2018 Volkswagen Golf Review
2018 Volkswagen Golf Review
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Used Golf for sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
Content Strategist and News EditorThroughout his career, Will Kaufman has been making sure shoppers get the best car for them by creating automotive content, product news, and robust content strategies for the site and social media.
- 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'd like
- Fewer luxury and convenience features offered than on rival hatchbacks
- Wolfsburg Edition and SEL trims have been discontinued
- New SE trim sits atop Golf range
- Mildly revised styling
- A few more standard features, including a new infotainment system
- Part of the seventh Golf generation introduced for 2015
When it launched for the 2015 model year, this generation Golf was an outlier in the economy class. It offered higher-quality interior materials and more refined ride and handling characteristics than its competitors, along with the practicality of a hatchback. In many ways, the 2018 Volkswagen Golf is better than ever. This year, you get more standard features, including smartphone integration, LED running lights and taillights, automatic headlights and wipers, and the option of a new 8.5-inch infotainment touchscreen.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2018 Volkswagen Golf TSI SE 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.26 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
Golf TSI SE
Avg. Compact Car
But even though the 2018 Golf retains its old charms and adds more features, the rest of the small-car field has evolved. The Honda Civic hatchback offers enjoyable performance and high fuel economy along with a roomy back seat and a slew of technology and safety features available across most of its lineup. Or you could check out the Mazda 3, which is engaging on the road and can be had with an even more upscale interior than the Golf.
It'll be worth your while to scout out these rivals, or even the redesigned Hyundai Elantra GT. Still, the 2018 Golf's positive attributes greatly outweigh its negatives.
Notably, we picked the 2018 Volkswagen Golf as one of Edmunds' Best Used Cars.
Edmunds' Expert Rating7.8 / 10
For 2018, Volkswagen has simplified the Golf lineup to two trim levels and given it more standard equipment. Undoubtedly, it's a better Golf. But competitors now offer more advanced safety and technology features while matching the Golf's fun-to-drive character and upscale interior.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Volkswagen Golf SE (turbo 1.8L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).
|Overall||7.8 / 10|
Handling and steering are exceptional, but a strange brake pedal feel imparts the sensation that you are learning to use the brakes for the first time, every time. Likewise, the Golf's engine feels reasonably powerful, but the transmission's slow, deliberate shifting hurts daily drivability and outright acceleration.
The Golf's turbocharged engine produces more power than most vehicles in its class, and acceleration while moving feels brisk. Passing on the highway is effortless too. But the Golf accelerates slowly from a stop, mostly because of the lethargic reactions of its transmission. Our timed 0-60 mph run took a leisurely 8.6 seconds.
There's bite from the brakes when you initially press the pedal, but there's little extra effectiveness as you gradually increase pressure. Combined with a lack of feedback from the pedal, it makes it difficult to stop smoothly. More often than not, you'll crunch to a stop and dip the front end. Also, every downshift along the way causes a lurch. Our panic stop from 60 mph lasted 129 feet, which is slightly longer than average in this class.
Steering effort is light with a slight increase in resistance at higher speeds. Although the vehicle seemingly starts turning as soon as you steer away from center, the Golf is never darty. Overall, the car's response to steering inputs feels very natural and intuitive.
Easily one of the best-handling cars in the segment. Body roll is well-controlled in sweeping corners; you'll really only feel it in quick and tight left-right transitions. It feels like VW started with the sporty Golf GTI and worked backward to make the standard car rather than the other way around.
The automatic transmission is not overly eager to upshift, so the engine is responsive if you quickly apply the gas pedal. Driving in S keeps revs too high, even with light pedal pressure. The transmission feels clunky when climbing the gears, hesitating momentarily between each and every shift.
Even though it is one of the better-handling vehicles in the class, the Golf rides smoothly on city streets. The seats hold up well over long distances, too. At higher speeds, the cabin is slightly quieter than other compact hatchbacks.
