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Archive for the ‘Volkswagen’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven

When my friends talk about compact hatchbacks, sometimes the Volkswagen Golf gets left out of the conversation. But it really shouldn’t be that way: The Golf is far and away the best-selling compact in Europe. There are good reasons for that, not least of which is the Golf’s supreme practicality.

Here in America, we don’t get quite as many Golf variants as Europe does. We get the highlights, though: regular Golf, sporty GTI, raucous Golf R, cargo-friendly Golf Sportwagen, and most recently, soft-road-ready Golf Alltrack.

Volkswagen has sent me two Golf Rs in the last year. You might consider those the most evolved version of the car, in terms of overall performance. Fast and fun to toss around the twisties, the R also happens to be the most expensive version of the Golf — expect to pay $40,000 if you want one. But this time, VW sent me a regular Golf TSI SEL, a luxurious hatchback without all the high-performance hype — and it’s 25% cheaper than the Golf R, even though it’s loaded with options. It proved itself to be a great little transportation pod for my family of four.

Design Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750995
“The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.””

The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.”

The front of the car has a simple, thin grille opening bisected by a prominent VW logo between the Golf’s two hexagonal headlights. A larger opening below the front bumper strike surface handles most of the actual cooling duties for the radiator.

From the side, the VW Golf is handsome, with short overhangs that give it a sporty appearance. The front wheel arch appears to nearly reach all the way to the hood. There’s a motion to the design when viewed from this angle, the car always appearing to be ready to pounce into action.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750999
“At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp”

The creases along the side of the car are purposeful — the crease just below the hood shutline traveling on to form the sills under the side windows, the middle crease below the door handles forming the car’s beltline, and the lower crease serving to give the Golf’s profile a solid base.

At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp. The hatch itself is cleanly designed, integrating the inner half of the taillights, which are joined by a sharp crease that serves to continue the beltline seen in profile view.

Inside, the Golf TSI SEL had the same design I saw in the Golf R, minus a couple of things like the embroidered “R” logos on performance-bolstered front bucket seats. The interior is simple — some say boring — but I found it purposeful and non-distracting, as I have found most VW interiors in recent years.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750998

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (in/mm) 103.8/2,637
Length (in/mm) 167.6/4,258
Width (in/mm) 70.8/1,799
Height (in/mm) 58.2/1,477
Track front/rear (in/mm) 61.0/59.8 (1,549/1,520)
Ground Clearance (in/mm) 5.4/137

Drive Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751011
“All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine”

All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America (the Golf R excepted) are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, and that’s no bad thing — unless you’re looking for the best fuel economy in the segment. If that’s your bag, look elsewhere. I saw 31 MPG over a 350+ mile week. That’s not bad, considering the car’s EPA ratings of 25 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined. However, it’s not as frugal as, say, a Nissan Sentra’s EPA scores (29/37/32 when equipped with an automatic transmission).

But the competitors, for the most part, lack the refinement of the 1.8-liter turbo four in the Golf. It has 170 horsepower on tap and a stout 199 lb-ft of torque. In VW’s typical style of recent years, torque comes on early and stays strong through the middle of the rev range, providing plenty of grunt to get up to speed around town or when merging onto the highway. My tester was coupled with an excellent six-speed automatic transmission (at no extra charge) that was admirably quick to shift down when I gave the skinny pedal a little more weight.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751005
“Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways”

The suspension of the Golf was well-sorted. The driving experience was purely European. Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways. Steering feel was better than most in this segment. No compact car I have driven in the last couple of years has steering feel this good. Sport-tinged models like the Nissan Sentra NISMO or Hyundai Elantra Sport might come close, but they are laden with compromises that the Golf SEL doesn’t make.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 1.8L, inline four cylinder, 16V, turbocharged and intercooled, DI
Displacement 1798 cc
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Horsepower 170 HP @ 4,500 RPM
Maximum torque 199 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM

Technology Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751018
“My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit”

Being a top-spec SEL trim, my 2017 Volkswagen Golf was equipped with a raft of technology features.

Among the headline items was VW’s Front Assist, which included autonomous emergency braking in my test car. Also on-tap was adaptive cruise control and keyless access and start, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, rearview camera, and a multifunction digital display in the gauge cluster that handled all trip computer functions and displayed other information like tire pressures and turn-by-turn navigation directions.

My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit with AM/FM/HD/XM radio tuners, a CD player, and USB and AUX inputs. The sound system was from Fender — yes, the makers of guitars — and it provided full, rich sound once I figured out how to turn up the subwoofer in the audio settings. We’re not talking window-rattling, disturbing-the-peace stuff from this audio system, just well-done sound.

One quirk carried over from lesser VW sound systems, unfortunately: The volume seems to have an aggressive cam on it. Adjustments in the lowest 25% of the volume range seem to be much larger than they are in the next 25%. From halfway up to full roar, the difference in volume seems minimal. It’s strange. I would like smaller, more evenly spaced volume increments for each click of the volume knob or each touch of the steering wheel-mounted volume controls.

Cabin notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751010
“It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats”

The technology is nice, but it’s the practical cabin space that really makes the Volkswagen Golf attractive to family men like myself.

The boxy Golf interior makes the most of the car’s relatively small footprint. It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which was plenty for grocery-hauling. If you fold down the rear seats, there’s 52.7 cubic feet of hauling space in this box, which would be plenty to haul my drum kit.

Seating surfaces in the Golf are lower to the ground than some compacts (Nissan Sentra) but similar to others (Hyundai Elantra). As a result of that and my 6-foot, 3-inch frame, I felt a little bit cramped in the front seat as I tried to make some room for my six-year-old son behind me. The dash was pretty close to my knees, as was the steering column. The seating position was go kart-like, with my knees a bit higher than my hips. I could raise the seat base, but ended up with my head touching the headliner before my legs were at a more comfortable angle.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751012
“Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.”

Having said that, Volkswagen measurements show 38.4 inches of headroom up front and 38.1 inches in the rear. Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.

There are smaller cars that offer better legroom. For example, a Nissan Versa Note has 41.3 inches of legroom for front-row occupants and 38.3 inches for rear-seat occupants. Where Golf has the advantage is its width, where it has 55.9 inches of shoulder room up front and 53.9 inches in the back seat. Compare that to the Versa Note’s 51.7 and 51.9 inches, respectively.

But no Versa Note, can touch the interior refinement of the Golf, nor can most subcompact hatchbacks. My tester had heated leatherette seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and emergency brake lever. The doors of the Golf shut with a reassuring, Germanic thud instead of the hollow clank of economy-minded subcompact competitors. The Golf seemed quieter than most compacts on the highway, too. Quality, not quantity, is the name of the game for VW here.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751013

Interior Dimensions

Headroom fron/rear (Inches) 38.4/38.1
Shoulder room fron/rear (Inches) 55.9/53.9
Legroom fron/rear (Inches) 41.2/35.6
Passenger Volume (cu ft) 93.5
Cargo Volume, trunk (cu ft) 17.4
Cargo Volume, seats down (cu ft) 53.7

Competitors

Categorizing the Golf for the purpose of comparing to its competition is tougher than it seems on the surface. Technically a “compact” by EPA size classification standards, it actually hews closer to what many of us consider “subcompact” in all but its width.

Its price, too, defies convention. You could buy a base 2017 Golf as cheap as $19,895, which is on-par with a lot of mass-market compacts like the aforementioned Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra, but load it up with options like my SEL test car, and you’re soon breaking the $30,000 barrier. The tested Golf had a sticker price of $30,810. That’s nearly in the pricing territory of entry-level compact luxury contenders like the Mercedes CLA Class or the Infiniti Q50 2.0t. Depending on dealer attitudes about discounting, a car like the Infiniti might be available at a modest monthly payment premium.

Volkswagen says the competitive set for the Golf is found in cars like the Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza, and Ford Focus. And true, with the exception of the Kia, those entries can be optioned up to absurd price levels for cars that began their lives as proletariat family transportation. But of those, I’m going to pick the Subaru to start.

Subaru Impreza


2017 Subaru Impreza - image 670280

The smallest Subaru gets high praise from those who deal with snowy roads because it has standard all-wheel drive, but for those of us who live in warmer climes, there are a lot of shortcomings in the Scoob.

First and foremost, the Impreza’s feel is much cheaper. Doors are tinny, the dashboard is an expanse of hollow-sounding, scratchy plastic, and the car lets in a lot more road noise than the Golf, which isn’t blissfully quiet at highway speed itself.

Second, the Subaru 2.0-liter naturally aspirated “boxer” four-cylinder engine feels more agricultural than VW’s silky smooth 1.8-liter turbo inline four, and it’s less powerful (152 horsepower vs. 170.) Another powertrain demerit: The Subaru pairs this lumpy flat-four with a CVT if you don’t want to shift for yourself. Most folks will find the VW’s traditional six-speed automatic more satisfying.

But Subaru does offer the WRX to compete with the VW GTI, and the hotter-still WRX STi makes a pretty convincing Golf R competitor for slightly less money. Also, the Impreza offers slightly more interior space, and for those poor souls who prefer a sedan over a practical hatchback, Subaru does offer you that option.

Read our full review on the 2017 Subaru Impreza.

Ford Focus


2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven - image 659669

Ford’s Focus is an interesting competitor. Like the Subaru, it is offered in hatchback and sedan form. Also like the Subaru, it offers competitors to the performance-oriented Volkswagen GTI (Focus ST) and Golf R (Focus RS). The Focus RS is probably the hottest of the compact hot-hatch segment, though it pays a penalty in its rough, noisy ride.

As far as normal Focus models go, Ford has an advantage over VW in its powertrains, where the Focus can be purchased with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine or the tiny turbo 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder fuel-saver. Ford also wins a lot of praise for the handling prowess of the Focus, which has perhaps the most European “feel” of any non-European compact hatch.

I’m no fan of the interior of the Focus, with its busy layout and design. Its rear seats are tight. Front seat room is better, but I’ve always found the ergonomics more awkward than the Golf. There’s a lot less cargo volume than the Golf, too — the Focus rings in at a competitive 23.3 cubic feet behind the second row, but fold those seats, and you get just 43.9 cubic feet total cargo space. Not sure I could squeeze a drum kit back there.

Styling on the outside comes down to a matter of preference. I find the Focus attractive in hatchback form, perhaps even more attractive than the conservative Golf. But that may result in a vehicle that appears to age faster than the timeless lines of the German.

A definite plus is Ford dealers’ willingness to deal on the Focus. It’s no irregular thing to see a Focus advertised below $15,000 by Ford dealers looking to move the metal. Finding a Golf with that level of discount is akin to finding a unicorn.

Read our full driven review on the Ford Focus

Nissan Sentra


2016 Nissan Sentra - image 656206

Here’s the oddball of my group: The Nissan Sentra does not come in hatchback form for America. Europeans are lucky enough to get the Pulsar — basically a Sentra hatchback that competes directly with the Golf.

Having said that, it’s also probably the value leader of the group. If you’re determined to get a cheap compact car that will return decent fuel economy and a low cost of ownership, it’s a compelling entry. It’s roomy, its seat cushions are further off the ground than the Golf (which is no bad thing for those of us who are piling on the years), and it’s relatively attractive inside and out, despite an aging platform.

Admittedly, a run-of-the-mill $20,000 Sentra, with its weak-sauce 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, is far slower than a comparably priced base Golf. That can be addressed by opting for the 188-horsepower Sentra SR Turbo, which also has a stiffened chassis and suspension designed to wring a little more handling out of the Sentra.

In theory, the Sentra NISMO is Nissan’s competition to the VW GTI, but Nissan didn’t give the 1.6-liter turbo engine a power bump. If Nissan wises up and gives the Sentra NISMO an RS version with the same 225-horsepower tune I’ve experienced in the Nissan Juke NISMO RS, I’ll be more ready to compare it to the GTI.

This comparison highlights a quandary in VW’s product lineup, however: The VW Jetta, which is more of a direct competitor to the Sentra, offers more interior passenger space than the Golf, and usually at a much lower price. The Jetta also has a more efficient, if slightly less powerful engine than the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Sentra.

Honorable mention: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT


2018 Hyundai Elantra GT - image 704950

Though my tested VW Golf was a 2017 model, Hyundai released its 2018 Elantra GT hatchback update just a few weeks after my Golf test drive. Basically an Americanized version of the European Hyundai i30 hatchback, it may be the closest competitor to the Golf in terms of fit-and-finish, design, and cabin space.

The Elantra GT has an attractive exterior and an all-new interior with a tablet-like infotainment screen standing atop the center stack, mostly independent of the dashboard. It has available leather seats and can be bought with either a manual, automatic, or in the GTI-competitor “Sport” trim, a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

In terms of interior practicality, the Elantra felt a lot like the Golf. It had a similar size. I felt a little cramped in the driver’s seat if I made room for my son behind me. The cargo area was ample. Switchgear and door-closing felt solid, much like the Golf.

However, in terms of driving experience, the Golf was the more solid choice. Its engine felt stronger despite being smaller — the Hyundai has a 2.0-liter engine, but it’s naturally aspirated and feels lethargic in the midrange compared to the more powerful turbocharged 1.8-liter Golf. The Elantra GT’s six-speed automatic leaves a lot to be desired, as well. I felt like a shorter final drive ratio would have improved the Elantra GT’s ability to climb hills without downshifting a couple of times, as it did on most hills, but it probably would have resulted in worse fuel economy.

The Elantra GT can be loaded up to nearly $30,000 with optional equipment that includes a glass roof and a technology package that brings navigation and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay capability, so it does share some pricing commonality with the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751001

Volkswagen Golf has a long and storied history of carrying the torch for compact hatchbacks, even during times when that has been far from the most popular genre of family car. It plays to a niche of buyers, and it’s exceptionally good at it because it has features that would appeal to anyone, whether they’re “into” compact hatchbacks or not.

As a married, working-class father of two, I appreciate the Golf for being a versatile, European take on the compact genre that also has an approachable price point for my budget. While more expensive than some of its competition, it offers better handling and arguably better styling than most in the segment. It also happens to be pretty good at the dad-car role, hauling my kids and other assorted cargo without fuss.

