Used 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
Pros & Cons
- Holds almost as much cargo as many compact crossovers
- Turbo four-cylinder engine delivers high fuel economy
- Offers optional all-wheel drive
- Surprisingly fun to drive quickly around tight corners
- Even with launch control (!) the SportWagen is slow by class standards
- Odd brake feel leads to clunky stops every time
- Ride is very busy and bumpy over broken pavement
- Limited list of features
Which Golf SportWagen does Edmunds recommend?
Edmunds' Expert Review
Overall rating6.8 / 10
It takes guts for an automaker to continue producing a bona fide wagon today. For decades, conventional wisdom has held that Americans don't like wagons, and the sales data back up that assertion. A few brands, however, continue to serve a loyal following of wagon enthusiasts. The 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is a primary example.
Volkswagen has stayed the course with wagons, first under the Passat, then Jetta and now Golf nameplates. VW's formula is relatively simple: By adding an extra foot of length to the Golf hatchback, the SportWagen offers 66.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats down. That's similar to what many compact SUVs can hold. Factor in the Golf's car-like handling and available all-wheel drive, and you have a legitimate alternative to the legions of anonymous SUVs masquerading as tall hatchbacks.
For 2019, the SportWagen adds a few features and takes away a few. First off, the trims are simplified to two levels, S and SE. There's a new turbo four-cylinder engine, and new eight-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions that help the SportWagen return up to 32 mpg combined. The top SE trim also gets more advanced driver safety aids including adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist.
But discontinuing last year's top SEL trim means desirable features such as navigation and a premium audio system are no longer available, making this year's SportWagen a bit less desirable for those seeking a premium experience. VW could be saving them for a future limited-edition trim, but they're absent for now.
Losing some desirable features is a shame, but the SportWagen remains a good choice for drivers who don't want an SUV or just prefer a sedan-like ride with extra utility. And there aren't many other choices until you move up to bigger wagons such as the Buick Regal TourX or Subaru Outback or luxury wagons from Audi and Volvo. It highlights just how singular the SportWagen is for its size, utility and cost. There's really not much else like it on the market.
Volkswagen Golf SportWagen models
The 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen comes in two trim levels: S and SE. The base S comes nicely equipped, offers most of what you need and comes in a 4Motion version with all-wheel drive. The SE adds more convenience, luxury and safety features.
Front-wheel-drive S and SE trim levels are powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (147 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque). All-wheel drive is only available on the S trim, and it comes with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder (168 hp, 199 lb-ft).
The front-wheel-drive S is available with either an eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission, while all-wheel drive comes with a choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox called DSG in Volkswagen-speak. The SE comes only with the eight-speed automatic.
Standard features for the S include 15-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, roof rails, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, front seats with partial power adjustment, and 60/40-split folding rear seats with a center pass-through. Also standard are a rearview camera, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and VW's Car-Net App-Connect. The base audio system includes six speakers, HD radio and a single USB input.
All-wheel-drive S trims add 16-inch wheels, heated wiper nozzles and heated front seats.
Moving up to the SE gets you 17-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive LED headlights, foglights, keyless entry and push-button ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, simulated leather upholstery, a 115-volt outlet in the cargo area, an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, satellite radio, a CD player and auxiliary audio input, and the Car-Net Security & Service connectivity system.
Driver safety aids on the SE include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. These can be added to the S trim through the optional Driver Assistance package. Additional driver aids exclusive to the SE trim include adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and automatic high beams.
|Overall||6.8 / 10|
Overall Driving Performance comment: Despite the SportWagen name, this VW is not a very sporty car. The 1.4-liter engine does its best work around town but feels taxed at anything over moderate speeds. A firm, confident brake pedal is reassuring, but smooth stops proved nearly impossible. The braking distance from 60 mph of 140 feet is nearly 20 feet longer than the class average.
The steering isn't particularly sporty either, and it lacks the all-important feel that we've come to expect from sport-tuned Volkswagens. But the lackluster tires are perhaps the biggest letdown in the SportWagen's driving dynamics — they affect everything from emergency braking to handling performance.
Overall Comfort on the Road comment: The SportWagen has sacrificed a bit of comfort in pursuit of a sporty ride, which means a bumpy and sometimes busy ride over broken surfaces. But the car is buttoned-down at higher speeds. The firm and well-bolstered front seats feel good initially but proved to be relatively uncomfortable on a long journey.
No matter which trim level you choose, there's no option for an automatic climate control system. Road and wind noise levels are commendably low, but the climate control needs to work hard to cool the cabin and subsequently makes for a noisy drive on warm days. Those in colder climates will appreciate the fast-acting heated seats, which are standard across all SportWagens.
