly styled and features quality soft-touch plastics. The front seats are comfortable and offer fine support, even on longer drives. The rear seats are roomy enough for two adults to sit comfortably. Cloth upholstery is standard; heated front seats, leather, and leatherette upholstery are available. Outward visibility is great, thanks to the Golf’s large windows.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2016 Volkswagen Golf?

Each of the Golf's outboard rear seats has a full set of LATCH child-seat connectors, while the middle rear seat has only an upper tether anchor. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Golf's LATCH system an Acceptable rating for ease of use.

2016 Volkswagen Golf Features

The base Golf TSI has Bluetooth, a USB port, and a 5-inch touch screen; all higher trims add a 6.5-inch touch screen with satellite radio, a rearview camera, and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These two systems make it easy to sync your phone’s apps and functions with the infotainment system. Both screens function well and respond quickly to inputs, including swipe and pinch-to-zoom motions. Buttons and knobs at the side and bottom of each screen make it easy to adjust climate and audio settings on the go. Available features include navigation, a Fender sound system, and a larger 8-inch screen (e-Golf only).

See 2016 Volkswagen Golf specs »

Read more about Golf interior »

2016 Volkswagen Golf Dimensions

Volkswagen Golf Cargo Space

There's 22.8 cubic feet of cargo room behind the Golf's rear seats. Fold those seats down, and you’ll have 52.7 cubic feet of space. That's more cargo room than most other compact cars have.

2016 Golf Length and Weight

The Golf is nearly 14 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 2,901 pounds (two-door model with the manual transmission) to 3,023 pounds (four-door model with the automatic). Golf R models weigh between 3,305 pounds and 3,362 pounds, while the e-Golf's curb weight ranges from 3,380 pounds to 3,419 pounds.

Where Was the 2016 Volkswagen Golf Built?

The 2016 Golf TSI was assembled in Mexico. Golf R and e-Golf models were built in Germany.

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