New Car Review

2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen: New Car Review

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf 4-Door
Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf
$12,995
RELATED READING
See all Volkswagen Golf articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2016

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is fighting an uphill battle. Here's an incredibly practical car with all the quality, sophistication, refinement and sheer driving talent for which the brilliant Golf is renowned, plus an extended cargo area that measures a massive 66.5 cu ft. when the rear seats are folded flat, outdoing many compact SUVs. But car buyers in the United States still tend to prefer their lumpy-handling compact crossovers, while wagons tend to get little traction. If a carmaker does offer a wagon, it's sometimes called something else, such as a Touring or SportCross.

Volkswagen carries on undaunted, though, perhaps buoyed by the relative success of the previous generation's Jetta SportWagen, which really was a stretched Golf in everything but name. That car had an ace to play in its torquey and economical (not quite so economical, as it turned out) turbocharged diesel engine. But the whole VW diesel debacle means that no cars bearing a TDI badge are available for the foreseeable future. Yet regardless of how big that tragedy is for the company, the SportWagen buyer still has an excellent turbocharged 1.8-liter gasoline engine under the hood.

What's New for 2016?

There's no diesel-powered TDI version this year. A rearview camera is standard throughout the range. The Driver Assistance package now includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a blind spot monitoring system and lane-departure alert. Leatherette upholstery migrates up from the S trim to the SE level. An updated infotainment system brings a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, and (finally) a proper USB port replaces VW's proprietary cable.

What We Like

Excellent fuel economy; capable handling; upscale interior; serious cargo space

What We Don't

No all-wheel-drive option

How Much?

$22,445-$30,205

Fuel Economy

A 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine makes 170 horsepower and either 184 lb-ft of torque with the 5-speed manual transmission or 199 lb-ft with the optional 6-speed automatic. The SportWagen employs front-wheel drive only.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fuel economy with the manual transmission is 25 miles per gallon in the city, 36 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg combined. With the automatic (and that extra power), it's 25 mpg city/35 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen comes in S, SE and SEL trim levels.

The base 1.8T S ($22,445) has 15-in alloy wheels, black roof rails, a rearview camera, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with tilt-telescopic adjustment, height-adjustable front seats, a cooled glove box, hill-hold assist, cloth upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, a touchscreen interface, a USB port, auxiliary audio input, HD Radio and satellite radio, power accessories and air conditioning.

The 1.8T SE ($27,845) adds 17-in alloy wheels, fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, a panoramic sunroof, leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, keyless entry/starting, a 115-volt power outlet and a premium Fender-branded 9-speaker audio system.

The 1.8T SEL ($30,205) has 18-in alloy wheels, silver roof rails, navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, sport seats with 10-way power driver's-side adjustments and ambient LED interior lighting.

All SE and SEL models are eligible for two options packages. A Lighting package (adaptive xenon headlights, LED running lights and -- if not already specified -- ambient interior lighting with LED reading lights) and a Driver Assistance package (forward-collision warning and mitigation, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, and front and rear parking sensors).

We've already mentioned the generous 66.5 cu ft. of maximum cargo space. But when the rear seats are in place, there's still 30.4 cu ft. to swallow the week's groceries.

Safety

Standard safety features include anti-lock disc brakes, traction/stability control and six airbags (front, front-side and side-curtain). The standard Volkswagen Car-Net telematics system provides a smartphone app that lets you interact with the car remotely and features an SOS button for emergency assistance.

The SportWagen has not been crash-tested, but the regular Golf scored a maximum five stars overall in government crash tests: four of out five for front-impact protection and a full five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety made the regular Golf a Top Safety Pick+ after awarding it the top rating of Good in every category.

Behind the Wheel

The SportWagen's dashboard is lifted directly from the regular Golf, which means it's stylish in a restrained way, with materials higher in quality than is normal for this price range. Even the base S trim comes with a touchscreen interface, plus Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. The premium flourishes in pricier trims are even more tempting.

The front seats are firm and supportive, particularly with the SEL trim's sport comfort contours. And rear passengers will find more knee room than a compact wagon might be expected to provide. The standard panoramic sunroof on SE and SEL models is a luxury-grade touch that gives the car an upscale air.

The SportWagen also drives like the Golf, displaying the same confident handling and taut yet supple ride. The 1.8T engine is energetic off the line, but acceleration suffers a bit at higher speeds with the manual transmission, so we recommend the responsive automatic (and its extra 15 lb-ft of torque).

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Subaru Outback -- The Outback is larger than the SportWagen. It's also more capable, providing standard all-wheel drive and a raised suspension.

2016 Volvo V60 -- Considering something pricier? The V60 is even nicer than the SportWagen inside. It's quicker, too.

2016 Toyota Prius v -- This larger Prius hatchback is more fuel efficient than the SportWagen but not as much fun to drive.

Used Audi allroad -- The luxurious allroad offers standard all-wheel drive and tough off-road hardware. It's also a little faster than the SportWagen. Look for a certified pre-owned example with a factory warranty.

Autotrader's Advice

The SE trim level hits the sweet spot for features without breaking the bank. It's far from obvious that everyone will get the automatic version, since a wagon buyer is a nonconformist. But that extra engine power and the subsequent advantage in resale value could swing it.

Find a Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen for sale

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf 4-Door
Used 2016 Volkswagen Golf
$12,995
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen: New Car Review - Autotrader