The Golf is a stalwart of Volkswagen’s lineup and it has been sold since 1974, and although time is mostly spent on the quicker GTI and R variants, the TSI Golf is a sprightly and entertaining little car. With the next-generation Golf already revealed to the world, the next generation is still at least a year away from the US, as a result VW has made small updates to the 2020 Golf. The lineup is streamlined even further into a single trim level called TSI. While this bumps up the starting price from the previous model year, it also introduces more desirable standard features. The list includes 16-inch wheels, heated front seats, heated washer nozzles, faux-leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, passive entry, push-button start, and a sunroof. The 2020 Golf also gets the company’s latest Car-Net remote services and a standard Wi-Fi hotspot, with a paid subscription, of course.
Volkswagen has essentially turned the regular Golf into a one-size-fits-all shopping experience. The only tough decision buyers face is whether to stick with the standard manual transmission or spend an extra $800 on the optional eight-speed automatic.
While some other hatchbacks have more room or greater space, the Golf counters with its driver-focused nature. The Golf’s turbocharged inline-four engine provides 147 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque that adequately propel this small hatch. Around town, the Golf never wants for power, only when attempting high-speed passing maneuvers on the highway do you notice the engine starts to struggle. Unlike its sportier fraternal twins, the zippy GTI and the burlier Golf R, the regular Golf boasts a compliant ride that won’t grow tiresome during long drives or on rough pavement. However this doesn’t mean that it’s a slouch around corners, it hugs the road and provides an athletic feel to the driver that produces a smile. The Golf’s steering is quick which makes this car so enjoyable to drive. The EPA estimates the 2020 Golf will earn 28 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with the standard stick-shift transmission. With the optional automatic which we tested ($24,915), it has ratings of 29 mpg city and 35 highway.
Plain but comfortable and functional is the best way to describe the Golf’s interior and it embodies VW‘s design ethos. The interior employs clean, straight lines; a sedate color palette; and an emphasis on openness. The driving position is excellent — there’s plenty of steering wheel and seat adjustment to help you get comfortable and outward visibility is excellent thanks to the Golf’s squared-off design. We found the Golf’s rear seat to be relatively comfortable, and it’s suitable for adults even on longer drives. The Golf holds the same number of carry-on bags (five) behind its back seat as many of its rivals. But unlike sedan competitors, the Golf’s cargo area can accommodate taller items with ease.
The Golf’s intuitive infotainment system delivers standard features such as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, and USB connectivity. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard, and it boasts menu buttons running along the edges of the display as well as a physical volume knob. The touchscreen incorporates a capacitive touch sensor with swipe and pinch-to-zoom functions, just like a smartphone. It also has a proximity sensor that automatically calls up a more user-friendly layout when a hand approaches.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Golf its maximum score of 5 stars, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Golf as a Top Safety Pick. The active safety features offered on the 2020 Golf TSI are automatic emergency braking with forward-collision warning and pedestrian detection and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic detection. The Golf also comes with stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, six airbags and an automatic post-collision braking system that applies the brakes after an impact, reducing the risk of damage from subsequent collisions. VW has revised its warranty package for 2020. Although the updated warranty is shorter, the company now provides two years (20,000 miles) of complimentary maintenance. The Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles and the Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles.
In the end the Volkswagen Golf has long been one of the most overachieving vehicles in its segment. At the price tag of a mainstream hatchback, the 2020 Volkswagen Golf offers a downsized entry-level luxury vehicle and better driving dynamics than you’d expect and that is why we like it.