Entry price: $21,895
Price as tested: $26,840
This week, we’re driving Volkswagen’s popular small station wagon, namely the 2019 Golf SportWagen with 4Motion mechanicals. Now in its seventh generation following a 1974 debut, Golf is also available in four hatchback trims and two wagon styles including our tester SportWagen and the Alltrack wagon, the latter a similar wagon that’s all dressed up with 4Motion as standard.
Volkswagen continues to promote its unique Golf hatchback and wagon motifs dating all the way back to the original 1974 Golf. That first Golf featured a squared-off, hatchback theme and even though it’s come a long way since then, the Golf original design theory still shines through on these modern day little wagons.
The SportWagen entry S model starts at just $21,895, and then moves up to our tester S 4Motion at $25,495. The top line SE SportWagen starts at $29,995 and all three SportWagens feature Volkswagen’s distinctive combination of larger body, additional interior room and expanded cargo space. These features attract consumers from several age demographics, including college students, growing families, seniors, and over-the-road salespeople who seek extra cargo capacity.
The S 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is the same used in sibling Audi models and transfers traction between front and rear wheels. In normal driving, front wheels are primary although 4Motion determines when to send torque to the rear axle. It’s a totally proven and excellent 4x4 system.
Under the hood of S 4Motion models sits VW’s proven 1.8-liter four cylinder turbo that generates 168 horses and 199 lb. ft. of torque. Fuel mileage estimates are decent for an all-wheel-drive wagon at 22 city and 29 highway as power transfers to the wheels thanks to Volkswagen’s 4x4 specific six-speed automatic transmission.
If you buy the front-drive Sportwagen, a 1.4 liter turbo is standard coupled to an eight-speed automatic that, in combination with its “non 4x4” lighter curb weight, pushes EPA estimates to 27 city and 36 highway. The front drive SE also uses the 1.4-liter powertrain with similar EPA results.
The front-drive only SE adds more amenities, like an 8-inch touchscreen instead of a 6.5-inch, sliding panoramic sunroof and a blind spot monitor as standard fare. SE also includes standard SiriusXM, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking (front assist), the latter safety that is optional on the S models.
All SportWagen cabins are a blend of versatility and convenience. Our S 4Motion features manual climate control with second row vents, VW’s CarNet app, heated front seats with power recline, tilt and telescopic steering, front console and more. Room inside is excellent be it front or rear seat passengers, while cargo area expands thanks to a 60/40 split second row that folds down. You’ll top out at over 65 cu. ft. of cargo space if needed, a huge number in a small compact wagon.
Numerous Golf amenities are standard on the S, from cruise to air to three 12V outlets. There’s roll-bar like safety cage construction and security items including rearview camera, electric brakeforce and more. The Golf receives 5-Star NHTSA safety crash ratings and all models come with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability and traction controls, rearview camera, and all the airbags.
Our tester featured a highly recommended Driver Assistance option that adds forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring and a blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert. For $450 more, it’s a rock-solid addition that every SportWagen S buyer should check off on their SportWagen order. It’s exactly the same protection features found in the SE as standard, but SE’s $30,000-entry price might be a bit high for some consumers.
Another important standard safety item all of the 2019 Volkswagens include is called “Intelligent Crash Response System” (ICRS). This important precaution item features a special system that activates in a collision when the airbags are deployed. Specifically, the ICRS turns off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors and activates the hazard lights if the driver might not be able to. A big “pat on the back” to the engineers at VW for adding this standard feature, especially turning off the fuel pump if fire is underway or a possibility.
It’s out on the highway, meanwhile, where the SportWagen impresses. The S 4Motion arrives with traction hungry all-season 16-inch Hankook Kinergy GT tires on nice alloy wheels. These tires allow the fully independent suspension to serve up great grip on all types of highways and corresponding weather conditions. Overall, the handling is what one expects when you drive any style VW Golf as much attention is given to comfort without lessening the surprising cornering abilities when called on.
Additionally, owners will drive with confidence thanks to VWs excellent and transferable 6-year, 72,000 mile bumper-to-bumper “People First Warranty” that not only includes the powertrain, it adds all other major and minor components. It’s one of the very best warranties out there.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.7-inches, 3,285 lb. curb weight, 13.2-gallon fuel tank, 35.8 ft. turn circle, from 30.1 to 66.5 cu. ft. of cargo space and a 5.4-inch ground clearance.
In summary, VW Golf SportWagen is worthy of a test drive if shopping the compact market. With pricing that allows consumers from all walks a chance to own a 2019 Golf, you’ll appreciate the entire line from sedan to wagon. Your VW dealer awaits your visit and will explain all models and options and current incentives.
Likes: Looks, pricing, cargo, warranty, safety.
Dislikes: SiriusXM unavailable on S trims, ultra high-tech amenities on SE only, a little road noise.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Test Drive: 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen 4Motion
Entry price: $21,895