By on January 21, 2020

All of you have shared in my car shopping experience, which began at the end of 2019. Starting with a solicitation for recommendations back in October, the process of finding the right replacement for a 2012 Outback extended longer than planned and was punctuated with a particularly poor experience at a Volkswagen dealer.

But it was all worth it, because now I’ve got a new (used) wagon.

Your recommendations were split roughly down the middle when it came to a 2018 (and potentially SEL-trimmed) Golf Sportwagen, or a new 2019 example that had a more efficient engine but maxed out at SE trim. The model revision and consolidation was due to the model’s cancellation at the end of 2019. For the foreseeable future, the Golf will arrive in North America in four-door GTI format only. It continues on with much broader offerings elsewhere in the world.

After the dealer in Illinois didn’t want my money, I started searching within a radius of 150 miles or so for a Golf I could check out before buying. Simultaneous eyes on eBay for one in the right specification made no difference: The majority of front-drive Sportwagens were delivered with a black interior. For shame.

There was one local to me, at a Volkswagen dealer just a few miles away. A 2019 in SE trim, it had 4,000 miles, the tan interior, and was CPO. Given the search results up to that time, it was an unusual combination to see. I went to check it out in the middle of November, and discovered its basically new condition. The condition was what you’d expect with such age and mileage, apart from an interior that needed a scrub. The dealer relayed this particular example was a service loaner at their location, which filled in the blanks on the year and mileage. CarFax wasn’t much help here — it said it was “well maintained,” with one oil change.

Like every other dealer I’d talked to, this one was keen to state, “These aren’t made any more!” and encourage that good old buyer rush. Their price was $23,000, and they were willing to negotiate a full $100 off that ask, and no further. Given that price was hundreds of dollars higher than even the KBB-suggested CPO price, I walked.

A few days later the sales manager followed up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning, letting me know the wagon I looked at was a great value against some attached comparable vehicles within an 800-mile radius. There were 11 used cars on provided list, and seven of those listed at $25,000 — what dealers ask for new ones. I explained there were just too few on the used market, which caused a price distortion (he agreed). I told the manager I was content to wait for prices to rationalize.

Weeks went by, and the original salesman I spoke with in November followed up December 10th to ask how my search was going. I didn’t hesitate to point out that the overpriced one I’d looked at was still for sale.

“We’ve had it a bit longer than anticipated,” he admitted. There was reassurance of more motivation to move metal, and $22,500 was the offer from across the table. Not good enough, as the money was still above that old KBB limiter. I countered with $22,300, and was quickly informed $22,500 was as low as they could go. Sticking to my guns, I declined.

Three days later another email arrived; they’d hate to lose a customer over a couple hundred bucks. Playing around with a lower purchase price and what it did to the taxes, the tactic changed to an out-the-door total of $24,300. That broke down to $22,428, plus taxes and the doc fee. Close enough.

I picked up my new SportWagen on December 21st, and enjoyed driving around economically ever since for exactly two weeks. That’s when it went back to the dealer to fix a rattle up above my head. It’s still sitting there as of this writing. Look for an update soon, and we’ll see how wrong the build quality was from the factory.

[Images: Corey Lewis/TTAC]

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60 Comments on “Where Your Author Spends Dollars on a Mexican Wagon...”


  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    A rattle. There will be more. For whatever reason, VW hasn’t figured out how to make a rattle-free interior, It’s been a problem for decades.

    The rattle “above your head” could be coming from anywhere. Noises in Golfs have a way of sound like they’re above you or in front of you, but could be coming from elsewhere. I’ve had this happen several times.

    • 0 avatar
      TOTitan

      My 2016 sportwagen SE has almost 70K on it and it still completely tight except for the rattle the author described which I fixed myself. I game him a link on how to do it.

    • 0 avatar
      roloboto

      No rattles in my 2005 TDI jetta. I’ve got lots of those notorious VW electrical issues tho. Lights that work only sometimes, locks that lock themselves, etc…

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    AWD and manual would make it perfect to me, but then I sound like one of those internet wankers. ;-)

    Best to you. Do the 2019 have the 6/72,000 warranty?