I’m not sure I’d drop $30K on a Golf like the one I tested — and I admit, at that price I expect real leather, not vinyl leatherette — but lower-trim Golfs are a mighty tempting option for this lover of hatches and small cars.

Disclosure: Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven

When my friends talk about compact hatchbacks, sometimes the Volkswagen Golf gets left out of the conversation. But it really shouldn’t be that way: The Golf is far and away the best-selling compact in Europe. There are good reasons for that, not least of which is the Golf’s supreme practicality.

Here in America, we don’t get quite as many Golf variants as Europe does. We get the highlights, though: regular Golf, sporty GTI, raucous Golf R, cargo-friendly Golf Sportwagen, and most recently, soft-road-ready Golf Alltrack.

Volkswagen has sent me two Golf Rs in the last year. You might consider those the most evolved version of the car, in terms of overall performance. Fast and fun to toss around the twisties, the R also happens to be the most expensive version of the Golf — expect to pay $40,000 if you want one. But this time, VW sent me a regular Golf TSI SEL, a luxurious hatchback without all the high-performance hype — and it’s 25% cheaper than the Golf R, even though it’s loaded with options. It proved itself to be a great little transportation pod for my family of four.

Design Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750995
“The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.””

The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.”

The front of the car has a simple, thin grille opening bisected by a prominent VW logo between the Golf’s two hexagonal headlights. A larger opening below the front bumper strike surface handles most of the actual cooling duties for the radiator.

From the side, the VW Golf is handsome, with short overhangs that give it a sporty appearance. The front wheel arch appears to nearly reach all the way to the hood. There’s a motion to the design when viewed from this angle, the car always appearing to be ready to pounce into action.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750999
“At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp”

The creases along the side of the car are purposeful — the crease just below the hood shutline traveling on to form the sills under the side windows, the middle crease below the door handles forming the car’s beltline, and the lower crease serving to give the Golf’s profile a solid base.

At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp. The hatch itself is cleanly designed, integrating the inner half of the taillights, which are joined by a sharp crease that serves to continue the beltline seen in profile view.

Inside, the Golf TSI SEL had the same design I saw in the Golf R, minus a couple of things like the embroidered “R” logos on performance-bolstered front bucket seats. The interior is simple — some say boring — but I found it purposeful and non-distracting, as I have found most VW interiors in recent years.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750998

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (in/mm) 103.8/2,637
Length (in/mm) 167.6/4,258
Width (in/mm) 70.8/1,799
Height (in/mm) 58.2/1,477
Track front/rear (in/mm) 61.0/59.8 (1,549/1,520)
Ground Clearance (in/mm) 5.4/137

Drive Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751011
“All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine”

All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America (the Golf R excepted) are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, and that’s no bad thing — unless you’re looking for the best fuel economy in the segment. If that’s your bag, look elsewhere. I saw 31 MPG over a 350+ mile week. That’s not bad, considering the car’s EPA ratings of 25 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined. However, it’s not as frugal as, say, a Nissan Sentra’s EPA scores (29/37/32 when equipped with an automatic transmission).

But the competitors, for the most part, lack the refinement of the 1.8-liter turbo four in the Golf. It has 170 horsepower on tap and a stout 199 lb-ft of torque. In VW’s typical style of recent years, torque comes on early and stays strong through the middle of the rev range, providing plenty of grunt to get up to speed around town or when merging onto the highway. My tester was coupled with an excellent six-speed automatic transmission (at no extra charge) that was admirably quick to shift down when I gave the skinny pedal a little more weight.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751005
“Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways”

The suspension of the Golf was well-sorted. The driving experience was purely European. Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways. Steering feel was better than most in this segment. No compact car I have driven in the last couple of years has steering feel this good. Sport-tinged models like the Nissan Sentra NISMO or Hyundai Elantra Sport might come close, but they are laden with compromises that the Golf SEL doesn’t make.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 1.8L, inline four cylinder, 16V, turbocharged and intercooled, DI
Displacement 1798 cc
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Horsepower 170 HP @ 4,500 RPM
Maximum torque 199 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM

Technology Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751018
“My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit”

Being a top-spec SEL trim, my 2017 Volkswagen Golf was equipped with a raft of technology features.

Among the headline items was VW’s Front Assist, which included autonomous emergency braking in my test car. Also on-tap was adaptive cruise control and keyless access and start, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, rearview camera, and a multifunction digital display in the gauge cluster that handled all trip computer functions and displayed other information like tire pressures and turn-by-turn navigation directions.

My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit with AM/FM/HD/XM radio tuners, a CD player, and USB and AUX inputs. The sound system was from Fender — yes, the makers of guitars — and it provided full, rich sound once I figured out how to turn up the subwoofer in the audio settings. We’re not talking window-rattling, disturbing-the-peace stuff from this audio system, just well-done sound.

One quirk carried over from lesser VW sound systems, unfortunately: The volume seems to have an aggressive cam on it. Adjustments in the lowest 25% of the volume range seem to be much larger than they are in the next 25%. From halfway up to full roar, the difference in volume seems minimal. It’s strange. I would like smaller, more evenly spaced volume increments for each click of the volume knob or each touch of the steering wheel-mounted volume controls.

Cabin notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751010
“It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats”

The technology is nice, but it’s the practical cabin space that really makes the Volkswagen Golf attractive to family men like myself.

The boxy Golf interior makes the most of the car’s relatively small footprint. It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which was plenty for grocery-hauling. If you fold down the rear seats, there’s 52.7 cubic feet of hauling space in this box, which would be plenty to haul my drum kit.

Seating surfaces in the Golf are lower to the ground than some compacts (Nissan Sentra) but similar to others (Hyundai Elantra). As a result of that and my 6-foot, 3-inch frame, I felt a little bit cramped in the front seat as I tried to make some room for my six-year-old son behind me. The dash was pretty close to my knees, as was the steering column. The seating position was go kart-like, with my knees a bit higher than my hips. I could raise the seat base, but ended up with my head touching the headliner before my legs were at a more comfortable angle.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751012
“Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.”

Having said that, Volkswagen measurements show 38.4 inches of headroom up front and 38.1 inches in the rear. Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.

There are smaller cars that offer better legroom. For example, a Nissan Versa Note has 41.3 inches of legroom for front-row occupants and 38.3 inches for rear-seat occupants. Where Golf has the advantage is its width, where it has 55.9 inches of shoulder room up front and 53.9 inches in the back seat. Compare that to the Versa Note’s 51.7 and 51.9 inches, respectively.

But no Versa Note, can touch the interior refinement of the Golf, nor can most subcompact hatchbacks. My tester had heated leatherette seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and emergency brake lever. The doors of the Golf shut with a reassuring, Germanic thud instead of the hollow clank of economy-minded subcompact competitors. The Golf seemed quieter than most compacts on the highway, too. Quality, not quantity, is the name of the game for VW here.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751013

Interior Dimensions

Headroom fron/rear (Inches) 38.4/38.1
Shoulder room fron/rear (Inches) 55.9/53.9
Legroom fron/rear (Inches) 41.2/35.6
Passenger Volume (cu ft) 93.5
Cargo Volume, trunk (cu ft) 17.4
Cargo Volume, seats down (cu ft) 53.7

Competitors

Categorizing the Golf for the purpose of comparing to its competition is tougher than it seems on the surface. Technically a “compact” by EPA size classification standards, it actually hews closer to what many of us consider “subcompact” in all but its width.

Its price, too, defies convention. You could buy a base 2017 Golf as cheap as $19,895, which is on-par with a lot of mass-market compacts like the aforementioned Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra, but load it up with options like my SEL test car, and you’re soon breaking the $30,000 barrier. The tested Golf had a sticker price of $30,810. That’s nearly in the pricing territory of entry-level compact luxury contenders like the Mercedes CLA Class or the Infiniti Q50 2.0t. Depending on dealer attitudes about discounting, a car like the Infiniti might be available at a modest monthly payment premium.

Volkswagen says the competitive set for the Golf is found in cars like the Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza, and Ford Focus. And true, with the exception of the Kia, those entries can be optioned up to absurd price levels for cars that began their lives as proletariat family transportation. But of those, I’m going to pick the Subaru to start.

Subaru Impreza


2017 Subaru Impreza - image 670280

The smallest Subaru gets high praise from those who deal with snowy roads because it has standard all-wheel drive, but for those of us who live in warmer climes, there are a lot of shortcomings in the Scoob.

First and foremost, the Impreza’s feel is much cheaper. Doors are tinny, the dashboard is an expanse of hollow-sounding, scratchy plastic, and the car lets in a lot more road noise than the Golf, which isn’t blissfully quiet at highway speed itself.

Second, the Subaru 2.0-liter naturally aspirated “boxer” four-cylinder engine feels more agricultural than VW’s silky smooth 1.8-liter turbo inline four, and it’s less powerful (152 horsepower vs. 170.) Another powertrain demerit: The Subaru pairs this lumpy flat-four with a CVT if you don’t want to shift for yourself. Most folks will find the VW’s traditional six-speed automatic more satisfying.

But Subaru does offer the WRX to compete with the VW GTI, and the hotter-still WRX STi makes a pretty convincing Golf R competitor for slightly less money. Also, the Impreza offers slightly more interior space, and for those poor souls who prefer a sedan over a practical hatchback, Subaru does offer you that option.

Read our full review on the 2017 Subaru Impreza.

Ford Focus


2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven - image 659669

Ford’s Focus is an interesting competitor. Like the Subaru, it is offered in hatchback and sedan form. Also like the Subaru, it offers competitors to the performance-oriented Volkswagen GTI (Focus ST) and Golf R (Focus RS). The Focus RS is probably the hottest of the compact hot-hatch segment, though it pays a penalty in its rough, noisy ride.

As far as normal Focus models go, Ford has an advantage over VW in its powertrains, where the Focus can be purchased with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine or the tiny turbo 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder fuel-saver. Ford also wins a lot of praise for the handling prowess of the Focus, which has perhaps the most European “feel” of any non-European compact hatch.

I’m no fan of the interior of the Focus, with its busy layout and design. Its rear seats are tight. Front seat room is better, but I’ve always found the ergonomics more awkward than the Golf. There’s a lot less cargo volume than the Golf, too — the Focus rings in at a competitive 23.3 cubic feet behind the second row, but fold those seats, and you get just 43.9 cubic feet total cargo space. Not sure I could squeeze a drum kit back there.

Styling on the outside comes down to a matter of preference. I find the Focus attractive in hatchback form, perhaps even more attractive than the conservative Golf. But that may result in a vehicle that appears to age faster than the timeless lines of the German.

A definite plus is Ford dealers’ willingness to deal on the Focus. It’s no irregular thing to see a Focus advertised below $15,000 by Ford dealers looking to move the metal. Finding a Golf with that level of discount is akin to finding a unicorn.

Read our full driven review on the Ford Focus

Nissan Sentra


2016 Nissan Sentra - image 656206

Here’s the oddball of my group: The Nissan Sentra does not come in hatchback form for America. Europeans are lucky enough to get the Pulsar — basically a Sentra hatchback that competes directly with the Golf.

Having said that, it’s also probably the value leader of the group. If you’re determined to get a cheap compact car that will return decent fuel economy and a low cost of ownership, it’s a compelling entry. It’s roomy, its seat cushions are further off the ground than the Golf (which is no bad thing for those of us who are piling on the years), and it’s relatively attractive inside and out, despite an aging platform.

Admittedly, a run-of-the-mill $20,000 Sentra, with its weak-sauce 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, is far slower than a comparably priced base Golf. That can be addressed by opting for the 188-horsepower Sentra SR Turbo, which also has a stiffened chassis and suspension designed to wring a little more handling out of the Sentra.

In theory, the Sentra NISMO is Nissan’s competition to the VW GTI, but Nissan didn’t give the 1.6-liter turbo engine a power bump. If Nissan wises up and gives the Sentra NISMO an RS version with the same 225-horsepower tune I’ve experienced in the Nissan Juke NISMO RS, I’ll be more ready to compare it to the GTI.

This comparison highlights a quandary in VW’s product lineup, however: The VW Jetta, which is more of a direct competitor to the Sentra, offers more interior passenger space than the Golf, and usually at a much lower price. The Jetta also has a more efficient, if slightly less powerful engine than the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Sentra.

Honorable mention: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT


2018 Hyundai Elantra GT - image 704950

Though my tested VW Golf was a 2017 model, Hyundai released its 2018 Elantra GT hatchback update just a few weeks after my Golf test drive. Basically an Americanized version of the European Hyundai i30 hatchback, it may be the closest competitor to the Golf in terms of fit-and-finish, design, and cabin space.

The Elantra GT has an attractive exterior and an all-new interior with a tablet-like infotainment screen standing atop the center stack, mostly independent of the dashboard. It has available leather seats and can be bought with either a manual, automatic, or in the GTI-competitor “Sport” trim, a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

In terms of interior practicality, the Elantra felt a lot like the Golf. It had a similar size. I felt a little cramped in the driver’s seat if I made room for my son behind me. The cargo area was ample. Switchgear and door-closing felt solid, much like the Golf.

However, in terms of driving experience, the Golf was the more solid choice. Its engine felt stronger despite being smaller — the Hyundai has a 2.0-liter engine, but it’s naturally aspirated and feels lethargic in the midrange compared to the more powerful turbocharged 1.8-liter Golf. The Elantra GT’s six-speed automatic leaves a lot to be desired, as well. I felt like a shorter final drive ratio would have improved the Elantra GT’s ability to climb hills without downshifting a couple of times, as it did on most hills, but it probably would have resulted in worse fuel economy.

The Elantra GT can be loaded up to nearly $30,000 with optional equipment that includes a glass roof and a technology package that brings navigation and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay capability, so it does share some pricing commonality with the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751001

Volkswagen Golf has a long and storied history of carrying the torch for compact hatchbacks, even during times when that has been far from the most popular genre of family car. It plays to a niche of buyers, and it’s exceptionally good at it because it has features that would appeal to anyone, whether they’re “into” compact hatchbacks or not.

