By on November 15, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Golf, Image: VW Group

It has been 41 years since Volkswagen’s iconic hatchback debuted in the United States. The Giugiaro-designed replacement for the ubiquitous Volkswagen Beetle would go on to become one of the world’s most successful cars during that time. Now, the Golf finds itself in the middle of its seventh generation, and it’s time for a refresh.

During its lengthy existence, the Golf settled down and started a family. The Golf clan now contains six members — the standard Golf hatchback, GTI, Golf R, Golf Sportwagen, Golf Alltrack, and eGolf. While each model shares the same architecture, they all boast a unique identity. For the 2018 model year, the whole family is getting a new look.

First up is the 2018 Volkswagen Golf. The quintessential four-door hatchback displays freshened styling and standard LED daytime running lights and taillights to give it a new visual signature. New bumpers with chrome accents, standard automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers, and updated touchscreen infotainment screens with standard App-Connect are also part of the update.

Volkswagen’s familiar turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder carries over, making 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. MSRP starts at $20,910 for a Golf S with five-speed manual transmission. (Destination for all Golf family products is $850.)

Next is the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI. The original hot hatch boasts some notable updates. Like the standard Golf, the GTI now sports standard LED daytime running lights and taillights. GTI-specific red-trimmed LED headlights are available, while model-specific front and rear bumpers with larger diffusers and exhaust tips come standard. New colors and wheels are also available. The DSG transmission is now Start/Stop enabled, and the Autobahn trim receives standard Lane Assist, ParkPilot, Park Assist, and Light Assist.

Most notably, the GTI’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder receives a 10-horsepower bump for all trims (now up to 220 hp and 258 lb-ft). Starting price is $26,415 with a six-speed manual transmission.

2018 Volkswagen Golf, Image: VW Group

The brawniest member of the Golf family is Volkswagen’s halo car, the Golf R. Like its siblings, it also receives standard LED DRLs and taillights. LED headlights are now standard. New features include the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit and its customizable display, a new color and wheel design, and Start/Stop for the DSG transmission. A hotter 2.0-liter rests under the hood, good for 292 hp and 280 lb-ft. That’s unchanged from last year.

The biggest update is the new available seven-speed DSG. This transmission is unique to the Golf R in Volkswagen’s US lineup. At $1,100, it’s also the only available option on the Golf R. A six-speed manual remains the standard offering, and the R’s starting price rings in at $39,785.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen, Image: VW Group

Last up on Extreme Makeover: 2018 Golf Edition is the Golf Alltrack and Golf Sportwagen. The wagon twins share an engine with the Golf hatch and receive the same LED DRL and taillight update as the rest of the family. Both receive standard automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers, new available colors, and updated touchscreen infotainment screens with standard App-Connect. The Alltrack SEL receives standard Lane Assist, ParkPilot, Park Assist, Light Assist, and LED headlights.

Later in the model year, the Alltrack will also receive Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert. Starting prices are $21,685 for the Sportwagen and $25,955 for the Alltrack. While the lifted Alltrack and AWD Sportwagen make do with a six-speed manual/six-speed DSG combo, front-drive Sportwagens soldier on with a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, Image: VW Group

Another important update for the 2018 is the Volkswagen People First Warranty. Volkswagen considers this six-year (or 72,000-mile) pledge “America’s best car & SUV bumper-to-bumper transferable limited warranty.” It covers both typical new car limited warranty items as well as powertrain, superseding the old three-year/36,000-mile and five-year/60,000-mile warranties from MY2017 and prior. This warranty applies to all Golf Family models except e-Golf.

Volkswagen’s updates are meant to keep one of its most important products competitive in a crowded marketplace. Improved infotainment systems across the lineup, plus the addition of new standard content on entry level vehicles, are welcome updates. The Golf does retain its most important element, however — it is still a joy to drive.

TTAC was recently able to drive all of the 2018 Golf models back-to-back. We’ll have driving impressions ready for you tomorrow.

[Images: Volkswagen Group]

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55 Comments on “Family Affair: 2018 Volkswagen Golf Clan Undergoes a Refresh...”


  • avatar

    They’re all shown in the country, apart from the rough and ready Alltrack, which is pictured in the city.

    #justright

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    It’s probably worth waiting for an 18 just for the warranty. I know when we were cross shopping the new Tiguan the warranty was an appealing factor, but the interior color choices were basically black or off white, was an issue.
    Then again, our 07 EOS has been trouble free , save for an air -oil separator this year.Given the DSG and Mech. Hard top I was paranoid and bought an extended warranty which was really never used.Knock on wood…

  • avatar
    deanst

    Yawn…..still using the 5 speed and the 1.4 L engine is nowhere to be found. I guess they were too busy designing the new chrome accent on the bumper.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I’d rather have the 1.8 and the engine has a broad enough torque curve that a sixth gear isn’t that useful.

      The longer warranty coverage is much bigger news, though I think they should have stretch for 10yr/100K on the powertrain in order to win back some goodwill.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        moreover, this five speed apparently has ratios mimicking a six, not the five speeds of yore. i have heard fifth does not spin the engine over 3k like my old jetta.

        however, i just drove an A1 with the 1.4t in Europe… oh my that little go kart went like stink.

