Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
The popular Volkswagen Golf hatchback heads into its seventh generation for 2015. Two models with a host of trim levels are offered. The Golf 1.8T is available in either 2-door or 4-door guise, with power provided by a 170-horsepower turbocharged 1.8L 4-cylinder. This is mated to either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. VW claims the 1.8T has an EPA-estimated 36 mpg on the highway. The 4-door-only 2.0L TDI clean diesel produces 150 horsepower and returns up to 45 mpg on the highway. It is mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Two-door 1.8T models are offered in either Launch Edition or S trims. The base Launch Edition is offered only with the manual transmission and includes 15-inch steel wheels, heated side mirrors, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free connectivity, an 8-speaker stereo with iPod hookup, 5.8-inch touchscreen and HD radio, as well as cloth seating with a 60/40 split folding rear seat. The S trim upgrades the wheels to 15-inch alloys and V-Tex leatherette seating, and the automatic transmission is available.
For the 4-door 1.8T and TDI, three trims are offered: S, SE and SEL. In the SE, buyers will find 17-inch wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, halogen fog lights, a power panoramic sunroof and a rearview camera. Inside, amenities include a Fender premium audio system with eight speakers and a subwoofer and heated front seats. The top-of-the-line SEL trim includes 18-inch wheels, touchscreen navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control and front sport seats with 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat.
The high-performance Golf R is much like its front-wheel drive siblings, but features a potent 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 292 horsepower and 280 lb-feet of torque. It's connected to a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission, the only one available, and all-wheel drive. It starts at $36,595.
Late in the model year, Volkswagen added as 'Sportwagen' model. It features a longer rear overhang and as such, 30.4 cubic feet of cargo space, compared to the hatchback's 22.8 cubic feet. The Sportwagen comes in S, SE and SEL trims as well as gasoline and TDI powertrains.
Available packages include a Lighting Package, with adaptive bi-Xenon headlights, which turn in conjunction with the car's movements down the road. The Driver Assistance Package features Park Distance Control with front and rear proximity sensors, as well as a Forward Collision Warning that alerts you when there's trouble ahead.
All Golfs come with standard safety features that include anti-lock brakes, traction control and engine braking assist, plus a host of airbags to protect the cabin.