One-year Ownership Update: 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Well friends, it’s been an entire year since I purchased a CPO Golf SportWagen, and it’s time for an ownership update.

Do you expect I’ve had any more issues since we last spoke?

You may remember that my initial (and so far, only) ownership experience with a non-Audi VW Group product was not an awesome one. The purchase took a couple months worth of haggling with the local dealer who just happened to have a singular (hard to find) example with tan interior. Because I was able to wait them out, they eventually came around on price.

Much to my dismay, shortly after the purchase I realized there was quite a rattle in the headliner. And so began four repeat trips to the dealer, which after 23 days or so admitted there was a quality control issue with the headliner, as the factory installed a deformed one. At day 27, I picked up my car with a new headliner, and no rattles.

And all was well! Of course, about six weeks later I moved to work from home status along with so many others across the country, and commute miles dropped to zero. I resorted to afternoon or evening sanity drives, most often to explore the middle of nowhere. There on twisty and occasionally hilly roads, the Golf proved a fun if somewhat underpowered companion. Always planted and stable, its primary shortcoming is in the power department. The 1.4 is happy to rev if the shift paddles are used to hold the engine in the first four or five gears. But if left in automatic during zesty driving, upshifts are too frequent. Similarly, downshifts (and turbo power) are a bit too delayed: The power arrives after the corner you’d intended to power out of has passed. The brakes have plenty of punch, and bring the wagon down quickly with an easy-to-modulate pedal. The skinny tires (Pirelli Cinturato P7 all season) designed with fuel economy in mind do create traction issues in wet weather conditions, and I wouldn’t advise anyone do rainy day cornering in a Golf.

On longer-distance trips, the Golf performs well in standard automatic mode. The ride is compliant at high speed, and the suspension absorbs highway bumps well. Seats prove comfortable for a few hours of driving time, with no back or leg aches or fatigue. As you’d expect, cargo capacity is copious and the wagon handles many bags with aplomb. At highway speeds, noise is managed well, although there’s some wind noise from the panoramic roof. I find myself closing the shade on longer trips to buffer it a bit. The heated seats get almost too hot on their highest (level three) setting. I can tell you with certainty Volkswagen does better heated seats than Infiniti, Lexus, and Subaru – no contest.

As mentioned, the interior is a pretty quiet place to be. But there’s a slight rattle in these colder months from the cargo cover. Many wouldn’t notice, but hearing annoying rattling sounds in the car is my thing. While I’m griping, there’s also an occasional slight rattle from the glove box door. Months may pass with no sound from the area, then there might be a few days of light rattling. Again, pretty minor. Owners of these Golfs who park outside will notice there are a lot of places for leaves, pine needles, and other bits of natural detritus to gather. Sometimes they’re hard to pick out by hand, for instance when pine needles lie in crevices around the windshield. Some human detritus made an appearance over the summer and used the Golf as a doorstop in a parking lot. At least it was down low on the door, and touch up paint fell readily to hand.

Generally, the controls and infotainment have been simple and without fault. There’s an “oil change needed” warning which comes up upon every start these days, as determined by the calendar and not mileage. It can’t be reset within the menus by the press of a button, and that’s annoying. There might be a special procedure to reset it, but I’d rather it could be dismissed and not warn me again.

Android Auto works well the majority of the time, with some occasional lag upon startup. When plugged in, the car charges my Samsung phone quickly, which is the opposite of my experience in some other modern cars which used a trickle method of charging. The audio system is fine for this class of car, but would not pass for a premium sound experience (Fender Audio was limited to the extinct SEL trim). The CD player in the glove box is an oddity, as are the memory card slots in there. Both have remained unused.

Features like blind-spot monitoring and rear traffic warnings are nice, but the lane keep assist is annoying – I turned it off quickly. The radar cruise is a bit too cautious and only works without annoyance in low traffic highway situations. If trusting in the machine is your thing, the radar cruise also works around town, even at stoplights.

A year of ownership, and I’ve experienced no issues with the Golf, save for that early rattle. When I picked it up last December the mileage was at 3,997, a figure which reads 8,575 today. This wagon has the most consistent fuel economy of any car I’ve ever owned. No matter how or where this VW is driven, it returns 31 to 32 miles per gallon by hand calculation. The trip computer is generally slightly optimistic, but not too far off. I do wish the fuel tank was a bit larger, as 13.2 gallons seems to disappear so quickly. But at current prices, a $22.00 fill-up doesn’t hurt too badly.

After 12 months, I’m still pleased with the SportWagen. It does lots of things well, and only asks that you manage its relative lack of power in exchange. I don’t see myself getting bored with it any time soon. And if something does break, you’ll be the first to know.

[Images © 2020 Corey Lewis/TTAC]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Jeanbaptiste Jeanbaptiste on Dec 23, 2020

    So for my GtI rear rattle I placed a small wedge between the back glass and the plastic shroud in the hatch. Right in the middle near where the wiper is. That quieted down my rear noise a whole bunch. I wish I could upload a picture to show you where.

  • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Dec 27, 2020

    My '17 GTI Sport is about to turn four in the next few weeks. Not a single issue. None, zip, zilch. No rattles, squeaks, dings, nothing. LOVE IT. Just a superbly useful car. I just wish VW would give us a long-roof version. I just did a full fluids and filters service, and added the 034Motorsports lower dogbone mount insert which takes the slop out of the lower motor mount, at the cost of a tad more vibration when taking off. Which was about my only complaint with the car, the amount of drivetrain lash getting on and off the throttle. I am spoiled by also having two BMWs...

  • Doug brockman hardly. Their goals remain to punish us by mandating unsafe unreliable unaffordable battery powered cars
  • Lorenzo It looks like the curves are out and the boxy look is back. There's an upright windscreen, a decided lack of view obstructing swoop in the rear side panels, and you can even see out of the back window. Is Lexus borrowing from the G-Class Mercedes, or the Range Rover?
  • Lorenzo Didn't those guys actually test drive cars? I was told that one drove like an old lady, another like a maniac, and the third like a nervous middle aged commuter who needs to get to work on time and can't afford big repair bills, and they got together to pass judgement within their individual expertise. No?
  • Lorenzo Aw, I don't care what they call the models, as long as they don't use those dots over the O's.
  • The Oracle GM just seems hapless lately
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