2019 Honda CR-V vs. 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests front crash prevention systems. With a score of 6 points, IIHS rates the Collision Mitigation Braking System optional in the CR-V as “Superior.” The Golf SportWagen scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

The CR-V EX/EX-L/Touring’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the CR-V and the Golf SportWagen have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Honda CR-V is safer than the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen:

 

CR-V

Golf SportWagen

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

220

286

Neck Injury Risk

23%

34%

Neck Stress

194 lbs.

336 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

58/91 lbs.

80/169 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.7 inches

Neck Injury Risk

29%

43%

Neck Stress

124 lbs.

210 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Honda CR-V is safer than the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen:

 

CR-V

Golf SportWagen

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

137

185

Chest Movement

.6 inches

1.2 inches

Abdominal Force

130 G’s

217 G’s

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

125

368

Spine Acceleration

53 G’s

63 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

14 inches

Spine Acceleration

43 G’s

45 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the CR-V the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Golf SportWagen was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

The CR-V comes with free roadside assistance for 3 years 36,000 miles. Honda will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Golf SportWagen.

There are over 60 percent more Honda dealers than there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the CR-V’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the CR-V’s engine. A rubber belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Golf SportWagen FWD’s camshafts. If the Golf SportWagen’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the CR-V third among compact suvs in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Golf SportWagen isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Honda vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda 23rd in initial quality. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Honda vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 17 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Honda vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Honda 1 place higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

The CR-V LX’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 37 more horsepower (184 vs. 147) than the Golf SportWagen’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The CR-V LX’s 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 16 more horsepower (184 vs. 168) than the Golf SportWagen S 4MOTION’s optional 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. The CR-V EX/EX-L/Touring’s standard 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 22 more horsepower (190 vs. 168) than the Golf SportWagen S 4MOTION’s optional 1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the CR-V 1.5T is faster than the Golf SportWagen 1.8T (automatics tested):

 

CR-V

Golf

Zero to 60 MPH

7.6 sec

7.8 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the CR-V AWD gets better fuel mileage than the Golf SportWagen 4MOTION:

 

 

 

MPG

CR-V

AWD

Auto

2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

25 city/31 hwy

 

 

1.5 turbo 4 cyl.

27 city/33 hwy

Golf SportWagen

AWD

Manual

1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/32 hwy

 

Auto

1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

The CR-V has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

The Honda CR-V comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Golf SportWagen.

The CR-V has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The CR-V stops shorter than the Golf SportWagen:

 

CR-V

Golf SportWagen

 

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

171 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

115 feet

117 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the CR-V has larger tires than the Golf SportWagen (235/65R17 vs. 195/65R15). The CR-V LX’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Golf SportWagen (235/65R17 vs. 225/45R17).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the CR-V LX has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Golf SportWagen S. The CR-V EX/EX-L/Touring’s 18-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the Golf SportWagen SE.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the CR-V’s wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the Golf SportWagen (104.7 inches vs. 103.5 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the CR-V is 2 inches wider in the front and 3.8 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Golf SportWagen.

The CR-V Touring AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the Golf SportWagen S pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

The front grille of the CR-V uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The CR-V uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the CR-V Touring AWD is quieter than the Golf SportWagen SE (69 vs. 71 dB).

Passenger Space

The CR-V has 11.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Golf SportWagen (105.9 vs. 94.3).

The CR-V has 1.5 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more front legroom, 2 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom, 4.8 inches more rear legroom and 1.7 inches more rear shoulder room than the Golf SportWagen.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the CR-V’s rear seats recline. The Golf SportWagen’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The CR-V has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Golf SportWagen with its rear seat up (39.2 vs. 30.4 cubic feet). The CR-V has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Golf SportWagen with its rear seat folded (75.8 vs. 66.5 cubic feet).

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the CR-V’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the CR-V. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the CR-V EX-L/Touring has a standard power liftgate, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or on the CR-V Touring, by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer a power liftgate.

Towing

The CR-V has a 1500 lbs. towing capacity. The Golf SportWagen has no towing capacity.

Ergonomics

The CR-V EX/EX-L/Touring has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When two different drivers share the CR-V EX-L/Touring, the memory seats make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer memory seats.

The CR-V EX-L/Touring’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

If the windows are left open on the CR-V the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Golf SportWagen can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the CR-V has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the Golf SportWagen only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The CR-V’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Golf SportWagen’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the CR-V has standard extendable sun visors. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The CR-V EX/EX-L/Touring’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The CR-V’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

The CR-V Touring’s standard GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Golf SportWagen’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

Recommendations

The Honda CR-V has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

 

CR-V

Golf SportWagen

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

n/a

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

n/a

J.D. Power and Associates rated the CR-V first among compact suvs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Golf SportWagen isn’t in the top three.

The CR-V was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 3 of the last 17 years. The Golf has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

Motor Trend selected the CR-V as their 2018 Sport Utility of the Year. The Golf was Car of the Year in 2015.

The Honda CR-V outsold the Volkswagen Golf/GTI by almost 8 to one during the 2018 model year.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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