New 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Wagon New 2018
Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Wagon

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The fun and fuel-efficient 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is America’s most affordable wagon. With a starting price just over $22,000, available all-wheel drive and high safety ratings, the VW Golf SportWagen is perfect for young families and first-time buyers looking for an alternative to a hatchback or small SUV. For 2018, the VW Golf SportWagen is available in three trim levels, S, SE and SEL. All models are powered by a smooth, turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower and provides impressive acceleration. Manual and automatic transmissions are available, and all-wheel drive costs an additional $2,250. This year, VW has also improved the SportWagen’s warranty, extending it to six years or 72,000 miles, which is longer than the coverage offered on the Subaru Outback and the Mini Clubman.

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You'll Like This Car If...

The 2018 VW Golf SportWagen carries like a small SUV, but it drives like a hot little hatchback. If you’re looking for an affordable, fun-to-drive and fuel-efficient wagon with available all-wheel drive, you’ll like the new SportWagen. It’s also rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

You May Not Like This Car If...

For about the same price, the popular Subaru Outback also offers all-wheel drive, plus it’s larger with significantly more people and cargo space. And when both are equipped with all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission, the Subaru is more fuel efficient. Buyers looking for the ultimate fuel efficiency should check out the hybrid-powered Kia Niro.

What's New for 2018

For 2018, all VW Golf models get a visual upgrade with new front-end styling, including new LED daytime-running lights, and LED taillights. The Golf SportWagen S trim adds standard automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and a 6.5-inch touch screen. VW has also improved the SportWagen’s warranty, extending it to six years or 72,000 miles, which is longer than most.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

Sharing its suspension and engine with the Volkswagen Golf makes the 2018 VW Golf SportWagen one fun little machine. The 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged 4-cylinder may not look like much on paper, but it delivers its power smoothly throughout the rev band, and is especially willing when power is needed for passing or merging. It’s also smooth and it delivers impressive fuel economy, especially on the highway. Although we love that VW offers a manual transmission, this one is a bit rubbery and vague. The automatic is a much better choice, offering similar fuel economy and still allowing the option of choosing your own gears. We found the SportWagen’s ride to be on the firm side, but its tight suspension allows for some very rapid high-speed maneuvers through twisting turns with very little evidence of torque steer. The available 4Motion AWD is a great feature; unfortunately, it’s available only on the base S trim level.

Favorite Features

4MOTION ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Despite its popularity, Volkswagen is one of the few automakers to offer all-wheel drive in the compact class. VW’s excellent 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is available on the Golf SportWagen for around $2,250. The system increases the wagon’s traction on all road surfaces including the snowy and slushy messes of winter.

DRIVER-ASSISTANCE SYSTEMS
For 2018 the new VW Golf SportWagen with the SE trim level comes standard with Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, as well as Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert. The top SEL trim level adds Adaptive Cruise Control, which can follow the car ahead at a set speed and distance.

Vehicle Details

Interior

The 2018 VW Golf SportWagen has enough cargo space to rival many small SUVs. Behind its rear seat the cargo space measures 30.4 cubic feet. When more is needed, you can fold its rear seat, which is split 60/40, and increase the cargo capacity to 66.5 cubic feet. Up front the 2018 Golf SportWagen gets high marks for its interior. Materials used and fit and finish all look like they're from a higher class of car. Comfortable seating includes the rear seats, which offer decent legroom and headroom, even for taller passengers. The cloth seats on the base S trim are stylish and handsome.

Exterior

It looks quite a bit longer than the Golf hatchback, because it is. The 2018 VW Golf SportWagen is about a foot longer than the hatchback. For 2018 VW has upgraded the look of the SportWagen with new front-end styling, including new LED daytime-running lights, and LED taillights. It’s a cleaner look and it gives the little wagon a more modern appearance. Wagons aren’t as common as they used to be, and the SportWagen’s long roof and upright hatch give it a distinctive European flavor. It looks sporty, especially with the larger wheels and tires of the SE trim level.

Notable Standard Equipment

The base model VW Golf SportWagen S for 2018 comes pretty nicely equipped. For starters, the SportWagen TSI gets standard 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a 5-speed manual transmission, cloth seats, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, rearview camera, heated side mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and handbrake lever. The standard audio system includes a 6.5-inch touch screen, eight speakers, Bluetooth, a CD player, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Volkswagen's Media Device Interface to connect your smartphone via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or MirrorLink. SE models get standard 16-inch wheels, an 8-inch touch screen as well as Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert.

Notable Optional Equipment

Options are mostly divided among trim levels. Higher-level Golf SportWagen models (SE and SEL) get a standard automatic transmission. SE equipment also includes 16-inch wheels, heated front seats, Leatherette upholstery, keyless entry and ignition, corner-illuminating fog lights, panoramic sunroof and a rockin’ Fender audio system. The top SEL model adds 17-inch wheels, 12-way-power adjustment for the driver’s seat, automatic climate control, navigation and Adaptive Cruise control. All-wheel drive is available for an additional $2,250 on the S trim level. It’s offered with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel-drive S trim models can also be upgraded to a 6-speed automatic.

Under the Hood

Under the hood of every new 2018 VW Golf SportWagen is Volkswagen's excellent 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Known as the TSI, it puts out 170 horsepower to both front- and all-wheel-drive (FWD, AWD) models. Front-wheel-drive models are available with either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, while SportWagens with all-wheel drive get a 6-speed manual or the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic from the Golf GTI.

1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4
170 horsepower @ 4,500 rpm
199 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (FWD, manual), 24/33 mpg (FWD, automatic), 22/31 mpg (AWD, manual), 22/29 mpg (AWD, automatic)

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Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen starts low, with the 5-speed-manual-equipped TSI S just under $22,500 including an $850 destination fee. An automatic transmission adds $1,100 to the price of any SportWagen, while AWD adds $2,250 to the S trim level. We think the mid-level SE grade offers the best mix of standard features and price for around $28,000. A loaded SportWagen SEL costs over $31,000 so it isn’t as strong a value. Of course, you want a good deal, so check out KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see how much people in your area are paying for the new SportWagen. As for resale, the 2018 VW Golf SportWagen looks to be holding only average values, well below those of the Subaru Outback, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

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