As a married, working-class father of two, I appreciate the Golf for being a versatile, European take on the compact genre that also has an approachable price point for my budget. While more expensive than some of its competition, it offers better handling and arguably better styling than most in the segment. It also happens to be pretty good at the dad-car role, hauling my kids and other assorted cargo without fuss.

I’m not sure I’d drop $30K on a Golf like the one I tested — and I admit, at that price I expect real leather, not vinyl leatherette — but lower-trim Golfs are a mighty tempting option for this lover of hatches and small cars.

Disclosure: Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven

When my friends talk about compact hatchbacks, sometimes the Volkswagen Golf gets left out of the conversation. But it really shouldn’t be that way: The Golf is far and away the best-selling compact in Europe. There are good reasons for that, not least of which is the Golf’s supreme practicality.

Here in America, we don’t get quite as many Golf variants as Europe does. We get the highlights, though: regular Golf, sporty GTI, raucous Golf R, cargo-friendly Golf Sportwagen, and most recently, soft-road-ready Golf Alltrack.

Volkswagen has sent me two Golf Rs in the last year. You might consider those the most evolved version of the car, in terms of overall performance. Fast and fun to toss around the twisties, the R also happens to be the most expensive version of the Golf — expect to pay $40,000 if you want one. But this time, VW sent me a regular Golf TSI SEL, a luxurious hatchback without all the high-performance hype — and it’s 25% cheaper than the Golf R, even though it’s loaded with options. It proved itself to be a great little transportation pod for my family of four.

Design Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750995
“The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.””

The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.”

The front of the car has a simple, thin grille opening bisected by a prominent VW logo between the Golf’s two hexagonal headlights. A larger opening below the front bumper strike surface handles most of the actual cooling duties for the radiator.

From the side, the VW Golf is handsome, with short overhangs that give it a sporty appearance. The front wheel arch appears to nearly reach all the way to the hood. There’s a motion to the design when viewed from this angle, the car always appearing to be ready to pounce into action.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750999
“At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp”

The creases along the side of the car are purposeful — the crease just below the hood shutline traveling on to form the sills under the side windows, the middle crease below the door handles forming the car’s beltline, and the lower crease serving to give the Golf’s profile a solid base.

At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp. The hatch itself is cleanly designed, integrating the inner half of the taillights, which are joined by a sharp crease that serves to continue the beltline seen in profile view.

Inside, the Golf TSI SEL had the same design I saw in the Golf R, minus a couple of things like the embroidered “R” logos on performance-bolstered front bucket seats. The interior is simple — some say boring — but I found it purposeful and non-distracting, as I have found most VW interiors in recent years.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750998

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (in/mm) 103.8/2,637
Length (in/mm) 167.6/4,258
Width (in/mm) 70.8/1,799
Height (in/mm) 58.2/1,477
Track front/rear (in/mm) 61.0/59.8 (1,549/1,520)
Ground Clearance (in/mm) 5.4/137

Drive Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751011
“All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine”

All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America (the Golf R excepted) are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, and that’s no bad thing — unless you’re looking for the best fuel economy in the segment. If that’s your bag, look elsewhere. I saw 31 MPG over a 350+ mile week. That’s not bad, considering the car’s EPA ratings of 25 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined. However, it’s not as frugal as, say, a Nissan Sentra’s EPA scores (29/37/32 when equipped with an automatic transmission).

But the competitors, for the most part, lack the refinement of the 1.8-liter turbo four in the Golf. It has 170 horsepower on tap and a stout 199 lb-ft of torque. In VW’s typical style of recent years, torque comes on early and stays strong through the middle of the rev range, providing plenty of grunt to get up to speed around town or when merging onto the highway. My tester was coupled with an excellent six-speed automatic transmission (at no extra charge) that was admirably quick to shift down when I gave the skinny pedal a little more weight.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751005
“Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways”

The suspension of the Golf was well-sorted. The driving experience was purely European. Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways. Steering feel was better than most in this segment. No compact car I have driven in the last couple of years has steering feel this good. Sport-tinged models like the Nissan Sentra NISMO or Hyundai Elantra Sport might come close, but they are laden with compromises that the Golf SEL doesn’t make.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 1.8L, inline four cylinder, 16V, turbocharged and intercooled, DI
Displacement 1798 cc
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Horsepower 170 HP @ 4,500 RPM
Maximum torque 199 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM

Technology Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751018
“My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit”

Being a top-spec SEL trim, my 2017 Volkswagen Golf was equipped with a raft of technology features.

Among the headline items was VW’s Front Assist, which included autonomous emergency braking in my test car. Also on-tap was adaptive cruise control and keyless access and start, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, rearview camera, and a multifunction digital display in the gauge cluster that handled all trip computer functions and displayed other information like tire pressures and turn-by-turn navigation directions.

My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit with AM/FM/HD/XM radio tuners, a CD player, and USB and AUX inputs. The sound system was from Fender — yes, the makers of guitars — and it provided full, rich sound once I figured out how to turn up the subwoofer in the audio settings. We’re not talking window-rattling, disturbing-the-peace stuff from this audio system, just well-done sound.

One quirk carried over from lesser VW sound systems, unfortunately: The volume seems to have an aggressive cam on it. Adjustments in the lowest 25% of the volume range seem to be much larger than they are in the next 25%. From halfway up to full roar, the difference in volume seems minimal. It’s strange. I would like smaller, more evenly spaced volume increments for each click of the volume knob or each touch of the steering wheel-mounted volume controls.

Cabin notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751010
“It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats”

The technology is nice, but it’s the practical cabin space that really makes the Volkswagen Golf attractive to family men like myself.

The boxy Golf interior makes the most of the car’s relatively small footprint. It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which was plenty for grocery-hauling. If you fold down the rear seats, there’s 52.7 cubic feet of hauling space in this box, which would be plenty to haul my drum kit.

Seating surfaces in the Golf are lower to the ground than some compacts (Nissan Sentra) but similar to others (Hyundai Elantra). As a result of that and my 6-foot, 3-inch frame, I felt a little bit cramped in the front seat as I tried to make some room for my six-year-old son behind me. The dash was pretty close to my knees, as was the steering column. The seating position was go kart-like, with my knees a bit higher than my hips. I could raise the seat base, but ended up with my head touching the headliner before my legs were at a more comfortable angle.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751012
“Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.”

Having said that, Volkswagen measurements show 38.4 inches of headroom up front and 38.1 inches in the rear. Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.

There are smaller cars that offer better legroom. For example, a Nissan Versa Note has 41.3 inches of legroom for front-row occupants and 38.3 inches for rear-seat occupants. Where Golf has the advantage is its width, where it has 55.9 inches of shoulder room up front and 53.9 inches in the back seat. Compare that to the Versa Note’s 51.7 and 51.9 inches, respectively.

But no Versa Note, can touch the interior refinement of the Golf, nor can most subcompact hatchbacks. My tester had heated leatherette seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and emergency brake lever. The doors of the Golf shut with a reassuring, Germanic thud instead of the hollow clank of economy-minded subcompact competitors. The Golf seemed quieter than most compacts on the highway, too. Quality, not quantity, is the name of the game for VW here.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751013

Interior Dimensions

Headroom fron/rear (Inches) 38.4/38.1
Shoulder room fron/rear (Inches) 55.9/53.9
Legroom fron/rear (Inches) 41.2/35.6
Passenger Volume (cu ft) 93.5
Cargo Volume, trunk (cu ft) 17.4
Cargo Volume, seats down (cu ft) 53.7

Competitors

Categorizing the Golf for the purpose of comparing to its competition is tougher than it seems on the surface. Technically a “compact” by EPA size classification standards, it actually hews closer to what many of us consider “subcompact” in all but its width.

Its price, too, defies convention. You could buy a base 2017 Golf as cheap as $19,895, which is on-par with a lot of mass-market compacts like the aforementioned Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra, but load it up with options like my SEL test car, and you’re soon breaking the $30,000 barrier. The tested Golf had a sticker price of $30,810. That’s nearly in the pricing territory of entry-level compact luxury contenders like the Mercedes CLA Class or the Infiniti Q50 2.0t. Depending on dealer attitudes about discounting, a car like the Infiniti might be available at a modest monthly payment premium.

Volkswagen says the competitive set for the Golf is found in cars like the Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza, and Ford Focus. And true, with the exception of the Kia, those entries can be optioned up to absurd price levels for cars that began their lives as proletariat family transportation. But of those, I’m going to pick the Subaru to start.

Subaru Impreza


2017 Subaru Impreza - image 670280

The smallest Subaru gets high praise from those who deal with snowy roads because it has standard all-wheel drive, but for those of us who live in warmer climes, there are a lot of shortcomings in the Scoob.

First and foremost, the Impreza’s feel is much cheaper. Doors are tinny, the dashboard is an expanse of hollow-sounding, scratchy plastic, and the car lets in a lot more road noise than the Golf, which isn’t blissfully quiet at highway speed itself.

Second, the Subaru 2.0-liter naturally aspirated “boxer” four-cylinder engine feels more agricultural than VW’s silky smooth 1.8-liter turbo inline four, and it’s less powerful (152 horsepower vs. 170.) Another powertrain demerit: The Subaru pairs this lumpy flat-four with a CVT if you don’t want to shift for yourself. Most folks will find the VW’s traditional six-speed automatic more satisfying.

But Subaru does offer the WRX to compete with the VW GTI, and the hotter-still WRX STi makes a pretty convincing Golf R competitor for slightly less money. Also, the Impreza offers slightly more interior space, and for those poor souls who prefer a sedan over a practical hatchback, Subaru does offer you that option.

Read our full review on the 2017 Subaru Impreza.

Ford Focus


2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven - image 659669

Ford’s Focus is an interesting competitor. Like the Subaru, it is offered in hatchback and sedan form. Also like the Subaru, it offers competitors to the performance-oriented Volkswagen GTI (Focus ST) and Golf R (Focus RS). The Focus RS is probably the hottest of the compact hot-hatch segment, though it pays a penalty in its rough, noisy ride.

As far as normal Focus models go, Ford has an advantage over VW in its powertrains, where the Focus can be purchased with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine or the tiny turbo 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder fuel-saver. Ford also wins a lot of praise for the handling prowess of the Focus, which has perhaps the most European “feel” of any non-European compact hatch.

I’m no fan of the interior of the Focus, with its busy layout and design. Its rear seats are tight. Front seat room is better, but I’ve always found the ergonomics more awkward than the Golf. There’s a lot less cargo volume than the Golf, too — the Focus rings in at a competitive 23.3 cubic feet behind the second row, but fold those seats, and you get just 43.9 cubic feet total cargo space. Not sure I could squeeze a drum kit back there.

Styling on the outside comes down to a matter of preference. I find the Focus attractive in hatchback form, perhaps even more attractive than the conservative Golf. But that may result in a vehicle that appears to age faster than the timeless lines of the German.

A definite plus is Ford dealers’ willingness to deal on the Focus. It’s no irregular thing to see a Focus advertised below $15,000 by Ford dealers looking to move the metal. Finding a Golf with that level of discount is akin to finding a unicorn.

Read our full driven review on the Ford Focus

Nissan Sentra


2016 Nissan Sentra - image 656206

Here’s the oddball of my group: The Nissan Sentra does not come in hatchback form for America. Europeans are lucky enough to get the Pulsar — basically a Sentra hatchback that competes directly with the Golf.

Having said that, it’s also probably the value leader of the group. If you’re determined to get a cheap compact car that will return decent fuel economy and a low cost of ownership, it’s a compelling entry. It’s roomy, its seat cushions are further off the ground than the Golf (which is no bad thing for those of us who are piling on the years), and it’s relatively attractive inside and out, despite an aging platform.

Admittedly, a run-of-the-mill $20,000 Sentra, with its weak-sauce 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, is far slower than a comparably priced base Golf. That can be addressed by opting for the 188-horsepower Sentra SR Turbo, which also has a stiffened chassis and suspension designed to wring a little more handling out of the Sentra.

In theory, the Sentra NISMO is Nissan’s competition to the VW GTI, but Nissan didn’t give the 1.6-liter turbo engine a power bump. If Nissan wises up and gives the Sentra NISMO an RS version with the same 225-horsepower tune I’ve experienced in the Nissan Juke NISMO RS, I’ll be more ready to compare it to the GTI.

This comparison highlights a quandary in VW’s product lineup, however: The VW Jetta, which is more of a direct competitor to the Sentra, offers more interior passenger space than the Golf, and usually at a much lower price. The Jetta also has a more efficient, if slightly less powerful engine than the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Sentra.

Honorable mention: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT


2018 Hyundai Elantra GT - image 704950

Though my tested VW Golf was a 2017 model, Hyundai released its 2018 Elantra GT hatchback update just a few weeks after my Golf test drive. Basically an Americanized version of the European Hyundai i30 hatchback, it may be the closest competitor to the Golf in terms of fit-and-finish, design, and cabin space.

The Elantra GT has an attractive exterior and an all-new interior with a tablet-like infotainment screen standing atop the center stack, mostly independent of the dashboard. It has available leather seats and can be bought with either a manual, automatic, or in the GTI-competitor “Sport” trim, a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

In terms of interior practicality, the Elantra felt a lot like the Golf. It had a similar size. I felt a little cramped in the driver’s seat if I made room for my son behind me. The cargo area was ample. Switchgear and door-closing felt solid, much like the Golf.

However, in terms of driving experience, the Golf was the more solid choice. Its engine felt stronger despite being smaller — the Hyundai has a 2.0-liter engine, but it’s naturally aspirated and feels lethargic in the midrange compared to the more powerful turbocharged 1.8-liter Golf. The Elantra GT’s six-speed automatic leaves a lot to be desired, as well. I felt like a shorter final drive ratio would have improved the Elantra GT’s ability to climb hills without downshifting a couple of times, as it did on most hills, but it probably would have resulted in worse fuel economy.

The Elantra GT can be loaded up to nearly $30,000 with optional equipment that includes a glass roof and a technology package that brings navigation and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay capability, so it does share some pricing commonality with the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751001

Volkswagen Golf has a long and storied history of carrying the torch for compact hatchbacks, even during times when that has been far from the most popular genre of family car. It plays to a niche of buyers, and it’s exceptionally good at it because it has features that would appeal to anyone, whether they’re “into” compact hatchbacks or not.

