2021 Volkswagen Golf

MSRP range: $23,195 - $23,995
4.5 out of 5 stars(4)
MSRP $25,550
Edmunds suggests you pay $25,345

What Should I Pay

2021 Volkswagen Golf Review

  • Hatchback design provides lots of room for cargo
  • Excellent ride comfort and quiet cabin
  • Free scheduled maintenance for two years or 20,000 miles
  • Lacks safety and convenience features
  • Budget tires detract from handling and braking performance
  • Mediocre acceleration
  • No changes for the final year of production for this Golf generation
  • Part of the seventh Golf generation introduced for 2015

In the 1970s, Volkswagen began its transition away from its iconic Beetle to the Golf. More than 45 years later, the 2021 Golf continues as the brand's familiar hatchback. But this is pretty much the end of the line for the car, at least in the United States. Next year, only the redesigned Golf GTI and Golf R (reviewed separately) will make the trip from Germany to our shores. The regular Golf will be discontinued as Volkswagen figures most of us would rather buy an SUV.

There's no grand send-off for the 2021 car. It's still a practical and comfortable four-door hatchback. Remarkably, it remains available with a manual gearbox, if you're into that sort of thing. While there is a certain appeal to a Golf's cloak of invisibility, we think most small-hatchback shoppers would be happier with the Golf GTI or hatchback versions of the Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Subaru Impreza and Toyota Corolla. Find out why by reading our Expert Rating below.

EdmundsEdmunds' Expert RatingThe Edmunds Vehicle Testing Team evaluates a fresh batch of vehicles every week, pairing objective assessments at our test track with real-world driving on city streets, freeways and winding roads. The data we gather results in our Expert Ratings. They’re based on 30-plus scores that cover every aspect of the automotive experience.
Rated for you by America’s best test team
The Golf is dated but not without positive attributes. It has exceptional ride quality, a quiet interior and excellent fuel economy. And thanks to its well-matched 1.4-liter engine and eight-speed automatic, the Golf is an enjoyable daily companion. But the lack of optional features, downmarket interior plastics and mediocre tires ultimately make the Golf less desirable than more well-rounded competitors.
How much you'll enjoy driving the Golf every day depends on what you want out of this little hatchback. The Golf scoots through daily traffic with ease. But under full-throttle acceleration, we recorded a slightly tepid 0-60 mph time of 8.3 seconds, which is slower than the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla Hatchback and Hyundai Veloster. However, the Golf's quick-shifting eight-speed automatic makes it one of the smoothest-driving cars in the class.

The Golf has earned a reputation for sporty Germanic handling over the years, but there's little evidence of that with the current Golf. The tires are the worst aspect; their lack of grip hurts emergency braking performance as well as handling. Our test Golf needed 132 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is longer than any other small hatchback.
The Golf has an excellent ride quality over all manner of surfaces. It absorbs even moderate road imperfections with ease and never feels the least bit floaty, even at highway speeds. Praise also goes to the taller sidewalls on the otherwise unimpressive tires. Road and wind noise levels are low.

The Golf offers straightforward climate controls and adjustable vents capable of cooling the cabin with ease. We like the standard simulated leather seating surfaces, but seat comfort is mediocre, especially for taller drivers.
The Golf has an uncluttered dash and easy-to-reach controls. The steering wheel controls are a little confusing at first, but previous Volkswagen owners will find them instantly recognizable. The Golf's boxy exterior design provides excellent visibility.

There is excellent room for front passengers no matter how tall they are. Rear passengers will find enough knee room and legroom as long as they are under 5 feet 10. Headroom in the back is generous.
The Golf's infotainment interface is pretty lacking. Its smallish 6.5-inch screen looks dated and cannot be upgraded to the newer units you can get in the GTI or the Jetta. Its overall operation leaves a lot to be desired too, as some simple adjustments require multiple menus to select. Other disappointing features are the basic audio system and the single(!) USB port for the entire car.

