Compact car; Built in Germany
  • 2-door hatchback
  • 4-door hatchback
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $6,100 – $29,300*

2010 Volkswagen Golf front

2010 Volkswagen Golf rear

2010 Volkswagen Golf interior

  • Acceleration (TDI, Golf R)
  • Entry/exit
  • Fuel economy
  • Interior materials
  • Steering/handling
  • Engine noise when decelerating (2.5)
  • Price (TDI)
  • Ride (with sport suspension)

Jetta’s hatchback sibling–the Golf–injects a fun-to-drive, refined, and fairly roomy dose of sportiness into the compact-car class. The TDI’s spunky diesel engine, along with a sport suspension, raises the fun factor but also keeps things frugal with its stellar fuel-economy figures. Watch out for your bottom line, however. Even secondhand, the TDI’s price premium over gasoline-powered 2.5 models would take a while to recoup.


For 2010, the Volkswagen Golf replaced the Rabbit as this German automaker’s compact hatchback. Like the Rabbit, Golf came in two- and four-door body styles. Each was offered in 2.5 and diesel-powered TDI trim levels. A 170-horsepower 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine was standard on 2.5 models. TDI versions had a 140-horsepower 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission was standard on the 2.5 two-door. Optional on that model and standard on the four-door 2.5 was a six-speed automatic. TDI versions came with a sport suspension and had either a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automated manual that behaves much like an automatic. Standard safety features included all-disc antilock braking, traction control, an antiskid system, curtain-side airbags, and front-side airbags. Four-door models could add rear-side airbags as an option. A tilt and telescopic steering wheel was standard. A sunroof, heated front seats, and a wireless cell-phone link were optional on all models. An uplevel audio system, xenon headlights, and a navigation system were TDI-exclusive options. Golf competitors included the Hyundai Elantra Touring, Mazda 3, Nissan Versa and Cube, Scion xB, and Chevrolet HHR.

Yearly Updates

2011 Golf
The Golf was largely unchanged following its introduction for the 2010 model year.
2012 Golf
The biggest change for the 2012 Volkswagen Golf lineup was the addition of a sporty Golf R model, which had a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission, and all-wheel drive.
2013 Golf
The 2013 Golf lineup received a few additional interior features, and the high-performance Golf R was unchanged for its second season.
2014 Golf
An all-new Golf was in the works for 2015, so perhaps it wasn’t too surprising that Volkswagen offered a dramatically simplified Golf lineup for 2014. The high-performance Golf R and all 2-door models were discontinued. The remaining 2.5 and TDI 4-doors were only available in two trim levels apiece.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

A 170-horsepower 2.5-liter five-cylinder gasoline engine was standard on 2.5 models. TDI versions used a 140-horsepower 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission was standard on the 2.5 two-door. Optional on that model and standard on the four-door 2.5 was a six-speed automatic. TDI versions had either a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission. The Golf R, added for 2012, had a 256-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and came only with a six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive.

Turbodiesel dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/120
Engine HP 140
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 236
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automated manual
dohc I5
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/151
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 177
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
6-speed automatic
Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 256
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 243
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual



Road Test

Any 2.5 model has enough pep for any situation, despite the non-linear nature of its throttle response. Its conventional six-speed automatic transmission is smooth and prompt-shifting. After a brief pause, the TDI model pulls away strongly and makes short work of highway passing maneuvers; turbo lag is otherwise minimal. The manual transmission has short throws and an easy-to-modulate clutch. TDI’s six-speed automated-manual transmission can be finicky around town, but it smooths out at higher speeds and delivers power promptly. Golf R has explosive power, but it’s tricky to modulate and can be a long time in coming at low rpm in the higher gears due to turbo lag.

