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2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Review

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen adds another dimension to the already practical Golf compact hatchback. It does so by turning the rear section into a wagon. The larger cargo area measures a massive 66.5 cu ft. when the back seats are folded flat, outdoing many compact crossovers. And the SportWagen comes with the option of all-wheel drive.

Factor in the quality, sophistication, refinement and sheer driving talent for which the brilliant Golf is renowned, and this all sounds like a fantastic idea. But the result is a little controversial, because American buyers aren’t exactly famous for their love of wagons. That’s their loss.

What’s New for 2019?

Front-wheel-drive versions have a new turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, as found in the fresh-for-2019 Jetta compact sedan. This brings the option of an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The previous range-topping SEL trim has been discontinued, prompting a redistribution of equipment among the remaining three trims.

The entry level S trim and its AWD counterpart — S 4Motion — are now eligible for a Driver Assistance package ($450) that includes forward-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection, plus blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

The new range-topping SE trim receives 17-in alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, fog lights and a self-dimming rearview mirror .See the 2019 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen models for sale near you

What We Like

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

What We Don’t

Automatic transmission occasionally sluggish in its responses.

How Much?

$22,790-$30,890

Fuel Economy

A new-for-2019 turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine inhabits the engine bays of FWD SportWagens. It makes 147 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, while an 8-speed automatic is optional.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), estimates fuel economy with the manual transmission at a pretty impressive 29 miles per gallon in the city, 37 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg in combined driving. Put the automatic transmission into the mix and those figures become 27 mpg city/36 mpg hwy/31 mpg combined.

The AWD S 4Motion deploys a turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 168 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. Again, a 6-speed manual transmission is standard. The automatic option is a 6-speed DSG unit (it’s operated like a regular automatic).

Fuel consumption is 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined (manual) or 22 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined (DSG automatic).

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen comes in S, S 4Motion and SE trim levels. The SE comes with an automatic transmission as standard. Where it’s optional, it costs an extra $1,100.

The base S ($22,790) has 15-in alloy wheels, black roof rails, LED daytime running lights/taillights, power accessories, air conditioning, heated side mirrors, cruise control, a rearview camera, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with a tilt-and-telescopic adjustment, height-adjustable front seats, hill-hold assist, cloth upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, a 6.5-in touchscreen interface, a 6-speaker audio system, smartphone integration for Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Mirror Link devices, USB port and a HD radio.

The S 4Motion version ($25,290) adds AWD, the 1.8-liter turbocharged engine, heated front seats, heated windshield washer nozzles and 16-in alloy wheels.

These two trims are eligible for the aforementioned Driver Assistance package.

The SE ($30,890) has the automatic transmission as standard and adds 17-in alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof, leatherette seating surfaces, heated front seats, keyless entry/start, a heated windshield washer nozzles, a self-dimming rearview mirror, an 115-volt outlet in the cargo area, an 8-in touchscreen, a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio input, forward-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

We’ve already mentioned the generous 66.5 cu ft. of maximum cargo space. But even when the rear seats are in place, there’s still a considerable 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, 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 earned the full five stars overall in the crash test program carried out by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with five stars for driver’s side protection and four for the front passenger side. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also gave it the top mark of Good in most major categories — except for the passenger-side small front overall test, where it took the second-best rating of Acceptable.

Behind the Wheel

The SportWagen’s dashboard is lifted directly from the regular Golf, so it’s stylish in a restrained way, with the quality of materials higher than normal for this price range. Even the base S trim comes with a touchscreen interface, as well as Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.

The front seats are firm and supportive, while rear passengers will find more knee room than a compact wagon might usually provide. The standard panoramic sunroof in the SE is a luxury-grade touch.

The SportWagen also drives like the Golf, displaying the same confident handling and taut-yet-supple ride. The 1.8-liter turbocharged engine is energetic off the line, but acceleration suffers a bit at higher speeds.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Subaru Outback — The Outback is larger than the SportWagen. It’s also more capable, providing standard all-wheel drive and a raised suspension.

2019 Volvo V60 — Considering something pricier? The new-for-2019 V60 is even nicer than the SportWagen inside. It’s quicker too. Special order only, though.

2019 Volkswagen Alltrack — Similar to the SportWagen, but comes with a raised ride height and consequently an elevated driving position, plus all-wheel drive as standard and vaguely wannabe-crossover styling.

Used Audi A4 Allroad — The luxurious Allroad offers standard AWD and tough off-road hardware. It’s also a little faster than the SportWagen. Look for a certified pre-owned (CPO) example with a factory warranty.

Autotrader’s Advice

If AWD is a necessity, then there’s only one SportWagen choice. At least the driver assistance package is priced reasonably. If the budget allows, though, the SE is the most attractive.Find a Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen for sale

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