Driver aids such as blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning with emergency braking, and rear traffic alert are standard, but there are no optional packages to upgrade to adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. Those are offered by the Golf's competitors.
In typical hatchback fashion, the Volkswagen Golf offers up a fair amount of cargo capacity for its size. With 22.8 cubic feet on offer, it ranks above the Mazda 3 (20.1 cubic feet) and the Toyota Corolla Hatchback (17.8 cubes). The Civic does offer marginally more room with 25.7 cubic feet. The Golf's rear seats are split 60/40. They fold flat and offer a center pass-through. As an added bonus, the rear-seat release buttons can be accessed from the trunk.

Inside, the Golf offers adequate storage from a cubby in front of the shifter, two cupholders and a sizable center console. The door pockets are generous for all passengers and are lined with felt, but not completely, which leaves a hard plastic surface for items to bang into.

As far as installing child safety seats, larger ones will likely require sliding the front seat forward. But the anchor points are in plain view and easy to reach.
The Golf is reasonably fuel-efficient. The EPA estimates the automatic-equipped model gets 32 mpg combined (29 city/36 highway). We achieved an impressive 36.7 mpg on our 115-mile mixed-driving evaluation route. That's better than we've seen from the Toyota Corolla Hatchback, Mazda 3 and the Honda Civic.
With the exception of choosing between the standard six-speed manual and an optional eight-speed automatic transmission, there are no options for the Golf. Our automatic-equipped test car stickered for just under $24K, making it less expensive than the Honda Civic and Mazda 3 hatchbacks. Unfortunately for the Golf, those two competitors offer interiors made from higher-quality materials as well as other options, such as upgraded audio systems and extra driver aids, that the Golf doesn't.

If you've previously owned a Golf, you might be disappointed to find that Volkswagen has shortened the warranties, in both time and allowable mileage, starting for 2020. Still, the Golf's warranties are fairly standard for the class, and Volkswagen offers two years/20,000 miles of free maintenance.
The Golf does a fairly good job of impersonating a budget Audi. With a torquey engine, a supple ride and quiet cabin, the Golf packs a lot of refinement into a practical hatchback package. But as competitors embrace the concept of an upmarket small car, the corners VW has cut in recent years become more apparent, especially when you take a critical look at interior materials.

There's no denying the inherent goodness of the Golf's chassis or its overall competence and fuel efficiency. With the standard six-speed manual transmission, and maybe a set of better tires, you could have all the refinement the Golf offers, plus a little bit of fun to boot.

Which Golf does Edmunds recommend?

The 2021 Golf comes only in TSI trim, so you'll just have to choose your transmission type and select from five exterior and two interior colors, as well any dealer-installed accessories. If you're seeking more than a standard Golf offers, consider the sporty Golf GTI, which adds plenty of power and personality to the car.

Volkswagen Golf models

Choosing a 2021 Volkswagen Golf is easy. It comes one way, with TSI trim and a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder (147 horsepower, 184 lb-ft) engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and an eight-speed automatic optional. Both power the Golf's front wheels. Highlighted features include:

Comes standard with:

  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Automatic headlights
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Keyless entry with push-button engine start
  • Simulated leather seats
  • Heated front seats
  • 6.5-inch center touchscreen
  • VW's Car-Net connected services including onboard 4G Wi-Fi
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration
  • Forward collision mitigation (warns you of an impending collision and applies the brakes in certain scenarios)
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert (warns you if a vehicle is in your blind spot during a lane change or while reversing)
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Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2021 Volkswagen Golf.

Average user rating: 4.5 stars
4 total reviews
5 star reviews: 75%
4 star reviews: 0%
3 star reviews: 25%
2 star reviews: 0%
1 star reviews: 0%

