2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
By now you’ve heard all the Volkswagen turbo diesel fiasco. Residual values, VW stock prices, and brand image have all taken a beating over recent months. But, what’s been lost in all of the hubub is that there’s a new Golf Sportwagon. And, despite the diesel disaster, the Sportwagon deserves it’s time in the spotlight.
For those fans that were upset over the demise of the Jetta SportWagen, we have great news. It’s hasn’t really gone away, it’s just been re-designed, and renamed, as the 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen.
And that means it is now using VW’s fantastic MQB architecture, and the benefits of that are almost endless. It weighs less, is more economical, and despite shifting from Jetta to Golf nameplates, it even has about the same amount of space inside.
We’re certainly okay with the expansion of the Golf lineup, as it has always been one of our favorite cars. But what we’re not fine with of course, is the recent news regarding Volkswagen’s deceptive practices when it came to getting their TDI diesel’s emission’s certified.
We spent time in a urea-injected TDI equipped SportWagen back in the summer, before all of this came to light. And averaged 37.0 miles-per-gallon, which is actually better than the Combined Government Fuel Economy Rating of 35, to go along with 31-City, and 42-Highway.
We’ve always been huge fans of the TDI and have always gotten exceptional fuel economy results, but perhaps in retrospect we should have known it was almost too good to be true. It’s not a total disaster however, as independent testing has concluded that with a software fix, fuel economy might decline as little as 5%.
Ultimately it will be the consumers that will decide the TDI’s fate when and if Volkswagen gets things sorted out.
We also drove a TSI-equipped gasoline fueled SportWagen; and here we also bested expectations, averaging 33.3 miles-per-gallon of Regular. The official Combined is only 29, with 25-City and 35-Highway. Its legitimate Energy Impact Score comes in at 11.4 barrels of oil consumed yearly with CO2 emissions of 5.0-tons.
The 1.8-liter I4 in the TSI is rated at 170-horsepower and 199 lb-ft. of torque and is available with either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.
Compared with a Golf 5-door, there’s 12.0-inches of additional length, yet it rides on a wheelbase that’s actually been shortened by a bit. Overall length, however, is almost exactly the same as the departing Jetta SportWagen.
As far as design, there’s only so much you can do with the two-box wagon shape, the Golf’s take is without a doubt more purposeful and less bloated than the Jetta’s.
The forward portion of the interior doesn’t depart at all from the simple Golf theme, and we’re just fine with that. Material quality is good, and seat comfort better than expected.
Cargo capacity in the hold is down slightly to 30.4 cubic-ft., but after dropping the rear seat backs, the space expands to 66.5 cubic-ft. And that’s much more space than all of the rapidly growing subcompact crossovers have to offer.
And it’s much more fun to drive as well. Here at the track, it was as capable as we hoped, and handles way better than a car this big should. The extra 100-pounds or so of weight over the hatchback did nothing to compromise handling here; or ride quality on the way back to the office.
0-60 times were quicker in the TSI, as you would expect, though not by much. 8.7 TSI, verses 9.0-flat for the TDI. Both are a little sluggish off the line, while they wait for their turbos to spin up the boost.
So naturally, the TSI completes the 1/4-mile more quickly as well; taking 16.2-seconds to trip the lights at 88 miles-per-hour. Stops from 60 averaged a good 125-feet. Brake feel was great and fade was minimal.
With all of the pricy cars we test these days, at $22,215; the Golf SportWagen packs about everything you could want in a tidy, highly affordable package. 2016 editions tack on only a couple hundred dollars more. For the time being, the TDI is not available pending recertification. Expect about a three grand premium when it returns.
So, while VW’s deception has certainly tempered our enthusiasm for the 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, and it’s in fact difficult for us to recommend any Volkswagen at the current time, the SportWagen is still a good idea. But even good ideas need the proper timing to be great ones.
