June 19, 2014
2013 Volkswagen GTI & 2013 Volkswagen Golf Wagon. Click image to enlarge
Review by Justin Pritchard
Vehicle Type: Hatchback / Wagon
History/Description: The 2010 to 2013 Volkswagen Golf was developed to deliver style and comfort with an eye for versatility, flexible operation and plenty of selection in the marketplace. In its sixth-generation, Volkswagen’s staple model replaced the Rabbit on our shores when it landed in 2009, and combined improved driving dynamics with safety and refinement.
Countless variants of the popular German hatchback were available, including a sporty GTI model, a high-performance ‘R’ variant, and an ultra-thrifty ‘TDI’ in addition to standard gas-powered units. Our focus here will be on the mainstream models powered by the ‘standard’ gasoline engine or the popular TDI diesel engine.
In any case, Golf offers European-tuned driving manners, plenty of room for five, nimble handling, great maneuverability, easy-to-park sizing and a lower ride height which makes it easier to load and unload gear. Like features? A panoramic sunroof, heated leather seats, automatic climate control, premium audio functionality and even heated washer fluid nozzles are all available in the used Golf marketplace.
Engines / Trim: Gas models got a 2.5L five-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower. The TDI engine was a 2.0L turbodiesel unit with 140. Look for manual, automatic or DSG gearboxes, depending on the model selected.
Golf was available in 3 or 5-door configurations, with Trendline, Comfortline, Sportline and Highline models spanning basic to loaded, respectively. The Golf Wagon delivered some 1,900L of cargo space for SUV-like gear-hauling capability. Toss on a roof-rack or cargo box, and it’s a highly fuel-efficient alternative to an SUV.
Left: 2013 Volkswagen Golf dashboard. Middle & right: 2013 Volkswagen Golf dashboard & steering wheel. Click image to enlarge
What Owners Like: This era of Golf is rated highly in terms of comfort, utility, ride quality and an overall upscale and sporty driving experience. Many owners say they love the Golf’s cabin, which is attractively styled, highly functional and nicely trimmed. This is a more premium-feeling car than most of the Japanese and Korean competitors, according to most drivers.
What Owners Dislike: Typical complaints include high up-front pricing, wind noise at speed, and a mediocre standard stereo system. On models with larger wheels, expect a rougher ride, too.
Here’s what some owners are saying in the reviews section at autoTRADER.ca.
Common Issues: Forget setting out on the road for a test-drive until you’ve completed an exhaustive check of the Golf’s interior electronics. Ensure all motorized features work as expected – including all windows, the sunroof, power seats and power locks. Confirm proper heated-seat operation if equipped, and be sure all instrumentation and interior panel illumination is working properly. Double check the driver computer display output for
Check the outboard bolster on the driver’s side seat for signs of premature wear. Ditto the loading area around the rear cargo hold. If either seems abnormally worn out, call it into pricing negotiations.
2013 Volkswagen Golf Wagon seating & cargo area. Left: 2013 Volkswagen Golf cargo area. Click image to enlarge
Be sure no Check Engine or Check Transmission lights are illuminated, as they could be the result of one or more of many different problems ranging from a bad sensor to detection of engine knock. Diagnosing a warning light is quick, cheap or even free, and provides some insight into the overall health of the Golf’s electronic powertrain management systems.
Test the stereo system on both radio and CD modes, and be sure the air conditioner blows cold shortly after it’s turned on. Sub-par air conditioning performance could result from a dirty or clogged condenser assembly, or a refrigerant leak. A leaky hose is another possible culprit. Here’s some more reading on possible AC issues. Note that a mechanic can check the Golf’s air conditioning system for issues quickly if you note any.
Engine problems seem fairly infrequent, with the majority of those reported online being sensor-related and relatively easy to diagnose and fix. Regardless, finding a model with full service records to prove its maintenance is up to date is a good idea. Earlier issues with timing gear and sensors on the 2.5L powerplant seem to have all been addressed for this generation.