        • 0 avatar
          focus-ed

          I can confirm that this 5MT is geared for highway yet 1.8T pulls nicely in 2nd and 3rd. In 5th gear the engine will spin at 2000rpm at 65mph (while 6th in GTI will net only 60mph).

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        I liked the 2.0 that was in my 2007 A3. I got use to the 6 speed, but then I often skipped a gear (mostly 5th) on the way up to highway speeds.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      Agree. Some of us value efficiency more than excess power, and the 1.8 is a bit of a gas guzzler.

      • 0 avatar
        focus-ed

        “the 1.8 is a bit of a gas guzzler” – are you sure about this or just repeating some fud? My 2015 Golf S averaged 43mpgs (long term, 5MT) between fillups and coworker with Sportwagen (AT) is getting 50 (warm months, long commute, likely just the computer readout so subtract ~10% to be on the safe side). VW can be blamed for many things but hardly for efficiency.

        • 0 avatar
          993cc

          My source is fueleconony.gov, for what it’s worth. The 2017 Sportwagon 1.8t, manual is rated at 25/35/28 mpg. Jetta 1.4t manual is rated at 28/40/33, which is… better?
          Keep in mind my current car is an ’06 tdi wagon, so I’m used to mid to upper 40s on the highway. Even the 1.4t would be a disappointment, but i’d still get to drive a wagon with a stick. Otherwise if I want decent efficiency I have to go to a hybrid, which is okay, but they can’t tow, and they’re shiftless.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I’ve gotten freaky-good mpg out of VW rentals, 40mpg indicated (more like 38 by hand) from a 1.8TSI Passat with adaptive cruise set to 75-77mph. 43 indicated in a Jetta with (I think) the 1.4TSI motor. Makes dealing with modern diesel price premiums, fuel premiums, and reliability headaches seem silly.

  • avatar
    tallguy130

    If it wasn’t for the fact that my shopping experience at the local VW dealer left me wanting a shower I would probably own a Golf or Jetta right now. I like how their stuff drives but they really need to fix that part of their business.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      +1…and that’s speaking as someone who bought one a year ago.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Same here. Our local ones are playing a smoke and mirrors charade with advertised low prices that are inaccessible without first buying several grand worth of extended warranties and service plans.

      It’s ridiculous and smarmy and it cost them a sale on a Jetta 1.4S recently. The cars have serious, mature, and refined driving character but the dealership experience runs the opposite.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Yeah, in my case it was bait and switch with incentives. The dealer I bought from should be glad I liked the Jetta as much as I did, because I had a deal for a Civic (done with absolutely zero BS or games) ready to go. Eventually they made me a deal that worked, but it wasn’t done very professionally.

        Which dealers did you shop, by chance?

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          Are you guys negotiating in person? I’ve found it best to leave and negotiate over the phone. That environment is their home field. Take that advantage away.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            My deal was a combination of email and in-person. It was silly and time consuming.

            VW should be glad I liked the Jetta as much as I did (and I still do, by the way), because their dealer experience sucked.

            And I don’t think any of the VW dealers around here (Denver) operate very differently.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            I negotiated by email with the salesperson that assisted us on the test drive. Very little time invested. Their game became apparent quickly and the poor salesperson was helpless. The hi-jinks were being orchestrated through him by the management.

            You’re right, it is best to do this remotely. I could just shake my head and chuckle watching this play out over email, but if I had been sitting captive in the dealership for an afternoon while getting fed that garbage I would have wanted to hop in and drive that shiny new displayed Atlas through the showroom wall.

          • 0 avatar
            KevinC

            I bought a Golf R in June of 2016. A fantastic car and has been bulletproof. I did my initial negotiating via email, then came in and drove the car, went home and made a counter-offer via email, which was accepted and the deal was done. Paid about $835 under list last year when most dealers were still adding ADM or selling at list. Even had a smooth experience in the F&I office as I’d made it clear I wanted NO ups or extras whatsoever. They respected this request and had me out in 10 minutes. Moral of the story: not all of them are running shady operations these days. GF had a similar experience at another Phoenix area VW dealership the year before.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          One of the Wasatch Front dealers. The general demeanor of their website will tell you which one it is.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        30-mile, before Circuit City had gone out of sale, I had heard stories of sales staff instructed to not worry missing a sale for a PC tower or TV, unless they also sold a required amount of software or accessories to go with it. They basically made no money on said tower or PC, and could afford to forego that sale. It’s crazy, but your dealership could be the same re: the Jetta they eventually didn’t sell you.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I’ve bought three and the local dealers are chill. I checked out the 2018 Tiguan the other day, and it was a pleasant, low-pressure scenario.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        My 2010 Sportwagen was a very easy and pleasant buying experience as well. But that was a different dealership and 8 years, one major emissions scandal, and one seriously failed corporate attempt to hit 800K US sales ago.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Don’t you mean 220hp for the GTI?

