A fond goodbye. The 2020 Volkswagen Golf is doing a victory lap. After seven years on sale, the 2020 Golf will be the last of the current generation before a full redesign in 2021.
The Golf has enjoyed its fair share of popularity, but age doesn’t come without casualties. The 2020 lineup loses the wagon body styles (SportWagen and AllTrack) while the hatchback dwindles to a single available trim.
The Golf’s looks are as recognizable as ever. The 16-inch wheels are the only option, but they suit the Golf’s everyman personality. The hatchback’s conservative styling is part of the reason it’s aged so well, and it should still appeal to plenty of buyers.
Slow and sensible. The base Golf isn't exciting – you’ll have to look to the related GTI (covered separately) for that. It makes do with the same 147-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine as always.
This means that acceleration is adequate but unremarkable. The Golf has enough oomph for around-town driving, and the turbo lends enough torque for highway maneuvers. We like the standard six-speed manual transmission, though most drivers will opt for the optional automatic ($800 extra).
With either transmission, the Golf is admirably efficient. Its EPA-estimated 32 miles per gallon combined is strong for the class, and the manual hardly dents that figure (31 mpg combined).
Luxurious practicality. To complement the powertrain’s measured pace, the VW Golf’s ride is plush and comfortable. Assisted by tall sidewalls, the Golf filters out road irregularities like a car twice its price. Unfortunately, this means it filters out most of the steering feel, too.
The interior is a cut above most rivals. Synthetic leatherette is the only option, but it’s durable and attractive. Fit and finish is generally excellent – the Golf benefits from its close relation to the Audi A3.
But all that comfort doesn’t mean that the Golf sacrifices utility. At 167.6 inches in length, the Golf is much shorter than rivals like the Honda Civic or Mazda Mazda3, but it still fits 22.8 cubic feet of cargo in the back. This figure expands to 52.7 cubic feet with the seat down, which is excellent for the class and better than some small crossovers
Value only. The one remaining trim of the 2020 Golf is all about value. This does come with some sacrifices: the infotainment screen is a diminutive 6.5 inches, and advanced safety features like adaptive cruise control aren’t available.
Still, the Golf comes well equipped for a base trim. Automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring are included, boosting the Golf’s capability as a family car. Infotainment is compatible with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the front seats are heated, and standard features include a sunroof and keyless ignition.
Very little is left to customize. Aside from dealer-installed accessories, the only choices left to the buyer are exterior color, interior color, and transmission. More options will surely return with the next generation, but for the moment what you see is what you get.
If you like what you see, however, the price tag is appealing. Starting just past $24,000, the Golf is a good bargain for the included features. This year the value comes with a small caveat, as VW’s warranty drops from six years or 72,000 miles to four years/50,000 miles.
Final thoughts. The 2020 VW Golf may be on its way out, but it still has plenty to recommend. The interior is pleasant and practical, complementing a comfortable ride and strong efficiency. The 2020 model sees a heavily streamlined lineup, but the remaining trim is a good value. For shoppers looking for a solid all-around pick, the Golf remains an excellent option.
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