2017 Volkswagen Golf Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Squared-off hatchback design provides lots of room for cargo
- Premium interior materials
- Engine is powerful and fuel-efficient
- Automatic transmission doesn't shift as responsively or intuitively as we prefer
- Fewer luxury and convenience features offered than on rival hatchbacks
Thanks to the 170 hp on tap from its turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the 2017 Volkswagen Golf feels more powerful than most other small hatchbacks or sedans. The punchy engine makes overtaking cars on the highway uneventful, with smooth, quick downshifts coming from the snappy automatic transmission. Driving in heavy traffic reveals some faults, though. The car tends to lurch from a standstill, and the transmission has trouble figuring out which gear it wants to be in during low-speed travel. If you don't mind rowing your own, getting the five-speed manual is a solution; it's also easy to shift thanks to a light-effort clutch pedal and distinct shift gates.
On a typical commute, the Golf delivers a comfortable and compliant ride quality that smooths ruts and potholes with ease. Its small footprint and large windows make it an easy car to see out of and park in tight spaces. Around turns, the Golf goes where you point it, but it's not particularly sporty. Competitors such as the Civic, Focus and Mazda 3 feel tauter and are generally more fun to drive with enthusiasm.
The 2017 Volkswagen Golf's interior features attractive plastics that are soft to the touch and a cabin design that is distinctly European, comfortable and sporty. Buttons and switches are placed close to the driver and offer intuitive, simple control. Honestly, there isn't much of a difference between a well-loaded Golf and entry-level luxury cars such as the Acura ILX, Mercedes-Benz CLA or Audi A3.
Every Golf comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen as standard. It's a little small by 2017 standards, and the graphics aren't supersharp, but otherwise there's a lot to like. It has an intuitive menu structure and large virtual buttons. Another positive attribute is standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink functionality. These systems allow you to easily integrate, display and use many of the apps from your smartphone, including Spotify and Audible.
Front seats provide ample support and comfort, even during long-distance driving stints, and not at the sacrifice of rear passengers. The Golf's ample legroom and shoulder room make the small hatch feel big. There's enough room in back to make the Golf a viable family vehicle, although adults will find the low-mounted rear seat cushions somewhat uncomfortable. Up to 22.8 cubic feet of cargo can be accommodated behind the rear seats, while folding the seats flat provides a substantial 52.7 cubic feet of space.