2019 Volkswagen Golf Review
2019 Volkswagen Golf Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Senior Editor and Content Strategist, CarMax
Will Kaufman has worked in the automotive industry since 2017. He has written hundreds of car-related articles and reviews over the course of his career. Will is a senior editor and content strategist for CarMax at Edmunds. Will has been featured in the Associated Press and a number of major outlets on the topics of infotainment and vehicle data, vehicle subscription services and autonomous vehicles. Will started his career in online publishing by writing and editing standardized test guides, but he has a lot more fun writing about cars.
- Squared-off hatchback design provides lots of room for cargo
- Premium interior materials
- New engine and transmission significantly improve fuel economy
- Excellent handling abilities for a car in this price range
- Fewer luxury and convenience features offered than on rival hatchbacks
- Touchy brakes
- Less power than similarly priced hatchbacks
- Turbocharged 1.4-liter engine replaces 1.8-liter
- New eight-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmission
- Some active safety features are now standard
- Part of the seventh Golf generation introduced for 2015
There's a lot happening underneath the hood of the 2019 Volkswagen Golf. VW has replaced the previous turbocharged 1.8-liter engine in favor of a smaller turbocharged 1.4-liter engine. Also gone are the aging five-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions. In their place are six-speed and eight-speed units, respectively.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2019 Volkswagen Golf 1.4T S 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M) 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 $3.12 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$120/mo for Golf 1.4T S
Golf 1.4T S
Avg. Compact Car
You rarely hear "smaller is better" in America. And true enough, the 2019 Golf is down on power: 147 horsepower, compared to 170 hp last year. Fortunately, the new engine, which is also used in the Jetta, makes a strong 184 pound-feet of torque almost from idle. The new eight-speed automatic shifts quicker and smoother, too. Then there's fuel economy. The EPA estimates you'll get 32 mpg in combined city/highway driving from a 2019 Golf with the automatic, which is a 4-mpg improvement.
Overall, we're optimistic about the change, and it keeps the Golf relevant. And if the horsepower loss really troubles you, you can always upgrade to the Golf GTI. But you might have a harder time deciding after you look at what else you can get for a similar price. The Honda Civic hatchback is an excellent car, especially with its punchy and efficient 1.5-liter engine, and the Kia Forte hatchback gives you a surprisingly long list of available features. There's also an all-new Mazda 3 hatchback on the way.
Edmunds' Expert Rating7.8 / 10
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). Note: Since this test was conducted in 2018, the Golf's engine and transmissions have changed. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Golf, however.
|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. The new engine is down on power but not torque. Based on our impressions from the new Jetta, we think the new engine-transmission combo will improve drivability.
For 2019, the Golf loses some power, coming down to 147 horsepower. However, the down-low torque and automatic transmission's extra gears mean most drivers won't miss the ponies.
There's bite from the brakes when you initially press the pedal but little 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.
The Golf is 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.
Even though it is one of the best-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. The narrow pillars allow 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. Due to the high doorsills, you'll have to pull your feet closer to your body than you would 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 to eliminate blind spots. The rear pillar is slightly wider than average, but it's still 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 the speakers rattle. 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 can each accommodate 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 it 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. The 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 systems 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 blind-spot system can be a little slow to react to vehicles entering your blind spots. Some 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?
If we were looking for a car with all the gizmos, we'd pass on the Golf. Competitors have more to offer. That's why we'd stick with the base Golf S. You only forgo a handful of features, and you still get a lot of refinement. As the engine can seem a little overworked with the six-speed manual, get the automatic transmission.
2019 Volkswagen Golf models
The 2019 Volkswagen Golf is available in two trim levels, S and SE. Both trims receive the same turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine (147 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque) and send power to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. An eight-speed automatic is available as an optional upgrade.
Standard equipment on the Golf S now includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. You also get 15-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and taillights, automatic wipers, and heated side mirrors. Inside, you'll find a leather-wrapped steering wheel, manually adjustable seats with lumbar adjustment and power recline, cloth upholstery, cruise control and a rearview camera.
Infotainment 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 gets you 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. The SE's infotainment system is upgraded to an 8-inch touchscreen that comes with a CD player and satellite radio, along with VW's Security & Service app.
The optional Driver Assistance package for the SE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic high beams, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
4.3 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
J F, 01/03/2017
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 2019 Volkswagen Golf, so we've included reviews for other years of the Golf since its last redesign.
2019 Golf Highlights
|Combined MPG||32 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$120/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||6 years / 72,000 miles|
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.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestAcceptable
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood