2013 Volkswagen Golf Preview

Jeff Youngs | May 22, 2013
  • Choice of gasoline or diesel engine
  • EPA-estimated to achieve up to 42 mpg on the highway
  • 2- and 4-door body styles
  • Up to 15.2 cubic feet of cargo space
  • 5-passenger seating


With decades of production, it would be safe to assume that the Beetle is Volkswagen's all-time best-selling model. Truth be told, the Golf holds the crown, logging more than 29 million sales worldwide, according to VW.

For 2013, the Golf arrives with only minor updates, including a newly standard front center armrest and floor mats on every model. Also, manual-transmission aficionados may be disappointed to learn that 4-door, gasoline-powered Golfs are no longer available with a stick-shift gearbox.

An all-new Golf debuted at the 2013 New York auto show, and will go on sale at a later date as a 2015 model.

Exterior Features

As the lineup's entry-level trim level, the gasoline-powered 2013 Golf 2.5L offers a no-frills exterior that features 15-inch steel wheels, rear wiper, heated power-adjustable turn signal mirrors, and dual exhaust tips. Golf TDI (turbocharged direct injection) variants add a diesel engine, as well as 17-inch alloy wheels and heated washer nozzles.

Interior Features

The interior of the 2013 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L is equipped with air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and door locks, glovebox cooler, and an 8-speaker sound system featuring an auxiliary audio input jack and CD player. Other standard items include front sport seats with 8-way adjustment for the driver and passenger, new-for-2013 adjustable front center armrest, 60/40 split-folding rear seat offering a center armrest and pass-through, cargo cover, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.

Using the 2.5L as a base, Volkswagen moves the 2013 Golf TDI a bit more upscale with the addition of heated front seats, leather trim on the steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, satellite radio service, and a touch-screen sound system featuring HD Radio and a USB port.

Optional Features

For buyers who want to build upon the 2013 Golf 2.5L and TDI's assortment of standard features, Volkswagen offers a few factory option packages filled with a variety of desirable amenities. One example is the Convenience package, available on the 2.5L and including leather interior trim, heated front seats, and Bluetooth connectivity. A Sunroof package consists of, as one might expect, a power tilt/slide moonroof.

TDI models can also be upgraded with a Technology package, within which VW has bundled push-button start, adaptive HID headlights, LED daytime running lights, and a premium audio system. Finally, buyers of the diesel-powered 2013 Golf can opt for a touch-screen navigation system.

Under the Hood

Like its name suggests, the 2013 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L is equipped with a 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder engine that delivers 170 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque. Output is directed to the front wheels via a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission with manual and sport modes.

For the 2013 Golf TDI, Volkswagen utilizes a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine that generates 140 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque, all of which reaches the front wheels by way of a 6-speed manual transmission. A 6-speed direct-shift gearbox (DSG)--also known as an automated manual--is optional, and features steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Contrary to dated perceptions, this engine is one of many modern diesels that meet emissions standards in each of the 50 U.S. states.

All 2013 Golfs are supported by a front-strut, rear-multi-link suspension system. In the TDI's case, the setup is tuned for more performance and, as a result, lowers the ride height several millimeters.

Fuel Economy

EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2013 Volkswagen Golf are:

  • Golf 2.5L with 5-speed manual transmission: 23/33/26 mpg (city/highway/combined)
  • Golf 2.5L with 6-speed automatic transmission: 24/31/26 mpg
  • Golf TDI with either transmission: 30/42/34 mpg


The 2013 Volkswagen Golf's standard safety features include 6 air bags, front active head restraints, traction control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, and brake assist.

In tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2013 Volkswagen Golf received a "Good" rating--the Institute's highest--for moderate side-impact crash protection; the 2013 Golf also received a "Top Safety Pick" designation from the Institute. As this preview is written, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not rated the crashworthiness of the 2013 Volkswagen Golf.
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