Long before the crossover and minivan, the wagon was the go to vehicle for families. Today there are a few wagons that still exist, but the number of options are no where near where they used to be. But there’s hope, there’s small group of buyers that are resisting the clumsy crossover and instead putting their stock in the wagon segment. These wagon lovers may be onto something, since some automakers are already looking at the “left for dead” segment with new entries, like the 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake and the Buick Regal TourX wagon.
Even when wagons went out of style in the North America, VW continued to offer the Jetta wagon, which was recently rebranded as the Golf Sportwagen. In the past year VW’s lineup has grown with the introduction of the large and in charge Atlas and the redesigned 2018 Tiguan. Does that mean that buyers in need of a little extra space should ignore the Golf Sportwagen? Definitely not!
It’s still a Golf
As its name suggests, the Golf Sportwagen is part of the excellent Golf family. The Golf Sportwagen builds on the Golf hatchback with an extra foot of length to give you more cargo space, up to 66.5 cubic feet vs 52.7 cubic feet in the Golf hatchback. Even with the extra length the Golf Sportwagen doesn’t lose what we love about the other Golf models. It’s still just as comfortable and as fun to drive as the rest of the Golf lineup.
Yes you can get it with all-wheel drive
If you want the added driving capability of all-wheel drive, don’t worry, the Golf Sportwagen is available with VW’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive system. They system has the ability to send up to 50 percent of the power to the rear wheels when it senses front wheel slip. The Golf Sportwagen doesn’t have the extra ground clearance that you’ll get with an SUV, but it’s all-wheel drive system is perfect if you’re looking for a vehicle that can keep going when the road gets sketchy.
The 4MOTION all-wheel drive system sends power to the rear wheels in the fraction of a second. Driving around the streets of Los Angeles, I never noticed any front wheel spin when taking off in a hurry. Instead the power was delivered to the wheels effortlessly. The extra weight from the all-wheel drive system was also barely noticeable since the Golf Sportwagen still tackled corners with ease.
The Golf Sportwagen is powered by a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft. of torque. The Golf 4MOTION is available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch transmission that’s borrowed from the GTI.
Around town the Golf Sportwagen 4MOTION is sportier than you’d expect from a compact wagon. It’s turbocharged engine spools up quickly and the dual-clutch transmission manages to squeeze out every bit of power from the little engine.
If you do choose the 4MOTION version, you will pay a little extra at the pump, since the all-wheel drive version is rated at 22/32 mpg, while the front-wheel drive version is rated at 25/35 mpg. Even with that small penalty, the Golf Sportwagen 4MOTION is still more efficient than the new Tiguan 4MOTION, which is rated at 21/27 mpg.
Volkswagen’s are always known for having high quality interiors and that’s still the case with the Golf Sportwagen 4MOTION. The Golf Sportwagen 4MOTION is only available in the base S trim level and even without features, like leather seats and a panoramic sunroof, the interior doesn’t disappoint. At the center of the dashboard, there’s a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The base S trim also comes standard with heated seats, heated mirrors and a rearview camera.
If there was one disappointment with the 2017 Golf Sportwagen 4MOTION, it’s the fact that it’s only available in the base S version. If you want features like, leatherette seats, a panoramic sunroof, automated emergency braking or a navigation system you have can only get the front-wheel drive version.
Would I buy the Golf Sportwagen 4MOTION?
Pricing for the Golf Sportwagen 4MOTION starts at $24,650, $2,250 more than the front-wheel drive Golf Sportwagen S. The Golf Sportwagen 4MOTION represents a nice alternative to a typical crossover. It’s all-wheel drive system provides the all-weather driving capability that crossovers provide, but it’s lower center of gravity makes it more fun to drive than a crossover. If you want a higher driving position, VW also offers the Golf Alltrack, which offers 1.4-inches of more ground clearance. The Golf Alltrack is also available in higher trim levels, so you can get all the features you want.
VW has branded the Golf Sportwagen as the “Sportier Utility Vehicle” and that’s just what it is. You get all the cargo carry capacity that you get with a crossover, but it’s more fun to drive.