  • avatar
    Fred

    I think TTAC needs a subscribe button that doesn’t require me to leave a useless comment like this.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    I have a 2016 sportwagen SE just about identical to yours. It has been perfect for almost 70,000 miles so far except for a occasional rattle from the sunroof. It is a common problem that one guy figured out how to fix. Here is a link.

    https://forums.mwerks.com/showthread.php?7801890-MKVII-Sunroof-Rattle-Source-identified-(it-s-not-the-seals)

  • avatar
    threeer

    Enjoy, despite what the VW-naysayers are likely to counter with. I own a 2014 JSW (diesel, manual) and love it. A pending move overseas will likely contribute to my decision to sell, but it’s a painful one. I truly love my wagon!

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    If your VW experience is anything like mine, may God have mercy on your soul.

    • 0 avatar
      TOTitan

      How are your Chrysler products holding up?

      • 0 avatar
        Thomas Kreutzer

        Pretty well, actually. I’ve had the van going on 7 years now and other than one issue with the transmission a year or two after I purchased it – handled under warranty in just a few days – I haven’t had any problems.

        It’s funny, it’s been almost 18 years since I purchased that VW (and I was done with it before it was even 5 years old) but I am still angry about it. The main thing, I think, is the sense of betrayal over it. It was supposed to be this great, reliable car but it was a never ending string of issues. Hard to come back from that. Had I no preconceptions going in I’d probably be singing its praises today, but no…

  • avatar
    cprescott

    Congrats on your purchase. I’ve had family members with Volks that seem to hit the 40,000 mile mark and the gremlins start to reproduce quickly. Good luck. I also applaud your hard ball buying technique – I did the same for my Mom when she wanted a new 1989 T-Bird and I told my mom we are walking after they refused to meet our reasonable dealer cost plus $500 offer. The next morning she received a call that they’d sell the car at the price we wanted. It was the last day of the month. And we purposely chose to deal at night and giving them an out for a final day.

    I bought a very clean and well-documented three year old car this past january and saved thousands by sticking to my guns. It was a car and it was a manual transmission. Told the salesman that the inspection sticker indicated you’ve had it for three months already. Do you want to have it another three months?

    • 0 avatar
      The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

      ” I also applaud your hard ball buying technique”

      He hemmed and hawed 6 weeks for them to drop their offer from 22.9 to 22.48. Not even $500. That’s “hardball” if your time is absolutely worthless.

      • 0 avatar
        Blackcloud_9

        Corey had a price-point and stuck to it. What’s wrong with that? I had a price-point for my last car purchase and stuck to that and it took me a long time to find the car I wanted. Too many people push themselves to the (or over the) edge financial irresponsibility because they really want “that” car.
        This probably was not the case for Corey because based his other writings on the subject, he seems very fiscally responsible. You always have to be willing to walk away even if its over a few hundred dollars or the wrong color/trim.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I noticed that Carfax also lists when a vehicle is bought at auction or put up for sale. Another good way to know how long they’ve been sitting on a used vehicle.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    I own a 2014 hecho en Mexico Jetta wagon, with the 2.5 gas engine.

    Over 6 years and just shy of 55k, largest issue was a whine from the Aisin transmission. Trans replaced under warranty. Only other issues: Rattle in left rear wheel, traced to a missing clip in the brake caliper, replaced under warranty. Uncercharged A/C and a couple stray bits of plastic in the interior, both taken care of under warranty.

    A friend has a 2016 Mexican built Golf hatch, with over 90K on it. Issues: 1 coil pack replaced under warranty and a new fuel pump about a year ago.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Very pretty! I suggest non-illegal tint and removal of the “Golf” and “SE” badges on the back.

    I remember with some nostalgia when I was able to keep cars looking that nice (hint: pre-kids). You would be horrified by the state of the interior of my Highlander: it’s got one slightly torn seam, a small rip in the trunk carpeting, and a bunch of wear on the center console (which I may replace).