Both front seats are height-adjustable and feature manual fore/aft and power recline adjustment. The seats are comfortable overall, but the seat bottom is a little flat. There's also not much lumbar adjustment. The rear seatbacks and bottoms are set at comfortable angles, but the bottom is short.
Perhaps due in part to the smallish 16-inch wheels, the Golf's ride quality is comfortable on most surfaces. It glides over broken pavement, but you'll feel the typical high-frequency vibrations on washboard roads. Uneven road dips can cause the body to lean heavily to one side.
Noise & vibration7.5
The cabin is well-insulated from outside noise at a stop, but you will hear the engine idle. Engine noise is also apparent at low to moderate speeds, but it's nearly unnoticeable while cruising on the highway. Road noise is muted at all speeds. There's some mildly intrusive wind noise at highway speeds.
The Golf's manual climate control system is as basic as it gets. There are no rear vents for backseat passengers. Heated front seats get comfortably warm rather than truly hot. Even though the shade is perforated, the sunroof does not let heat radiate into the cabin.
There's not as much legroom as in class leaders, but a tall roofline ensures easy entry and exit, along with plenty of headroom for adults. The driving position is fantastic thanks to a clear view out and plenty of steering wheel and seat adjustment. Narrow pillars make for excellent visibility.
Ease of use8.5
Most physical controls are within reach and easy to understand. The only exception is those on the steering wheel; it will take some time to figure out what all 17 buttons do. The touchscreen's user interface features a logical menu layout and numerous buttons to access high-level functions easily.
Getting in/getting out8.5
The Golf's tall, flat roofline provides easy entry for all passengers. The high doorsills hamper egress slightly; you'll have to pull your feet closer to your body than in rivals as you exit the vehicle. The grab handles are large, sturdy and don't require much force to close.
The standard height-adjustable front seats and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel provide a generous range of motion. The instrument panel is easy to see no matter how you position the wheel. But the armrests aren't close enough to the wheel to plant your elbows on them.
The Golf has abundant headroom for tall passengers front and rear, even with the SE's mandatory sunroof. The rear seat is a little tight for adults, and the narrow middle seat and intrusive transmission tunnel mean that three-across seating should only be attempted occasionally.
The thin front pillars and tall windows provide an expansive view forward and to the side. The long rear doors allow for plenty of glass in the rear three-quarters view, helping eliminate blind spots. The rear pillar is slightly wider than average, but it's still very easy to see out the back.
Soft-touch plastics and faux-leather door trim give the Golf's interior a high-quality look, but the center console's hard plastic looks a little low-rent. Turn up the bass and you'll notice the speakers rattling. We could hear some panels in our test car rattling against each other.
Whether the rear seats are up or down, the Golf can carry more than its chief competitors. Despite the Golf's tight packaging, it has many places to store small items.
The Golf makes excellent use of its limited interior space. The tall, long front door pockets will each hold a pair of water bottles, while the rear door pockets will hold one water bottle each. And there's additional storage beneath the center console, under the armrest and in the sizable glovebox.
The cargo area is wide and flat and has an adjustable load floor. It's also massive, with 22.8 cubic feet of space with all seats in use. Folding the rear seats flat requires moving the front seats forward a bit, but it's worth the effort. The cargo area then measures 53.7 cubes, one of the largest in the segment.
Child safety seat accommodation8.0
Two Isofix anchors are located on each of the outboard rear seats; they are concealed under removable plastic covers that are easy to access. Attaching a strap to either of the seatback tethers requires removing the cargo cover. The cramped back seat might make installing a rear-facing car seat difficult.
VW's latest infotainment system improves upon its predecessor in a number of ways, including quicker response times and a larger screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but there's only one USB port. Some advanced safety features aren't available. There's no onboard navigation either.
