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2018 Volkswagen GTI Review

The 2018 Volkswagen GTI sits near the top of our compact car rankings. It has one of the most enjoyable rides in the class, an upscale cabin, and plenty of standard technology. It's pretty pricey, however.

Pros & Cons

  • Sharp handling
  • Lively acceleration
  • Comfortable, roomy, and upscale interior
  • Poor fuel economy 

New for 2018

  • Refreshed styling inside and out
  • Reshuffling of trim levels and standard features
  • Base engine makes 220 horsepower




Critics' Rating: 9.9
Performance: 9.1
Interior: 8.6
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.7
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Volkswagen GTI Overview

Is the 2018 Volkswagen GTI a Good Used Car?

Yes, the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI is a good used compact car, especially if you're in the market for a fun-to-drive small car with a good amount of cargo space.

The 2018 GTI has a number of strengths:

  • Refined infotainment system
  • Adult-friendly seats
  • High-end cabin
  • Quick acceleration from a standstill
  • Precise steering and responsive handling

There are a couple weaknesses:

  • Expensive for the class
  • Below-average fuel economy for the segment
Why You Can Trust Us

To give you a complete overview of the 2018 GTI and make your car-shopping experience easier, we analyzed 40 Volkswagen GTI reviews alongside performance specs, interior dimensions, and more.

U.S. News & World Report’s Best Cars team has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our crew has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we do not accept expensive gifts from automakers, and an external company manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2018 Volkswagen GTI?

Based on listings for the 2018 Volkswagen GTI on our site, the average list price is $25,800, which is above average for the class. Prices range from $21,800 to $29,600 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Volkswagen GTI Cost to Own?

The 2018 Volkswagen GTI’s projected five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are not yet available.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New GTI?

The 2019 GTI doesn't add much over the 2018 model, and it has a higher starting price of about $27,600. For 2019, Volkswagen added 10 horsepower to the engine, introduced a Rabbit Edition trim, and reshuffled trim levels. Because there aren't many differences between these two models, we recommend getting a well-equipped used 2018 GTI.

Read about the new Volkswagen GTI »

The 2018 GTI is part of a generation that debuted with the 2015 model year. Volkswagen has made changes to the GTI every year since, so your personal preference will likely determine which GTI is most appealing. For the 2016 GTI, Volkswagen added an updated infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as extra driver assistance features like a standard rearview camera and available blind spot monitoring. For 2017, the Sport trim debuted and the two-door model was discontinued. For 2018, VW updated styling, reshuffled trims and standard features, and introduced a more powerful base engine.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 GTI »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Volkswagen GTI?

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

Read more about Volkswagen GTI reliability »

2018 Volkswagen GTI Recalls

At the time of writing, one recall has been issued for the 2018 Volkswagen GTI:

  • In some models, insufficient coating on brake caliper pistons may reduce brake performance

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

See more information on Volkswagen GTI safety recalls »

Which Used Volkswagen GTI Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI comes in three trims: S, SE, and Autobahn. The GTI has plenty of features in its base S trim to satisfy most shoppers. These include heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Opt for the SE trim to get additional safety features, and go for the top-of-the-line Autobahn trim for high-level features such as leather seats and a Fender premium audio system.

  • Volkswagen GTI S: The base S trim's infotainment system comes with a 6.5-inch touch screen, an eight-speaker audio system, HD Radio, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. Other standard features include heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a rearview camera, and an automatic post-collision braking system.
  • Volkswagen GTI SE: The SE trim adds an 8-inch touch screen, satellite radio, push-button start, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.
  • Volkswagen GTI Autobahn: The Autobahn trim includes navigation, a Fender premium audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and leather upholstery.

See 2018 Volkswagen GTI 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 Volkswagen GTI?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2018 GTI the highest rating of Good in five crash safety tests and the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front test. Properly equipped GTI’s received a Basic rating for front crash prevention. Headlights in the base trim received a Poor rating for how well they illuminate the road, while headlights in the other trims earned an Acceptable.

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

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera
  • automatic post-collision braking system
  • rain-sensing windshield wipers

Available advanced safety features:

  • rear cross traffic alert
  • blind spot monitoring
  • forward collision warning
  • adaptive cruise control
  • lane departure warning
  • park assist
  • automatic high beams
  • parking sensors
  • automatic emergency braking
  • pedestrian monitoring

See GTI safety scores »

2018 Volkswagen GTI Versus the Competition

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

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf has an available Golf R trim that has similar handling as the GTI but comes with all-wheel drive and more horsepower. Additionally, the Golf R comes with features such as leather upholstery and navigation that aren't standard in the GTI. The standard Golf is much less expensive than the GTI, but the Golf R is significantly more than the GTI. If you want a practical small car that’s fun to drive, you'll likely prefer the standard Golf. If you want better handling and more pep, the GTI is the pick. If you don't mind spending the extra dough to get even better performance, consider opting for the Golf R.

Which Is Better: 2018 Volkswagen GTI or 2018 Subaru WRX?

The 2018 Subaru WRX's standard all-wheel drive and more powerful base engine are appealing attributes, but the GTI is ultimately a superior vehicle. The WRX has a below-average predicted reliability rating, its infotainment system is dated, and its interior quality isn't as refined as the GTI's. Unless you're in desperate need of all-wheel drive, the GTI is a better choice.

Compare the GTI, Golf, and Focus »

2018 GTI Performance

How Does the 2018 Volkswagen GTI Drive?

The 2018 GTI's true performance metric is smiles per hour rather than zero-to-60 times or horsepower. It has responsive steering, agile handling, and a firm suspension that mitigates body roll but never feels harsh. The standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine has plenty of power and quick acceleration that can help make the daily commute fun. The standard manual transmission creates a truly engaging ride that driving enthusiasts will appreciate, and the available automatic transmission delivers fairly quick shifts.

  • Base engine: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 220-horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque 
  • Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
  • Transmission: six-speed manual; available six-speed dual-clutch automatic
Does the 2018 Volkswagen GTI Get Good Gas Mileage?

The GTI has some of the worst fuel economy estimates in the class.

  • up to 25/33 mpg city/highway

Read more about Volkswagen GTI performance »

2018 Volkswagen GTI Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 Volkswagen GTI Seat?

The 2018 Volkswagen GTI seats up to five people in two rows of comfortable, supportive seats. There's a solid amount of space for adults in both the front and the rear. Many reviewers praise the GTI for having an upscale interior that's a step above most cars in the class.

Standard seating features:

  • heated front seats
  • leather-wrapped steering wheel

Available seating features:

  • leather upholstery
  • 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Volkswagen GTI?

The 2018 Volkswagen GTI has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the GTI's LATCH system the highest rating of Good for ease of use.

2018 Volkswagen GTI Features

The GTI's infotainment system is user-friendly, with responsive touch controls and physical knobs on the control panel. This system also comes standard with smartphone integration technology via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 6.5-inch touch screen, an eight-speaker audio system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and HD Radio
  • Available infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, satellite radio, navigation, and a Fender premium audio system
  • Other available features: push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, and adaptive cruise control

See 2018 Volkswagen GTI specs »

Read more about GTI interior »

2018 Volkswagen GTI Dimensions

Volkswagen GTI Cargo Space

The GTI has one of the roomiest cargo areas in the class. It has 22.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 52.7 cubic feet when the back row is folded flat.

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 GTI Length and Weight
  • Length: 14 feet
  • Curb weight: roughly 3,060 to 3,130 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Volkswagen GTI Built?

Volkswagen built the 2018 GTI in Mexico.


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