Trending topics in reviews

    Most helpful consumer reviews

    5/5 stars, 2021 Golf
    TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 8A)
    Great gas mileage, has blind spot detection, back up camera, brake assist, good acceleration, Apple carplay , and a sunroof.
    5/5 stars, Fun to drive Golf
    TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
    Hard to find a Golf 6 speed manual anywhere..
    3/5 stars, Ruined car
    TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 8A)
    The view of this car really depends on what you had before. It is a decent car, but it has a big problem: its predecessors. I currently have one of these which I got in exchange for a 2017 Golf 1.8T, that's why I can't help but compare it with its previous version which I loved very much. To my taste the 2021 model is worse in almost every way (slower, noisier, more cheaply made, only marginally more fuel efficient than its previous version, with signs of cost cutting everywhere, etc.) and, having driven it for only over a month, I can't think of a single compelling reason to buy it over its competition. It's a nice car, but it's just A car, nothing special that would make it stand out for anyone who actually cares about what they drive. Golf used to present a perfect, per my opinion, balance of drivability and practicality per $1 of price. It is no more...
    5/5 stars, I went Golfing twice and loved it both times
    Braves fan in California ,
    TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
    After my wife purchased a 2018 Golf SE TSI, I knew I’d eventually buy one, too. My needs are different than hers I drive a 6 speed. I’m tall and really need leg room. I need broad and comfortable seats for long journeys. Sight lines matter to me. I want dependable cruise control, power from the accelerator, and over 30 mpg. I want a car that can stand up to a windstorm in the desert and is nimble in California traffic. I got all of this and more in the Golf. The fit and finishes are great, the engine and transmission work together to make driving pleasurable, and the Golf is easy on the eyes — not trendy in a way that renders it outdated in 5 years. I was alive in the era when VWs were quirky and goofy and uncomfortable. Not anymore! I got a car that is small on the outside and big on the inside. And I averaged 47 mpg on the trip home and a 640 mile range. Even as people are too quick to call something “awesome” these days, I would put this experience in the awesome category.

    Features & Specs

    Base MSRP
    MPG & Fuel
    29 City / 36 Hwy / 32 Combined
    Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gal. capacity
    5 seats
    Type: front wheel drive
    Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
    Inline 4 cylinder
    Horsepower: 147 hp @ 5000 rpm
    Torque: 184 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
    Basic Warranty
    4 yr./ 50000 mi.
    Length: 167.6 in. / Height: 58.2 in.
    Overall Width with Mirrors: N/A
    Overall Width without Mirrors: 70.8 in.
    Curb Weight: 3012 lbs.
    Cargo Capacity, All Seats In Place: 17.4 cu.ft.

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    Our experts’ favorite Golf safety features:

    Automatic Post-Collision Braking
    Brings the Golf to a stop as soon as possible after a collision to prevent secondary crashes after airbag deployment.
    Family Guardian Alerts
    Part of Car-Net connected services, Family Guardian sends alerts related to speed, geographic location and curfew time to the Golf's owner.
    Front Assist
    Warns when a potential collision with an object or pedestrian may occur and automatically applies the brakes.

    NHTSA Overall Rating 5 out of 5 stars

    The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.

    Frontal Barrier Crash RatingRating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
    Side Crash RatingRating
    Overall5 / 5
    Side Barrier RatingRating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
    Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsRating
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover13.4%

    IIHS Rating

    The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.

    Side Impact Test
    Roof Strength Test
    Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
    Moderate Overlap Front Test

    Volkswagen Golf vs. the competition

    2021 Volkswagen Golf

    2021 Volkswagen Golf

    2021 Honda Civic

    2021 Honda Civic

    Volkswagen Golf vs. Honda Civic

    While the Volkswagen Golf's style is buttoned-down and conservative, like a classic navy blue suit, the Honda Civic is more like bejeweled pink pajamas. You love or hate the way the Civic looks, but it grabs attention either way. But aside from the styling, the Civic is superior in almost every objective way. It's more entertaining to drive and gives you more choice for features. Read Edmunds' long-term road test of the Honda Civic.

    Compare Volkswagen Golf & Honda Civic features 

    Volkswagen Golf vs. Mazda 3

    The Mazda 3 hatchback boasts sleek styling, interior sophistication and entertaining driving dynamics. Plus, an available all-wheel-drive system gives the Mazda an added benefit in regions where rain and snow regularly occur. You do, however, get more overall utility from the Golf. Read Edmunds' long-term road test of the Mazda 3.

    Compare Volkswagen Golf & Mazda 3 features 

    Volkswagen Golf vs. Subaru Impreza

    Of this trio of competitors, the Subaru Impreza best matches the Volkswagen Golf's emphasis on function over form. It's got plenty of cargo space, and it comes standard with all-wheel drive for enhanced traction in poor weather. Compared to the Impreza, the Golf is a little more fun to drive, but neither car will wow you like the Mazda 3 can.