Audio & navigation8.5
We liked the Golf's previous infotainment system, and the new version (paired with a larger, 8-inch touchscreen) is even better. High-definition graphics complement an easy-to-operate user interface. Thoughtful touches, such as virtual buttons that fade away as you move your hand from the screen, further enhance its appeal. We like that you can preview artist and song info before switching radio stations. Audio quality isn't great, but it is on par with those in competitors' midtier models.
The Golf supports multiple physical media inputs for listening to audio files. A CD player and SD card reader are located in the glovebox, while an auxiliary input and USB port reside under the center console. Many competitors offer multiple USB ports. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.
Our SE tester came with a rearview camera, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision system with automatic braking. The BSM works well but is a little too slow to react to vehicles entering the blind spot. Rivals offer a more comprehensive set of aids.
The voice control system is quite good at identifying names in your contact list. If you're in the correct radio band, it's also easy to switch radio stations. Switching stations on different bands — between satellite radio and FM, for example — is more difficult. Natural speech detection is minimal.
Which Golf does Edmunds recommend?
The upgrades between trim levels are largely luxuries and not serious quality-of-life improvements. The base S has more equipment than ever, and it gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so we don't see a major need to upgrade. That said, if you want any active safety features or heated seats, you'll need to spring for the SE.
2018 Volkswagen Golf models
The Volkswagen Golf is a four-door small hatchback available in two trim levels. The base S is pricier than other base compact cars but comes standard with some nice upgraded features, while the SE trim adds a few luxuries and active safety features. The Golf comes standard with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder (170 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque) and a five-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is available and bumps the Golf's torque up to 199 lb-ft if so equipped.
The base S comes standard with halogen headlights, LED daytime-running lights and taillights, automatic rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors, and 15-inch alloy wheels. Inside, you get a leather-wrapped steering wheel, manually adjustable seats with lumbar adjustment and power recline, cloth upholstery, cruise control and a rearview camera.
Infotainment in the Golf S is handled by a 6.5-inch touchscreen system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an eight-speaker sound system.
Upgrading to the SE adds heated washer nozzles, 16-inch alloy wheels and a sunroof. Inside, the SE upgrades to simulated leather upholstery, heated front seats, and keyless entry with push-button start. You also get blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Pedestrian recognition will be added to the collision mitigation system later this year.
The SE's infotainment system is upgraded to an 8-inch touchscreen that adds a CD player and satellite radio, along with VW's Security & Service app.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
2018 Volkswagen Golf TSI S 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
I had a Mazda Miata previously, so the VW Golf is definitely a big step up in terms of stability and comfort. I am a person who actually likes to drive and am a moderate driver. Having driven and researched the Japanese hatchbacks and smaller cars, the Golf is absolutely a much better driver's car. The others drive like school buses. The SE has a few bells and whistles I wasn't too … worried about, so I bought the S model. Driving the S with the 5 speed manual is not a lot different than the 2010 GTI I owned (not as fast of course). The 2018 Golf gives one a feeling of solidity and control that other cars lack. It is quiet, comfortable and refined, gets great mileage and handles very well. Electronics are very nice. I think the Germans have done good work improving the Golf over the years. I only have 3000 miles on this car, so this is an initial assessment. I can't comment on reliability, but I hope for the best and am careful with the car, researching the owner's manual and following it explicitly. I am very happy with my Golf and am looking forward to taking it on a longer trip to see how it performs. Update at 12,000 miles: smooth as silk. No squeaks, rattles or problems. A car one enjoys driving. 19500 miles. No problems. Highway mileage usually about 39-42 mpg. I appreciate the ease of using GPS and CarPlay. Great car. I follow maintenance schedule closely, use Top Tier fuel, etc. 26000 miles: Zero problems. Quick and stable car that’s still a pleasure to own. 40,000 miles: I am following the maintenance requirements carefully. Zero problems! No rattles, drives great. At 75 mph getting a consistent 41-42 mpg on cruise. Hope to keep this Golf a long time. 59000 miles. Drives great. Zero problems. Just traveled 1400 miles on a road trip driving 70-75 mph and got just over 40 mph. Still big on strict maintenance, using Top Tier gas and changing oil each 5000 miles. I really enjoy the car. UPDATE: Reliable, stingy on gas, drives very well, comfortable. This is my second Edmunds review on this Golf, but I have 75000 miles now with nary a problem. The front bumper has had some pebble and rock damage, and since I am keeping this car forever I am having it repainted to look like new. Every review I have read is that the 2018 VW TSI Golf is the best year to buy. I intend to keep this thing for a long time.
