Unexpected Family Car: 2015 Volkswagen Golf

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When my husband and I became parents, we embraced our new roles with enthusiasm - except when it came to what it might mean for us out on the road. No disrespect, but we just aren't the minivan types and we both enjoy smaller cars with a little more pizazz than your average family crossover. But it didn't take long for us to realize how much a car seems to shrink with a rear-facing car seat in the backseat and a stroller in the trunk. We chose the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta as our family car, which had the largest backseat and cargo area in its class at the time. Now life's become a little simpler with a preschooler, and Mama's thinking about a new car.

Related: 2015 Volkswagen Golf, Golf TDI: First Drive

The timing was right for my family to test the 2015 Volkswagen Golf. I had some concerns about this stylish compact hatchback, but we were off to a great start with its family-friendly lower Latch anchors. The Golf's anchors are covered by plastic doors that flip up to reveal the anchor. No digging, no sweating to install my daughter's car seat; we were off and running.

By Carrie Kim | September 26, 2014 | Comments (5)

2014 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid Review

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"The Touareg has improved drastically over the years, and VW's even jumped onto the 'green' bandwagon by adding a Touareg Hybrid to the mix. Unfortunately, the 2014 VW Touareg Hybrid is an expensive SUV proposition without a major return on your hybrid investment in terms of fuel economy," said Cars.com reviewer Kristin Varela. Check out Varela's review for more.

2014 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid Expert Review

Cars.com photo by Kristin Varela

By Matt Schmitz | September 22, 2014 | Comments (2)

2015 Volkswagen Jetta Earns IIHS' Top Safety Pick Plus

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After missing the mark for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's coveted crashworthiness awards in the 2014 model year, the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta has earned the institute's most prestigious designation, Top Safety Pick Plus. That's thanks to structural improvements and the addition of a frontal crash prevention system to the sedan, which IIHS classifies as a "midsize, moderately priced car."

Related: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta: First Look

"Although the car didn't get a full redesign, the A-pillars and door sills were strengthened for the 2015 model year," IIHS said in a statement. "As a result, the Jetta's small overlap rating improved to good, compared with the marginal rating of earlier models."

By Matt Schmitz | September 18, 2014 | Comments (2)

2015 Volkswagen Eos Final Edition Means the End of the Road

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Remember when Volkswagen introduced the 2010 New Beetle Final Edition? It signaled the passing of a car that spent an eternal 13 model years going from spring chicken to throwback turkey. Well, the Final Edition is back, and it heralds the swan-song year for the Eos hardtop convertible, which arrived at U.S. dealerships eight years ago this month.

Related: 2014 Volkswagen Eos Cars.com Review

But while the Beetle got new life a few years later that is not in the cards for the Eos.

Put a fork in it; the Eos is done. And cue the long sigh and slow nod, because we told you so. (We know, we were a year late. Let us have our moment.)

By Kelsey Mays | August 27, 2014 | Comments (2)

Volkswagen Prices First Electric Car; 2015 e-Golf Will Cost $36,265

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Volkswagen today announced pricing for the all-new 2015 e-Golf as the electric hatchback prepares to "charge" into dealerships in the fall. VW's first fully electric, zero-emissions vehicle starts at $36,265, including an $820 destination charge, for the SEL Premium model.

Related: More Electric Cars Than Ever, Still Not Available Everywhere

The e-Golf, which we first saw at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, is powered by a compact electric motor and 24.2-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, good for 115 horsepower and 199 pounds-feet of torque. It's mated to a single-speed automatic transmission. Volkswagen said the e-Golf has an average range of 70 to 90 miles and a 7.2-kilowatt onboard charger, achieving an 80 percent battery charge within 30 minutes. The hatchback offers three driver-selectable modes: Normal, Eco and Eco Plus.

By Matt Schmitz | August 25, 2014 | Comments (5)

2015 Volkswagen Jetta Starts at $17,035

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Volkswagen's refreshed 2015 Jetta starts at $17,035 (all prices include destination). That's up $520 over the 2014 model; the 2015 should be in dealerships by the end of September. The starting price gets you a 2.0-liter four-cylinder base model with a five-speed manual transmission and power windows and locks but no air conditioning or radio. Some dealers will stock them, VW spokesman Mark Gillies told us, but "it's a relatively small percentage of the mix." That's been the case for the base Jetta in recent years.