Golfs are reasonably economical with all engines. In Consumer Guide testing, 2.5 models with the automatic transmission averaged 25.8 to 27.6 mpg. A test TDI with manual transmission averaged 38.2 mpg. With the automated-manual unit, we averaged an outstanding 42.2 mpg. A Golf R returned 24.3 mpg, quite good for the power provided. Golf 2.5 models use regular-grade gas. Golf R requires premium.

The 2.5 and TDI feel comfortable and composed at all speeds, absorbing pavement imperfections well. TDI’s 17-inch wheels and sport suspension firm up the ride and transmit a bit more road jiggle into the cabin. The Golf R can feel jiggly and it thumps over bumps, but it’s never harsh.

All Golf models are sporty and agile, with little body lean; TDI’s sport suspension delivers even more nimble cornering ability, and the Golf R is downright sporty. Braking is smooth and strong in general, though one test car suffered from touchy pedal action in wet conditions.

The 2.5 model’s 5-cylinder puts up a fuss when pushed but is reasonably quiet otherwise. The Golf R’s turbo exhibits some full-throttle exhaust roar, but cruises fairly quietly. Only a bit of the TDI’s diesel clatter is noticeable at idle; it quickly fades at higher speeds. On all models, some wind and road noise make it into the cabin, but neither at an intrusive level.

On models without navigation, a simple array of very large audio and climate buttons makes controlling those functions easy. The TDI’s revised navigation system mimics that of the Volkswagen Jetta. It’s pretty simple to program, thanks to the combination of a touchscreen and BMW iDrive-style rotary knob. The system absorbs some audio controls, complicating what should be simple adjustments. Interiors have been available only in black, but it strikes a sporty, rather than austere, note. Brushed-metallic accents and chrome trim dot the cabin and impart a much-needed bit of flash. Most surfaces are high-quality-feeling soft-touch plastics.

Front-seat headroom and legroom are plentiful. The standard tilt and telescopic steering wheel is a driver-comfort plus. Seats are nicely bolstered and all-day comfortable. Their gray and black check pattern is a nice touch and complements the cabin well. Visibility is generally good, but the view to the corners is compromised a bit by slightly thick rear roof pillars. Note that 2.5 cars do not have a center armrest, which is a pretty glaring omission.

Average-height passengers will have enough headroom and legroom, but squeezing three across in the backseat won’t be comfortable; two have plenty of space. Entry and exit are easy in the four-door hatchback. Surprisingly, it’s the same with the two-door; access is not nearly as awkward as you might expect.

Small-items storage spaces include a large glovebox and decent-sized door pockets. Instead of a center console, however, there’s a small bin for holding a cell phone or something similarly sized. The rear seatbacks fold to increase cargo space, but they don’t lie completely flat. A fold-flat front-passenger seat is a welcome feature for loading long items.


Model Tested: 2011 Volkswagen Golf 2.5 4-door

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 - 6
Fuel Economy - 7
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 7

Total: 62


2-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.5 165.4 70.3 58.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.0 14.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 38.5 41.2 35.5
4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.5 165.4 70.3 58.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.0 14.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 38.5 41.2 35.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2010 Golf 4-door hatchback


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Description: The passenger air bag may have a loose or unfastened connector causing the airbag warning lamp in the instrument panel to illuminate. (2010-2013)
Keyless entry
Description: The remote keyless entry may quit working, but if removing the battery momentarily does not restore it function, they key must be replaced. (2010-12)
Audio system
Description: The Bluetooth system may exhibit one or more problems in including failure to pair phone, occasional failure to pair or pairing if the ignition key is cycled, or dropped calls which may be due to a problem with the vehicle’s Bluetooth module. (2009-10)

Recall History

2010-11 Golf with 2.0L diesel
Description: Due to resonance between the fuel injection and injector line, cracks could develop and cause a fuel leak.
2011-14 Golf
Description: Debris may contaminate the air bag’s clock spring, a flat cable that maintains power to the air bag when the steering wheel is being turned. The contamination may cause the cable to tear, which prevents the air bag from deploying in a crash.

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.