Compact car; Built in Brazil
  • 2-door coupe
  • 2-door wagon
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $1,400*

1990 Volkswagen Fox 2-door coupe

1990 Volkswagen Fox GL 2-door wagon

1991 Volkswagen Fox GL 4-door sedan

1990 Volkswagen Fox 2-door coupe

1991 Volkswagen Fox 2-door coupe

  • Fuel economy
  • Handling/roadholding
  • Versatility (wagon)
  • Visibility
  • Cargo room (sedan)
  • Noise
  • Passenger room

Overall, the Fox has a substantial feel–definitely a cut above most budget-priced cars. It’s also more fun to drive than most older subcompacts in its price class.


Volkswagen’s Brazilian-built subcompact debuted for 1987 as an entry-level 2-door or a step-up GL 4-door sedan. Those two were followed by an unusual 2-door station wagon (which was dropped after ’90). A Fox measured 5.4 inches longer than the Volkswagen Golf hatchback, but 8.3 inches shorter than a Jetta sedan. At 92.8 inches, its wheelbase was 4.5 inches shorter than that of the Golf/Jetta duo. Motorized front shoulder belts went into 1990 models, and separate lap belts had to be buckled manually. The 1990 lineup included a base 2-door sedan, GL 4-door sedan, and GL 2-door station wagon. Those three used an 81-horsepower, 1.8-liter 4 cylinder engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. The GL Sport 2 door held the same engine, but it drove a 5-speed manual transmission.

Yearly Updates

1991 Fox
The Fox lineup shrunk this year, as the station wagon and GL Sport 2-door dropped out. Surviving were the base 2-door and GL 4 door sedan. A 4-speed manual transmission remained in the base car, but the GL sedan got a 5-speed. Both models earned a modest facelift, including rectangular aero headlamps and rounded taillamps.
1992 Fox
Except for a rewired radio, which now turned off along with the engine, nothing was new for ’92.
1993 Fox
Air conditioning became standard in the Fox’s final season, and the 4-speed manual transmission disappeared. Both the base 2-door and GL 4-door sedans now used a 5-speed. Two-door sedans gained full wheel covers, dual outside mirrors, body-color bumper aprons, and the same 175/70SR13 tires used on the 4-doors. Some upgraded interior trim went into 4-door sedans.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Only one engine went into the Fox: an overhead-cam 4 cylinder, rated at 81 horsepower. No automatic transmission ever was offered. All models except the GL Sport 2-door had a 4-speed manual transmission in 1990. The Sport had a 5-speed, which went into the GL sedan in ’91. All transmissions were 5-speeds in 1993.

ohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.8/109
Engine HP 81
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 93
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed manual
5-speed manual

Road Test

Sprightly performance mixes with thrifty gas mileage from the ready-to-rev, longitudinal 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine. The 4-speed manual transmission has a tall overdrive top gear, which keeps the engine well below its 3250-rpm torque peak. That means downshifting to third gear is mandatory for adequate passing power. Driving in traffic is easier with a 5-speed, which has closer gear ratios. The shift linkage on both manual transmissions leaves something to be desired, but no automatic transmission ever was offered. Fuel economy is about the same with either transmission: 25 to 30 mpg in urban driving.

Power steering also was lacking, and the manual setup demands plenty of extra muscle at parking speeds.

Interior noise levels are louder than most, and can really get loud at high speeds. Relatively thin, upright roof pillars aid visibility, which is good to all directions. The ride is firm and nicely controlled. All models handle with agility, but wider tires make the GL more sporty.

Head room is minimal all around. The driver’s seat is so high that most drivers find their heads close to or against the ceiling, and no seat height adjustment was offered. Leg room is ample up front and adequate in back, even with the front seats moved back. Only two can fit into the back seat, however. The wagon has more head room, but getting into back seats is tough.

Sedan trunks are small and shallow, and the full-size spare tire, mounted against one wall, takes up a lot of potential cargo space. The wagon’s rear seat folds to increase cargo room to nearly 62 cubic feet.


Model Tested: 1990 Volkswagen Fox sedan 4-speed

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 3
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 3
Steering/Handling - 3
Quietness - 3


Controls/Materials - 4
Room/Comfort Front - 3
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 2


Value - 3

Total: 33


2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
92.8 163.4 63.0 53.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
9.9 12.4 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.6 35.4 41.1 30.2
2-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
92.8 163.4 63.9 54.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
61.8 12.4 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.6 35.8 41.1 30.2
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
92.8 163.4 63.0 53.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
9.9 12.4 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.6 35.4 41.1 30.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1992 Fox 2-door coupe


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 109
Injury 139
Theft 91

Trouble Spots

Climate control
Description: The heater-control lever becomes hard to operate, requiring replacement of both the control cable and the heater-control valve. (1993)
Engine misfire
Description: The engine may stall or cut out when slowing down after driving over 1/2 hour at constant speed because of a problem with the mass air flow sensor. (1990-93)
Description: Wind noise, an air leak, and trouble adjusting the outside mirror can be traced to a deteriorated rubber grommet that seals the joy stick. (1990-93)
Tire wear
Description: Abnormal tire wear is likely due to a problem with rear wheel alignment. A new stub axle is available that changes the toe-in. (1990-93)
Vehicle noise
Description: The fuel-injection system makes a loud ticking sound unless a noise damper is installed in the fuel-return hose. (1991-93)

Recall History

Description: If a component fails while car is being driven, coolant can overheat, causing system pressure to rise to level where a leak can occur; hot coolant could then escape into interior.
Description: Metal fuel lines with incorrect contour were installed in some cars, allowing line to rub against intake manifold; prolonged rubbing could cause leakage and potential for engine fire if exposed to ignition source.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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