A smaller engine takes over. The 2019 Volkswagen Golf features a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine paired with either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. Gone is the 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that previously powered the VW Golf.

Performance drops from 168 to 147 horsepower, but fuel economy benefits, rising from an EPA-estimated 25 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway, and 29 combined with the 1.8-liter engine to up to 29/37/32 mpg (city/highway/combined) with the 1.4-liter. Some of the credit, at least for models equipped with the automatic, is due to the new eight-speed transmission, which replaces the previous six-speed unit.

Happily, the driving dynamics haven’t changed as this hatchback delivers a commendable ride and handling.

Front and center safety features. A wider selection of standard driver-assist safety features adds forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert to the base S trim. The SE model offers available 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, and high beam control through its available Driver Assistance Package ($1,295).

With its expanded safety features, VW moves ahead of most competitors, adding features that'll soon become the industry standard.

Strong infotainment meets superior warranty. Volkswagen sets itself apart from the competition by offering several premium features as standard equipment. Its standard 6.5-inch touchscreen display is clear and responsive. Bluetooth connectivity, a six-speaker audio system with HD Radio, and connected apps raise its appeal. The SE model has an eight-inch display and adds a CD player, satellite radio, a security system, and voice control.

One of the more enticing attributes of the Golf is VW's new six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. It's not only better than most competitors, it's fully transferable to subsequent owners.

Volkswagen Golf

Great use of small footprint. On paper, the Golf seats five. In reality, five can fit thanks in part to its generous head room. We still recommend no more than four, but if you’re in a pinch, there’s always room for one more. Speaking of the interior, the Golf offers superior build quality and premium materials. The cabin is nicely laid out too with its smooth edges and streamlined look.

Cargo space is another strong point, with nearly 23 cubic feet behind the rear seat. That’s enough space to pack weekend gear for four adults. Fold the rear seat and you’ll find 53 cubic feet of cargo space at the ready, which is ample carrying room for a week away.

Final thoughts. Volkswagen keeps the pedal to the metal with its Golf, which is a lot of fun to drive with excellent ride quality. Although, if you want more performance, you need to look further up the model chain to the GTI or R (both covered separately).

Nevertheless, the 2019 VW Golf gives car buyers solid reasons to consider purchasing one. It also offers a standard six-speed manual gearbox with either trim; most competitors offer a manual with the base model only. The extended warranty is one of the best in the industry. That it's also fully transferable to a new owner makes it better than what Hyundai and Kia offer.

Check prices for the 2019 Volkswagen Golf »