1998 Volkswagen Golf Review

Used Golf for sale
List Price Estimate:$363 - $857
See All Cars For Sale
cash graphic with confetti

Get More For Your Trade-In

1998 Volkswagen Golf appraisal values can range from $118 - $624.
Find out what your car is really worth in minutes.
See your car's value

Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Fun to drive. Chunky but distinctive styling. Seat comfort. Rare four-door hatchback. Great powertrain warranty. Free scheduled maintenance for two years or 24,000 miles.
  • Engine spunky, but needs a few more ponies.

Vehicle overview

The Golf is the descendant of the wondercar that started the econobox trend in the U.S. In 1975, Volkswagen introduced the Rabbit to Americans (elsewhere, this car was known as the Golf). Stubby and blocky in style, the Rabbit was inexpensive, fun to drive, and sipped fuel. Unfortunately, it also broke down, rusted quickly, and cost more than most were willing to pay to maintain. A switch to production in the United States doomed the Rabbit, and VW finally replaced it with an all-new hatchback -- this time bearing the Golf name -- in 1985.

The Golf was similarly stubby and blocky in style, inexpensive, fun to drive and sipped fuel. It too broke, rusted and cost extra to maintain. VW aficionados swore by them, though, claiming that once you found a mechanic who could fix one properly, VW ownership was like a cool club that only the automotively astute wanted to join.

Great for aficionados, but Volkswagen needed a broader customer base to keep afloat in the States. The third-generation Golf is stubby and blocky in style. It is fun to drive. It sips fuel, though not as frugally as it should. It is affordable. It is also supposed to dispel reliability fears by offering a 10 year/100,000 mile warranty on the powertrain, which VW advertises heavily. Since its arrival in 1993, we haven't heard any horror stories about maintenance costs, breakdowns or rust, so maybe this Golf will do the trick for Volkswagen.

Then again, VW must contend with a U.S. market that historically, at least, has dismissed hatchbacks as bargain-basement, "I couldn't afford a sedan" vehicles. However, Volkswagen sales have been on the upswing since the car was introduced, and VW management has begun to pay closer attention to the desires of American consumers.

For 1998, Volkswagen is offering the four-door Golf hatchback in GL, K2 and Wolfsburg trim. All are powered by the familiar 2.0-liter inline four that manages 115 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque at 3,200 rpm. A five-speed manual is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional. Fuel economy isn't great for an economy car -- the Golf is rated at 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway with a manual and 22/28 with an automatic.

Standard features in the Golf GL include dual front airbags, power locks, keyless entry, an alarm system, height adjustable seatbelts, 14-inch wheels, a 60/40-split folding rear seat (yielding 41 cubic feet of cargo space) and a rear window wiper and defroster. New this year are a glovebox, retractor locking seatbelts (so you can get your kids' car seats snugged down more securely) and a central locking switch. Features that most people are sure to want, like air conditioning, a stereo with a cassette player (and eight speakers) and antilock brakes, are all on the options list, along with luxuries like a power moonroof and a CD changer. Side-impact airbags for front occupants are a new option for 1998.

The better equipped K2 appeals to winter enthusiasts and offers the buyer the choice of skis or a snowboard; a roof rack to carry said gear; heated front seats, windshield washer nozzles and exterior mirrors; special cloth upholstery; silver/white-faced gauges, the eight-speaker cassette stereo and a flexible roof antenna. The K2 is eligible for all of the remaining Golf GL options, except antilock brakes -- we've never understood the wisdom behind this decision.

The Wolfsburg is a new trim level for 1998, and it is the most upscale of the three. Standard features include bolstered sport seats; upgraded velour upholstery; silver/white-faced gauges; leather-wrapped steering wheel, hand brake and shift knob; the eight-speaker sound system with cassette player; air conditioning; a power moonroof; a cargo net; alloy wheels; a chrome exhaust tip and a roof-mounted antenna. You can get cruise control, power windows (with one-touch operation and pinch protection) and heated power mirrors as options.

