The 2017 Volkswagen Golf is that most logical of vehicles: a small, front-drive hatchback. But as space efficient and fuel efficient as hatchbacks can be, they've too often been stigmatized as cheap and poorly made. Don't believe it. The Golf drives like the sophisticated, refined and comfortable car it is. And inside the fittings are elegantly and logically designed using high-quality materials. The Golf is the affordable hatchback that doesn't feel compromised.
VW introduced the Golf way back in 1974 (it was called the Rabbit over here until 1984, and then again from 2006 to 2009), and the carmaker has been relentlessly honing its talents ever since. This is in fact the seventh generation of the Golf, and it's built atop VW's still fresh and impressive Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB is the German acronym) architecture. So maybe the most surprising thing about the 2017 edition is that it's actually less expensive than the 2016 model. Go figure.
Some of those savings can be directly attributed to VW's decision to simplify the lineup in the United States. First, the three-door model has been axed, while the remaining five-door is now limited to only two models: the low-end S and the better equipped, but value-oriented, Wolfsburg Edition. The top-end SEL has also been eliminated. Some features from last year's mainstream SE model, like the Fender audio system and 17-inch wheels, have migrated over to the Wolfsburg.
Wolfsburg, incidentally, is the German town where Volkswagen is headquartered. And yes, the Golf sold in the United States is made there in VW's massive assembly plant. Plan your vacations accordingly. VW builds other models in North American plants, such as the larger Passat sedan in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the smaller Jetta sedan in Pueblo, Mexico. The Golf is, by far, the cheapest new car sold in the United States that's built in Germany.
All Golf hatchbacks sold in the United States use a 1.8-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 170 horsepower. Specialty Golf models like the Sportwagen, GTI, R, Alltrack and electric e-Golf are considered separate models by VW and covered elsewhere. So shopping is an adventure!
Running either the standard five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions, the Golf is EPA-rated at 29 mpg combined (25 city/35 highway). The popular and fuel-thrifty TDI diesel models have been discontinued because, well, you know, VW doesn't want to talk about that right now.
The Golf isn't alone in the hatchback market, so make use of all the tools here on Edmunds to inform your best decision and get a great deal from a dependable dealer. After all, that's why you're on this site, right?
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.