What is it: The Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is the new name for the familiar Jetta wagon, and it’s received all the same updates as the Golf lineup in recent years.
Key Competitors: Buick Regal Sportback, Subaru Crosstrek
Base Price: $25,750 As-Tested Price: $25,750
Highlights: The SportWagen brings the build quality, entertaining handling and efficient gas engine of the Golf hatch to a wagon form with more space and great looks.
Rear-seat leg- and shoulder room are 35.6 and 53.9 inches, respectively. Front seat passengers also benefit from 41.2 inches of legroom and 55.9 inches across the shoulders. Both front and rear headroom are 38.6 inches.
Our Opinion: If you’re still wondering what the heck happened to the perfectly utilitarian Jetta wagon that you swear was in the VW lineup until a second ago, know that it is now the Golf SportWagen and has been for a few years. Also, don’t confuse this 4Motion all-wheel drive-equipped long(ish)roof with the Golf Alltrack, which also gets four driven wheels, but rounds out the package with body cladding and a modest lift.
Nope, this is the plain old Golf SportWagen with its adequate-but-not-quite-sporty 1.8-liter gasoline motor. Yes, friends, there exists a sporty R-spec version, but it isn’t sold here — which is really too bad, because we’re starved for spicy wagons on this side of the Atlantic.
Still, the car here is fine and functional, especially if you really like the seventh-gen Golf but need a bit more space in the back. As we noted after our first drive review, you actually have more volume to stow stuff than in conventional crossovers like the Jeep Cherokee and Mazda CX-5, plus the lower overall height should make loading/unloading and accessing the roof rack even easier. All this in a reasonably priced package that feels a lot like a car from the driver’s seat? Sounds great!
Yes, I fully realize that, for a large segment of the American buying public, the extra ride height on conventional crossovers is one of their selling points. The Golf SportWagen’s carlike posture and handling are, to these buyers, disadvantages, and so it seems destined to remain a niche vehicle despite its manifest reasonableness. All that aside, and especially at this price point, I think this a far more compelling vehicle for a growing family than the taller Tiguan.
And if you simply have to have a higher ride height, why not check out the Alltrack before hopping up into full-on crossoverdom?
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $25,750
As Tested Price: $25,750
Drivetrain: 1.8-liter DOHC turbocharged I4, AWD six-speed auto
Output: 170 hp @ 4,500 rpm; 199 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,358 lb
Fuel Economy: 22/30/25 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: The space of a crossover without the boring-person stigma
Cons: Interior could be a little nicer