2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Wagon TSI S 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
I paid just under $21,000 out the door using TrueCar (MSRP $21,625 + $820 delivery fee). The 2016 Golf Sportwagen TSI S was an excellent value. I never buy new cars because of the depreciation, but due to a new addition to our family, I had to look for something reliable without any hassle of maintenance issues.
This car has more space than a Mazda CX-3, Mazda 3 Hatchback, and many other crossovers. ~30 cubic feet with the seats up and ~66 cubic feet with the rear seats folded is excellent. It fits our massive stroller, luggage and a few oddities from Ikea on a weekend trip to San Diego with the baby/car seat, wife, and mother-in-law. If my mother-in-law wasn't in the car we could fold 60% of the rear seats even.
The technology in the car is amazing also. Apple CarPlay is very intuitive and streams my 320 kbps Deezer app on my iPhone to the car flawlessly. Furthermore Apple Maps is excellent. The sound quality isn't Premium BMW sound, but it's not far off. It's better than my amplified aftermarket stereo system in another car I have. The base trim "S" has 8 speakers, that's four component speakers. It is definitely sufficient for 99 percent of people. I have no desire to increase the volume beyond 50 percent, even when I'm by myself in the car zooming about.
Fuel economy at 25/29/36 for the manual is excellent. The clutch is dummy-proof. Shift linkage feels solid and very connected from gear to gear with no confusion. Synchros are smooth enabling grind-free shifts. Turbo lag is minimal, maximum torque is available at 1,500 RPM which is a blip of the right foot; maximum RPM is ~6k. 170hp is definitely adequate even when loaded with passengers and cargo. It's no sports car with 300 wheel horse power, but it definitely gets up and goes.
The Volkswagen MQB architecture may offer interesting future opportunities to convert this car to 4-Motion AWD also. Of course I wouldn't seriously consider modifying a warrantied vehicle until out of the 5 year/60k mile power train warranty. The EA888 1.8 turbo direct injection engine is an amazing piece of technology also. The turbo bolts directly onto the head. It's exhaust manifolds are integrated into the heads surrounded by coolant passages. This improves engine warm-up time for better engine wear/longevity, improved fuel efficiency, and quicker cabin heat for passengers. Allegedly this 1.8T engine picks up ~100 ft lbs of torque and ~60 horsepower with just ECU tuning through APR. That makes it on par with a stock GTI or quicker.
Handling is adequate, a bit squishy (compared to my bone-shattering 03 Nissan 350z Track, 06 BMW E90 3-series with run flats and 93 Mercedes 190e SportLine). Steering feel and input is slightly delayed due to tire size (195/65/15 Bridgestone Ecopia 422 Plus 580 UTQG). While the tire may be good for improved fuel economy MPG's, it's obvious setbacks are a huge sidewall that flexes under cornering and small contact area resulting in "economical" traction under maximum acceleration from a stop. Likewise the tire is "acceptable" for braking. Don't expect sports car performance in this area. Up-sizing the wheels and adding Summer tires would transform this car into a different machine at the cost of a couple MPG.
If you don't want to commit to a mini-van and turn in your man card, this is a great choice!
2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Wagon TSI SE 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Quick enough, solid feeling, high end interior and fuel mileage that rocks! Fun to drive, beautiful to look at. Mine had 40 miles on the odometer when I bought it and a few scratches on the interior but I saved 3500 off MSRP. VERY happy after 2800 miles.
2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Wagon TSI S 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
We were looking at crossovers since we've recently started a family but they were all so meh in test drives. We ended up test driving this one because it was at the lot next door and we feel just incredibly lucky that we did. We LOVE it. It's zippy and fun, with a crazy amount of cargo space (comparable or greater than most crossovers), and is very quiet and smooth to drive. We got the base model because it's already well equipped, and the quality of the interior for the price is just incredible. I discovered that we actually like to have a car with subtle, elegant styling, instead a tank that looks like it's ready to go mud slinging.
One nice thing about this car is that my 6'1" husband can sit in the backseat without his head touching the ceiling. Though he's not crazy tall, we've still found that to be rare.
We got the TSI instead of diesel (the purchase was before the emissions scandal) because we found it was snappier. We test drove A LOT of vehicles and are still puzzled by a) how under the radar it is in the US market and b) how reasonable the price is for the quality of drive and interior. Definitely check it out.