2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI Is Small Family Awesomeness

The little Volkswagen Golf GTI (usually called the VW GTI) is what defines “hot hatch” for the market of compact hatchbacks. It’s both useful as an everyday car with tons of room and as a fun sports car when the right foot gets itchy. The Golf GTI is amazingly good as a family car without being in any way boring. Kudos to Volkswagen for that.

I gave the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI an B rating at iSeeCars and ranked it tops over the sportier (and more expensive) Golf R at Guys Gab.

  • Vehicle: 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI
  • Number of Seats: 5
  • XM Pref: Octane
  • Starting/Base MSRP: $26,415
  • Our Rating: B
  • City/Highway MPG: 25/33
  • Kids Like It?: Yes
  • Best For: Urban, Suburban

The VW Golf is basically a compact hatchback with all of the goodness possible for that category. It’s small in size, nimble on the street, versatile in everyday use, and roomy inside. The GTI model takes that formula and adds “fun” and “fast” to the mix. That’s a tough combination to argue with.

The 2018 VW Golf GTI won’t be for everyone. It’s a compact car, so families with more than one or (maybe) two kids might find it cramped. As an everyday drive-around car, though, the Golf is great and more efficient than many other options to be named. Especially when it comes to measuring up cargo space options and how tall the driver or front passenger can be before having to lean over.

The 2018 model year brought a few changes to the Golf GTI. The first was the consolidation of some confusing trim point options down to just three trims to choose from and more standard equipment on each of those. Also added is a bit more horsepower for the engine output.

How Useful Is the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI As a Family Hauler?

In general, the Golf GTI is a great family vehicle or a great second family car. It’s versatile enough to have the capability of hauling around two or three people at a time or have some seats folded to put in a bunch of groceries or a tuba for band practice. The space behind the rear seats is enough cargo room for most weekly grocery shopping trips to boot.

The front seating is very roomy and comfortable with nearly everyone having a way to adjust things to fit them. At 6’3″, I had little trouble finding a comfortable driving position without having to sacrifice too much legroom to let someone in the seat behind me have some room too. Our kids fit three across in the back, but only just barely. As a normal daily drive, I’d say three kids is one kid too many for this car and two kids is pushing those limits if this is the only family car. For most families of three, though, the Golf GTI is a great size.

Expected Reliability/Dependability and Value

The 2018 Golf GTI has an “About Average” rating from J.D. Power and Associates from their Vehicle Dependability Study. Consumer Reports rates the Golf about the same and the Volkswagen brand overall at about the middle of the pack in reliability.

Which Version of the 2018 VW Golf GTI Would We Buy?

I would recommend the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE model, which has a good mix of features for the money spent. It’s a bit expensive compared to similarly-priced (but far less sporty) options on the market, but includes things like a brake upgrade, driver assistance technologies, LED headlamps, and a lot of things that give it that daily usefulness edge.

Radio Setting and Kid Approvals

As we jetted around in the nimble little Golf GTI, the kids loved listening to Octane as we blasted corners and scooted through intersections. This is a fun car to drive and a fun car to ride in, everyone agreed.

A Note on Our Process: Reviews here are based on Aaron’s reviews found around the Web. The goal here is to forego the usual “horsepower and capability” jargon of most automotive reviews and instead focus on how well the vehicle is as a regular family hauler for a single dad. Links to full, formal reviews are included in this review in order to provide more information should you wish to have it.