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Review: Golf SportWagen offers a sportier alternative to some small crossovers

Emma Jayne Williams, Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Automotive News

Since its introduction in 2015 replacing the Jetta wagon, the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, billed as a "sportier alternative to compact SUVs," has been a top choice for buyers who want a nimble, fun-to-drive vehicle with lots of space, versatility, comfort, and performance.

The Golf SportWagen is also beautifully designed. The appearance is basically unchanged for 2018, with new LED taillights and daytime running lights on the base S trim, and automatic rain-sensing headlights, along with automatic rain-sensing wipers. All Golf models have newly-designed LED Daytime Running Lights and striking LED taillights.

Inside, the SportWagen has a few mild changes, most noticeably a new standard 6.5-inch Composition Color infotainment system, replacing the five-inch system on the S model. A new, larger MIB II touch-screen infotainment system is available on all trims up to eight inches.

An added value change for 2018 is a new People First Warranty, a six-year, 72,000-mile warranty, replacing the previous three-year limited warranty. The new warranty can be transferred to subsequent owners throughout its duration.

SportWagen is available in S, SE, and SEL trims, with pricing from $21,685 for the S model with front-wheel drive and a five-speed manual transmission (six-speed automatic transmission adds $1,100) to $30,245 for an SEL with six-speed automatic.

An S 4Motion with a six-speed manual transmission is $23,935, with a six-speed automatic transmission it is $25,035. The 4Motion system directs power to the front wheels until slip is detected, then sends as much as 50 percent to the rear wheels.

Under the hood, the SportWagen has a 1.8-liter, 170-horsepower turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine. The EPA estimates front-drive SportWagens with a five-speed manual will achieve 25 mpg city/35 highway.

The SportWagen is internationally recognized as a Volkswagen, with the unmistakable DNA of the Golf, while displaying distinctive elements of its own – a "D" pillar, roof rails and a unique rear design.

For this review, I drove a Reflex Silver Metallic Sportwagen S with Titan Black textured cloth seating with contrast stitching. The interior was trimmed with brushed metallic on the door panels, glossy gray on the dash and center stack/console, and piano-black on the steering wheel, shifter knob (five-speed manual transmission), and parking brake handle. Knitted cloth covered the door panels and felted cloth lined the door pockets.

Eight exterior colors are offered, including captivating Night Blue Metallic, Elegant Silk Blue Metallic and brawny Tungsten Silver Metallic. Interiors come in Titan or Beige cloth for S and S 4Motion; Titan or Beige V-Tex Leatherette, or Quartz Gray/Titan Sport leatherette for SE and SEL, depending on model and/or exterior color chosen.


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