2020 Golf New Car Test Drive
The 2019 Volkswagen Golf family of hatchbacks and wagons has a model for most tastes. The compact Golf ranges from mild to wild in performance, with the Golf GTI marking the hot end of the spectrum.
Last redesigned as a 2015 model, the Golf substitutes a 1.4-liter turbo-4 engine for the previous 1.8-liter in all hatchbacks, as well as front-drive SportWagens. The 1.8-liter version remains in all-wheel-drive wagons, including the Alltrack.
For 2019, the Golf SE is now available with a Driver Assistance package that includes adaptive cruise control, active lane control, automatic high-beams, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The Golf S gains forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alerts.
Hatchbacks and SportWagens are offered in S and SE trim levels. Alltrack wagons add an SEL variant. Four GTI versions are offered.
The new 1.4-liter turbo-4 engine is rated at 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, driving either a slick-shifting 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive SportWagens and all Alltracks keep the 168-horsepower, 1.8-liter turbo-4.
In Golf GTI models, the 2.0-liter turbo-4 gets an 8-hp boost to 228 horsepower. The Golf R reaches all the way into performance with its 288-horsepower turbo-four, sending 280 pound-feet of torque to the ground through standard all-wheel drive. GTI and Golf R models can have a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Volkswagen's battery-powered e-Golf can travel about 125 miles on a full charge. A 35.8-kwh lithium-ion battery pack works with an electric motor that develops 134 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. At a DC fast-charging station, the battery can charge to about 80 percent within an hour.
The Golf has performed well in crash-testing. The IIHS rated the 2019 model “Good” in each test, except “Acceptable” in the small-overlap test on the passenger's side. The NHTSA gave Golf a five-star rating overall and for side-impact, and four stars for frontal impact and for rollover prevention (a calculated figure).
Nearly all versions now come with collision-avoidance active-safety technology, including forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking. Those features are available in a $450 Driver Assistance package for other Golf models..
Prices do not include $895 destination charge.
1.4T S Hatchback ($21,845 with manual, $22,945 with automatic) includes air conditioning, 15-inch alloy wheels, cloth seat upholstery, a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen with Bluetooth, blind-spot monitors, forward-collision warnings, and automatic emergency braking.
1.4T SE Hatchback ($24,145 with manual, $25,245 with automatic) adds synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, keyless ignition, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, 16-inch wheels, and panoramic sunroof.
1.4T Golf S SportWagen ($21,895 with manual, $22,995 with automatic) is similar to the S hatchback, with 1.4-liter engine and front-drive, but with the wagon body. Standard features include LED taillights, rain-sensing wipers, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen. Active-safety technology (blind-spot monitors, automatic emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic alerts) is a $450 option.
1.8T Golf S SportWagen with AWD ($24,395 with manual, $25,495 with automatic) substitutes a 1.8-liter engine and all-wheel drive.
1.8T Golf SE SportWagen with AWD ($29,995 with automatic) adds a suite of active-safety features, including forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, active blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control.
1.8T Golf Alltrack S with AWD ($26,895 with manual, $27,995 with DSG automatic) builds upon the SportWagen S, with all-wheel drive, synthetic leather seat upholstery, heated front seats, 6.5-inch touchscreen, and 17-inch wheels. Active-safety technology includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, along with blind-spot monitors.
1.8T Golf Alltrack SE with AWD ($30,495 with manual, $31,595 with DSG) adds a larger (8.0-inch) touchscreen, satellite radio, and keyless ignition.
1.8T Golf Alltrack SEL with AWD ($34,995 with manual, $36,095 with DSG) adds navigation, dual-zone climate control, 12-way power driver's seat, 18-inch wheels, and adaptive cruise control.
2.0T GTI S Hatchback ($27,595 with manual, $28,695 with DSG dual-clutch automatic) gets the 228-hp engine and comes with cloth seat upholstery, heated front seats, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The Driver Assistance package with active-safety technology costs $450.
2.0T GTI Rabbit Edition Hatchback ($28,895 with manual, $29,995 with DSG), the new limited-edition “heritage” model, includes LED headlights, black 18-inch wheels, black rear spoiler, red-stitched floor mats, and active-safety technology.
2.0 GTI SE Hatchback ($31,795 with manual, $32,895 with DSG) adds leather seating surfaces, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, sunroof, and satellite radio. The Driver Assistance group, with active-safety technology, is standard.
2.0 GTI Autobahn ($35,995 with manual, $37,095 with DSG) adds a 12-way power driver's seat with power recline, dual-zone climate control, keyless ignition, navigation, Fender audio, navigation, and adaptive cruise control.
2.0 Golf R Hatchback ($40,395 with manual, $41,495 with dual-clutch automatic), the top performance model, comes with the 288-hp engine, leather upholstery, a performance monitor, adaptive LED headlights, 19-inch wheels, digital instrument cluster, suite of active-safety features, and Fender premium audio.
e-Golf SE Hatchback ($31,895) is battery-powered, with 7.2-kw onboard charger, DC fast-charging capability, cloth upholstery, 8.0-inch touchscreen, exclusive bumpers and grille, and roof spoiler.
e-Golf SEL Premium Hatchback ($38,895) gets a 9.2-inch touchscreen with navigation, synthetic leather upholstery, and LED headlights. Safety features include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane assist, and parking assist..