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We drive the 2019 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen

by Ali Arsham
Thursday, March 14, 2019

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Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen
Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen

If you think you would like an SUV, may we suggest a nice European wagon instead? The Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen is an ideal car for small families that is affordable, fun, roomy and efficient. Most people don’t need a giant SUV to drive around town and the Golf is perfectly sized for the city life.

The Golf Sportwagen has typical Volkswagen clean styling that does not go out of style. It looks very modern and the tidy dimensions and short overhangs give it sporty proportions. At 179.8 inches long, the Sportwagen is about 10 inches longer than its hatchback brother. The extra 10 inches translates into a much larger cargo area. While the standard Golf has 22.8 cubic feet of cargo behind the back seat, the wagon enjoys a 30.4 cubic feet space.

Fold the rear seats and you have a very SUV like 66.5 cubic feet of space to haul whatever you wish. The front seats will be very familiar to any previous Volkswagen owners. The driver is faced with a very clean dash design and clear gauges. Everything is easily within reach and the material quality is terrific.

What really sets the Sportwagen apart from your typical SUV will be evident as soon as you drive the Volkswagen. First, you sit low and feel in touch with the road. The interior has a premium feel and everything you touch looks and feels expensive. Turn the wheel and you will appreciate the solid feel of the MQB architecture that the Golf is based on. The suspension is tight but not harsh.

Volkswagen has figured out the calibrations perfectly which is something that many manufacturers struggle with. Most mainstream manufacturers go with a softer setup which results in a floaty suspension that has no feel and is too mushy. In the case of the Sportwagen, the ride is extremely comfortable but the chassis is always well controlled.

With the wagon fully loaded it is possible to bottom out the suspension but it seldom happens. The amazing part is that despite the comfortable ride, the Golf still handles like a Sportwagen should.

The front suspension uses struts with a 22 mm anti-roll bar while the rear is a multi-link setup with a 19 mm anti-roll bar. The standard tires are 195/65-15 all seasons but our SE came with 225/45-17 all season tires. The all season tires provide very good grip in all conditions and are well matched for this car with lots of feedback for the driver.

Rear view
Rear view

For 2019, the Golf SportWagen front-wheel-drive adopts the 1.4-liter four-cylinder EA211 engine from the Jetta. The 1.4-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI engine makes 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, which is less than the previous 1.8.

If you want the 1.8 in the Golf Sportwagen, you have to select all wheel drive. Either engine gives you the choice of either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 1.4 liter engine features an air-to-water heat exchanger built directly into the intake module in place of an intercooler. The exhaust manifold is integrated into the head, reducing the distance that exhaust gases must travel to reach the turbocharger. This integration is designed to allow for faster response and catalytic converter light off. Valves work to regulate coolant flow into the head, which allows for rapid engine (and thus cabin) heating, as well as efficient cooling when the engine reaches normal operating temperature.

Both the intake and the exhaust valves feature variable valve timing, which results in both improved low-rpm performance, as well as increased torque throughout the rev range. A relatively high 10:1 compression ratio further helps the engine’s efficiency, yet it still takes regular (87 octane) gasoline.

The 1.4 liter engine moves the car well but there are times that you wish for more power. The additional grunt of the 1.8 engine would be nice to have for those rare times but we really appreciate the fantastic fuel economy.

Front-wheel-drive models equipped with the six-speed manual achieve an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 29 mpg in city driving and 37 mpg on the highway while models equipped with the optional eight-speed automatic are rated at 27 mpg in city driving and 36 mpg on the highway.

We averaged right around 36 mpg in our automatic equipped car but we saw numbers as high as 45 mpg if we kept our speeds a bit lower which was excellent.

You can't beat the warranty VW gives you
You can't beat the warranty VW gives you

Safety is a big concern for most customers and Volkswagen says that “to meet the demands of American drivers, the 2019 Golf SportWagen offers a comprehensive suite of driver-assistance technology.”

Put another way, American drivers need help because they don’t focus on driving. These features include: Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitor Rear Traffic Alert; Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Lane Keeping System (Lane Assist); and High Beam Control (Light Assist).

You don’t need any of these things if you pay attention and fortunately, we never even noticed that they were there.

One thing that is very important is a good warranty and Volkswagen has the best warranty in the business. The Golf SportWagen models in the United States will come with a six-year or 72,000-mile (whichever occurs first) bumper-to-bumper warranty, the remainder of which can be transferred to a subsequent owner throughout its duration.

Most mainstream competitors to the Volkswagen brand in the United States such as Honda, Toyota and Ford offer only a three-year/36,000 mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty on their cars and SUVs.

While Hyundai and Kia offer a five-year/60,000 mile basic warranty and a higher time and mileage limit on their powertrain limited warranties, if the vehicle is sold to a second owner, the powertrain limited warranty is not transferable beyond five years or 60,000 miles from the date it was first sold new.

The Golf Sportwagen is a terrific car for many buyers. It checks off boxes for many qualities that people require. It is good looking, comfortable, roomy, efficient, fun and most of all reliable. No wonder millions are sold throughout the world. Now with the new engine, it is even more efficient.

Basic Specifications

MPG: Up to 29 city / 37 highway

Dimensions: 180″ L x 71″ W x 58″ H

MSRP: From $21,895

Horsepower: 147 to 168 hp

Cargo volume: 30.4 ft³, 66.5 ft³ with seat area

Configurations
1.4T S Manual $21,895
1.4T S Automatic $22,995
1.8T S Manual $24,395
1.8T S Automatic $25,495
1.4T SE $29,995

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