2018 Volkswagen Golf Review

Pros & Cons

  • 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
List Price Range
$15,390 - $18,460

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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.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

7.8 / 10

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.

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.

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.

Trim tested

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).


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.

Seat comfort

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.

Ride comfort

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 & vibration

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.

Climate control

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 use

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 out

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.

Driving position

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.

Small-item storage

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.

Cargo space

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 accommodation

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 & navigation

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.

Smartphone integration

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.

Driver aids

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.

Voice control

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.


Overall7.8 / 10

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2018 Volkswagen Golf.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Upscale hatchback
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.
Fun, zippy car!
TSI SE 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
This car is fun, fast and does a great job for your every day commuter. It’s comfortable, great sound system and quiet. If you and your other half or friend wanted to go on a road trip, no doubt you wouldn’t have a great time. The furthest I’ve gone so far non stop is about 100 miles and I was averaging 37-39 mpg
Best car I’ve ever had
Kristina Lamson,04/18/2019
TSI S 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
This car is awesome!!! It is so beautiful inside and out with great features like Bluetooth and touchscreen and Apple play along with navigation it is just so very cool and such a smooth ride!
Excellent car! Highly recommend!
Steven Evans,04/07/2020
TSI SE 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I bought my 2018 VW Golf SE March of 2019 with 220 miles on it. I was leasing a base model 2017 VW Jetta S that I loved but traded so I could have more of the tech and luxury features offered nowadays like Apple CarPlay, leatherette seats, sunroof and rain sensing wipers. The only thing I’ve had a problem with was the sunroof interior cloth shade. It was replaced under warranty because it kept creeping open. Other than that, this is an excellent car! I can’t tell you how many times the forward collision mitigation system has saved me from an accident I couldn’t avoid. Sure it’s German and expensive to service down the road but you won’t find anything else for the price that’s even close to the quality materials inside and peppy turbo charged engine. No cheap hard plastics here, all upscale soft touch materials. Speaking of price I got $6000 off the MSRP on this one brand new! Gas mileage is alright, I get about 21-22 MPG in town because I drive the hell out of this car and have a lead foot. Freeway I get about 26-27 MPG. I now have almost 12k miles and it still drives just like the day I got it. I would definitely recommend this over a Civic, Corolla or Elantra any day. It probably won’t last is long as those other three but cars aren’t investments anymore. All cars are disposable. I buy a new car every 3-4 years to stay current and to avoid major repair costs with age and high miles. I’ll probably keep this one a little longer just because I enjoy it so much! Buy a Volkswagen and you’ll be hooked! This is my 3rd VW and I am a very happy customer! UPDATE 10/7/20: 16k miles and no problems. The sunroof shade still creeps open but not at much as before so I’ve overlooked it. I’ve started commuting recently and spending more time driving and I’m thankful I bought this car. LOVE IT!


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 Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover13.4%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

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 S 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M), TSI SE 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5M), TSI SE 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and TSI S 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 6A).

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 $15,500 and$17,900 with odometer readings between 608 and22169 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf TSI SE is priced between $15,390 and$18,460 with odometer readings between 15364 and26556 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 10 used and CPO 2018 Golfs listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $15,390 and mileage as low as 608 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.

Can't find a used 2018 Volkswagen Golfs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Golf for sale - 9 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $10,001.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 2 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $14,360.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Golf for sale - 9 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $12,879.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 4 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $12,368.

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.

Check out Volkswagen lease specials
Check out Volkswagen Golf lease specials