2019 Volkswagen Golf FWD versions will get less horsepower, more mpg

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Volkswagen says that every VW Golf driven solely by its front wheels will jettison the 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder used throughout the range. The engine bay will instead contain the 1.4-liter turbo four that serves every trim in the Jetta lineup. The 1.8-liter produces 170 and 184 pound-feet of torque in , and is EPA-rated at 25 city miles per gallon, 34 highway, 29 combined in the five-speed manual hatch. The 1.4-liter makes 147 hp and 184 lb-ft in the Jetta. The smaller engine will go into the entry-level Golf hatch and the SportWagen trims.

To help allay the loss of 22 hp and further improve fuel economy, the engine gets upgraded transmissions. The five-speed manual adds one cog, the optional six-speed automatic adds two cogs. The all-wheel-drive Golfs hold steady with the 1.8-liter, still good for 170 hp and 199 hp.

VW’s been putting serious incremental efforts into its fuel economy numbers. The 2018 Jetta with the 1.4-liter received two fuel economy ratings depending on transmission; the five-speed manual sedan rang up 28 city, 40 highway, 33 combined, and the six-speed automatic got 28 city, 38 highway, 32 combined. The EPA’s rated the 2019 Jetta in both manual and automatic guises as 30 city, 40 highway, 34 combined. The entry-level weighs 75 pounds more than the Jetta, but we’d expect the reduced gumption and increased gearing to return Jetta numbers.

VW’s done some hocus pocus with trims and options across the range. The entry-level Golf S in hatch and Alltrack trims throws in automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors; those will be options on the SportWagen S. The SE models bake in adaptive cruise control and other driver assistance features, the SportWagen SE gets LED headlights standard, but LED lights on the Alltrac SE will be optional. The SportWagen SEL trim retires, and showing that apparently the six-speed manual won’t be a fixture throughout, the Alltrack SEL will offer the six-speed as an option.

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