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VW Golf ups ante with exterior styling, 6-year warranty

Ever since it first arrived on our shores 41 years ago, the Volkswagen Golf has emerged as one of the more likable and popular cars in the compact segment.

The Golf is a proven success and it has evolved wonderfully over the years. Today, the Golf continues to deliver what motorists in this segment are looking for. Today’s Golf is best-known for its pleasing road manners, roomy and versatile cabin and impressive interior styling elements.

Now in the third-year of its seventh-generation, the 2018 Volkswagen Golf receives a slightly freshened exterior, upgraded infotainment and a six-year or 72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Golf Lineup

The Golf lineup offers a wide variety of choices. At the entry point is a 5-door hatchback fitted with a 170-horsepower turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.

For those who like wagons, the Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack are worthy offerings. Performance enthusiasts can choose between two sporty “hot hatches” – the Golf GTI or Golf R.

The athletic GTI features a 220-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, while the rally-inspired Golf R provides greater thrills thanks to its 292-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automated transmission.

I have driven several 2018 Golf models; the base 5-door hatchback, Alltrack and Golf R. All of these Golfs are very good at doing what they were designed to do. This review will focus on the base 5-door hatchback.

Golf Hatchback

For 2018, Volkswagen has added LED lighting and new chrome highlights up front and in the rear, but the Golf hatchback still looks very similar to last year’s model, which is a bit bland.

The Golf hatchback’s real beauty is found when you enter its cabin and take it out on the road. Although it looks small, Golf provides adequate space for four adults, or snug accommodations for a fifth adult when absolutely necessary.

The cabin is nicely styled and looks more upscale than most others in this segment. Seating is both comfortable and supportive. The cabin is well insulated and suitable for long trips. Controls are easy to reach and operate.

There is a whopping 17.4 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the rear seat. With the rear seats folded, cargo volume increases to an impressive 53.7 cubic-feet.

Golf has very pleasing road manners. There is enough power to motivate Golf, and it provides a comfortable, yet stable ride. Steering is light, but precise, and Golf feels composed at highway speeds.

Fuel economy is a tad low, though, with ratings of 25/34 mpg city/highway for models with the manual gearbox and 24/33 mpg for the automatic.

Pricing for the Golf begins at $20,910 but that includes many standard features like 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, power windows, 8-speaker audio system, rearview camera and more.

For 2018, Golf is offered in S or SE trim levels. The base S trim now includes a larger 6.5-inch color touchscreen infotainment system. An updated 8-inch color touchscreen is featured in Golf SE models. Both trim levels include Volkswagen’s Car-Net App Connect, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

SE trims add voice control and a six-month trial subscription for VW’s Car-Net Security & Service. This service features Automatic Crash Notification, Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, Remote Door Locking/Unlocking, Speed Alert and Boundary Alert for families with younger drivers and much more.

The SE (starting at $23,655) also adds a power sunroof, 16-inch alloy wheels, leatherette seating surfaces, heated front seats and advanced driver-assistive systems like forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication