Another bites the dust — VW ending production of its station wagons

By Paul Borden

(August 1, 2019) Station wagons long ago ceded the role of the favorite family transportation mode to minivans and SUVs, and now two more are being relegated to the scrap heap. Volkswagen recently announced that it was ending production of its popular Golf Sportwagen and Alltrack wagons with the 2019 model year.

It will continue to make the Alltrack at its Pueblo, Mexico, plant through December, but that will be it for the German manufacturer’s last wagons, ending for the segment that dates back to pre-moon landing days.

In a news release, the company said that the rising popularity of SUVs, which accounted for 47 percent of all vehicle sales in the U.S. in the first six months of 2019, and the strong performances for its Atlas and Tiguan SUVs were behind the move. Those two models accounted for more than half of VW’s sales for the first half of the year.

“SUVs have definitely assumed the mantle of family haulers from the station wagons and minivans we remember from our childhoods,” Scott Keogh President and CEO, Volkswagen of America, said in the release.

VW plans to release three new SUV models in the next two years, including one electric model, the CROZZ.

Certainly the declining sales of the Golf models (down 36 percent for the first six months this year) can’t be blamed on anything the company did wrong with them. They’re both good vehicles offering good hauling capability in a fuel-efficient package.

The Golf SportWagen 1.4T SE I recently had the pleasure of driving for a week offered better fuel mileage (combined 31 miles-per-gallon) with its 1.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine than my older Passat wagon (2.0T) usually gets on the highway. And it runs on regular 87 octane as opposed to the premium recommended for my 2007.

Front-wheel drive is standard, but a 4-wheel drive version is available with the SportWagen 4Motion model. Also standard is a 6-speed manual transmission, but an 8-speed automatic on my test vehicle came with no extra charge (as did the beige Leatherette interior and night blue exterior).

The 1.4T engine standard in the S and SE trims is rated at modest 147 horsepower at 5000 rpm but a more robust 184 pound-feet of torque at 1400, which helps when it comes to throttle response.

The 1.8-liter turbo-4 in 4Motion and Alltrack models are a bit on the peppier side with their 168 hp and 199 lb.-ft. of torque.

Standard equipment in the SportsWagen SE includes a stop-start system, safety equipment like Intelligent Crash Response System and rear-view camera, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlamps and LED daytime running lights, Halogen fog lights, black roof rails, rain-sensing wipers, leather-wrapped steering wheels with paddles for manual gear selection, carpeted floor mats front and rear, a carpeted floor in the cargo hold with an adjustable floor and removable cover, a panoramic sunroof, and technology that includes blind-spot monitor, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, keyless access with push-button start, and Bluetooth connectivity.

All that and more is included in the MSRP of $30,890 (including destination and delivery). S models start at $22,790 (manual) and $23,880 (automatic).

With the Golf SportWagen and Alltrack ending production, VW dealers won’t have a new wagon to offer next year for the first time since its 1966 1600 Squareback Sedan, which had cargo space under the hood and above the engine in the rear. It was around for seven years.

Other wagon models from the company over the years have been the Type 412 Wagon (1971-74), VW Dasher 1974-81), VW Quantum (1981-1988), VW Fox (1989-91), Passat Wagon (1990-2010) and Jetta. The Jetta enjoyed two stints, 2001-2005 and 2008-2014.

The SportWagen’s run started in 2015, and the Alltrack debuted as a 2017 model.

What I liked about the 2019 VW Golf SportWagen 1.4T SE: It’s an attractive wagon, both inside and out, and its compact size is more agile than you might expect. At 178.9 inches long, it still provides cargo volume of 30.4 cubic feet behind the second-row seats and 66.5 cubic feet when those seats are folded. Infotainment features are user friendly — a rarity among German models.

What I didn’t like about the 2019 VW Golf SportWagen 1.4T SE: The space devoted to cargo comes comes at a cost for second-row passengers, who get only 35.6 inches of legroom, which isn’t cramped but not exactly generous either.

Would I buy the 2019 VW Golf SportWagen 1.4T SE? Yes. On a personal note, we have enjoyed our VW Passat wagon, which went out of production several years ago, and this or the VW Alltrack looked to be the best successors.