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    You chose the correct exterior color this time.

    (Something about the badge looks off to me, but I’ll reserve judgment.)

    I would be interested to know more about how you (Corey) clean/detail vehicle interiors – tools and techniques.

    [The journey you have begun by requesting the dealer to fix a perceived factory build issue might hold valuable lessons for all of us – will watch with interest as this unfolds.]

    • 0 avatar

      I start with the outside, wash with a hand chamois thing, using whatever car soap. Change out the water couple times when it’s dirty.

      Spray the hose underneath after soap is off and before the final rinse, so all the accumulated junk comes off.

      Dry it first using the leaf blower (someone here gave me that tip). Then with regular towels and/or ShamWows.

      Wax with Griot’s wipe away (yellow formula).

      Inside I start with dash and doors and work my way down. Meguiars Natural Finish.

      Clean leather with Lexol or Meguiars leather care. I prefer the Lexol cleaner and the Meguiars conditioner.

      Carpets last. For any stains I use Turtle Wax Oxi Clean carpet cleaner with scrubber head.

      Optionally, condition all door seals with Honda Shin-Etsu silicone grease.

      Interior clean this way is done twice per year.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Thanks Corey!

        If I were in your shoes I’d seriously consider paying someone who knows what they are doing to prep (solvent wipe) and shoot the front fascia with a couple coats of 2K clear (real-life two-component catalyzed factory-style clearcoat). Kind of a permanent invisible car bra. (Would like to shoot the first 16 inches of the hood too, but probably no good way to do this.)

        This area of the paint is like the driver’s seat cushion – gets an inordinate amount of wear and would be nice to add some protection early in its young life.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        I run my cars throw a car wash twice a year – whether they need it or not.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      There were moments earlier this year when I might have jumped at a Silk Blue with beige interior Golf SE with DAP but the right car never presented itself in my vicinity. My Golf moment passed, and in the long run I’m probably better off.

  • avatar
    MeJ

    The dealer who wouldn’t budge is so typical.
    I recently e-mailed a request to a Subaru dealer for a trade on my wife’s car. All she said was she wanted an Impreza Touring in either Island Blue or Dark Gray. That was it.
    The dealer e-mails back and says I have White, Red, or Silver, which would you like?
    That deal is dead before it even started…

  • avatar
    DedBull

    Congrats on the purchase! I personally don’t like the white, but I understand limited choice on these cars. We bought a new 2019 Tiguan with the same light interior but in the Habanero Orange. That was the color combination on the lot, 6 months and 4 kids (only 2 are ours) the interior is a challenge to keep clean, I wish I’d had looked for black. The service department at our local dealer is not the greatest, I’m glad I’m done with them other than warranty issues.

    • 0 avatar

      White or two shades of blue were my only options, limited further by the interior requirement!

      • 0 avatar
        DedBull

        There are a few other choices if you step into the “alltrack” line, but that also adds a whole new dimension of rarity and pricing games. I’ve wanted a Golf or Jetta wagon for a while, but all the dieselgate cars went too high, and now that inventory is depleted. I should have taken a screenshot of the brown manual diesel wagon that went too high for my tastes.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      That Habanero Orange is a great color. It’s a pity that’s available on so few cars in the VW lineup. I would have definitely considered it for my GTI.

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        It’s great. I noticed it’s no longer available on the 2020 Tiguan, but still an option on the Jetta.

        I’m also a fan of their Peacock Green metallic, but it was only available on the Alltrack and GTI in the U.S., while they offer it on regular Golfs in Canada. I guess Canadians like green more or something?

  • avatar
    The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

    Mexican VW. You’ll dump it by November. Maybe October.

    • 0 avatar

      Your conclusion was set before I ever bought the car, so unfortunately the opinion doesn’t hold much weight.

      • 0 avatar
        The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

        I’m still right. Half of your ownership has had it sitting at a service bay.

