2012-VW-Golf-TDI herHighway

2012 VW Golf TDI Frugal on Fuel>

A trip from Long Beach to Sonoma and back requires a car that’s fun to drive, frugal on fuel and not so large it needs a harbormaster to park it.

Volkswagen fills the bill with its front-wheel-drive 2012 VW Golf TDI 4-door with its tech package. In fact, I had only two notes that weren’t glowing: this car doesn’t have automatic lights and the trunk is difficult to close with a slippery indentation in the hatch that’s way too tall for me.

Otherwise, this was heaven on four wheels. The Golf TDI has VW’s 2-liter turbodiesel engine that produces only 140 horsepower at 4000 rpm but has 236 lb-ft of torque at 1750 rpm (get outta my way!). It’s great for stoplight derbies and even better for road trips, where ultra-low-sulphur diesel returns way better than the EPA’s 30/42. I got more than 45 mpg on a car with less than 2000 miles at delivery.

While I always prefer a manual transmission, I had zero objections to VW’s shiftable DSG 6-speed. It was smooth and direct and with VW’s paddles behind the steering wheel, easy to shift on the go.

I was especially glad to be able to easily sync my phone in the VW and working the included navigation system is intuitive too. Why can’t everyone do that?

The silver VW Golf TDI four-door hits all the right chords, starting with aesthetics. I like the flush lights, tight seams, solid thunks to doors and hatch. I’m happy with the durable and sturdy-looking black cloth interior. The manual seats are comfy and supportive.

All windows are one-touch and so is the smallish sunroof. VW keeps ventilation in the rear seat on the Golf; there’s plenty of space in the rear and a 60/40 fold for the hatch, along with a pass-through for skis or 2X4’s.

This car has push-button start and a switchblade key but nowhere to put it – not in the doors, not in the hatch, not even in ignition (so why include the thing?).

I like the light dip for the signals (visible in the mirrors) and I think the now requisite LED lights for DRL’s are quite elegant on this car, even if I’m getting tired them. Can we ask Audi to please innovate something new for everybody else on the planet to copy?

This VW Golf TDI is one I could live with for 10 years and, because it’s not cheap – this one costs $30,210 – it takes time to recoup dollars paid for the engine and tech package. It gives back comfort, performance, handling and luxury; it’s got fuel mileage in hybrid territory. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

Written by: Anne Proffit HerHighway Contributor