As a married, working-class father of two, I appreciate the Golf for being a versatile, European take on the compact genre that also has an approachable price point for my budget. While more expensive than some of its competition, it offers better handling and arguably better styling than most in the segment. It also happens to be pretty good at the dad-car role, hauling my kids and other assorted cargo without fuss.

I’m not sure I’d drop $30K on a Golf like the one I tested — and I admit, at that price I expect real leather, not vinyl leatherette — but lower-trim Golfs are a mighty tempting option for this lover of hatches and small cars.

Disclosure: Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen I.D. Crozz Concept to Hit U.S. Market in 2020

Volkswagen has made several I.D. concept vehicles over the years, but it seems one is finally in the works. The automaker’s I.D. Crozz Concept made its U.S. debut at the 2017 L.A. Auto Show after its initial debut last April at the Frankfort Motor Show. VW says the I.D. Crozz Concept will birth a production version, which will be the first of VW’s new generation of electric vehicles. What’s more, VW is promising (again) that its iconic Bus will be reborn for 2022. While hippies and Baby Boomers will approve, this isn’t the first time VW has made such a promise. Still, the Crozz seems more probable since it falls into the red-hot crossover category. VW says a total of 15 new EV vehicles are planned.

Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, says, “The I.D. CROZZ-based electric vehicle will be an affordable and stylish electric SUV.” It will be roughly the size of the 2018 Tiguan, but with a coupe-like shape. Power comes from an 83-kWh lithium-ion battery and is expected to have a 300-mile range. The part-time AWD crossover uses two electric motors – one on each axle – for a total output of 302 horsepower. VW says the Crozz will change to 80 percent in only 30 minutes using a 150-kWh DC charger. Self-driving technology is planned for 2025, too, so we could expect that to accompany the Crozz’s mid-cycle refresh. That’s just speculation, of course.

Continue reading for more on the 2020 Volkswagen I.D. Crozz Concept.

From dirty diesels to self-driving electric vehicles


Volkswagen I.D. Crozz Concept to Hit U.S. Market in 2020
- image 749096
“Volkswagen is working hard to rid itself of the soot stains from Dieselgate, and the I.D. concepts are proof of that.”

Volkswagen is working hard to rid itself of the soot stains from Dieselgate, and the I.D. concepts are proof of that. These 15 new fully electric vehicles will have zero local emissions, after all. Besides what Tesla sells, electric vehicles are battling against the SUV craze and low fuel prices. Volkswagen is hoping to sway consumers toward its EV products with snazzy features and bright lights. Literally, they’re using lights.

Walk up to the I.D. Crozz Concept, and an LED light show emanates from the badges and headlights. The doors electrically open, with the front swinging a full 90 degrees and the rear door sliding open like a minivan. The absent B-pillar and glass roof makes the cabin feel extra large and inviting.

The rest of the interior takes a futuristic, minimalistic approach. LED lights illuminate the space, an infotainment screen is basically the only interface on the dash, and the steering wheel looks like something from TRON. A digital gauge cluster resides behind the wheel in a sort of form-fitted, metallic pod behind the wheel.


Volkswagen I.D. Crozz Concept to Hit U.S. Market in 2020
- image 749099
“The electric motors work independently of each other, with electricity sent to the rear-axle motor during normal driving conditions”

The electric drivetrain is also futuristic. The electric motors work independently of each other, with electricity sent to the rear-axle motor during normal driving conditions. The driver can engage the AWD and the front motor turns on. The 101-horse front motor and 201-horse rear motor combined for a total of 302 horsepower. VW didn’t announce a torque figure but count on it being pretty high.

Of course, pricing wasn’t discussed, but Woebcken did promise the Crozz would be affordable. We’d guess it’ll start in the lower $30,000 range. Then again, 2020 is still a long ways off.

References


2017 Volkswagen I.D. CROZZ Concept - image 713927

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. CROZZ Concept.


Volkswagen Tries to Impress with the CROZZ II – Because One Ugly SUV Wasn't Enough - image 730419

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. CROZZ II Concept.


2017 Los Angeles Auto Show – Visitor's Guide - image 745566

Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Next-Gen Volkswagen Jetta Teased for 2018 Detroit Auto Show Debut

The all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is coming for the North American market. While it is rumored to make its debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2018, Volkswagen Canada kicked off the teasing game for the sedan on its website with a single gif of the car sitting in the shadows. A light then moves over and around the sedan, showing bits and pieces of the new Jetta’s styling characteristics.

There’s not much to go on because the gif itself doesn’t reveal a lot of useful details. The moving light does focus on a few revealing bits, including what looks like a new front grille, a redesigned bumper, and more angular headlights. The body lines also look more prominent, though that could also be the shadows playing visual tricks on our eyes. Regardless of what the gif is trying to tease, Volkswagen’s North American president Heinrich Woebcken has already come out and described the new Jetta as being “strong,” super modern,” and “emotional.”

“We have given the car a North American ‘touch’ but not always in terms of low-cost and less content, but in much more specific needs of the market,” Woebcken added in his conversation with VW Vortex.. “The Jetta will be, for me, a symbolic statement that Volkswagen is changing by really allowing to listen to American customers, American dealers, what the market needs.”

Woebcken’s comments add another layer of expectation surrounding the new Jetta. It paints the new sedan as having been created with the American customer in mind. That would make sense because even with declining sales in the last few years, the Jetta is still Volkswagen’s best-selling model in the US. Last year, more than 121,000 units of the sedan sold. This year’s no different as more than 100,000 units of the Jetta have already been delivered to US owners.


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The new Jetta is expected to launch sometime next year as a 2019 model. A sportier R-Line version will also be in the pipeline. Same thing with a GLI version that will include an option for a manual gearbox, something that the current 2018 Jetta GLI model does not have.

Expect Volkswagen to reveal more details on the all-new Volkswagen Jetta when the car officially makes its debut at the 2018 NAIAs in January 2018.

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548769

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735273

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line

Introduced in 2007, the Volkswagen Tiguan became a rather successful compact crossover, selling more than 2.6 million units in 10 years on the market. But its design was starting to feel old, so Volkswagen launched the second-generation model in 2016. Boasting a more angular, sportier design, the Tiguan finally stopped looking like a shrunken Touareg and gained a slightly more upscale appearance. Alongside the new exterior design, VW also added a redesigned interior with new tech and updated gasoline and diesel engines. The second-gen model also revived rumors of a higher-performance model, but the Germans have yet to confirm a GTi-like version. Instead, the U.S. market got an R-Line trim, which was introduced at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show.

Much like R-Line packages for other models, the bundle was designed to give the crossover a more dynamic appearance. The update is pretty much a visual thing, with interior add-ons limited to a handful of features. Likewise, the R-Line doesn’t increase performance, so you still have to wait for that GTi to arrive if you want an angrier Tiguan. You should also know that the R-Line package is based on SEL and SEL Premium trims, so it will cost you more than $30,000. Find out more about it below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line.

What makes the Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line special?

  • Revised front air vents
  • Black front bumper trim
  • Black rear diffuser
  • R-Line badges
  • 19- and 20-inch wheels
  • Body-colored side skirts
  • Stainless steel door sills
  • Custom start up screen
  • R-Line steering wheel
  • Black headliner
  • Stainless steel pedal covers
  • Standard 2.0-liter engine with 184 horsepower

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line - image 747525
“The revised air intakes and the gloss black bumper trim give the crossover a slightly more aggressive look”

The R-Line’s exterior features are far from radical, but the revised air intakes and the gloss black bumper trim give the crossover a slightly more aggressive look. Around back, the diffuser-like element that includes the exhaust pipes is also finished in gloss black. By contrast, the wheel arch extensions and the side skirts are now finished in the same color as the body. A few “R-Line” badges and new wheels round off the exterior. There are two sets of wheels available, depending on which trim you select. The SEL-based model comes with 19-inch Trenton aluminum-alloy rollers, while the SEL Premium-based versions feature larger, 20-inch Braselton aluminum-alloy rims.


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“Sport pedals get stainless steel covers for a race-inspired look”

Inside the cabin, drivers and passengers will be greeted by stainless steel door sills with the “R-Line” logo, a black headliner, and an “R-Line” badge on the steering wheel. Another “R-Line” logo will pop up on the start screen of the infotainment display. Finally, the sport pedals get stainless steel covers for a race-inspired look. And that’s about it. As I said in the beginning, there isn’t much to talk about inside the cabin.


2018 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line - image 747523
“The turbocharged engine cranks out 184 horsepower”

Under the hood, the R-Line remains identical to the standard model, so power comes from the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that motivates the entire Tiguan lineup in the U.S. The turbocharged engine cranks out 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque while returning up to 27 mpg on the highway.

The R-Line package on SEL trims starts from $1,795 and includes front and rear Park Distance Control (ParkPilot). The package for SEL Premium models, which already include ParkPilot, is set at $1,495. All told, the least expensive SEL R-Line model will cost $34,345, while the SEL Premium R-Line will fetch $37,745. For reference, the base Tiguan S model comes in at $25,195.

References

Volkswagen Tiguan


2016 Volkswagen Tiguan - image 645782

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan.


2017 Los Angeles Auto Show – Visitor's Guide - image 745566

Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen To Spend Some Serious Cheddar On EVs And Self-Drivers

Volkswagen is pushing hard to establish itself as a major player in several forward-looking technologies, namely electric vehicles, hybrids, and self-driving vehicles. It was recently announced that Volkswagen’s supervisory board approved $40 billion to develop EV, hybrid, and autonomous tech through 2022.


2020 Porsche Mission E - image 740946

As you may have noticed, Volkswagen has been busy reshaping its image with a bevy of electric, hybrid, and autonomous concepts. Now, it looks like its time to put the rubber to the road, so to speak.

The goal is to offer an all-electric and hybrid option for every model in VW lineup by 2030, and that includes every brand under the VW umbrella, from Audi to Skoda. Even high-performance brands like Lamborghini and Porsche will be feeling the electrons – take for example the Porsche Mission E.


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“The goal is to offer an all-electric and hybrid option for every model in VW lineup by 2030, and that includes every brand under the VW umbrella.”

Indeed, it appears as though VW has tons of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles already in the pipeline. Many will fly under the German make’s I.D. banner, including production iterations of the I.D. Buzz bus concept and the I.D. Crozz crossover concept, which are just two of five new electrified vehicles scheduled to drop by 2020. Each will utilize VW’s new MEB platform, underpinnings that were specifically tailored to the needs of electric vehicles.

VW will reportedly need upwards of 50 billion euros just to supply all these new EV’s with batteries. The brand is currently shopping around for a supplier.


2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept - image 707969
“Odds are the autonomous stuff is still a ways off, while we’re just a few years from seeing a deluge of road-going EVs and hybrids.”

Then we have concepts like the Sedric, which promises hassle-free transportation that’s as comfortable as sitting at home in your living room. Odds are the autonomous stuff is still a ways off, while we’re just a few years from seeing a deluge of road-going EVs and hybrids.

All told, it looks like VW might finally get some distance between it and that nasty dieselgate thing. The question is – how quickly will public perception change as a result?

References


2017 Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ - image 700794

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept.

Porsche Mission E


2020 Porsche Mission E - image 740948

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Porsche Mission E.


2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept - image 707974

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept.

2sp599668.Volkswagen $11.52 Billion

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Money Talks: The 10 Most Valuable Car Brands In The World

Ford F-150

Determining the value of a car brand can be a tricky exercise. There are so many variables to consider that ultimately, the results may differ from one study or another. What we do know is that, at the very least, the cream always rises to the top. The standings may be different depending on who the author of the study is, but it’s pretty much the same automakers making up a majority of the list.

In this exercise, we’re taking a look at the ten most valuable car brands, at least through the eyes of Interbrand, an independent agency that specializes in determining the world’s most valuable brands. Obviously, such a task involves creating a specific set of formulas and calculations using a variety of available information, including a company’s financial forecast and then using it with its own in-house-developed “role of brand” and “brand strength” calculations. If it sounds complicated, it’s because it is, especially in the current automotive climate where buzz words like “electrification,” “ride-sharing,” and “autonomous driving technology” have staked bigger pieces of influence among automakers of all shapes and sizes.

Even then, there are also certain requirements that each automaker has to meet to be eligible to be included in the list. These requirements include having a sales presence on at least three continents and having a third of a company’s revenue coming from its home market. Ultimately, it all boils down to a lot of tech jargon that’s a little above my head. What I can tell you, though, is that the final list that Interbrand came up with is both expected and revealing. A few notable names made it in predictable spots while a few surprise inclusions definitely raised our eyebrows.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

10. Porsche


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Brand value: $10.13 billion

Top-selling model: Porsche 911

It seems crazy to think that at one point in the last 20 years, Porsche was a struggling automaker that somehow couldn’t get out of its own way. Things have definitely changed since then, and a big part of that is tied into the German automaker’s decision to enter a market that it previously shied away from. Taking a risk, Porsche ultimately decided to build the Cayenne SUV, and the rest is history. Today, Porsche cracks the top 10 list of “most valuable auto brands in the world” for good reason. It’s arguably one of the most beloved automakers in the world, and it’s rounded its model lineup to include a performance saloon known as the Panamera to go with a steady diet of sports cars led by the Porsche 911 Turbo.

9. Volkswagen


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Brand value: $11.52 billion

Top-selling model: Volkswagen Beetle

If you’re surprised that Volkswagen is so far down on this list, don’t be. This is Volkswagen the automaker, not the auto conglomerate that owns three brands on this list. On the bright side, VW actually posted improvements in terms of its brand value compared to last year. It’s incremental growth of just one percent, but it’s growth compared to 2016 when it actually posted a drop of one percent in value. Still, it could’ve been a lot better for Volkswagen had it not gotten itself mixed into the Dieselgate scandal. Look for a better year ahead for the German automaker when the calendar flips to 2018.