        • 0 avatar
          TOTitan

          TGoBJ you are wrong. I bought my daughter a new Rabbit in 2008 with the 2.5 5cyl engine. It now has 185,000 miles and I have replaced two headlight bulbs, one serpentine belt, one hatch latch, tires three times, and brakes twice. My ’16 sportwagon with 70K has been to the dealer once to replace a elect connector. I know your mind is made up so sorry to disappoint you

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve had a lot of VW products. Our current 1.4 Jetta S ace of base has had…three oil changes. No rattles. The only mod I made was to upgrade the crap eco-tech tires to a set of DWS 06 in a larger size still on the steelies. Anecdote with N=1, but whatever. My other VW was a German TDi, and aside from the TDi debacle, was equal to the Jetta in build quality…more lux, but same basic assembly.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I’m surprised you continue to indulge this troll.

    • 0 avatar
      slap

      Reliability of the Mexican built VWs is about the same as the German built ones.

    • 0 avatar
      6250Claimer

      Oh please. That’s so 1989.

      In 2016 my wife & I both had Golf 7’s – her a Mexican-built TDI, me a Wolfsburg-built R. Build quality was identical. Paint, body gaps, trim fit, everything – indistinguishable between the 2 cars. Her TDI succumbed to Dieselgate and she replaced it with a Mazda3, which she never loved, and still misses the Golf to this day. I put 50k miles on my first R and just bought another one before they go away.

      The Puebla-built cars are fine, have been for a LONG time. Early on, yeah, they built some junk down there, but that hasn’t been the case in ages.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    my son has a 2008 Jetta with 2.5 liter (5 cylinder), 5 speed manual. The car has been pretty good, and the engine transmission has been great . His vehicle has 295k KM on it .. In looking at Autotrader, there are many 2.5 liter VW’s that have held in nicely. Unfortunately they don’t make that engine anymore ( maybe the stopped producing due to its longevity ? )

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I don’t know why VW is so wedded to that all black interior (other than cost). Even BMW has started to move away from it. The beige/black combo is much better.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I think you did yourself a favor getting the 1.8 over the 1.4. The nicest thing I hear anyone say about the 1.4 is that’s “almost as good.” And maybe it is, but why pay more for less? Besides CAFE, I mean.

  • avatar
    SSJeep

    Congratulations on the new purchase Corey! Good times ahead!

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Given the numerous rattles I’ve been hearing in my ’19 Tiguan SEL Premium 4MOTION, I’m a bit concerned about the Puebla factory’s build quality these days.

    Also, beautiful wagon. I’m glad you found one with the LED lights; they are much nicer than the base halogen units.

  • avatar
    dingram01

    Congrats on the acquisition! Curious how your driving impressions compare to mine from several years ago. I tried one of the first batches of this series of Sportwagen back when they’d just emerged. The one memory I have is that the throttle tip-in was overly abrupt — it felt like my wife’s Toyota (yikes!) in that creeping in heavy traffic would become a major chore, in order to avoid neck-snapping starts.

    There was no such issue in my 2009 diesel wagon, but it seemed like the newer turbo 4 cylinder was very touchy. Or maybe I had a bad example?

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    The styling on these is so nice and clean. It’s a very attractive car!

  • avatar
    SV

    My ’18 GTI SE has been fairly low on rattles, at least to the point that it doesn’t bother me. I do get a rattle from the sunroof at times, but it seems to be temperature dependent. That might be the same rattle you’re having since it’s a common complaint cross the Golf lineup. There is a very minor whistle above 75mph that I can’t pin down, but I don’t really notice too much any more. Otherwise, it’s pretty solid at 30k miles. I’m much more annoyed by the buzzing of my cheapo garage door opener than anything coming from the car.

    On the other hand, I did have an issue with exterior fit/finish that has caused me some grief – the front driver’s side fender didn’t line up with the door correctly, and the dealer dented it trying to adjust it. Should have just left well enough alone, but lesson learned. I put the blame 50/50 between VW and my own pickiness on that one.

