As its name clearly implies, the Golf SportWagen is a family-focused version of the seventh-generation Golf hatchback. The two are nearly identical from the tip of the front bumper to the B-pillar; beyond that, the SportWagen boasts a stretched roofline that frees up a generous amount of space inside.
Like the Golf, the SportWagen offers an ergonomic interior built with quality materials. The car boasts a function-over-form dashboard with a center console that is slightly oriented towards the driver, an easy-to-read instrument cluster with four analog gauges housed in two separate pods and a three-spoke steering wheel. A thin-film transistor screen integrated into the instrument cluster provides step-by-step navigation directions and can be configured to display a host of vital information about the car and its surroundings.
All SportWagens come standard with a 6.5-inch touch screen that runs Volkswagen's MIB II infotainment system. MIB II integrates the wagon's entertainment, navigation (if equipped) and climate control systems while offering crash notification, roadside assistance and stolen vehicle location assistance. It also features remote vehicle access, speed and boundary alerts, and it can provide a vehicle health report upon request.
Trunk space checks in at a generous 30.4 cubic feet with five occupants on board and a SUV-like 66.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat.
Under the Hood
The Golf SportWagen comes standard with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 199 lb-ft. of torque at just 1,600 rpm. Power is sent to the front wheels via either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic.
The 1.8-liter returns 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway when bolted to a five-speed manual transmission. Selecting the automatic gearbox lowers freeway mileage to 35.
All-wheel drive is available at an extra cost regardless of which transmission is chosen.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Golf SportWagen is offered in three trim levels: 1.8T S, 1.8T SE, and 1.8T SEL.
The entry-level S model comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, 15-inch alloy wheels, a hill-start assist function, body-colored door mirrors that are both power-adjustable and heated, a center arm rest for the front passengers, leatherette upholstery, cruise control, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, manual A/C, one-touch power windows all around, Bluetooth technology, a rear-view camera, and a touch screen-based infotainment system.
Stepping up to the SE adds a six-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome trim on the front fascia, rain-sensing automatic wipers, heated washer nozzles, automatic headlights, front fog lights, a power panoramic tilt and slide sunroof, LED map lights, heated front seats, keyless entry with push-button start, and a Fender Premium Audio System.
Finally, the range-topping SEL model adds 18-inch alloy wheels, silver roof rails, navigation, automatic A/C, ambient lighting and sport comfort seats. It also features forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert.
SEL models can be ordered with the optional Driver Assistance Package which adds a long list of safety and convenience features such as park assist, a lane departure warning system, and bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights.
The Driver Assistance Package adds the SEL's tech features when it's ordered with the S or the SE trim.
The Golf Sportwagen comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, electronic stability control system and Volkswagen's Automatic Post-Collision Braking system.
The wagon segment has been steadily declining in the United States over the past few years but it's not dead yet. The SportWagen can be cross-shopped against the Subaru Outback and the smaller Subaru XV Crosstrek.