5 out of 5 stars
2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI S 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
Great fuel mileage, very sturdy on the highway. Previous GTI owner (1989 European model)...performance with manual is better than the 8valve GTI. Shifting is a bit vague, and clutch release is very short. This Golf continues to be fun to drive, extremely economical, and after almost 16,000 miles, still surprising. I am averaging over 35 mpg combined, and often see over 40 mpg going to … work--no traffic and hitting no traffic lights. Have considered trading for a new truck, but the trade value is very low in my opinion. The clutch is finally feeling good--a gearbox support installed by the local VW speed shop made all the difference. I was hesitant, but was assured they would remove it if I didn't like it. The guys at the dealership car wash even commented on how much better the clutch felt. Perhaps I drive like a grandma, but I am greatly exceeding the EPA estimates for fuel mileage. As far as handling and interior quality--the car feels as tight as it did new. If you are looking for a car that is relatively fun to drive, but do not want to fork out the money for A GTI or Focus ST, the Golf is a superb alternative at a fraction of the price.
4 out of 5 stars
My third Volkswagen Golf
2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI S 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I turned in my 2014 Golf TDI (diesel powered) and bought my new 2017 TSI (gas powered). The new car is better than the old one in almost all respects. The engine is smooth and powerful. I don't miss the diesel vibration at all. It's hard to imagine anyone wanting more power. The new Golf feels less nervous and handles with greater precision than my old Golf. I also fit a little better … behind the steering wheel. Trunk space is a little bit bigger than in my old Golf. I purchased the below trunk floor organizer accessory. This reduces overall trunk room somewhat, but provides hidden storage for tools and small valuable items. The radio, while very functional, does not sound as good as the radio in my 2014 Golf or in my old 2002 Golf. But it is adequate. The car driving position is a little bit low, but I have gotten used to it. I ordered the base "S" model, which is fairly well equipped, but missing heated seats and a few other items. I bought the "S" because I did not want a car with a sunroof (I'm tall). The ventilation system is exceptional, probably the best I've had in any car so far. There's just something about the way it moves air through the car. The seats are OK. They could be a little more comfortable, but they do not give me backaches. The car is a very easy car to drive, especially in city traffic.
5 out of 5 stars
2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI Wolfsburg Edition 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Have had a 2017 TSI Wolfsberg w 6 spd AT for a month and 800 miles now. Still a little too new for good evaluation but so far I'm thinking this is gonna be a great car. Nice thing about the '17 Wolfie is that it is better equipped than the any of the 2016 TSIs. Comes standard with 16" Alloys, Front Assist with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitor with rear traffic alert, … automatic headlights, and such niceties as a power sunroof, heated front seats, keyless access & start, and rain sensing wipers. Although I have desired a GTI for the last 6 years, I realized the extra performance was something I would benefit from or use < 5% of the time & simply couldn't justify the added cost. Got the Wolfburg for $20,830 + T & L; that was about $10K less than a GTI with DAP which was a must for me. But of course to be perfect (at least for me) it needs about $1,500 in accessories such as larger rear sway bar, Auto dim Homelink mirror, pop up hatch, LED tails & headlights; and of course better tires - upgraded to Michelin Premiers for best suite of AS characteristics for Pacific Northwest weather. Even with these upgrades it is still a steal compared to the GTI. Items such as pop up hatch, larger RSB & Homelink mirror not available on GTI at any price so I would added them to a GTI also. Only weak point I have detected so far is the OEM lights are quite poor. It's a shame that the Lighting Package was discontinued as an option for all Golfs except high end GTI models. This Golf replaced a much loved 2011 Honda Fit -- very similar utility, almost identical interior & exterior dimensions, but quite a significant boost in performance & comfort over the Fit. The best brief description I can give for the Wolfsburg edition is "GTI Lite" or "Honda Fit On Steroids". So far in love with my Wolfie, but with < than 1,000 miles so far I've got my fingers crossed for reliability compared to many Hondas & Subies I have owned. 