Overall Interior Ergonomics comment: Typical for Volkswagen, the SportWagen's interior uses a simple and attractive layout. The infotainment screen has two chunky dials and is flanked by easy-to-push buttons. A benefit of the long, straight roofline means passengers won't have to watch their heads when getting in or out. The tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel has excellent range, and drivers of most sizes should be able to find a comfortable driving position.
With lots of windows, slim window pillars and large mirrors, blind spots are minimal. Rear-seat legroom isn't as spacious as in other wagons or some hatchbacks, but four adults of average height can fit comfortably in the SportWagen.
Overall Cargo and Utility comment: The SportWagen's layout (it is a station wagon after all) lends itself to easily handle large items, especially with the rear seats folded down. In the trunk, you get 30.4 cubic feet of cargo storage. And if you fold the rear seats, you get 66.5 cubic feet — enough space to compete with some of the best compact SUVs.
Small-item storage isn't as impressive. There is a cubby in front of the shift lever. However, it's not large enough to hold some of the larger phones on the market, so one or both of the cupholders will have to be sacrificed for more sizable personal items. The door pockets are average, but their hard plastic makes for noisy storage of small items. Larger child seats might be a bit of a squeeze in the back seat.
Overall Infotainment and Automation comment: The SportWagen checks most of the important boxes when it comes to infotainment features. Our tester was equipped with forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control, and all worked well during our test. Far less effective was the voice control system, which we found too time-intensive and required very specific language to execute simple commands.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but connection issues plagued our test. And since there's no option for native navigation in the SportWagen, you'll be relying on your smartphone for directions. The six-speaker stereo is adequate, but a lack of output means you won't be rocking out to your favorite tunes.
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Our experts like the Golf SportWagen models:
- Automatic Post-Collision Braking System
- Applies the brakes immediately after a collision to stop movement and avoid a secondary impact.
- Forward Collision Warning
- Issues visual and aural alerts if a collision seems likely. Applies brakes automatically if necessary to mitigate impact.
- Rear Traffic Alert
- Helps detect approaching objects that might not be visible from the sides when backing up. It has a 65-foot range.
Volkswagen Golf SportWagen vs. the competition
2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
2019 Subaru Outback
Volkswagen Golf SportWagen vs. Subaru Outback
Despite its larger size, the Outback is often considered alongside the SportWagen when buyers shop for a wagon. Really, though, the Outback is more of an SUV and in a different class than the Volkswagen. The Outback has more off-road ground clearance, more cargo room and more power. Its larger size and bulk make it less elegant than the SportWagen, but the Subaru's extra room and ability, for not much extra money, should put it on your consider list.
Volkswagen Golf SportWagen vs. Fiat 500L
The 500 L is slightly shorter in length than the SportWagen but actually offers more a bit more maximum cargo space, no doubt a factor of its taller roofline. But while the 500L can carry more than the SportWagen, it's not as efficient with its fuel use. It gets just 25 mpg combined, compared to the VW's 31 mpg. The 500L is also less enjoyable to drive and has fewer up-to-date features.
Volkswagen Golf SportWagen vs. Buick Regal TourX
Like the Outback, the TourX isn't exactly a like comparison to the SportWagen, but it's worth considering if you're set on a wagon style but can't commit to one of the larger European luxury wagons. The TourX is, ironically, based on a European wagon and offers quite a bit more length and cargo capacity than the VW, not to mention more power and standard all-wheel drive. It's worth a look if you want SportWagen capabilities in a larger, and pricier, package.
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Is the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen a good car?
What's new in the 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen?
According to Edmunds’ car experts, here’s what’s new for the 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen:
- Front-wheel-drive models get new turbo four-cylinder engine
- New six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions
- Top SE trim adds driver safety aids as standard equipment
- Part of the first Golf-based SportWagen generation introduced for 2015
Is the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen reliable?
Is the 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen a good car?
How much should I pay for a 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen?
The least-expensive 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is the 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen 1.4T S 4dr Wagon (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M). Including destination charge, it arrives with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $21,895.
Other versions include:
- 1.4T SE 4dr Wagon (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 8A) which starts at $29,995
- 1.8T S 4MOTION 4dr Wagon AWD (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6M) which starts at $24,395
- 1.8T S 4MOTION 4dr Wagon AWD (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6AM) which starts at $25,495
- 1.4T S 4dr Wagon (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 8A) which starts at $22,995
- 1.4T S 4dr Wagon (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M) which starts at $21,895