Entry Price: $21,685
Price as tested: $31,305
This week we’re driving another Volkswagen, this time the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen. This VW is still called a “station wagon” as the latter two words that have nearly disappeared from the car manufacturing vocabulary.
The station wagon vernacular was most popular with the baby boomer and earlier generations when wagons toured the highways in mass numbers. Slowly, station wagons sank out of favor as the minivan, which first appeared in 1984, grew in popularity and was joined by close equivalent vehicles called Crossovers and SUVs. This popular trio combines to make up the most prevalent and trendy form of passenger vehicle transportation on the road today, hands down.
However, Volkswagen and Volvo still build what we call station wagons, which historically are built similar to its car design counterpart and sit lower to the ground than the minivan, crossover and SUV. Oh yes, let’s not forget the all-new Buick Regal TourX station wagon, running on a midsize platform in true wagon form. I’m in the process of trying to arrange a test drive as I write this with the Volvo V90 and the Buick TourX, so please stay tuned.
As for the 2018 Golf SportWagen S, there’s lots of positive to deal with. This well-designed station wagon starts at just $21,685 and is an exceptional intermingle of the Golf-design yet offers more interior room and expanded cargo space than the sedan or hatchback models. VW engineers then add the same great Golf mechanical underpinnings that result in today’s sporty handling SportWagen. Next in line with the SportWagens are the well-equipped SE at $27,320 and the top line SEL at $30,245.
If you don’t want a station wagon, a Golf S Sedan starts at $20,910 and there are also some other notable Golf models including the athletic Golf GTI at $26,415 and an Electric Golf at $30,495. If you live in a climate where snow is common, there’s no need to fret as both front-drive and 4Motion all-wheel-drive SportWagens are available. A 4Motion AWD wagon starts at $23,935 with a six-speed manual (automatic is optional) while a performance bred, 292-horse hatchback-only rally enhanced Golf R 4Motion AWD is the top liner at $39,375.
Under our SportWagen hood sits VW’s proven 1.8-liter TSI four-cylinder turbo that generates 170 horses and 199 lb. ft of torque. Fuel mileage is good, with 24 city and 33 highway EPA numbers while power is transferred via Volkswagen’s stout Tiptronic six-speed automatic transmission. You’ll accelerate to 60 mph in the 6- to low-7-second zone. If you choose to stay with the standard five-speed manual on the entry S SportWagen, which is unavailable on SE and SEL, torque drops to 184 while fuel mileage ups to 25 city and 34 highway.
The more expensive SE and SEL trim SportWagens feature 8-inch touchscreens instead of 6.5-inchers, push button start, SiriusXM satellite, a sliding panoramic sunroof and a blind spot rear view mirror monitor. Notable, to, is that both SE and SEL add as standard equipment rear traffic alert, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking (front assist), all advantageous high-tech safety items and highly recommended. The SEL adds adaptive cruise and an upgraded Fender stereo system with nine speakers.
Golf SportWagen is categorized as a small wagon by EPA standards and arrived with SEL specific 17-inch Hankook tires on nice multi-spoke alloy wheels. When combined with a proven, great handling fully independent suspension, you have excellent adhesion on all type of curvy roads. Handling is snug and precise, the latter a longtime VW calling card as all VW’s have DNA from siblings Porsche and Audi built-in.
Standard on the upper-class SEL SportWagen are leather trim seating, heated seats, Bluetooth, Halogen/LED lighting, all the media device interfaces MP3/WMA-compatible, CD player and AM/FM/HD radio. Cabin room is excellent be it front or rear seat passengers, who also enjoy the aforementioned giant size power and sliding sunroof, three 12V outlets and much more. Your VW dealer will explain everything when you visit for a closer look at these fine wagons.
Front side airbags and side curtain airbags are standard while safety enhancements include four-wheel disc ABS brakes, stability and traction controls, rearview safety camera, electric brakeforce and more. Not surprisingly, the Golf receives 5-Star NHTSA safety ratings.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.5-inches, 3,120 lb. curb weight, 13.2-gallon fuel tank, 35.8 ft. turn circle, from 30.4 to 66.5 cu. ft. of cargo space and a 5.4-inch ground clearance.
Notable is VW’s new bumper-to-bumper, 6-year/72,000 mile warranty which happens to be the best bumper-to-bumper warranty in the business. (I know you’re thinking what about those 10-year, 100,000 mile warranties, right? Well, they are powertrain limited and not bumper-to-bumper).
Golf has acquired nearly cult-like consumer affection, and be it sedan, hatch or wagon, these Volkswagens have come a long way since introduction back in 1974. Our tester had just a few options, including a Muddy Buddy cargo liner for $105 and Monster Mats for the floors at another $105. With $850 delivery, the final price came in at $31,305.
In summary, VW Golf Sportwagen is an excellent effort from the folks at Volkswagen and worthy of a test drive if shopping the small wagon market.
As for how long the SportWagen will be around is questionable. VW just released a new Golf Alltrack Wagon, which sits a bit higher in ground clearance than the SportWagen and comes with standard 4R Motion four-wheel-drive. This move makes us wonder if the SportWagen’s days might be numbered.
Hopefully for us “any station wagon is a good station wagon” aficionados, I’m wrong.
Likes: Nice wagon looks, pricing, interior, peppy performance.
Dislikes: Some road noise, cumbersome touchscreen, some safety items unavailable on S model.
Next Week: Mazda6 Sedan
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications.
Test Drive: 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
Entry Price: $21,685