    Compare Volkswagen Golf & Subaru Impreza features 


    Is the Volkswagen Golf a good car?

    The Edmunds experts tested the 2021 Golf both on the road and at the track, giving it a 7.4 out of 10. You probably care about Volkswagen Golf fuel economy, so it's important to know that the Golf gets an EPA-estimated 32 mpg to 33 mpg, depending on the configuration. What about cargo capacity? When you're thinking about carrying stuff in your new car, keep in mind that the Golf has 17.4 cubic feet of trunk space. And then there's safety and reliability. Edmunds has all the latest NHTSA and IIHS crash-test scores, plus industry-leading expert and consumer reviews to help you understand what it's like to own and maintain a Volkswagen Golf. Learn more

    What's new in the 2021 Volkswagen Golf?

    According to Edmunds’ car experts, here’s what’s new for the 2021 Volkswagen Golf:

    • No changes for the final year of production for this Golf generation
    • Part of the seventh Golf generation introduced for 2015
    Learn more

    Is the Volkswagen Golf reliable?

    To determine whether the Volkswagen Golf is reliable, read Edmunds' authentic consumer reviews, which come from real owners and reveal what it's like to live with the Golf. Look for specific complaints that keep popping up in the reviews, and be sure to compare the Golf's average consumer rating to that of competing vehicles. Learn more

    Is the 2021 Volkswagen Golf a good car?

    There's a lot to consider if you're wondering whether the 2021 Volkswagen Golf is a good car. Edmunds' expert testing team reviewed the 2021 Golf and gave it a 7.4 out of 10. Safety scores, fuel economy, cargo capacity and feature availability should all be factors in determining whether the 2021 Golf is a good car for you. Learn more

    How much should I pay for a 2021 Volkswagen Golf?

    The least-expensive 2021 Volkswagen Golf is the 2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M). Including destination charge, it arrives with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $23,195.

    Other versions include:

    • TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 8A) which starts at $23,995
    • TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M) which starts at $23,195
    Learn more

    What are the different models of Volkswagen Golf?

    If you're interested in the Volkswagen Golf, the next question is, which Golf model is right for you? Golf variants include TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 8A), and TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M). For a full list of Golf models, check out Edmunds’ Features & Specs page. Learn more

    More about the 2021 Volkswagen Golf

    2021 Volkswagen Golf Overview

    The 2021 Volkswagen Golf is offered in the following submodels: Golf Hatchback. Available styles include TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 8A), and TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M). The 2021 Volkswagen Golf comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 8-speed shiftable automatic, 6-speed manual. The 2021 Volkswagen Golf comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

    What do people think of the 2021 Volkswagen Golf?

    Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2021 Volkswagen Golf and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2021 Golf 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2021 Golf.

    Edmunds Expert Reviews

    Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2021 Volkswagen Golf and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2021 Golf featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.

    Our Review Process

    This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

    We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.

    What's a good price for a New 2021 Volkswagen Golf?

    2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 8A)

    The 2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 8A) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $25,550. The average price paid for a new 2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 8A) is trending $205 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.

    Edmunds members save an average of $205 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $25,345.

    The average savings for the 2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 8A) is 0.8% below the MSRP.

    Which 2021 Volkswagen Golfs are available in my area?

    Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2021 Volkswagen Golf for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a car from our massive database to find cheap vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the 2021 Volkswagen Golf.

    Can't find a new 2021 Volkswagen Golfs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

    Find a new Volkswagen for sale - 5 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $16,726.

    Why trust Edmunds?

    Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color.

    What is the MPG of a 2021 Volkswagen Golf?

    2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 8A), 8-speed shiftable automatic, regular unleaded
    32 compined MPG,
    29 city MPG/36 highway MPG

    2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 6-speed manual, regular unleaded
    33 compined MPG,
    29 city MPG/39 highway MPG

    EPA Est. MPG32
    Transmission8-speed shiftable automatic
    Drive Trainfront wheel drive
    Displacement1.4 L
    Passenger Volume110.9 cu.ft.
    Wheelbase103.6 in.
    Length167.6 in.
    Height58.2 in.
    Curb Weight3012 lbs.

    Should I lease or buy a 2021 Volkswagen Golf?

    Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

    Check out Volkswagen lease specials