Regardless of which trim level you choose, our experience has shown that the Golf would be a rewarding car to own and drive. Though not particularly speedy, it keeps up in traffic with no problem and feels stable at highway speeds. Unlike most economy cars, the Golf's suspension and steering communicate with the driver, and even in the guise of a four-door hatchback with seating for five and 17 cubic feet of luggage capacity (with the rear seats in use), it could actually be called fun to drive. Certainly, the Golf lacks the stellar reliability record of competitors like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, but for those seeking a bit more individuality and fun in an economy car, it might be worth the risk.

1998 Highlights

The Trek and Jazz models disappear for 1998, but the winter-enthusiast K2 model sticks around. Late in the model year, Volkswagen offers the upscale Wolfsburg Edition, which comes standard with sport seats; upgraded velour upholstery; silver/white-faced gauges; leather-wrapped steering wheel, hand brake and shift knob; the eight-speaker sound system with cassette player; air conditioning; a power moonroof; a cargo net; alloy wheels; a chrome exhaust tip and a roof-mounted antenna. And you can option the Wolfsburg with useful features like cruise control, power windows with one-touch operation and heated power mirrors. All Golfs get keyless entry, and side-impact airbags are now optional across the line. The four-speed automatic gets a new shift logic pattern, which should enhance shift timing.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1998 Volkswagen Golf.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

4.13 out of 5 stars
Fun to drive, easy to live with
GL 4dr Hatchback
This car is the only car in a house with 2 adults, a large dog, and a baby and we are hardly ever lacking for space. The best thing about this car is the versatility of changing from a 4-passenger car to a small utility hauler. Cupholders are terrible. Reliability has been good except for a number of small problems that keep popping up (horn and A/C switches stopped working, turn signal sticks, trim falls off, etc.). Still burns no oil at 75,000 miles. Great car that handles great but acts much bigger than it is.
4.5 out of 5 stars
great daily driver
K2 4dr Hatchback
Bought a pristine K2 with heated seats for $4k-ish. Great daily driver. Good on gas, just enough pep, simple to work on yourself. Airbags, so relatively safe. No better $4k beater out there. 5 way heated seats a bonus in winter. Nice cold A/C.
4.25 out of 5 stars
Cheaper than what we expected
GL 4dr Hatchback
Cons: Rear CD-changer won't release at 20k, automatic trans that won't shift up on a warm day at 30k, Door trim falling off at 35k, rattle in dash at 50k, oil leak at 55k with fumes into pass compartment. Pros: Performance, mpg, interior room especially for cargo hauling, the wonderful mechanically adjustable drivers seat, ride and looks (except for the headlight bezels, which looked outdated even in 98).
4.5 out of 5 stars
Driving fun combined with cargo space!
GL 4dr Hatchback
I've had VW's for many years ('80 Rabbit, '88 Golf, and this '98 Golf). In general, they're great cars and I love to drive them. Great gas mileage, great cargo space, and a TON of fun to drive. I highly recommend getting the standard transmission. I wish I would have gotten the CD changer for the trunk. I've had a few problems with this particular vehicle, though. The radiator sprung a leak (at a seam) at 28K miles -- VW wouldn't pay for fixing it. The seat part of the bucket seat tends to flatten out -- I had to replace the driver's at about 25K and I'll have to replace the passenger one soon (51K). I also had exhaust problems, but I think that was my fault.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1998 Volkswagen Golf

Used 1998 Volkswagen Golf Overview

The Used 1998 Volkswagen Golf is offered in the following submodels: Golf Hatchback. Available styles include GL 4dr Hatchback, K2 4dr Hatchback, and Wolfsburg 4dr Hatchback. Pre-owned Volkswagen Golf models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 115 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1998 Volkswagen Golf comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1998 Volkswagen Golf?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1998 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) 1998 Volkswagen Golf for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned 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 Used 1998 Volkswagen Golf.

Can't find a used 1998 Volkswagen Golfs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Golf for sale - 3 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $9,474.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 11 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $23,459.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Golf for sale - 2 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $24,240.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 4 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $24,779.

Should I lease or buy a 1998 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
Check out Volkswagen Golf lease specials