Related: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta: First Look

For most Jetta shoppers, the effective base model at dealerships is a stick-shift Jetta 2.0L S ($18,145), which adds air conditioning and a CD stereo plus Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio controls, cruise control and keyless entry. A six-speed automatic runs $19,245.

By Kelsey Mays | August 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2009 Volkswagen Routan

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Vehicles Affected: Nearly 19,000 model-year 2009 Volkswagen Routan minivans

The Problem: Road conditions or some other jarring event may cause the ignition switch to move out of the Run position, turning off the engine. If the key inadvertently moves into the Off or Accessory position, the engine will shut down, causing a power loss to key safety systems such as airbags, power steering and power brakes, and increasing the risk of a crash.

The Fix: Volkswagen will begin notifying owners this month, and dealers will modify the ignition switch for free.

What Owners Should Do: The automaker advises owners to remove all items from their key rings, including the key fob, leaving only the ignition key, until the recall is complete. For more info, owners can call Volkswagen at 800-822-8987, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | August 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge: Mileage Results

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Any car owner will tell you the cost of driving does not begin or end with the sticker price or the monthly payment notice arriving in the mailbox. There's insurance, maintenance and yes, the cost of gasoline.

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge
Index | What the Judges Said | Results

The competitors in our Cheap Speed Challenge may be relatively affordable considering their performance chops, but six of the eight require premium gasoline. Going into the contest, mileage didn't seem like it would be much of a story.

After a 220-plus-mile route through Wisconsin and Illinois that mixed in winding country roads, city streets and plenty of construction-laden highways, we discovered mileage was indeed worth talking about in this class.

By David Thomas | July 28, 2014 | Comments (1)

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge: What the Judges Said

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To test our sub-$30,000 speedsters, we put them through an even more rigorous set of tests than we usually use in our Challenges:

  • We spent one day at the Byron, Ill., Dragway to get zero-to-60-mph times and quarter-mile times and speeds; we also captured 60-mph-to-zero braking distances there.
  • We spent one day at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., where the experts put the cars through a long day on the road course there.
  • We took all eight on a mileage drive of more than 200 miles to judge real-world fuel economy.
  • The experts drove all eight over the same course, back-to-back, to judge real-world ride and handling, acceleration and braking.
  • And then we brought in a real-life car shopper, Joe Weiss, a 38-year-old quality assurance manager from Chicago who's in the market for just such a car for himself and his fiancee.

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Weiss joined our cast of judges (left to right):

  • Brian Robinson, producer for PBS' "MotorWeek"
  • Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com executive editor
  • David Thomas, Cars.com managing editor
  • Joe Bruzek, Cars.com road test editor
  • James R. Healey, auto writer for USA Today

We set a maximum price of $30,000, including a destination charge. We had 10 cars on our list when we started, but we ended with eight (more on that in a bit):

  • 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth
  • 2014 Ford Fiesta ST
  • 2014 Honda Civic Si
  • 2014 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
  • 2014 Kia Forte5 SX
  • 2015 Mini Cooper S Hardtop
  • 2014 Nissan Juke NISMO RS
  • 2014 Scion FR-S
  • 2015 Subaru WRX
  • 2015 Volkswagen GTI

Mini said it did not have a Cooper in its press fleets that could meet our price cap; the Civic lost a tire after hitting a Chicago pothole, and repairs could not be made in time for track days. The judges did drive it in our round-robin day, and a report on those tests can be found here.

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge
Index | Results | Mileage Test

Here's how the scoring broke down: The experts' scores accounted for 50 percent of the total score; 10 percent came from the shopper's scores; 30 percent was based on track performance; and the remaining 10 percent was based on fuel economy.

Here is what the judges had to say about each car, in order of how the cars finished:

By Patrick Olsen | July 28, 2014 | Comments (8)

What's the Best Cheap Speed Car for $30,000?

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Plenty of drivers want a level of performance without breaking the bank. We found eight cars that prove fun at the track is not limited to the well-to-do.

$30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge
Index | What the Judges Said | Mileage Test

We focused our Challenge on compact coupes, sedans and hatchbacks that cost less than $30,000, including destination charge. We picked the price based on Cars.com's listings for cars of this type that came with the features we know are popular with younger drivers looking for a performance kick. After five days of testing (including a day at a drag strip and a day on a road course) by experts from Cars.com, USA Today, "MotorWeek" and a real-life, in-market family, here's how the results broke down:

By Patrick Olsen | July 28, 2014 | Comments (21)

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