Used 2006 Volkswagen Golf Review
Edmunds expert review
Despite its age, the 2006 Volkswagen Golf holds its own in terms of amenities and cabin ambience, but competitors surpass it in power and handling. Bear in mind that the redesigned 2006 Rabbit will arrive midyear.
What's new for 2006
We've always liked the Golf, a fun-to-drive, chunky-but-spunky hatchback that has been a best-seller in Europe for more than two decades. Here in the States, the fourth-generation Volkswagen Golf does battle against a range of compacts, many of them with less impressive credentials. Just what's so likable about this VW car? Well, each one has a lengthy list of standard features; a roomy, solidly constructed cabin furnished in high-quality materials; and though not as sporting as the GTI, offers traditional Germanic handling characteristics -- that is, a nice blend of ride comfort and agility around corners. Compared to newer hatchbacks like the Mazda3 and Mini Cooper, the Golf's reflexes now seem a bit soft and slow, but it's still more fun to drive than many other cars in its class.
Volkswagen's 115-horsepower, base four-cylinder engine is outclassed by just about every other competitor these days. The diesel-fueled engine is no speed demon, either, but it offers better off-the-line acceleration and much better fuel economy, a fact that makes it all the more attractive as fuel prices rise. Overall, we think that there are better choices than the Volkswagen Golf for a small car in the early part of 2006. If you're dead set on this VW car, though, our suggestion would be to wait until midyear for the next-generation car to arrive, at which point dealers will start offering steep discounts on the old model.
Trim levels & features
The Volkswagen Golf is a four-door hatchback offered in GL and GLS trim levels. Standard GL features include air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, a CD player, headrests in all five seating positions, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, driver-seat height adjustment and power windows, locks and mirrors. The GLS trim adds a sunroof, alloy wheels, upgraded upholstery, a premium Monsoon sound system and a front center armrest with storage. The only major option package is a GLS cold weather package that includes heated front seats and heated windshield washer nozzles.
Performance & mpg
The base engine is a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder that makes just 115 horsepower. A better choice is the 1.9-liter diesel four-cylinder (TDI) that's rated for 100 hp and 177 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are available with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Golfs equipped with the 2.0-liter four feel sluggish at highway speeds, and fuel economy is well below average for this class. In contrast, the TDI is a serious fuel miser (up to 44 mpg on the highway) and has adequate torque for passing and merging; it's ideal for commuters.
Four-wheel antilock disc brakes, side airbags (for front occupants) and head curtain airbags (front and rear) are standard on all Golfs. Stability control is optional. The VW Golf hatchback earned five out of five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in the NHTSA's frontal-impact crash tests. Four stars were awarded for side-impact protection. The IIHS gave it a "Good" rating in frontal offset crash testing.
For the most part, the 2006 Volkswagen Golf provides a pleasant balance between highway comfort and responsive handling. More demanding drivers will likely find the ride a bit floaty with too much body roll when cornering.
The interior of the Volkswagen Golf is filled with high-quality materials and assembled with care; at night, you'll get to enjoy VW's signature blue-red cabin illumination. The front seats are roomy, and both are height-adjustable. The rear seat is definitely tight for three people, but the nicely contoured bench can certainly accommodate two adults. With the 60/40-split rear seat in use, the hatch provides 18 cubic feet of capacity; fold the seat and you'll have 41.8 cubes at your disposal.
Edmunds expert 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.