There is a surprisingly large faction of car buyers who don’t want “stuff.” I see it in my comments section all the time: “I don’t need…just more to go wrong, more I’ll have to fix, too complicated.” Well, this review is for those people: the VW Golf SportWagen. There’s no smart key, no push button start, no power liftgate, no full-power seats, no leather, no sat radio, no navi, no LED headlights, no sunroof, no USB ports in the rear, no adaptive cruise control. So those who prefer basic can rejoice because this VW offers up a whole lot of no for about $27k.
There isn’t a ton of them on the market but the station wagon still has a heartbeat and their advantages over an SUV are all evident right here; you can get this SportWagen with a manual transmission, all-wheel drive, an easy to load roofline, and over 30mpg for about $25,000. Good luck finding all of that in a traditional sport-utility. This here is the no-frills 4Motion model targeted at the budget conscious and those who live in fear of their things breaking. VW sells a more adventurous version of the SportWagen known as the Golf Alltrack for $5,000 more.
Now in its 5thmodel year and on the verge of a complete redesign my initial 2015 test drive earned a Top Picks honor from me. But that was of a higher trim level that no longer exists, and in a rapidly changing industry, it was a long time ago. In 2019, this SportWagen 1.8T S with 4Motion feels like a throwback…from its ‘70s era design language with 16” wheels to its real ignition key this VW goes against the modern car grain. Now, you can get a front-wheel drive version in a higher equipped SE spec with a new 1.4-liter turbo but if you want one with all-wheel drive it’s going to be a more primitive experience.