  • avatar
    briano72

    I bought a new 2019 “S” 4motion with a 6 speed manual transmission for $21k in Florida. The dealer I bought it from was new selling “SE”s for $24k. I love the car. From the great manual transmission, to the turbo power, to the 6 year / 72k warranty, to the expansive cargo space. It is just awesome. Practical and fun. what a car! I’ve already upgraded my brakes to GTI spec 12.3” front rotors.

    • 0 avatar
      slap

      One of the fun things about these cars is all the aftermarket parts + GTI/Golf R parts you can get for them (especially if you have the 1.8T engine). Switch in the IS38 (Golf R) turbo, add in a new downpipe, flash the ecu with a stage 2, and you’ve got more than 300 hp.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Congrats on your new car.

    VW Canada sells these standard with the 1.4, but the 1.8 is a $1500 option. So with DSG, the electronic nannies for $800 and DSG, the price is C$33K incl shipping for the midline version, which I presume the SE translates to. I like the way they drive, but find getting out of the darn things a great struggle at my age, particularly if the door can’t be opened far in a parking lot, or I’d have had a Golf R or A3 a few years ago. And VWs are expensive, although if you take $33K and multiply by O.75 to get US dollars, that’s less than $25K out the door at list price, less if you have a silver tongue. For a 2020 before taxes.

    Must say I like my 2019 Mazda6 turbo I got last summer when the tranny blew up in the old 2008 LGT. They gave me silly money for the old car on trade because it moved (only in 4th gear of the auto judging by rpm!) Flawless fit and finish on this new car made in Hiroshima. Not a rattle from summer to this winter when I expected the chirping of plastic pieces to begin their squawk. Hasn’t happened. Starts at 18 below C overnight without feeling like I’m inflicting torture on its soul like the Subies and Audis that preceded it, and after a squabble about the useless cheapy remote start they first installed to make a quick buck, they gave me a real Mazda one no charge which for some reason lists at $860 in Canada. The transmission shifts so nicely, I imagine an adroit human hiding under the dash chortling as they shift gears. And it travels quickly and rather imperiously. Yeah, it’s nice to have a new car that acts as you’d hope a new car would. Haven’t had a new one with no faults before in all my car buying years since 1967 – there was always some damn thing or another. After a few days, I felt it deserved decent rustproofing so I did that with one of our Canadian branded systems – should have done the same with the LGT. Oh well.

    So good luck with your Sportwagen. If you really enjoy driving the car, that’s half the battle won right there.

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    Congrats on your purchase, Corey. Here’s to hoping you have many trouble-free years of ownership with your car.
    I and my family have had very spotty relationships with VWs which has soured my opinion of them. However, I hope your story will be different.
    At least you won’t have to put up with me and Principal Dan whispering “Regal TourX” in your ear anymore ;-)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Didn’t see this yesterday – glad this worked out for you, Corey!

    FYI, my bet is that the rattle is sunroof-related. My A3 has the same basic setup as your car (MQB FTW), and has a minor one. On the plus side, you can drive 50-60 mph with the roof fully open, and there’s very little draft. It’s nice this time of year. :)

  • avatar
    claytori

    I purchased a 2016 Golf Sportwagen with 90K km last October and have put 8K more on it since. The dealer had to do some work on it to bring it up to snuff before I would buy it. It was low on power and they put a new turbocharger on it. I notice that it has three new coil packs, so they must have gone around the block a bit. The car has been very good, even the problematic pano sunroof. Those of us who want/need a smaller MT wagon have limited choices. I am not silly, as I purchased a 3 year VW full coverage warranty. I have the 1.8 TSI 5MT Trend Line. The the Canadian trim names for that year are “Comfort Line, Trend Line, High Line” with some different features to the US trims. Also, VW Canada put in a factory order for enough of these to sell all thru 2020 as this has been a very popular model here. I would be happy if the silly shift nudger went away as it isn’t required here (just like TPMS). Overall, I am happy with the car.

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