- Engine: 1.8 liter I4
- Horsepower: 170
- Torque: 199 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 8.7 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 16.2 seconds @ 88 mph
- EPA: 25 mpg city/ 35 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 11.4 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 5.0 tons/yr
2024 Subaru Outback
The Outback Continues To Deliver
In a world that’s SUV crazy, it’s easy to forget that the Subaru Outback has been delivering capable and comfortable all-weather and all-road capabilities to adventure-loving Americans for years. In fact, it’s now well into its 6th generation. So, it’s time for us to check in with the latest Outback and find out what’s new.
Almost 50-years ago, long before all-wheel-drive became an option for just about every car on the road, Subaru released the first four-wheel-drive passenger car in the U.S. Immediately, they knew they had a good thing going with that wagon, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the marketing folks got on board and helped launch the Subaru Outback Sport Utility Wagon.
While the 2024 Outback is approaching the end of its 6th generation, its not slowing down when it comes to delivering tons of value to adventure-minded families.
The Outback is the sole remaining wagon available here in the U.S. from a mainstream brand, though even Subaru doesn’t use the “W” word anymore.
Now strictly referred to as a mid-size SUV, when it comes to selling any vehicle, attractiveness is always a bonus, and the Outback’s unique blend of rugged and refined has set the tone for many followers over the years. The exterior was recently updated, and while it looks big and more like a true SUV than ever, it’s only about 5-inches longer than the 1990’s original.
Some trims do get additional standard content for ’24, but our top Touring XT showcases everything Subaru has to offer, with an 11.6-inch Starlink infotainment screen that controls more features than ever, includes navigation, and pumps tunes out with Harmon Kardon sound. EyeSight Driver Assist Technology remains an Outback standard.
Cargo capacity is a great 32.6 cubic-ft., 75.6 with rear seatbacks folded, and despite the high ground clearance, the floor is lower than SUV typical, which makes for easier loading.
Outback seat comfort has improved greatly over the years, and despite the increased reliance on the touchscreen, everything about the cabin is simple to operate and logically placed.
The XT part of our Touring XT means there’s extra power under the hood with a 2.4-liter flat-4 turbo engine which rates 260-horsepower and 277 lb-ft. of torque. It’s a big upgrade over the standard 182-horsepower naturally aspirated 2.5-liter.
Both engines are unchanged and work with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT; all-wheel-drive is of course another Outback standard.
At Mason-Dixon Dragway, our XT had plenty of grip off the line, hitting 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. That’s a couple of tenths quicker than our last time out with this turbo-4. We’ll chalk that up to better weather this time around.
Like many Subarus, it doesn’t feel overly fast but it’s snappy off the line, and perfectly adequate from there.
Power delivery stayed very consistent down the track; the CVT definitely keeps engine revs maxed out the whole time, but noise is far from annoying. Our best ¼-mile time was 14.6-seconds at 97 miles-per-hour.
The Outback boasts 8.7-inches of ground clearance, which is more than many mid-size SUVs; and while it felt plenty competent through our slalom course, there was noticeable body roll and understeer to deal with. Yet steering was light and predictable, plus Active Torque Vectoring and Vehicle Dynamics Control are hard at work to keep you stable and safe no matter what.
In panic braking, there were only moderate amounts of nosedive, and mild ABS pulsing. Stops averaged a fine 115-feet from 60 miles-per-hour.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 22-City, 29-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a great 27.9 miles-per-gallon of Regular; a feat most SUVs can only dream of.
That’s an average Energy Impact Score; with use of 11.9-barrels of oil yearly, with 5.9-tons of CO2 emissions.
Base Outbacks have plenty of standard content, and remain a real bargain, starting at just $30,240, top trims, including Wilderness, take you into the low 40s.
Decades of loyal Outback owners have helped Subaru grow the 2024 Subaru Outback into what it is today; a highly capable and comfortable, thoughtfully designed, adventure-ready family truckster that’s as adept at backwoods exploring as it is soldiering through the daily grind. Your family activities may not take you far off the beaten path, but life itself is an adventure, and the Subaru Outback is outfitted for your adventure better than ever.
- Engine: 2.4-liter flat-4 turbo
- Horsepower: 260
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking (avg): 115 feet
- MW Fuel Economy: 27.9 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: CVT
- Torque: 277 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.6-seconds at 97 mph
- EPA: 22 City | 29 Highway | 25 Combined