2016 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen | CarGurus Test Drive Review


It seems like everything that’s old is
new again— beards, flannel, vinyl records, and even
station wagons. But unlike your dad’s copy of Led Zeppelin IV, the 2016
Volkswagen Golf is a fully modern version of its craft. Now, Led Zeppelin
probably isn’t getting back together anytime soon, but is the wagon fully capable of making a comeback? I’m George Kennedy for CarGurus, and
today we’re going to see a Volkswagen that’s baked in enough technology, luxury, and performance to bring some swagger back to this corner of the market. The Golf
SportWagen’s strong suits are practicality and value. It offers a lot of car for the
money and is impressively refined. Because of their car-like ride, wagons
are potentially more fun to drive than their crossover counterparts, and that’s
definitely true of the Golf SportWagen. Up front there’s plenty of storage space and little cubbies for all your stuff, but the real storage story’s out back, where rear-seat
passengers have plenty of head- and legroom. Even with the rear seats up, you’ve got
30.4 cubic feet of cargo space— that’s more than a Ford Focus or Kia
Soul. With the flip of a handle, the rear seats fold flat, giving way to 66.5
cubic feet of cargo space—that’s 14 more cubic feet than the Honda Fit. The Golf
SportWagen starts at $21,625. It comes standard with a backup camera and a really great multifunction steering
wheel— it’s a flat-bottom wheel with piano black
accents and a leather wrap and paddle shifters. This is the kind of steering wheel you’d
expect to see in a sports car, and it’s so neat to see it in a wagon—and why I spent 30 seconds talking about it. For $24,995, you move up to the Limited
Edition trim. It adds keyless entry, push-button start,
and V-Tex leatherette seating. The SE trim adds this massive panoramic sunroof and a Fender premium audio system. The range-topping SEL trim features power front seats, 18-inch wheels, and the touchscreen navigation system. No matter which trim you choose, the SportWagen has a straightforward layout. Most automakers
seem to be pushing the limits of style, but this clean look is refreshing. The
touchscreen has swipe and gesture controls plus a blend of buttons. The
gauges are real simple, and the controls are easy to use. It’s like the same dials you got in 1990,
and I mean that in the best way possible. The Golf SportWagen comes with a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline four. It makes 170 horsepower sent to the front wheels through either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic
transmission. The automatic has Tiptronic with Manual and Sport modes. Our SE test model has the automatic, and
under general acceleration feels a bit hesitant. Once you get it into the right gear, it pulls
pretty strong, but there’s some delay getting into that gear. When you’re in
Drive, pull back on the shifter once to put the car into Sport or S mode, and
acceleration gets much better. That said, you probably won’t achieve the
EPA-estimated 25 miles per gallon city, 35 highway, and 29 combined when you’re in Sport mode. EPA estimates for the manual are the
same, but you get one more MPG on the highway. So you put into Sport mode and go into
Manual mode to get some serious acceleration, but the SportWagen has some terrific cornering chops. The steering is perfectly weighted, and if
you want to carve some corners, you will not be disappointed. Now, say I
got a text message from our editor at CarGurus, and I don’t want to pick up my phone or look down at it— luckily, the SportWagen comes with Apple
CarPlay. If my phone is plugged into the USB, I can simply compose a response by voice control. The SEL offers a pair of packages. The Lighting package costs $995
and includes Bi-Xenon HID headlights, daytime running lights, and adaptive
front lighting. The Driver Assistant package costs $1,495 and comes
with a suite of high-tech safety gear. It includes forward-collision warning,
automatic emergency braking, lane- departure warning, and parking steering
assist. So who else is out there that makes a true
wagon? There’s the Audi A6 Allroad and the Volvo
V60, but both of those options are significantly more expensive than this
VW. The MINI Cooper Clubman is a wagon, but even it’s a little bit more
expensive, starting at 24 grand. And that’s what you get from the SportWagen.
Even fully loaded at nearly $33,000, the SportWagen is an incredible value.
In base form, you get a refined car with nimble handling. Your father’s wagon
never handled like this car, and with the Driver Assistance package, it never had
tech like this either. Right now, people are obsessed with
crossovers, and I think that folks should pay attention to the practicality,
versatility, and fun-to-drive nature of the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen. Is the
wagon back? It’s such a small corner of the market, and I think folks are really missing out. With crossovers, you often get the illusion of practicality and versatility, when in reality, a wagon gives you all the same cargo and
storage solutions but is actually more fun to drive. If you’re in the market for a small
crossover, check out the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen—you may be pleasantly
surprised. Thanks for watching. Go to CarGurus.com
to read my full review on this vehicle, and to see more video reviews, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube
channel. And if you think the wagon’s back, be sure to leave a comment.

25 thoughts on “2016 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen | CarGurus Test Drive Review

  1. It would be nice if other automakers could offer wagon versions of their cars they sell in other countries in the USA like the Masda6, Focus, Fusion, Subaru Levorg, Optima and Sonata.

  2. I would buy a mazda6 wagon or subaru levorg as my next car if they were available in the US. The TDI version had been on my list, but the recent scandal tanked that idea. The mazda3 is more or less a wagon (some argue it's a hatchback), but I'm looking for something slightly longer to fit a surfboard or bike more easily.

  3. George… How tall are you? Just would help to clarify the actual perspective of vehicle space. My guess is you are 6' 5" or 6' 6", you look a bit tight in that back seat and my guess is this would not be the case for most.

  4. Got the Limited Edition 6 months ago and couldn't be more satisfied. Solid, smooth and quiet. A correction to your comments: the Limited Edition also includes the panoramic sunroof (wow!) , a driver's assist package and 17" wheels. All for 26K msrp.

  5. Where can I find the fog lights? I just have a Sportwagen 2016 without this lights, and don't wanna make mistakes getting it by myself in a wrong site. Appreciate your suggestions

  6. I currently drive a 2013 vw cc lux plus which I love but I will soon be replacing it with a sportwagen sel, function over form lol.

  7. My wishlist is a stretched beetle squareback. That would really fulfill my child memory. My dads 1973 yellow squareback with shiny VW chrome hub caps are still on my my mind with great memories.

  8. Anyone that has owned one, can you testify to reliability of the 1.8TSI and 6 speed automatic (NOT the DSG)?

  9. Decent review. Why compare this to a Kia Soul and Honda Fit? They are totally in a smaller category than the Golf Sport Wagen.

  10. I’m sure I’ve seen a couple of these in my street, thinking it was a golf but looked twice as it was slightly longer than a Golf. It’s more like a larger Hatch than wagon, I like it as I want bigger than Golf but not as big as a sedan.

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