In the interest of full disclosure, I should start by confessing that VWs have taken over my garage at home. It started back in 2001, soon after landing this gig as an automotive journalist helped me realize that my brand-new Nissan Sentra wasn’t quite the mini-Maxima I thought it would be. That our first “family car” immediately followed a Nissan 240SX and Mazda MX-6 was painful enough, but one of the first cars I test drove for a review was a Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T. I was so smitten by it that within a year I bought a gently used one from the local dealer.
Much has happened since then, including the purchase of a Mazda6 wagon in 2004 to accommodate our second child and the gear and road trips that would follow. We loved that car. When it was time to retire that ride, we replaced it with a 2012 VW Golf Wagon TDI. The ownership experience to date has been nearly flawless, with only scheduled maintenance and one minor warranty repair in the last three-and-a-half years.
I know it’s just so auto-journalist of me to be driving a diesel wagon with a manual gearbox, but there it is.
This summer I spent the week with the new, seventh-generation Golf Sportwagon. Much praise has been heaped on the new Golf: North American Car of the Year, AJAC best new small car over $21K, Motor Trend Car of the Year, and Motoring TV Car of the Year, just to name a few. So my expectations for the wagon to perform were pretty lofty indeed.
Our tester is not an apples-to-apples comparison with our own car, however. Both cars are the Highline trim, but rather than the diesel/manual combo that we have, VW sent us what is sure to be a higher-volume spec: the direct-shift automatic paired with VW’s new 1.8L turbocharged gasser.
VW likes to play with names for this car. While ours is known as the Golf Wagon, the same car was being sold in the US under the name “Jetta Sportwagen”. But this year we’re getting closer to achieving a level of consistency with our brethren to the south; we now know the car as the Golf Sportwagon, they call it the Golf Sportwagen. Tomato, to-mah-to. I’m not really sure of the significance of adding the “sport” to the name, but the car is sportier than most crossovers, so we’ll let it go.
Starting price for the new wagon is $22,495 for the Trendline. Standard kit includes heated front seats, a cargo cover, 15-inch alloys, 5.8-inch touch screen and eight-speaker audio, satellite radio, a 115V power outlet, rear-view camera, Bluetooth connectivity, aluminum trim, independent suspenders all around, and a five-speed manual gearbox.
From one fanboy to another: 34th GTI Treffen at Worthersee
Compared with last year’s Trendline, the new car is about $1,000 cheaper and many of the features noted above were not included or even available on that car.
A $2,200 bump nets the Comfortline, adding such goodies as faux leather for the seats, 16-inch wheels, and fog lights.
The $30,495 Highline tops the model range, adding dual-zone climate control, interior reading and ambient lighting, push-button start, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 12-way power sport seats, real leather for the seats, automatic headlights, panoramic roof, 17-inch alloys, and rain-sensing wipers.