8. Nissan


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Brand value: $11.54 billion

Top-selling model: Nissan Sentra

If there was an automaker that earned its place in this ranking, it has to be Nissan. That’s not an indictment on the automaker’s past, but a celebration of what it has achieved in recent years. Between launching models that have been positively received and maintaining a level-headed approach in an industry that’s continues to evolve like this one, Nissan has turned in one growth year after another, culminating in a four-percent growth for this year that was good enough to land it in the top 10 list of most valuable car brands in the world.

7. Audi


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Brand value: $12.02 billion

Top-selling model: Audi A4

The Nissan of Europe, or is Nissan the Audi of Japan? Either way, the comparison fits because Audi always seems to be third fiddle in Europe to BMW and Mercedes-Benz, just like Nissan plays the same role in Japan to Toyota and Honda. That’s not a slight towards either Audi or Nissan because both companies have thrived doing their own thing. In Audi’s case, it has managed to build up a brand that’s worth $12.02 billion, becoming the most valuable auto brand under the Volkswagen Group. This year, Audi even posted a two-percent growth that probably should be bigger had it not been weighed down by Dieselgate. Still, look for Audi to remain competitive to BMW and Mercedes-Benz, as it always has been in recent years.

6. Hyundai


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Brand Value: $13.2 billion

Top-selling model: Hyundai Elantra

It says a lot about Hyundai’s growth as an automaker that it finds itself on this list with some of the most established brands in the auto industry. This wasn’t always the case though, as the Korean automaker’s surge up to mainstream popularity didn’t happen until the last decade. But, thanks to an aggressive push towards relevancy and the introduction of popular models like the Elantra, Tucson, and Santa Fe, Hyundai’s ascension up the ranks is looking less fluky and more of a result of hard work and dedication. Don’t even be surprised if, by next year, Hyundai finds itself in going up the ladder into a more prominent spot on this list. That’s the kind of outlook we’re now expecting from a company that already increased its value year-on-year by at least five percent.

5. Ford


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Brand value: $13.64 billion

Top-selling model: Ford F-Series Trucks

Ford is the only American automaker on this list. It is a little bit embarrassing to see what’s become of General Motors and Chrysler, but at least Ford is representing the US here to a certain extent. The good news for the Blue Oval is that it posted a five-percent increase in its own value and getting it up to $13.64 billion. The bad news is that a lot of the automakers its ahead of have as good a chance as any to move up the rankings for next year’s list at the expense of Ford. I personally don’t think that’s going to happen because of the company’s strong foothold in one of the world’s biggest markets, but then again, stranger things have happened so it’s not a certainty that the automaker will retain its spot in the rankings. It is worth pointing out though that of the ten auto brands that made it on this list, only Ford can boast of having a pickup truck as its top-selling model. That counts for a win, right?

4. Honda


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Brand value: $22.70 billion

Top-selling model: Honda Civic

Barring the unlikely event of seeing something catastrophic come out of Honda, it looks like a certainty that Honda’s going to retain its status as the fourth most valuable auto brand in the world for the next few years. That’s because it’s brand value of $22.70 billion is on an island by itself. Ford needs to almost double its value to be able to even sniff Honda’s, and conversely, the Japanese automaker needs to double its own value in order to come close to competing against the company that sits third on this list. Still, a value of $22.7 billion is nothing to sneeze at, especially when it comes as a result of a three-percent growth compared to its value from the previous year. The timeless popularity of the Honda Civic has a lot to do with Honda being where it is, but so does the continuing presence of its robust crossover and SUV lineup that’s led by the CR-V. Look for Honda to remain one of the most valuable auto brands in the world for all the reasons I just mentioned.

3. BMW


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Brand value: $41.62 billion

Top-selling model: BMW 3 Series

Well, that was a huge leap, wasn’t it? From Honda’s $22.7 billion in brand value, we move up to BMW’s, which has a brand value of $41.62 billion. This is the power of what BMW has to offer and the niche it has carved for itself – sportier than an Audi, less uptight than a Mercedes – tells you exactly how the German automaker has built up its own brand to become a force to be reckoned with it in the industry. It still has a few miles to go before it can catch up to its biggest rival, but rest assured, the blueprint towards long-term success and sustainability is being put to good use. For one, a plethora of new models with more advanced tech features are scheduled to be released soon to complement some of Bimmer’s most popular model lines. Imagine what kind of cache it can gain with the release of the BMW 8 Series? For all of its success, it is quite ironic that BMW finds itself in this enviable position despite minimal movement on its brand value.

2. Mercedes-Benz


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Brand value: $47.83 billion

Top-selling model: Mercedes C-Class

The king of German automakers finds itself in the second spot, trailing only the king of Japanese automakers. It should be said that Mercedes’ ascension up the ranks didn’t happen by luck or sheer happenstance. It comes as a result of record-breaking sales that helped pave the way for the company to enjoy its highest profits and revenue in its entire history. Add that to its ever-increasing global popularity and the introduction of affordable models like the CLA-Class, and it becomes clearer and clearer as to why Mercedes-Benz actually increased its brand value by a whopping 10% year-on-year. At the very least, it created a big separation with BMW’s own brand value, something I’m sure the fine folks over at Mercedes are more than happy to point out.

1. Toyota


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Brand value: $50.30

Best-selling model: Toyota Corolla

Sitting pretty at the number one spot is Toyota, a position it has held for a few years now on the back of being the biggest automaker in the world. Toyota’s dominance as a carmaker can be best seen in the fact that it still holds a pretty good lead over Mercedes-Benz despite seeing its value take a dip by six percent. That tells you that there’s room for Toyota to have a down year and still reign supreme as the most valuable auto brand in the world. I don’t see the company’s status get challenged for at least a few more years, but that loss in value could become more worrisome if it starts becoming a trend. For now, the auto world still kneels at the feet of Toyota, as do companies like Netflix, Facebook, McDonalds and Disney for that matter.

PostHeaderIcon 2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S.

The Golf line-up gets a humble facelift across its range. This includes the Golf hatch, Alltrack, SportWagen, GTI and the R. Some models get just the cosmetic updates, while the others get changes under the hood. Although they are mere updates and not new models altogether, the changes are significantly prominent to differentiate them from the older versions.

There are a few common changes across the range – the LED DRL’s being made standard on all models, slightly tweaked LED Tail-lights which complement the all-new rear bumper, rain sensing wipers, and automatic headlamps. The interiors get a new infotainment touchscreen, which according to Volkswagen, feature the latest software and react faster to touch inputs.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters


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Kudos to Volkswagen for making continuous changes all across its range. While other manufacturers generally follow a mid-life facelift once in the product’s life span, VW keeps tweaking its cars which not only keep the cars fresh but also invoke customer’s attention. Perhaps, the competition must tear a page from VW’s book (you listening Ford, Kia?). That being said, the changes to the Golf line-up surely differentiate them from the earlier models. The best part is how Volkswagen tries all permutations and combinations – like introducing the 7-speed DSG transmission from higher cars, or trickle down the Performance Package to the standard trims, etc. and succeeds almost every time. Despite being a model that is in production for 44 years now, it still feels fresh and new due to these little updates and upgrades from time-to-time.

Facelift breakdown for each VW Golf trims:


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744058

The Golf hatch gets a 1.8-liter, turbocharged engine producing 170 horsepower. It is mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed DSG. The Golf is available in two trims – S and SE. The S gets 15-inch “Lyon” alloys while the SE gets 16-inch “Toronto” wheels. In addition to that, the SE also gets full LED lights, fog lights, and panoramic tilting sunroof over its sibling-counterpart.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744050

The Wagons from the stable – Alltrack and Sportwagen – come in 3 trims – S, SE and SEL. Not much of an upgrade here except for the LED DRL’s, Automatic Headlamps, and a fresh, new shade of green. The SE and SEL trims get the updated 8-inch touchscreen.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744076

The GTI comes with a 2.0-liter unit returning 220 horsepower; 10 hp more than the earlier version. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG. The GTI comes in three trims – S, SE and Autobahn. All features that were in the Performance pack can now be seen in the SE and Autobahn models (like the tire size, larger breaks, etc.,) as standard. The Golf GTI gets major updates in terms of safety. The SE and Autobahn get the VAQ Electronic Limited Slip Differential, autonomous emergency braking, and forward collision warning. Over and above this, the Autobahn trim also gets Lane departure warning, High beam control, and updated maneuver braking, to name a few.


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The hottest of the lot, the Golf R comes with the same specifications under the hood as before; 2.0-liter engine generating 292 horses. But, the facelift now offers the seven-speed DSG transmission instead of the previous six-Speed automatic, along with the standard six-speed manual. The Golf R features special LED headlights and 19-inch aluminum alloy rims called the
“Englishtown” which , according to VW, are specially designed for enthusiasts. Apart from this, the Golf R also gets VW’s trademark DCC Adaptive Cruise Control with Navigation and 4Motion (All Wheel Drive). On the inside, the car gets the new 8-inch infotainment system with VW’s Digital Cockpit.

How much is this gonna cost?


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744078
Golf Hatch $21,760 (six-speed manual) or $22,860 (six-speed auto)
Golf SportWagen $22,535 (five-speed manual) or $23,635 (six-speed auto)
Golf SportWagen 4Motion $24,785 ( manual) or $25,885 (six-speed auto)
Golf Alltrack $26,845 (six-speed manual) or $27,905 (six-speed DSG)
Golf GTI $27,265 (manual) or $28,365 (six-speed DSG)
Golf R $40,635 (six-speed manual) or $41,735 (seven-speed DSG)

References

Volkswagen Golf


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744066

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744053

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744079

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744071

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Beetle to Live On as RWD Electric Car

There’s been a lot of talk about Volkswagen looking to drop the Beetle nameplate in the future. While rumors from a couple of years ago quoted slow sales and Volkswagen’s plans to reduce manufacturing costs, newer reports claim that the “Dieselgate” scandal will force the company to axe the Beetle alongside the Scirocco. The brand has yet to confirm any of this, but a more recent report says that the Beetle may have a chance to survive as an all-electric car.

That’s the word from Autocar, which claims that Volkswagen is “actively considering plans for an electric, rear-wheel-drive successor to today’s Beetle” as part of its range of zero-emissions models based on its new MEB platform. More specifically, the new Beetle will be a system model to the company’s upcoming small electric van, which was previewed by the ID Buzz concept at the Detroit Motor Show. The electric Beetle will also be rear-wheel-drive, according to Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess.

“If we wanted to do a Beetle, electrically it would be much better than today’s model, much closer to history, because it could be rear-wheel drive,” he said, adding that the MEB platform provides the perfect basis for emotional cars like the Beetle and Microbus. Volkswagen is reportedly also considering open-top models such as the Kubelwagen and the Buggy, so we may get a full lineup of electric cars that revive the company’s most iconic vehicles. On the flipside, Diess said that a firm decision on the Beetle’s successor has yet to be made.

Introduced in 1938, the original Beetle was produced in Germany until 1978, but assembly continued in other countries, with the Mexican plant rolling out vehicles until as recent as 2003. The New Beetle was launched in 1997 and redesigned in 2011.

References

Volkswagen Beetle


2015 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 1.8T - Driven - image 599665

Read our full review on the 2015 Volkswagen Beetle.



Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Teases Electric Race Car For 2018 Pikes Peak

A few years ago Volkswagen revealed that it wants to transform itself into one of the leading producers of electric vehicles. This statement was further emphasized after the “Dieselgate” emissions scandal. Now, the German firm is making another big step toward electrification by including its racing division into these plans. Specifically, Volkswagen Motorsport is working with the company’s Technical Development center in Wolfsburg on an all-electric prototype car for next year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race.

An event that has become a popular venue for carmakers and privateers experimenting with electric drivetrains, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb will see Volkswagen debut it’s most daring race car yet. And the German firm doesn’t want to join the event just for kicks; it’s also planning to set a new record for electric cars on the 12.4-mile-long course. “The Pikes Peak hill climb is one of the world’s most renowned car races. It poses an enormous challenge and is therefore perfectly suited to proving the capabilities of upcoming technologies,” explained Dr. Frank Welsch, Member of the Board responsible for Development. Although data is still under wraps, Volkswagen released a teaser photo of the car. But more on that below.

Continue reading for the full story.

What Do We Know about this New Race Car?


Volkswagen Teases Electric Race Car For 2018 Pikes Peak - image 739788

Nothing much to be honest. Volkswagen says that the car will be equipped with “innovative battery and drive technology,” but it doesn’t give additional details. However, it does say that this Pikes Peak prototype will be used to develop future technologies for production models. So Volkswagen wants to do what everyone else does: use extreme motorsport to gather feedback for future development, which is the way to go when it comes to high-performance electric cars.

Design-wise, the EV appears to be as extreme as they get. The teaser shows an aerodynamic body with a canopy-like cabin, a massive splitter in front of the nose, and a large wing atop the rear deck. The race car also appears to have a central fin, which makes it similar to Le Mans prototype cars. Needless to say, this one’s going to be exciting to look at.

“The new race car will enable Volkswagen Motorsport to return to Pikes Peak after more than three decades”

The new race car will enable Volkswagen Motorsport to return to Pikes Peak after more than three decades. The German brand last participated in the mountain race in 1987 with a twin-engined Golf which barely missed finishing the race.

References


What You Need To Know About The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - image 721176

Read more Pikes Peak International Hill Climb news.


2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE: An Overview - image 738485

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Makes A Good Family Car

This week has seen a 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE in my driveway. While there are plenty of interesting aspects to the car, the overarching theme is practicality wrapped in a reserved package. Where most compact sedans use flowy lines and outlandish styling to attract attention, the Jetta remains straight-laced. This no-nonsense approach to styling carries over into the car, making it about as honest as a family sedan can get. For that, I’ve got to give it props.

The Jetta might be labeled a compact sedan, but it offers 94 cubic feet of passenger volume and 16 cubic feet of trunk space. Rear passengers enjoy 38.1 inches of legroom, 37.1 inches of headroom, and 55.2 inches of shoulder room. Though I’m not a tall guy, I had plenty of space sitting behind the driver’s seat set adjusted for me. Comparatively, the 2017 Honda Civic, one of the most popular cars in the segment, has 97.8 cubic feet of passenger volume, an equal amount of rear-seat headroom, 55 inches of rear seat shoulder room, and 37.4 inches of rear legroom.
The Civic sedan is down about one cubic-foot of trunk space, too.

