Volkswagen has been in the news frequently of late — and not for good reasons. So are you still interested in buying one? Think before you answer that question. With all the drama surrounding the diesel-emissions cheating scandal, let’s not forget that these classic German cars have been pleasing even the most critical shoppers for many decades. You may not be able — right now — to buy one of the cars formerly known as clean diesel, but the lineup has always been led by critically acclaimed, customer-pleasing gasoline models.
This year, the German automaker has updated some of its old stalwarts and introduced new or special-edition models. No matter what price point or type of vehicle you’re shopping for, there is still something for you at the VW dealer. These four new models in particular are worthy of a closer look.
2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Limited Edition
The SportWagen name at Volkswagen means go-anywhere capability and practicality. SportWagen versions of the Golf and Jetta have been cult favorites for years. For 2016, this Golf SportWagen Limited Edition model is a bargain-priced version — refreshing when so many cars and crossovers are headed up, up, up into luxury territory. The limited edition is intended to slot in price above the SportWagen S and below the SE. Volkswagen underlines the bargain aspect by giving the limited edition such upscale standard features as leatherette seating, push-button starting, a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats and windshield-washer nozzles, and an infotainment system that gives you Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Even better, you get adaptive cruise control, a blind spot monitoring system, a rearview camera, forward-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking for no extra charge. VW’s turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, making 170 horsepower, is teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission, promising 35 miles per gallons on the highway — not bad for a wagon at any price. The Golf SportWagen Limited Edition went on sale in late March, priced starting at $25,815 including shipping.
2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
The 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is a brand-new rugged version of the Golf that goes on sale later this year. This one is aimed straight at the Subaru Outback and Forester — and the all-wheel-drive fans who love them. Check out the Alltrack’s lower body cladding if those wagons are your style. The Golf Alltrack is also bait for the many people who are interested in a crossover; if you choose the Alltrack instead, you get the Germanic tautness and understated charm of VW’s award-winning Golf family while enjoying all-wheel drive with an off-road mode and hill-descent control, all at a price yet to be named but sure to sit below the luxury-crossover level. The Golf Alltrack has VW’s turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder making 170 hp, teamed with a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission — sporty! For even more sportiness, there will be a 6-speed manual available later in the 2017 model year. Features include a 6.5-inch infotainment screen, a rearview camera and 60/40-split folding leatherette seats. Active safety equipment is optional and includes adaptive cruise control with autonomous emergency braking. Even people who already have a Golf sedan might be tempted to upsize to this wagon, which offers 66.5 cu ft. of cargo capacity when the seats are folded in back. Pricing has not yet been announced for this model, which will reach dealers in the fall.
2016 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 1.8T Denim Limited Edition
The 2016 Volkswagen Beetle denim convertible is a limited edition; only 2,000 will be sold. This little droptop is part Barbie dream car and part California dreaming. It pays homage to the Jeans bug of the 1970s with its Stonewashed Blue exterior — you can get it in white too (but why would you?) — and textured denim-look dark-blue convertible top. You have to see the seat pockets to believe them; they’re jeans-pocket realistic, down to the little red tags marked Beetle. But the denim Beetle is not just for show. It’s powered by a 1.8-liter 170-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder with a 6-speed automatic transmission, all for $26,815 including shipping. That price includes a 5-in touchscreen for the VW MIB II Bluetooth-enabled infotainment system, as well as a rearview camera.
2016 Volkswagen Passat
The 2016 Volkswagen Passat is a refreshed version of the classic sedan. It’s a little sleeker with front- and rear-end changes, although still as low-key in appearance as you’d expect a VW to be. Now you can get many of the upper-echelon features you’ll find on many competitors in the fiercely competitive midsize-sedan segment. Among them are a freshly updated infotainment system with a 5-in touchcreen and LED headlights (a full set of LED lights inside and out, front and rear, costs $1,245). Also new for 2016 is an R-Line version of the Passat, with a unique bumper, rear diffuser and rocker panels for a sportier look, along with larger 19-in alloy wheels. The 2016 Passat’s active safety features, most optional depending on trim level, are up-to-date: forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, park assist and a blind spot monitoring system. Every 2016 Passat gets a rearview camera and VW’s post-collision braking system as standard. The Passat was one of VW’s standard bearers in the diesel category, but with diesel-powered models taken off the market, the company has had to step up with some value — and these gasoline-powered Passats have accomplished that. As a bonus, the 2016 VW Passat was awarded the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick+ rating when equipped with some of those highly desirable active safety features. The Passat starts at $22,440 for the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder model, with the sporty R-Line starting at $24,795 and the top VR6 V6-powered model starting at $37,655; all prices include shipping.