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2021 Volkswagen Golf Review

The Volkswagen Golf is unchanged for 2021. It’s the last seventh-generation Golf we’ll see before the all-new eighth-generation Golf arrives in 2021 as a 2022 model.

As usual, the U.S. gets the new Golf about a year after Germany does. But that’s not so bad, because the 2021 Volkswagen Golf shines as a compact European 5-door hatchback that’s as fun to drive as it is practical.

What’s New for 2021?

There are no changes to the Golf for 2021. Two models, though –the electric e-Golf and the sporty Golf R – have been dropped from the lineup. The 228-horsepower VW GTI continues, but it’s covered elsewhere on Autotrader.com. See the 2021 Volkswagen Golf models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Convenient size
  • Practical hatchback
  • Fun to drive
  • Fuel-efficient
  • Roomy back seat
  • Made in Germany

What We Don’t

  • No all-wheel drive
  • Only one trim: TSI
  • Last of the seventh-generation VW Golfs

How Much?

$24,115

Fuel Economy

The front-wheel-drive 2021 Volkswagen Golf is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 147 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. It runs on regular 87-octane gasoline. A 6-speed manual is the standard transmission; an 8-speed automatic is optional.

With either transmission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rates the Golf at 29 miles per gallon in the city, 37 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg in combined driving. Equipped with a 13.2-gallon fuel tank, the 2021 Golf can go over 400 miles between fill-ups.

Standard Features & Options

As was the case last year, the Golf is available in one trim: TSI.

The 2021 Golf comes standard with a pushbutton start, leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, heated windshield washer nozzles, and 16-inch alloy wheels. On the safety front, a forward-collision warning (with automatic emergency braking) is standard, along with a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

The only option on the 2021 Golf TSI remains an automatic transmission. With the base manual transmission, the Golf TSI starts at $24,115. When equipped with the 8-speed automatic, the 2021 VW Golf is priced at $24,915.

The Golf’s cargo capacity is impressive. There’s 16.5 cu ft behind the rear seats, and a whopping 52.7 cu ft. when the back seat is folded flat. The Golf is like a mini minivan, with plenty of space in back for a mountain bike or your grandmother’s old trunk.

Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the Golf an Overall Safety Rating of 5 stars. The Golf scored 4 stars on front-impact tests and 5 stars on side-impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has tabbed the Golf as a Top Safety Pick.

Active safety features on the 2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI include a forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, plus two other very handy technologies – a blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert. All Golfs also have a post-collision automatic braking system that applies the brakes after an impact to reduce the possibility of a secondary impact.

Behind the Wheel

With its soft-touch materials and rich door-panel materials, the 5-seat interior of the 2021 VW Golf is a pleasant place that exudes good quality. There’s room for adults in back, and brushed aluminum accents add a touch of class. Simply put, the Golf looks and feels like it should be more expensive than it is. It doesn’t feel like an economy car; it’s more a downsized entry-level luxury vehicle.

The touchscreen incorporates a capacitive touch sensor with swipe and pinch-to-zoom functions, just like a smartphone. It also has a proximity sensor that automatically calls up a more user-friendly layout when a hand approaches.

Long trips are no problem, because the sturdy front seats provide all-day comfort. And given the Golf’s modest dimensions, the back seats is remarkably well suited for adults.

On the road, the Golf feels solid and nimble. It’s completely comfortable at higher speeds, although the electric-assist steering feels a bit numb. Nevertheless, the 2021 Golf has a comfortable ride, and we appreciate its relative willingness to change directions.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Honda Civic Hatchback  — This Civic’s practicality, along with its quality, affordability, and excellent resale, make it a great choice.

2021 Hyundai Elantra GT — The Elantra is well-priced, well-equipped, and well-made. And it comes with the best warranty in the industry.

2021 Kia Forte — The stylish Forte isn’t a hatchback, but it’s compelling because it’s keenly priced and generously equipped. Same warranty as the Elantra, too.

2021 Mazda3— A true Golf competitor in refinement and driver experience. Available as a hatchback or a sedan, the Mazda3 offers sportier handling but a cramped back seat.

2021 Subaru Impreza — The Impreza comes standard with all-wheel drive, which will appeal to folks in northern latitudes. Sedan or hatchback.

2021 Volkswagen Jetta— If the VW brand is tempting but you want a sedan with a traditional trunk, opt for the Jetta. Made in Puebla, Mexico.

Used Volkswagen Golf GTI — Looking for little more fun? Consider a used GTI through Volkswagen’s certified pre-owned program.

Questions You May Ask

How long is the warranty on a 2021 Volkswagen Golf?

Both the powertrain and bumper-to-bumper warranties on the 2021 VW Golf last for four year or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Where is the Volkswagen Golf made?

All versions of the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf are made in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Which trim level of the 2021 VW Golf should I buy?

That’s an easy one, the TSI. It’s the only trim level available. And we’d recommend the 6-speed manual transmission, but the 6-speed automatic is a good one.

Which versions of the upcoming eighth-generation VW Golf will be sold in the U.S.?

VW has said that the sporty eighth-generation Golf R and GTI models will be available as 2022 models. Other versions of the all-new Golf are being considered for the U.S.

Is the electric Volkswagen e-Golf available for the 2021 model year?

Unfortunately, no. The electric VW e-Golf has been discontinued, but look for lots of electrification from Volkswagen in the coming years.

Autotrader’s Advice

This is your last chance to get a seventh-generation VW Golf. While it might be tempting to wait for an eighth-gen 2022 Golf, only the new GTI and Golf R models are confirmed for the U.S. at this time, with others still being considered. In the meantime, the current 2021 Volkswagen Golf shines as a compact European hatchback that’s practical, fun to drive, and relatively easy on the wallet. Find a Volkswagen Golf for sale

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