In practice, the Jetta is roomy for four adults. The rear bench can seat three in a pinch, but two is far more comfortable. My five-year-old daughter’s booster seat fits nicely back here, as well, snugly nestled between the side bolster and the seatbelt latch. The seatbelt is easy enough for her to use and buckle by herself. She can even open and close the rear door on her own, making the school pickup line much less stressful. Despite the roomy feel, the Jetta is small enough mom and dad can reach back and touch the kids – either to hand them something or “administer a hand of justice.”

Mom and dad also have plenty of room up front with plenty of storage spots. Best of all, the 2018 Jetta SE comes at a bargain. My tester had no options, preserving its $21,245 MSRP. Volkswagen does tack on $850 for destination and delivery, but that’s a typical price for any new vehicle. The Jetta’s 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is also inexpensive to fuel. The EPA estimates the Jetta with the five-speed manual to get 28 mpg city, an impressive 40 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined. I averaged right at 33 mpg during the week.

Stay tuned for the full, driven review of the 2018 VW Jetta and be sure to check out my other coverage of the car down below.

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729228

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Makes A Good Family Car - image 738484

Read more about it in our 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE: An Overview.


How The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Proves Simple Is Better - image 738525

Read how the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Proves Simple Is Better.

PostHeaderIcon How The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Proves Simple Is Better

This week I’m driving the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE – one trim up from the base model. It’s a no-frills sedan that doesn’t skimp on most modern “necessities” like power windows, keyless entry, and push-button start. There’s even a 6.3-inch touch screen with satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. But one thing it’s missing is fancy controls for its HVAC system. Rather, this single-zone system has the three old-school knobs, three buttons, and nothing more. But you know what? It just works.

To understand my amazement of these simplistic controls, you’ve got to look at the Cadillac CTS-V I was driving last week. While I love that 640-horsepower, 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 V-8, Cadillac’s CUE system spoiled my warm fuzzy feelings. Ask anyone and they’ll same the same – the CUE system is hard to use and requires taking eyes off the road and concentration in order to operate. Even the adjusting the HVAC’s temperature or fan speed settings is hard. The touch-sensitive, piano black surface of CUE sometimes didn’t respond to inputs and fingerprints were always visible.

Three minutes behind the Jetta’s leather-wrapped steering wheel, and I can operate the HVAC system without even looking. The knobs satisfyingly click as they rotate, making super simple to gauge how far you’ve turned them. What’s more, the direction and defrost knob allows for fine tuning between settings. For example, I can turn the knob one or two clicks towards the “feet” setting and still have the majority of air blowing at my face while my toes receive a slight breeze. It’s amazing.

So, here’s the thing. Automakers have a tendency to overcomplicate the little things. While this sometimes works in adding convenience, other times it only adds complexity and user frustration. I’d consider the Jetta’s HVAC controls more “luxurious” than the Cadillac’s CUE controls. Why? Simplicity wins out. Thankfully, Volkswagen’s upgraded HVAC controls with an automatic mode and dual-zone temperatures is just as simple to use, though it does lose out of the awesome adjustability between vent locations.

What do you think? Do you like simplicity over “high-tech,” yet complex controls? Do you consider simplicity a luxury? Let me know in the comments below.

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729228

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.

Read more about it in our 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE: An Overview.

PostHeaderIcon 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE: An Overview

This week finds a 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE in my driveway. No, it’s not a ground-breaking new model or even some mid-cycle refresh. Rather, the Jetta lives on unchanged for years past. For the most part, however, that’s just fine. In fact, I’ve quickly grown to appreciate the Jetta for its no-nonsense approach and impressive practicality.

This compact sedan offers some surprising features for being an SE trim, or in VW Jetta terms, one trim level up from the base S. It boasts keyless entry and go, and a respectability sized touch screen with a user-friendly interface. The system even includes satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Simple yet efficient HVAC controls and three-way heated front seats keep comfort levels high, though it’s missing dual-zone temperature controls and rear air vents.

Under the hood lies a 1.4-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder making 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. That’s mated to a five-speed manual transmission (yes, a five-speed) that powers the front wheels. Despite it missing a sixth gear, the EPA estimates the Jetta to get 28 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined.

As for price, the 2018 Jetta SE with the standard manual transmission starts around $21,000.

Feel free to leave comments about anything you’d like to see on the Jetta or questions I can answer.

Overview Video

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729228

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.

PostHeaderIcon Pour One Out For This Dearly-Departed Volkswagen Model

It probably lasted longer than it should’ve, but in the end, its time had finally come. The Volkswagen Scirocco is no more, ladies and gentlemen. It’s current form had a good nine-year run, but that run has come to an end after Car and Driver discovered that the German automaker had stopped taking orders for the sport compact coupe. There is, however, an unspecified number of models that are still in stock so if anybody’s keen on getting one before they’re all sold out, now’s the time to do it.

The status of the Scirocco shouldn’t have been in question to begin with. Despite its lack of fanfare, the sports compact coupe was as enticing an offering in its segment as any other model of its kind. But, the Scirocco never seemed to get out of the huge shadow cast by the vastly more popular Golf hatchback, which has become Volkswagen’s go-to front-wheel-drive vehicle. Compound the loss of appeal with Volkswagen’s idiotic Dieselgate scandal and the Scirocco suddenly became expendable in the eyes of the VW Group brain trust. So, is this the end of the Scirocco nameplate? It may as well be, although there’s a chance that the name could be brought back at some point in the future, albeit in a different package.

There have been rumors that VW was considering axing the current Scirocco and then bring back the name at a later date as part of its electric car lineup. It wouldn’t be too hard to imagine such a scenario happening and there have even been whispers that a Scirocco EV is already in the works with plans to fit it with a number of different output options, including a range-topping unit that produces 300 horsepower. Think what you will of the gossip, but rest assured, the current iteration of the Volkswagen Scirocco is all but retired. It had a good run, though, so raise those glasses and toast to the dearly departed FWD sports compact coupe. It’s been fun.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

The Volkswagen Scirocco was a victim of circumstances that were out of its control


2014 Volkswagen Scirocco - image 542285
“Dieselgate is partly to blame for the Scirocco’s demise, but it’s not the only reason either”

Every decision that Volkswagen has made recently somehow finds its way back to the Dieselgate scandal. That’s how devastating it’s been for the German automaker, though, nobody’s going to throw it any pity parties. The punishments were well deserved and, while we’ve had to deal with the consequences ourselves, there’s nothing we – or Volkswagen – can do about it but look forward to the future.

So, Dieselgate is partly to blame for the Scirocco’s demise, but it’s not the only reason either. Sagging interest for a car that was once named Car of the Year by Top Gear Magazine compounded the issues plaguing the sports compact coupe, as did new priorities within VW that looked into the future of the automaker as a whole. One could also argue about the car’s age as a reason behind its axing. The current generation has been around for nine years and has only had one facelift – back in 2014 – to show for it. In short, the Scirocco was long overdue for a makeover if it was to continue its role as the automaker’s entry-level sports coupe.


2014 Volkswagen Scirocco - image 542287
“The current generation has been around for nine years and has only had one facelift – back in 2014”

It just so happened that the rationale for developing one wasn’t all that attractive anymore. It certainly would’ve cost the German auto giant money to develop it with absolutely no guarantees that it could hold up for as long as the current-gen model has. So, instead of forcing it, Volkswagen smartly cut its ties on a car that wasn’t long for the world anyway.

The good news to all of this though is that the Scirocco name may not be dead very long, especially if rumors about Volkswagen bringing the name back end up being true. We know that the VW is planning and developing a new small coupe with its upcoming MEB platform. Could it be that this small coupe will take the name of the Scirocco once it’s launched? I wouldn’t put it past anything that it does. For now, we’re going to need to start getting used to a world without the Volkswagen Scirocco in it. The car may be relatively new in its current format, but in the space of nine years, it sure as heck made quite an impression on the thousands of people who proudly got the chance to own one.

References

Volkswagen Scirocco


2014 Volkswagen Scirocco - image 542289

Read our full review on the Volkswagen Scirocco.


2014 Volkswagen Scirocco R - image 542295

Read our full review on the Volkswagen Scirocco R.


1974 - 1992 Volkswagen Scirocco - image 240161

Read more about the first generation Volkswagen Scirocco.

PostHeaderIcon Car Salesmen are Living on Borrowed Time

You can buy just about anything online these days including things like computers, firearms, food, and car parts. And, as sure as the sky is blue, it was inevitable that we would eventually be able to buy cars online too. Well, Volkswagen is looking to take that big first step in online car sales as it plans to cut down its dealer footprint in Europe and increase average dealer returns by as much as a whole percent.

So far little is known about the situation, but since the Dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen Automotive Group has been doing its best to cut down costs across all 12 of its brands. Ideally, the group’s new “future sales model” will increase profitability and efficiency of its dealer network by some 10 percent which, along with trimming costs, will allow higher returns to each distributor. For now, this move is limited to European dealerships and chances are that once the online portal – which is being developed through a collaboration between VAG and its distributor – is complete a number of dealerships will eventually be axed. But, if VW is looking to increase profitability and efficiency by 10 percent, one couldn’t be blamed for assuming that VW would cut down 10 percent of its distributor network. That could mean as many as 300 dealers across Europe will close their doors as online purchasing begins to increase.

Apparently, Volkswagen has gotten its hands on some new IT equipment as well, as the group is claiming that its use could cut the time needed to service cars by as much as 70 percent. With each dealer employing an average of around 35 employees each, a few of job loss could be looming, but VW is confident that it can cut its workforce down by at least four in each dealer, who will then be assigned somewhere else. Rumor has it that the birth of a new dealer contract in 2018 will include a clause that allows dealers to dictate their own workforce, and as such, the trimming of staff will fall on each dealership individually.

Now, the question is, will this online portal actually be used by those looking to buy a car, and if it is successful, can it work around the world? Keep reading to hear more about it.

Dealerships be Gone


Car Salesmen are Living on Borrowed Time - image 737907
“I’m imaging a world where the technology like the internet and artificial reality will completely replace the car dealership altogether”

I’m imaging a world where the technology like the internet and artificial reality will completely replace the car dealership altogether. Ready for a new car? Just sit down at the computer, throw on your headset, and navigate to your favorite brand’s online showroom. With high-end graphics and technology that allows you to feel, taste, and sense what’s going on in the virtual world, you can take a virtual test drive, scope the car out, and enjoy it all right from your home office or even your bed. We might not be there quite yet, but they do have a technology that allows you to send tastes over the internet, and some high-end AR kits do include some form of sense displacement for realism. So, it’s only a matter of time really.

With the way we all naturally go online to buy anything, it’s almost guaranteed that online car buying will be a big hit. No dealing with salesmen, no gimmicks or nonsense, and the car can be delivered right to your driveway in a matter of hours if you’re close enough to a distribution facility. And, in time, manufacturers could even include trade in options that allow you to photograph your vehicle and take your trade-in deduction right on the spot.


Car Salesmen are Living on Borrowed Time - image 737905
“Unless manufacturers really want to be greedy, they could even drop prices and still maintain the same profitability”

On top of that, unless manufacturers really want to be greedy (I wouldn’t be surprised if they will be) they could even drop prices and still maintain the same profitability – no dealer means no overhead costs for a sales front outside of the people that keep the current websites going anyway. No dealer also means no salesman to take commissions, no bonuses, and ultimately a lower price for us, hopefully. Can it work in the U.S.? it’s hard to say, but it wouldn’t surprise me. We’re even lazier than the folks across the drink so I’m sure we’d certainly love to take advantage of online car buying.

What do you think? Would you buy a car and complete the entire process online? Let me know in the comments section below.

References


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733568

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Automakers Celebrate Lifting Of Ban On Women Drivers In Saudi Arabia

We knew it was coming sooner than later. Now that the women of Saudi Arabia are all set to be allowed to drive, automakers from all over the world have been quick to react to the ground-breaking news, celebrating the development on the social media with hashtags #SaudiWomenMove and #SaudiWomenCanDrive.

Ford, Volkswagen, and Nissan were the first automakers to post their congratulations and promote themselves to the women of Saudi Arabia, getting the word out early that they’re ready to welcome women drivers into the driver’s seat for the first time in the history of the Middle Eastern country. The quick response to the living of the driving ban was a smart move, particularly because of the business potential that it offers for a lot of these companies. Data gathered by The Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association revealed that Saudi Arabia is the largest importer of vehicles and parts in the entire Middle East region. At the same time, data from LMC Automotive pointed to Saudi Arabia as the 21st biggest automotive market in the world, a figure that could go up with the potential of having more customers by virtue of lifting the ban. In total, Merrill Lynch estimates that as many as nine million potential new drivers could be in the hunt for new cars in Saudi Arabia, including 2.7 million resident non-Saudi women. With all these numbers being thrown out, it’s no wonder that companies like Ford, Volkswagen, and Nissan were quick to roll out the carpet for Saudi women. It’s going to be great for business!

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Check out the social media posts from these automakers

Some might say that Ford, Nissan, and Volkswagen are simply taking advantage of the situation regarding the lifting of the ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia. To that, I say the three automakers are doing exactly what everybody should be doing at this point. By all accounts, the Saudi Arabian market is one of the most lucrative auto markets in the world and the potential of it becoming more lucrative by introducing close to 10 million new drivers is a huge opportunity for automakers to expand their businesses.

Ford Middle East was one of the first to comment on the lifting of the ban with a smart and visually catchy post depicting a rearview mirror with a woman’s face on it. The surrounding area is all black, evoking an image of a woman wearing a niqab, a garment of clothing traditionally worn by Muslim women to cover their heads, leaving only a small slit for the eyes. The Ford post was accompanied by a simple “Welcome to the driver’s seat” message to go along with the hashtags #SaudiWomenMove and #SaudiWomenCanDrive.