1-8-18: First Year Update: My Golf now has 7,800 miles on it and has done a great job hauling my butt and stuff. I did the fore mentioned upgrades including replacing the poor head & tail lights with Euro spec aftermarket units - mucho better! I'm averaging 35 mpg highway & 28 in Seattle traffic which pretty good but a bit less than I had hoped. So far it has needed two repairs: fuel door was sticking & replaced under warranty and blind spot warning signal on drivers mirror just stopped workingwas due to snow covering sensor after heavy snowfall. Overall I'm happy with car, but unfortunately it the minor repairs tend to support the impression that this car is gonna have more problems then my previous Hondas and Subarus. 6-7-18: running trouble free past 7 months. Highway mileage has improved to 37 (ave speed 65 mph) 1-9-19 Update: Still enjoying the ride but not the leaky sunroof. Was repaired under warranty and no longer leaking. 7-9-19: No issues the past 6 months, still happy with it except I have a hankering for slightly larger car that uses less fuel. Looking hard at a Kia Niro PHEV 10-2019: Past 3 months have been trouble free with my Golf , no issues. But our city driving had more than doubled due to becoming "taxi service" for our granddaughter & a friend. We decided we would like something a bit larger and better city fuel economy. So we traded Golf for Kia Niro PHEV.
We have a limited number of reviews for the 2018 Volkswagen Golf, so we've included reviews for other years of the Golf since its last redesign.
Features & Specs
- Base MSRP
- MPG & Fuel
- 25 City / 34 Hwy / 29 Combined
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gal. capacity
- 5 seats
- Type: front wheel drive
- Transmission: 5-speed manual
- Inline 4 cylinder
- Horsepower: 170 hp @ 4500 rpm
- Torque: 199 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
- Basic Warranty
- 6 yr./ 72000 mi.
- Length: 167.5 in. / Height: 58.2 in.
- Overall Width without Mirrors: 70.8 in.
- Curb Weight: 2945 lbs.
- Cargo Capacity, All Seats In Place: 22.8 cu.ft.
Our experts like the Golf models:
- Blind-Spot Monitoring
- Alerts the driver when a car enters a blind spot. Includes rear cross-traffic alert that warns about approaching cars when reversing.
- Forward Collision Warning
- Detects an impending front collision and warns the driver to take action.
- Autonomous Emergency Braking
- Applies the brakes automatically to avoid a front collision should the driver fail to act.
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover13.4%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More about the 2018 Volkswagen Golf
Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf Overview
The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf is offered in the following submodels: Golf Hatchback. Available styles include TSI SE 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), TSI S 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), TSI SE 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M), and TSI S 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M). Pre-owned Volkswagen Golf models are available with a 1.8 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 170 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic, 5-speed manual. The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf comes with a 6 yr./ 72000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 6 yr./ 72000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf?
Price comparisons for Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf trim styles:
- The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf TSI S is priced between $18,990 and$25,998 with odometer readings between 3977 and68408 miles.
- The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf TSI SE is priced between $20,499 and$22,590 with odometer readings between 35613 and40947 miles.
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 2018 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) 2018 Volkswagen Golf for sale near. There are currently 8 used and CPO 2018 Golfs listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $18,990 and mileage as low as 3977 miles. 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 2018 Volkswagen Golf.
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Should I lease or buy a 2018 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.