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MSRP: $27,595 - 37,095

2019 Volkswagen GTI Review

The 2019 Volkswagen GTI earns a spot near the top of our compact car rankings. It's one of the most well-rounded cars in the class, with engaging driving dynamics, a quality interior, and intuitive tech features.

Pros & Cons

  • Brisk acceleration
  • Upscale, comfortable interior
  • Outstanding standard and available tech
  • Athletic handling
  • Pricier than competitors
  • Ride can feel stiff on coarse roads
  • Lower safety scores than most rivals

New for 2019

  • Rabbit Edition debuts
  • Engine output increases by 10 horsepower
  • Minor reshuffling of standard and available features

Is the Volkswagen GTI a Good Car?

Yes, the VW GTI is an excellent compact car. It's one of the most fun-to-drive cars in the class, thanks to its punchy engine and excellent handling. Inside, this hatchback looks great, and it provides plenty of space for passengers and cargo. It also has an easy-to-use infotainment system and several available driver assistance features. This VW isn't perfect, though. Many rivals have smoother rides, and although the GTI's safety ratings aren't low, many rivals have higher scores.

Should I Buy the Volkswagen GTI?

If driving enjoyment is a top priority, you won't go wrong with a Volkswagen GTI. Though its above-average price may turn away some shoppers, the GTI costs about the same as other small sport-focused vehicles such as the Subaru WRX, Honda Civic Sport Touring, and Ford Focus ST. The GTI also comes loaded with standard features and flaunts upscale cabin materials.

Compare the GTI, WRX, and Civic »

Should I Buy a New or Used Volkswagen GTI?

Volkswagen launched the seventh-generation GTI for 2015, and it has received numerous updates since. VW upgraded the car’s technology for 2016 by adding a standard rearview camera, an improved infotainment system, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (previously unavailable). For 2017, VW discontinued the two-door model and debuted the Sport trim. Volkswagen refreshed the GTI for the 2018 model year. In addition to styling changes, it gained a more powerful engine. For 2019, the new GTI gets a boost in engine power for the second year in a row and more optional safety features in the base model. Purchasing a used GTI may save you money, but consider each year's enhancements so you can choose the model that fits you best.

To research some older models, read our reviews of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Volkswagen GTI. If you decide a used GTI is right for you, you can review our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 GTI »

We Did the Research for You: 42 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about this sporty hatchback in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions) with 42 professional Volkswagen GTI reviews. This review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which spans the 2015 through 2019 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

The Best Cars team – a division of U.S. News & World Report – has been reviewing vehicles since 2007. With more than 75 years of combined automotive experience, our editors, writers, and analysts rank a wide variety of new and used vehicles and issue three annual awards: Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands. To keep our recommendations unbiased, we decline expensive gifts from carmakers, and a third party handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Volkswagen GTI Cost?

Retail prices for the 2019 GTI range from about $27,600 to $37,000. While that's more than the average price of nonhybrid compact cars, it's in line with the prices of performance-oriented rivals. For more details on pricing and standard features, see the Which Volkswagen GTI Model Is Right for Me? section below.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

Volkswagen GTI Versus the Competition

Volkswagen produces the Golf in a wide variety of body styles and personalities. When it comes to core categories such as safety and predicted reliability, these vehicles have nearly identical ratings. That frees you to choose the VW that best fits your lifestyle and budget.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen GTI or Volkswagen Golf?

In its base setup, the VW Golf is a milder hatchback than the GTI. The Golf still treats you to a first-class cabin, user-friendly technology, and a spacious cargo area, but it costs about $5,500 less than the GTI. If the GTI is out of your budget, consider the less-sporty and less-expensive Golf S or Golf SE instead.

Which Is Better: Volkswagen GTI or Volkswagen Golf SportWagen?

If you like the GTI's styling and technology but need more cargo space, the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is an excellent choice. This wagon has a starting price in the low $20,000s and places near the top of our wagon rankings. All-wheel drive is available, as is the adventure-oriented Golf Alltrack.

Compare the GTI, Golf, and Golf SportWagen »

GTI Interior

How Many People Does the GTI Seat?

The passenger areas in the five-seat GTI are spacious and comfortable. No matter where you fall on the height spectrum, you'll find a suitable seating position with the GTI's seat and steering wheel adjustments. The Autobahn's leather upholstered, power-adjustable front seats are especially enjoyable.

GTI and Child Car Seats

Caregivers will have a relatively stress-free time installing child safety seats in a GTI, as its LATCH hardware is easy to find and use. The back seat has two sets of lower anchors and three tether anchors. This LATCH system earns a top Good rating for ease of use from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 

GTI Interior Quality

The GTI compensates for its above-average price tag with its upscale interior. The handsome cabin is outfitted in premium-grade materials, and a sporty tone is applied to its styling.