Automakers Celebrate Lifting Of Ban On Women Drivers In Saudi Arabia - image 736336

Note: photo of Ford’s social media post about the lifting of the ban on women drivers

For their parts, Nissan Middle East and Volkswagen Middle East also posted about the lifting of the ban. Nissan threw in an image of a Saudi license plate with “2018” and “GRL” on it. That’s an easy nod to the year 2018, the year that the ban is expected to be officially lifted by the Saudi Arabian government. The “GRL” letters reflect a shortened version of “girl.”


Automakers Celebrate Lifting Of Ban On Women Drivers In Saudi Arabia - image 736337

Note: photo of Nissan’s social media post about the lifting of the ban on women drivers

Volkswagen’s post also plays up the imagination with an image of a woman’s fists and the words “My Turn” between them. The image itself appears to hint at a woman holding the steering wheel of a car. The German automaker added a message on its post, telling future women drivers “It’s your turn; take over the driver’s seat.”


Automakers Celebrate Lifting Of Ban On Women Drivers In Saudi Arabia - image 736338

Note: photo of Volkswagen’s social media post about the lifting of the ban on women drivers

Given how important this development is, I fully expect more automakers to follow soon with their own social media posts, welcoming Saudi Arabian women to live in the fast lane.

References


Dubai Takes Delivery Of Tesla Model S And Model X Taxis - image 732860

Read more Middle East news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen GLI – Driven

The Volkswagen GLI is kind of like the Volkswagen GTI hot hatch — only, no hatch. Instead of throwing a lot of go-quick goodies into a Golf, the VW skunkworks had its way with a Jetta. The result is a seriously fun compact sedan that won’t break the bank.

Just a few weeks ago, I drove the more pedestrian Volkswagen Jetta SE 1.4T with a five-speed manual transmission. The GLI I drove for this review was unfortunately an automatic, but in all other ways was quicker and more engaging to drive than its easygoing sibling — which is not to say I found the regular Jetta boring to drive. I might go so far as to say I preferred the Jetta 1.4T over most compact, front-wheel drive cars I have reviewed in recent years.

Among compact sedans with hotted-up chassis and engine components, the GLI might just make it 2-for-2 for Volkswagen.

Design Notes


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Volkswagen has a history of trendsetting design. While some reviewers say the brand’s current lineup is too conservative or boring, I think time is going to be far kinder to VW’s current designs than those of some of its competitors. In other words, as I said in my review of the Jetta, I think VW has picked designs that will age gracefully.

“The GLI takes everything I liked about the Jetta and puts a little more attitude into it”

The GLI takes everything I liked about the Jetta and puts a little more attitude into it. Lower body moldings make the car appear lower and more aerodynamic. Tasteful red accents outside (GLI badges, grille opening, brake calipers) and inside (dashboard accent, steering wheel stitching, door trim pieces) make it clear to keen observers that this is no ordinary Jetta.


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735263

2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735264

Up front, the GLI has some GTI styling cues. The fog lights are surrounded by aero strakes, and the grille openings are filled with honeycomb plastic instead of VW’s usual horizontal bar motif. From the side, the GLI has all of the elements that make the Jetta pleasing to the eye, with additional ground-effects that make it look more speedy. At the rear, a subtle trunk lip spoiler, dual exhaust tips, and a small GLI badge tip off educated viewers to its performance credentials.

Bridgestone Potenza 225/40R18 Y-rated directional performance tires might also communicate the GLI’s intentions, for folks who take notice of things like that.

Interior Notes


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735261

The 2017 Volkswagen GLI takes everything I liked about the Jetta SE and dials it up with slightly nicer trim and finishes. There was soft-touch injection-molded plastic in several places where the cheaper Jetta SE had hard-touch, scratchy plastics. The V-Tex leatherette seats were accented with sporty red stitching. In some places where the Jetta SE had piano black plastic trim, the GLI had metal trim — most notably, the bottom spokes of the steering wheel, which itself was laced with red stitching.

“Controls are simple and purposeful, and the design of the interior doesn’t try to distract the driver”

Everything else is a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Jetta remains roomy inside, with 41 inches of legroom for front occupants and 38 inches for rear passengers. Controls are simple and purposeful, and the design of the interior doesn’t try to distract the driver — something that should be a priority for anyone claiming to build a “driver’s car.”


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735249

2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735254

If you’re like me, with two small kids to tote around in the back seat, you’ll appreciate the space the GLI offers for wee ones who are still traveling in car seats. Think of it as a GTI with more room in the back seat. The trunk is pretty huge too, at 15.7 cubic feet — plenty for toting travel supplies for the wee ones and a week’s worth of groceries at the same time.

Powertrain Notes


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735248

Sporting the 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine from the GTI, the 2017 VW GLI is making about 60 more horses than that 1.4-liter turbo in the Jetta SE I tested earlier. Output is listed at 210 horsepower at 5,300 RPM (on premium fuel) and 207 pound-feet of torque at just 1,700 RPM.

“Shifts were crisp when accelerating briskly”

In my test car, this smooth, torque-happy engine was paired with VW’s six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. Shifts were crisp when accelerating briskly — which I did, a lot. But the transmission also proved smooth as silk during run-of-the-mill commuting while hauling the kids to school or doing the weekly grocery run. Admirably, there was no noticeable shuddering or clutch-slip feeling at low speeds — a problem that affects some dual-clutch automatics, in my experience.

A six-speed manual transmission is available, and to be honest, I would have preferred that. A car with the great engine and chassis of the GLI begs for it. I’m not saying the DSG was bad. It’s just not got enough pedals for me.

“The car uses VW’s XDS brake-based system that will selectively apply a little brake pressure to the inside wheels in a turn as weight transfers off of them”

Volkswagen does not include a true limited-slip differential in the GLI, but the car uses VW’s XDS brake-based system that will selectively apply a little brake pressure to the inside wheels in a turn as weight transfers off of them. This feels a little like a limited-slip diff to those of us driving well below the chassis’ limits on public roads, but would probably show its shortcomings on a track when compared to a true limited-slip or locking differential, where you want to save your brakes for, you know, braking.

The Drive


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735277

The Volkswagen GLI is a little heavier, with a little longer wheelbase than its GTI cousin, but the powertrain and VW’s excellent chassis tuning make it a lot of fun in the twisty stuff.

“The Volkswagen GLI is a little heavier, with a little longer wheelbase than its GTI cousin”

Steering feel is a notch above the already-excellent feel offered in the Jetta SE I drove previously, with a little more heft and feedback. However, the car will break traction a bit on the inside front wheel when cornering hard and hitting the gas with aggression. With traction control switched off, the steering wheel will fight you a little if you mat the skinny pedal. But for the majority of my spirited backroad driving, the GLI remained a courteous dance partner.

“Those 210 horses are ready to gallop at a moment’s notice”

When I had my wife and kids in the car, no one complained about a harsh ride or road noise. That can be a challenge for hotted-up family sedans, in my experience. It’s all the more laudable because of those 225/40R18 Bridgestone Potenzas.

Acceleration and braking were, of course, excellent. Those 210 horses are ready to gallop at a moment’s notice. They put a grin on my face a lot during the test week.

The Competition

Nissan Sentra NISMO


2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO - image 695518

2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO - image 695524

Nissan decided to get into the hot compact sedan game with two models in the last year: First, the Nissan Sentra SR Turbo, which gave the Sentra the 188-horsepower turbocharged heart of the Nissan Juke along with some suspension and chassis tweaks to stiffen the car. Then they tweaked the suspension tuning and chassis bracing a bit more to give us the Sentra NISMO.

The NISMO’s primary differentiating factor from its SR Turbo sister is its borderline tacky body trim. If the folks in Yokohama really wanted to compete with the GLI, they should have given the Juke engine the same 215-horsepower tune found in the Juke NISMO RS. As it is, the GLI is much, much more powerful both by the numbers and by the seat of your pants. Let’s not even talk about the Xtronic CVT in the Sentra NISMO. It can’t hold a candle to the driving feel offered by the DSG automatic in the GLI, for those who choose shiftlessness.

“If the folks in Yokohama really wanted to compete with the GLI, they should have given the Juke engine the same 215-horsepower tune found in the Juke NISMO RS”

There are good things to note about the Sentra NISMO. Alcantara NISMO sport seats are excellent, and Alcantara on the steering wheel feels great. Like the GLI, backseat legroom is prodigious, and the trunk is cavernous. It’s a good choice for those who have a family but don’t want to drive one of the many numb, uninspiring entries in the compact or midsize sedan segments.

The primary advantage the Sentra NISMO holds over the GLI may be real-world transaction prices. Nissan has always prided itself on offering a strong value quotient, and the Sentra NISMO is no exception. A base Sentra NISMO starts at $24,990, which undercuts the base GLI by nearly $3,000 before dealer discounts. Usually, it will be easier to get a Nissan dealer to discount the Sentra NISMO than it will be to get a VW dealer to discount the GLI.

It bears mentioning the GLI has more standard equipment, including Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility that is not available in the Sentra NISMO at any price.

Read our full review on the Nissan Sentra NISMO.

Hyundai Elantra Sport


2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport - image 682259

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport - image 682244

The Hyundai Elantra Sport is Korea’s take on a hot compact sedan. Its 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged engine is plenty strong, but lacks the GLI’s refinement. The Hyundai’s engine sounds thrashy and unpleasant at higher revs.

“Where VW’s DSG is silky smooth at all speeds, the Elantra Sport’s transmission exhibits plenty of clutch-slip at low speeds”

Hyundai falls short on its dual-clutch automated manual gearbox, too. Where VW’s DSG is silky smooth at all speeds, the Elantra Sport’s transmission exhibits plenty of clutch-slip at low speeds. I noticed that a lot when parking or backing the Elantra Sport, making parking lots and parallel street-parking spaces a chore.

The Elantra Sport also tended to plow into turns more than the GLI, and its ride was harsher. All in all, it felt like a good effort, but lacked the polish of the VW GLI.

Where Hyundai beats VW is, of course, warranty. The Elantra Sport gets a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty just like all Hyundais. Hyundai also offers real leather, if VW’s V-Tex leatherette bothers you.

Hyundai also beats VW and even value-oriented Nissan on pricing, with Elantra Sport ringing in at $21,800 for a well-equipped base model. While it’s a little less rambunctious than either car, it’s also a lot cheaper.

Read our full review on the Hyundai Elantra Sport.

Ford Focus ST


2015 Ford Focus ST - image 696645

2015 Ford Focus ST - image 696626

The hottest competitor in this race may be Ford, whose Focus comes in both ST and RS flavors. The RS really is a trackable car, ready to take to the autocross or your local track day at the weekend. But the ST is the livable, street performance car — and it’s putting down a lot more power than the VW GLI, at 252 horses and 270 pound-feet of torque.

The caveat: Ford only offers the Focus ST in hatchback form, so it’s kind of the oddball in terms of styling, among this group. But in all other ways, it’s clearly aiming for the GLI and its cohort — right down to its starting price of $24,775.

“Its legroom is a far cry from the GLI, at just 33.2 inches in the rear seat.”

What may hurt the Focus is its tight interior confines. Its legroom is a far cry from the GLI, at just 33.2 inches in the rear seat. So if your passengers are on the taller side, your front-seat room may be compromised.

If passengers aren’t a priority, however, the Focus ST offers decent cargo space — with 23.3 cubic feet behind the second row, and 43.9 cubic feet behind the first row with the back seats folded. It would be a fun way to get to band practice.

Read our full review on the Ford Focus ST.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven - image 735271

I’m the perfect candidate for these cars. I’m married, I’m past the age where insurance would kill me if I owned a “performance” car, and I have two fast-growing kids. But I don’t want to get a fun car only to have to feed it copious amounts of unleaded. These relatively fuel-efficient cars with warmed-up powertrains and nice handling offer a good combo of practicality and driving engagement that hits me right in the bullseye.

“The GLI made a strong play for my emotions”

The GLI made a strong play for my emotions. It returned just shy of 30 MPG even though I drove it pretty hard and did a lot of idling during photos. It made me happy just to drive my kids to school and do random errands for the family. Need milk? Sure! No problem! I’ll drive to the next town — it’s cheaper there!

I admit, I’m a Nissan fanboy, and the Sentra NISMO makes me swoon a little, even though I’m not crazy about the boy-racer body trim. But the fact that Nissan could have easily tuned the engine for GLI-competitive power frustrates me as an enthusiast.

I’ve also owned Fords, so I have a soft spot for the Focus ST. But There’s so much I don’t like about the Focus. I feel like it’s a compromised choice, for me. The interior feels too claustrophobic. I detest Ford’s distraction-filled interior design, too.

The Hyundai Elantra Sport doesn’t do much to stir my blood compared to the GLI, Sentra NISMO, and the Focus ST, but I admire its warranty and value.

“I place the GLI at the top of the segment”

I place the GLI at the top of the segment. Its combination of refinement and user-friendliness is unmatched, even if the Focus ST is faster, the Sentra NISMO is flashier to look at, and the Elantra Sport has a longer powertrain warranty and cheaper price.

Disclosure: Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729227

Read our full driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE 1.4T


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the Volkswagen Jetta.


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733568

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Keep Your Beer Chilled with the Volkswagen Microbus-Inspired Fridge

First launched in 1949, the Microbus is now one of Volkswagen’s most legendary creations, alongside the equally iconic Beetle. So it’s far from surprising that the German firm is planning to offer a new retro-looking van under the same name by 2022. Just like it’s not surprising that many people got really excited at the thought of being able to buy a modern Microbus in the near future. The only downside is that we’re almost five years away from seeing it in the metal. So just in case, you can’t handle the long wait, here’s a cool fridge you can buy.

“Did you say fridge?!” Yup, that’s what I said. You’re probably wondering what a fridge got to do with the Volkswagen Microbus. Well, Gorenje’s latest Retro Special Edition is inspired by the Volkswagen Microbus. More specifically, its design resembles that of the 1960s Microbus’ front fascia. Both the two-tone finish separated by the big V-shaped chrome trim and the “VW” emblem are there, while the handle that looks as if borrowed from the van adds to the effect. Oh, and the one used in all the commercial is painted is a gorgeous aqua blue that’s as vintage as they get. Obviously, you can also have it in red.

