There’s nothing within the passenger-car market that may match the 2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen’s cargo-hauling worth. With a $21,685 beginning value — plus $895 for vacation spot — the Golf is inexpensive than bigger, heavier crossovers just like the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and even Volkswagen’s personal Tiguan.

Even if you happen to step all the way down to cheaper subcompact crossovers such because the Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Kona or Nissan Kicks, none of them comes near the Golf’s capaciousness. After which the Sportwagen steps into unicorn territory by wrapping that frugal practicality right into a fun-to-drive, effectively geared up package deal that is actually troublesome to cross up.

Typical Golf goodness

I am going to get to the practicality in a second, however what makes this automotive actually stand out is how good it’s to drive. Identical to different Golf variants, the Sportwagen balances trip consolation and driver engagement with admirable talent.

The Golf’s 1.Eight-liter, turbocharged engine has refinement and energy supply that make it top-of-the-line four-cylinders within the section. Delivering 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque by means of a smooth-shifting six-speed automated transmission, the Sportwagen accelerates with confidence. So, too, does it scrub off velocity; the Sportwagen’s stout set of brakes really feel tremendous strong.

Hustle it alongside a twisty part of highway and you will find the Sport in Sportwagen. Its exact steering digs into the curves, and the effectively tuned suspension limits physique roll. On the similar time, you may at all times really feel what the highway is saying to the chassis, however by no means in a means that can make your backbone protest. Plus, with much less weight than a bigger crossover — it is 657 kilos lighter than a Tiguan, for instance — the Sportwagen is, with out query, the motive force’s selection for utility automobiles.

Dimension issues

Fold the rear seats and the Golf Sportwagen boasts 66.5 cubic toes of cargo quantity. That is downright SUV-intimidating. A Mazda CX-5, for instance, solely presents 59.6 cubic toes, and the seven-passenger model of the VW Tiguan is simply shy at 65.7. (The five-passenger Tiguan, nevertheless, presents 73.5 cubic toes.)

Plus, the Sportwagen’s decrease trip peak means it is simpler to entry that massive cargo maintain. In the event you’ve ever tried to elevate a heavy piece of furnishings into the again of an SUV, you understand how useful it’s to have a low load-in peak.

Positive, you may obtain a few of this with a compact hatchback, however none of them can carry as a lot because the Golf Sportwagen. The bottom Subaru Impreza is $2,500 cheaper to start out, however even its hatchback-class-leading 55.three cubic toes of area pales compared. A Mini Clubman is another choice, however not solely is it a full class dimension smaller, it is $three,215 costlier.

The Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen is 275 kilos lighter than its higher-riding, all-wheel-drive Alltrack sibling. The Sportwagen can be $four,270 inexpensive.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

Household rivalry

Although different automakers do not supply something precisely just like the Sportwagen, this Golf’s greatest competitors is definitely itself, kind of. The upper-riding, all-wheel-drive Golf Alltrack, apparently, outsells the Sportwagen three to at least one, regardless of having a $four,270 larger price ticket. The Alltrack’s greatest draw is probably going its customary all-wheel drive, however professional tip: the 2018 Sportwagen presents AWD in its base S trim, undercutting the Alltrack’s $25,955 base value by $2,020.

For people who don’t need or want all-wheel drive, the Sportwagen presents a wholesome gasoline financial system bump over its Alltrack sibling. With the usual five-speed guide transmission, the Sportwagen can return as much as an EPA-estimated 25 miles per gallon within the metropolis and 34 mpg freeway. The six-speed automated will get 24 metropolis and 33 freeway mpg. One of the best the Alltrack can do is 22/30 and bigger automobiles just like the Tiguan include a fair higher gasoline financial system penalty: VW’s SUV returns simply 22/27 metropolis/freeway mpg.

The Sportwagen boasts its low value and all its economical benefits whereas nonetheless being eminently effectively geared up. Not like many compacts, the Golf comes customary with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which runs on a 6.5-inch touchscreen. A bigger Eight-inch display screen, in addition to embedded navigation, are non-compulsory. Rain-sensing wipers additionally come customary, however you may need to shell out further dough if you need adaptive cruise management, blind spot monitoring, collision-mitigation braking or rear cross-traffic alert. And do your self a favor and go for the 400-watt, nine-speaker Fender premium audio system. It is a number of leagues higher than the usual audio and goes farther in making the Golf really feel extra premium than its value would counsel.

Even in its base S trim, the Golf Sportwagen’s inside is nice in your sensibilities.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

How I would spec it

Ideally I would spec a completely loaded Sportwagen with a guide transmission, however within the US, Volkswagen helps you to row your personal on the bottom S trim solely. The highest-of-the-range, $31,140 (together with vacation spot) SEL presents a a lot fancier leatherette inside underneath a panoramic sunroof together with a 12-way energy driver’s seat and the Eight-inch touchscreen that manages that rockin’ Fender audio.

The SEL additionally bundles the adaptive cruise management, collision-mitigation braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert with embedded navigation and dual-zone local weather management. That suite of bells and whistles is sufficient for me to ditch my “Manuel solely drives a guide” philosophy and accept the paddle-shifted, six-speed automated transmission, which is definitely fairly rattling good.

Probably the most good choice

The Golf Sportwagen will get you a number of automotive for little or no cash. My tester is provided with only one choice: the $1,100 automated transmission. Together with the $895 vacation spot cost, that quantities to $23,680 out the door. That is a rare worth play, providing extra inside room and concurrently costing lower than most crossovers.

The cherry on prime is that the Golf Sportwagen is genuinely fulfilling to drive. Cheaper and extra environment friendly than its Alltrack counterpart, the common ol’ Sportwagen presents a compelling various for individuals who must haul on a price range.

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