GTI Cargo Space

The GTI's hatchback body type creates an abundance of cargo space. Its 22.8 cubic feet of space (52.7 with the back seat folded down) is one of the largest in the compact car class.

GTI Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The GTI's technology is straightforward. Its crisp touch screen is responsive, the menus are intuitive, and the accompanying controls are straightforward. Every trim level comes with HD Radio, as well as advanced smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

GTI Performance

GTI Engine: Satisfying Sound and Speed

VW boosts the GTI's horsepower rating to 228 this year (when you use premium fuel), making an already enjoyable engine even more thrilling. All models come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The GTI comes standard with a rewarding six-speed manual transmission; you can upgrade to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that's almost as enjoyable.

GTI Gas Mileage: Slightly Behind

With the automatic transmission, the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI earns an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. That's a bit below average for the class. 

GTI Ride and Handling: Hot Hatch

The front-wheel-drive GTI is responsive and nimble. These dynamic handling characteristics – when paired with its brisk acceleration – make the GTI feel energetic and athletic. The sport-tuned suspension system can occasionally feel stiff on rough roads.

GTI Dimensions and Weight

The GTI is 14 feet long. It has a 3,062-pound curb weight with the manual transmission. Models with the automatic transmission weigh an additional 66 pounds.

Read more about performance »

GTI Reliability

Is the Volkswagen GTI Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2019 GTI a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Volkswagen GTI Warranty

The 2019 Volkswagen GTI comes with a six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Read more about reliability »

GTI Safety

GTI Crash Test Results

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI has a perfect five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned five stars in the side crash category and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover categories. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it the highest rating of Good in five crash tests and the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front test. 

GTI Safety Features

Every 2019 GTI comes with a rearview camera, an automatic post-collision braking system, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Available safety features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, active park assist for parallel and perpendicular parking, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and automatic high beams.

Read more about safety »

Which Volkswagen GTI Model Is Right for Me?

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI is available in four trim levels: S, Rabbit Edition, SE, and Autobahn. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission are standard. For $1,100, you can add a six-speed automatic to any trim level.

If the GTI is already a stretch for your budget, stick with the base model. It's nicely equipped, and with unexpected niceties such as heated front seats and ambient lighting, you'll feel like you're riding in an uplevel model. For the best value, take a look at the new Rabbit Edition. For only $1,300 more than the GTI S, you get a remarkable number of added high-tech safety features.

Volkswagen GTI S

Premium-grade features that are standard in the Volkswagen Golf GTI S ($27,595) include heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and ambient lighting. The base infotainment system contains a 6.5-inch touch-screen display, HD Radio, and smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink. Advanced safety features such as rain-sensing windshield wipers, an automatic post-collision braking system, and a rearview camera are standard as well.

Volkswagen GTI Rabbit Edition

The all-new Rabbit Edition starts at $28,895 and is expected to have a limited production run. It draws its inspiration from VW's heritage and brandishes styling accents such as a black rear spoiler and black aluminum-alloy wheels. A wealth of advanced safety features are standard, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. A proximity key and push-button start are also included.

Volkswagen GTI SE

Leather seats are now standard in the Volkswagen Golf GTI SE ($31,795). This trim level also comes with a sunroof, an 8-inch touch screen, and satellite radio.

Volkswagen GTI Autobahn

One of the key features of the Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn ($35,995) is its advanced driver assistance suite, which includes front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and active park assist for parallel and perpendicular parking. The Golf GTI's top trim also comes with a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, and a Fender premium audio system.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Volkswagen dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Volkswagen deals page.

See 2019 Volkswagen GTI specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2019 VW GTI delivers performance that only a handful of rivals can match, and it features one of the nicest interiors in the class. With such all-around quality, it's easy to see why the GTI claims one of the top spots in our compact car rankings. This hatchback costs more than many of its rivals, but there's a good chance you'll think it's worth the extra money.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "It's a comprehensive package that also features agility, comfort, practicality, class and affordability. It's pretty much the ideal car." -- Autotrader
  • "The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI, especially in base S model trim, is for a driving enthusiast one of the best new-car propositions on the market today. It's an outstanding performance car value, delivering a truly engaging, organic driving experience. And, at its core, the GTI is still a Golf compact hatchback offering surprising people and cargo space and everyday usability. If you love to drive, and you love a good bargain, the 2018 GTI is too good to pass up." -- New York Daily News (2018)
  • "One drive in a 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI and you'll understand why this model has become something of an icon since its American debut in 1983. Like the standard Golf on which it is based, the Golf GTI offers plenty of practicality and interior materials that feel as if they were pulled from a more expensive German car." -- Edmunds (2018)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: October 4, 2019

Sharply Declining Sales: Sales of the Volkswagen Golf family (which includes the GTI) have declined 15.5 percent in 2019 compared to sales posted during the same period in 2018. To make matters worse, the entire Golf family is being outsold by the compact car segment leading Honda Civic by almost 9 to 1. 

Research more buying advice »
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