Continue reading for the full story.

It’s Modern Too

This fridge may look vintage, but it’s pretty modern on the inside. It comes with DynamiCooling, an advanced fan system that evenly distributes the temperature throughout the refrigerator, and IonAir technology, which enriches cool air with extra negative ions that prevent unpleasant odors from spreading inside. Besides preventing leftovers from taking over the inside of the fridge, it also helps food retain its minerals and vitamins for longer. Pretty cool. And, pretty much just like I expect the new Microbus to be: vintage on the outside, modern on the inside.

References


2017 Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ - image 700714

Read our full review on the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz.


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733568

Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven

Crossovers and SUVs might be the hot-ticket item these days, but sedans still hold an extremely important part in the automotive landscape. Mid-size sedans, especially, continue to post impressive sales numbers. Back for the 2011 model year, Volkswagen decided it needed a bigger slice of the American pie, so it introduced a version of its popular Passat build especially for the U.S. market. A refresh for 2016 brought sharpened body lines, a more chiseled face, and a slightly reworked interior. Now, a year later, the 2017 Passat soldiers on with nary a change. But, is this mid-size sedan got what it takes to rival the segment stalwarts, namely the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord?

To find out, I recently spent three weeks behind the wheel of a Passat R-Line. What’s the R-Line, you ask? It boils down to a dolled-up version of the base Passat. It comes with larger wheels, a more up-scale front fascia, and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Better yet, the swankier trim doesn’t come with a massive price tag. It’s only $1,535 more than the base Passat S and retails for $23,875. And thanks to its 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and FWD, it’s frugal at the pump, too, returning an EPA-estimated 34 mpg on the highway. Nevertheless, both the Camry and Accord are completely new for 2018 and will be stiff competition for this Tennessee-built car with German roots.

Continue reading for more on the Volkswagen Passat R-Line.

Video Review

Exterior


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733568
“The Passat is low-key without being low-buck.”

Volkswagen’s refresh of the Passat for 2016 brought some welcomed changes. First, the rounded edges seen in the front fascia and taillights have been completely eliminated. In their place are crisp lines and sharp angles complemented by a reserved use of chrome accents. The new look certainly gives the Passat a more upscale yet not over-hyped appearance. It’s low-key without being low-buck. Well, at least looking low-buck.

The Passat R-Line is technically a base-level Passat with some fancy design upgrades to make it more attractive. For $1,535, the R-Line brings some healthy additions, including the trim-specific bumpers, the 19-inch alloy wheels found on higher trim levels, and the VW Car-Net App-Connect within the infotainment system. Side by side, the Passat S looks like a fleet-based rental car, while the Passat R-Line looks like your bosses ride. That’s definitely worth the extra scratch to many folks.


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733555

2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733550

Adding to the stately nature of the Passat R-Line’s aesthetics is the available Platinum Gray Metallic paint seen on my tester. The hue is almost matte, though it has a perfectly shiny clear-coat. It’s not a paint type seen many places in the automotive industry. That worth something. Five other colors are available on the R-Line and none of them are designed to call attention to the car – well, save for maybe Fortana Red Metallic, a deeper shade of red but that isn’t quite burgundy.

“About the only major option available on the Passat R-Line is the R-Line Lighting upgrade – $1,095 worth of LED headlights and daytime running lights”

About the only major option available on the Passat R-Line is the R-Line Lighting upgrade – $1,095 worth of LED headlights and daytime running lights mixed with a more modern appearance over the halogen-based headlights that come standard. My tester skipped this upgrade, but the halogen headlights did just fine, though the low-beams seem to be aimed a bit too close.


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733564

Holistically, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line can be described as a self-respecting car that doesn’t need flashy curves or intricate designs that attract attention. No, if the Passat garners attention, its thanks to the minimalistic approach VW designers took to vehicle design.

Interior


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733541

Volkswagen’s minimalistic theme carries into the Passat’s interior. Everything wears a reserved and non-offensive style that creates a feeling of usefulness without excess. There is no swoopy dashboard or outlandish contrast stitching. Chrome is kept to a minimum and creature comforts are restricted to what most people these days would consider basic. The R-Line comes with dual-zone climate controls, heated front seats, basic power adjustments in the driver’s seat, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering column. There’s only one USB port, there are no rear HVAC vents (but are included in higher trims), and the “leather” seats are actually leatherette, or in other words, a soft vinyl.

“The Passat R-Line feels handsome and not over-burdened with technology that could break in five years”

Yet because of this design approach, the Passat R-Line feels handsome and not over-burdened with technology that could break in five years. Better yet, it keeps the cost down. (We’ll get to more on pricing later.) What you get is a roomy four-door sedan with generous room for four regular-sized people or five should the three in the rear seat not mind getting closely acquainted. Let room is surprisingly abundant in all but that unloved rear-middle seat.


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733537

2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733539

The Passat offers versatility, too. The rear seatbacks split in a 60/40 style, allowing for larger cargo to be hauled. I dropped the seats to bring home a few eight-foot-long strips of wood from the home improvement store. The trunk is also huge at 15.9 cubic square feet. It boats a handy cubby for things like a gallon of milk, while smaller items like ice scrapers and gloves can be stored in the spare tire compartment. The only downside to the Passat’s trunk are its exposed trunk lid hinges. They present the risk of crushing luggage or groceries should the trunk be packed too full.

“The software just feels aged and its menus aren’t as friendly to navigate”

Behind the wheel, the driver enjoys a leather-wrapped, three-spoke wheel with multi-function controls and paddle shifters. Analog gauges display speed, engine revs, fuel level, and coolant temperature, while a digital driver information screen shows more detailed vehicle stats. It’s not the most modern of gauge clusters, but the classic style should stay looking undated for a while. The same can’t be said for the 6.3-inch infotainment system. The software just feels aged and its menus aren’t as friendly to navigate. But thanks to the Car-Net system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present. I found myself using CarPlay more often than no, despite its inherently finicky operation.


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733525

Overall, the Passat R-Line offers tons of space for passengers, plenty of legroom and headroom for taller folks, a generous amount of cargo space, and a design theme that most will find soothingly simple.

Drivetrain


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733547

The 2017 Passat is available with two engines: the 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder and the 3.6-liter VR6. Not surprisingly in these days, the V-6 is limited to the SE w/ Technology and SEL Premium trims and only if customers want it. The four-cylinder comes standard everywhere else.

The 1.8-liter uses an older iron-block design, but cuts some weight with aluminum cylinder heads. Dual overhead camshafts control 16 valves (four per cylinder) and direct fuel injection keeps fuel usage to a minimum. Interestingly, the TSI engine does not have variable valve timing.

“Horsepower is rated at 170 at 6,200 rpm and torque comes in at 184 pound-feet at only 1,500 rpm”

Horsepower is rated at 170 at 6,200 rpm and torque comes in at 184 pound-feet at only 1,500 rpm. And torque is what this engine loves to deliver. Just off idle lies a generous supply of twist, enough to move the Passat through city traffic with ease. Merging onto the Interstate takes a bit more planning, however. The 1.8-liter and its six-speed automatic transmission are programmed to keep the turbo away from boost unless absolutely needed. In fact, a detent at the far end of the accelerator’s travel must be passed in order to wring the most from the engine. The transmission does have a sport setting, though it doesn’t change the shifting characteristics as drastically as many sport modes do on modern vehicles. Of course, you can shift yourself with the paddles or slap-stick gearshifter, but plan on a one-second delay between the request and action.

Since Volkswagen clearly traded a sporty driving nature for a more fuel-frugal tune, the Passat 1.8 offers respectable fuel economy. The EPA estimates 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. Oddly, these numbers are less impressive than the 2016 Passat equipped identically. Last year, the 2016 Passat 1.8 was estimated to achieve 25 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined.

“The EPA estimates 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined”

I averaged 27.9 mpg during my extended, three-week loan where I drove just over 1,000 miles in mixed conditions.

For customers wanting AWD or a hybrid powertrain, the Passat simply can’t deliver. It’s only available in FWD and with the two aforementioned gasoline engines. And of course, there isn’t a turbodiesel option either.

Behind The Wheel


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733545

Sliding into the driver’s seat, I quickly noticed a few negatives. First, the steering column doesn’t extend far enough toward the driver. It will push almost all the way towards the dash – you know – to accommodate grandma and her short legs. This made my reach to the steering wheel feel excessive and meant I had to roll my seat forward. However, by doing so, the majority of the center armrest resides behind the seatback. That meant I had very little armrest to use when properly arranged behind the wheel. What’s worse, the armrest’s leading edge is sloped and smooth. Wearing a long-sleeve dress shirt makes it darn near impossible to keep an elbow firmly planted on the armrest without it uncontrollably sliding off.

Those ergonomic complaints aside, the Volkswagen Passat offers a clean dashboard with logical placements of buttons and controls like the HVAC system. Large cup holders makes it easy to bring the Big Gulp and storage compartments ahead of the gearshifter and in the door pockets offer plenty of space for odds and ends. Naturally, there is also space under the center armrest. Volkswagen also puts a conveniently fold-out tray just under the headlight controls.

“The Volkswagen Passat offers a clean dashboard with logical placements of buttons and controls like the HVAC system”

Driving down the road, the Passat handles as well as a non-sport sedan can be expected to. Body motions are controlled over bumps and through turns. Road noise can get loud on rough pavement, but is otherwise not an issue. I did find the Passat to become a bit floaty at highway speeds when hitting undulating bumps and expansion joints. It’s not a big deal, but was a noticeable characterizes I don’t find in many of my test vehicles.

Nevertheless, I can’t complain too much about the VW Passat. It does its job of A-to-B transportation without issue and its German feel imparts a sense of luxury not found in other brands. It’s a comfortable cruiser and a practical grocery getter with plenty of room for families under five members

Pricing


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733561

Perhaps the Volkswagen Passat R-Line’s greatest attribute is its reasonable price tag. The 2017 model starts at $23,975, which is only $1,535 more than the base Passat S. The R-Line also undercuts the SE trim by $1,520, making a good middle-ground for price-conscious shoppers. Of course, if you’ve got money to burn, Volkswagen will happily sell you a Passat V-6 SLE Premium for $33,995. That trim brings a Fender audio system, lane departure warning, and leather seats, on top of the upgrades found in the SE w/ Technology trim. Those include the upgraded infotainment system with Discovery Media, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Park Distance Control.

My R-Line tester came with zero options, so the $820 destination fee is the only add-on cost. That brought the total price to $24,795.

The Competition

2018 Honda Accord


2018 Honda Accord - image 723400

2018 Honda Accord - image 723396

Honda has brought some major changes to the Accord for 2018. The family sedan moves into its 10th generation and wears all-new styling inside and out. The wheelbase is 2.2 inches longer and the body is constructed of more high-strength steel, contributing to a more taut chassis.

A pair of turbocharged four-cylinders are avaiable under the hood. The standard mill is a 1.5-liter unit with 192 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. Customers can opt for the 2.0-liter derived from the powerhouse used in the Civic Type R and delivers 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque in the Accord. Sadly, the venerable 3.5-liter V-6 is no longer an option. Honda offers three transmission choices. The 1.5-liter can be paired with a CVT or a six-speed manual transmission. The 2.0-liter can get the manual, too, or as most buyers will choose, with a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Regardless of engine, transmission, or trim level choice, the 2018 Accord has a two-setting drive mode selector. This offers Normal and Sport settings, with changes taking place within the steering feel, (automatic) transmission shift points, and throttle response. Active dampers are available on some trims, too, and change firmness between the driving modes. Those wanting a hybrid model will be happy to know Honda offers that trim for the 2018 Accord.

Pricing for the 2018 Honda Accord hasn’t been released as of this review, but I’m not expecting Honda to raise its prices too much. Expect the MSRP to begin around $23,000 and cap out around $36,000.

Read our full review on the 2018 Honda Accord.

2018 Toyota Camry


2018 Toyota Camry - image 703838

2018 Toyota Camry - image 703839

Equally new for 2018 is the hot-selling Toyota Camry. Toyota has completely reworked this mid-size family hauler into a more athletic, fun-looking ride that is a drastic departure from the yawn-inducing Camrys of past generations. It’s also longer, wider, and its roofline has a more coupe-ish slope. A heavily updated interior includes Toyota’s latest 3.0 Entune system, though oddly it doesn’t include Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The swoopy dash looks like it came from Lexus and the two-tone leather seats in the upper trims might make some believe Toyota actually borrowed from its luxury division’s parts bin.

Under the hood are three available powertrain options, all of which are new. The standard engine is a revised 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 178 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. Optionally, a new 3.5-liter V-6 brings more power with 301 horses and 267 pound-feet of torque. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission designed for better fuel efficiency. If it’s maximum fuel-sipping you want, a hybrid powertrain delivers an impressive 51 mpg city and 53 mpg highway with the LE trim. All hybrid Camrys use the 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with a CVT transmission.

Pricing for the 2018 Toyota Camry starts at $23,495 and can grow to around $35,000 when fully decked out in the XSE V6 trim.

Read our full review on the Toyota Camry.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733564

The Volkswagen brand has been about creating cars for everyday people for as long as it’s been around. Its name quite literally describes that. The Passat does a great job at embodying this philosophy by offering a sedan with plenty of room for four adults and their cargo, wrapped in an attractive yet not overstated package, all at a reasonable price. It’s hard to argue against the practicality of that.

While I did find the Passat’s telescoping steering column to lack enough adjustability which led to a somewhat uncomfortable diving position, it wasn’t enough to quench my respect for the car. Especially in the R-Line, the Passat just works as a no-nonsense machine with just the right amount of character. There is certainly a lot to be said about that.

  • Leave it
    • Odd relationship between steering column, driver seat, & center armrest
    • Drivetrain tuned for only comfort
    • Stiff competition

References

Volkswagen Passat


2016 Volkswagen Passat - image 647574

Read our full review on the Volkswagen Passat.

Volkswagen Passat 1.8T


2016 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T – Driven - image 697349

Read our full driven review on the Volkswagen Passat 1.8T.


2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI - image 731366

Read more Volkswagen news.

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