The One To Have If You're Only Having One: The 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI

Front 3/4 view of 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI
The 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI.
If you could only buy one new car to do everything you do in your life, what would it be?

A lot of people---Americans, especially, would default to the biggest, most capable all-weather machine they could afford and figure if it can handle that, it can handle the rest.  Something like that, in my mid-30s, possessed me to buy a Suburban with four-wheel drive.  I owned it seven years.  It never left two-wheel drive mode.  I never had eight people in it at once and never filled the cargo area.

The truth is, the one car for most Americans is a German car that has simply been evolving over 45 years.

Rear 3/4 view of 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI

That car, of course, is the Volkswagen Golf.  Seating for five, better-than-average passenger and cargo room, reasonable acceleration and reasonable price.

Hood open on 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI

Let's do reasonable acceleration first.  Zero to 60 happens in 7.7 seconds from the new 1.4-liter turbocharged four.  It makes 147 horsepower---23 fewer than the 1.8-liter turbo four it replaces, and yet the new Golf is a tenth of a second quicker to 60.

Equipped with a six-speed manual transmission as our tester was, the EPA fuel economy estimates are 28 city/36 highway.

Hatch open on 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI

Interior of 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI

Rear seat in 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI

Front seats in 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI

The rear hatch area holds 17.4 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seat up.  It's hard to find a bigger traditional trunk in a car these days.  Fold the rear seat down and the cargo capacity leaps to 53.7 cubic feet.

With seats in place, all five aboard will find plentiful headroom because of the upright design of the Golf,  adequate legroom (the front passenger seat in the shot above is all the way back), as well as comfort and support from truly well-designed seats.

Europe got the next-generation Golf a few months ago.  The U.S. is most likely in its last year of this generation, so apart from the 228-horsepower GTI and the outrageous 292 horsepower Golf R,  there is only one way to get a Golf this year---one trim level, TSI.  The base price is $23,195, and you get a lot for your money:

  • Anti-lock disc brakes
  • Anti-slip regulation
  • Engine brake assist
  • Electronic brake pressure distribution
  • Hydraulic brake assist
  • Electronic stability control
  • Electronic differential lock
  • Intelligent crash response system
  • Automatic post-collision braking system
  • Rear view camera system
  • Tire pressure monitoring system
  • 16-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires
  • Automatic halogen headlights and LED daytime running lights
  • LED taillights
  • Heated, foldable, power-adjustable side mirrors with integrated turn signals
  • Rain-sensing variable intermittent front wipers with heated washer nozzles
  • Rear window washer and wiper
  • Power tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof
  • Climate control
  • Leatherette-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel with multifunction buttons
  • Tilt and telescoping steering column
  • Heated front seats with lumbar and power recline
  • 60/40 split folding rear seat with center armrest, storage and pass-through
  • Leatherette seating surfaces
  • Center console with cupholders, armrest and storage
  • Carpeted cargo area with adjustable floor, 12-volt power port and privacy cover
  • Front reading lights
  • Illuminated vanity mirrors
  • Carpeted floor mats front and rear
  • Forward collision warning
  • Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring (front assist)
  • Blind spot monitor and rear traffic alert
  • Hill hold control
  • Keyless access with pushbutton start
  • Power door locks with remote featuring panic button
  • Anti-theft engine immobilizer
  • 6.5-inch color touchscreen with six-speaker AM/FM/VW App-Connect audio system including Apple CarPlay
  • Bluetooth
  • Cruise control
  • Multi-function display with trip computer
  • Washer fluid level indicator
Instrument panel in 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI

Gauge cluster in 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI

Infotainment and HVAC in 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI

Our tester had no extra-cost options.  An eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with Sport mode is available for $800, and the rest of the option list is really dealer-installed stuff (mudflaps, cargo organizers, roof racks).  So, with $920 destination charge, the bottom line on the window sticker reads $24,115.

Front view of 2020 Volkswagen Golf TSI

That, my friends, is a screaming deal---14 grand below the average price of a new car in this country this year.  For a car that is way above average, and that probably meets 90% of the needs of 90% of Americans 90% of the time.

There's a reason the Golf, in a form very close to the 1975 original, lives on today.