2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Returns Best MPG on the Road to Joshua Tree
May 3, 2015
For my girlfriend's birthday, I took her to Palm Springs for the weekend. As a video producer, I wanted to video the experience, but she would have none of it. What's the saying: what goes on during a road trip should be haphazardly remembered through the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI long-term blog?
Getting out of Los Angeles is always a chore. You expect bumper-to-bumper traffic anytime you want to get on the road and leaving Santa Monica at 11:30 on a Friday afternoon was no exception.
But with the GTI, I had an unexpected weapon.
When any gap in traffic or chance to pass some half-asleep motorist presented itself, I fully utilized the transmission's sport setting. Acceleration was so effortless, it seemed like the GTI did the work for me, easily cruising past any mechanical cholesterol clogging the eastbound Interstate 10.
When we hit West Covina, about 20 miles east of downtown L.A., traffic thinned out to levels that didn't resemble an exodus from zombie attack. That's when the GTI hit its stride. To me, the GTI feels solidly built and connected to the road. It feels just as engaging darting around traffic as it does cruising down an open stretch of highway (open stretches that pair nicely with a great driving album, "Lost In a Dream" by the War on Drugs, loaded on my iPhone library, and which easily and intuitively synced with the GTI via Bluetooth).
As a regular midsize SUV driver, I admit I pre-judged the tiny-looking GTI, thinking it might send me into an attack of claustrophobia before leaving downtown, and have me leaping from the car and breathing into a paper bag while running nude on the freeway. But my fears were unfounded and I have to agree with Ed's assessment on the spaciousness of this hot hatch. I wouldn't feel unconfident putting two other reasonably-sized adult pals in the rear seat.
The touchscreen is also a fine advancement suited to road trips, although the nav system's alerts about a wrong-way driver were alarming. Los Angeles: home to some of America's finest drivers.
Despite being mid-March, it was unseasonably warm in California, even by Palm Springs standards. The mercury registered a pleasant 95 degrees when we saw the first of the area's windfarms. After checking in at the ACE Hotel, we borrowed some bikes and headed into town for lunch, but soon vowed never to make that mistake again. We felt like grilled onions atop an In-N-Out Burger by the end of the ride.
From then on, it was constant sunscreen, cranking the room A/C and frequent visits to the pool. Driving was no different: Windows up, A/C maxed. The next day, we made the steady climb from 487 feet to Joshua Tree National Park's elevation of 2,700 feet. Along the way, we made stops at the Integratron and the Gubler Orchids Nursery.
Even with temps well into the 100s, the GTI never faltered in either power or function. On this highway-heavy trip, we even managed to eke out the best fuel economy of our long-term test so far: 34.5 mpg.
Most of Sunday was spent lounging by the pool until late afternoon, when we pointed the GTI back towards L.A. As soon as we hit the interstate, still 100-plus miles from home, we were swept into an immediate traffic jam. But the cool confines of the GTI, its calm manner in maddening traffic, and some provisions from a nearby In-N-Out allowed us to hang on for the three-hour lurch home.
Ah, Los Angeles, great to be back.
Rich Kuras, Video Producer