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    The new 6/72 bumper-to-bumper warranty coupled with the Alltrack (exactly what I asked for when I last was at my VW dealer 17 years ago) will get me back into their showroom very soon. Thankfully, I have a couple good VW dealers fairly close to me, but my closest VW dealer is like the aforementioned shower-inducing dealer. I can’t help but think that the end of Piech’s reign at VW has helped them begin to turn the corner Stateside.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I’ve read that the cloth plaid seats will now be standard in the GTI SE. Is that true? The fact that I couldn’t get a sunroof with cloth seats was a major factor in me turning down the GTI during my last car search.

    Also, are the LCD dashboards going to be standard across the line. That’s something I would love to avoid.

    • 0 avatar
      NeilM

      LCD dashes are not standard across the line.
      Me, I’d pay extra for one to have the different display options.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      Only the Golf R is getting the digital cockpit for 2018, but the GTI SE is getting the plaid seats.

      https://media.vw.com/en-us/press-kits/2018-golf-gti-press-kit

      https://media.vw.com/en-us/press-kits/2018-golf-r-press-kit

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      We’ll have a piece about this later, but yes, you can now get a GTI with plaid seats and a sunroof. The SE does have plaid seat availablity. All is right with the world.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Don’t know if I’d want the Golf’s sunroof…it’s one of those glass-roof affairs that looks like it’s just itching to fail. Give me one that’s manual, or a “standard” power moonroof setup.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          I agree, I would rather have a smaller hole in my roof. But I do miss the fresh air.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I used to be all about sunroofs when I lived up North… once I came down South I stopped using them as my average road speed went up significantly.

          I am pretty sure my next car will be a GTI, but the only options I want are the DSG and sport package with the LSD and BBK. Less stuff to break

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        Canada always had the cloth and sunroof combo – even with a 6 spd.

        • 0 avatar
          TDIandThen....

          Still does – that was oddly important to me and I almost decided on the GTI over the R for this reason. R comes with no sunroof and leather only…but no wheel spin to speak of.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I was reading the PDFs from VW’s site last night about the 2018 Golf family. I think I’m done with VW unfortunately. I was hoping that the 2018 models would be equipped a bit differently but it seems that if you want fancy things like the lighting package, you’ve still got to move to the top trim which I have no interest in.

    I was reading on VW vortex that the 2018s aren’t expected at dealers before January due to the high numbers of 2017s languishing on lots.

    https://media.vw.com/en-us/press-kits/2018-golf-press-kit

    https://media.vw.com/en-us/press-kits/2018-golf-sportwagen-press-kit

    https://media.vw.com/en-us/press-kits/2018-golf-alltrack-press-kit

  • avatar
    jh26036

    Shoutout to VW for holding strong to the 15″ wheels on the base Golf. Good for you VW, good for you.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      They also avoided the move Mazda and Honda made (at least in Canada) to give you steelies with hubcaps on the base models. Decent alloy wheels with cheap-to-replace 15″ tires is a nice move for a nice entry-level car.

    • 0 avatar
      focus-ed

      OTOH while I was initially glad to downsize to 15″ from 16″ (stock on my old ride), I’ve learned that 15s were just too much for me and exacerbated Golf’s soft suspension, particularly in turns. 205/55R16 are just perfect match, trust me on this. The best thing about stock 15s is that brake calipers will clear any rims you wanted. GTI is little more restrictive – forget about 16s if you bought into PP.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    It bothers me more than it probably should that VW still isn’t putting amber turn signals on the back of these cars. The current generation Golf is especially egregious in being difficult to tell when a turn signal is on, since the tail lamps use the same bulb as the signals and brake lights, and aren’t particularly large. At least the new LEDs will likely mitigate this.

    Then you have the white strip underneath the tail lamp – where the amber flasher goes in other markets – just to remind you that the whole arrangement was cobbled together for North America, and that the rest of the world gets a much nicer setup.

    To me, a small part of the appeal for a Euro car is that it has Euro styling, and this detail really jars me. Aftermarket solutions exist, but then you’re spending $500+ just to get the lights to work like they should. Even my ’04 Concorde got amber turn signals. Is it too much to expect the same of a new German car?

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I’m having a hard time telling if the LED tails are amber or not, but I’m guessing not based on the Audi SUVs I’ve been behind with red turn signals.

      I did find that if you buy a 2015-2017 wagon, you can buy the Euro outer tails from ECS Tuning. Then you have to do some coding via VCDS or OBDeleven to enable them. However, that’s $500 that I shouldn’t have to spend when the 2009-2014 wagons came with amber from the factory.

      • 0 avatar
        Urlik

        They’re amber, the white line is the amber turn signal. Plenty of older Golf R owners have already put them on their cars. I’m not going to put them on my 16 because I already got the older LEDs with amber turn signals plus I activated the rear fog light.

    • 0 avatar
      focus-ed

      Red turns bug me as well. It just makes no sense that European company sells vehicles with NA only tails – I bet this actually costs them more money than having one design for all markets.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Say what’s the update on eGolf over the clans new overly complicated ICE engines & transmissions? I guess eGolf doesn’t need extended warranty just Bolt range…

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Has anyone at VW managed to invent a remote start yet? Standard on most CVT Civics, but beyond the ken of engineering genius Ferdinand Piech.

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