2019 Toyota Rav4 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 Pre-Collision System in the Rav4 as “Superior.” The Golf SportWagen scores only 3 points and is rated only “Advanced.”

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Rav4 (except LE) offers optional Rear Cross-Traffic Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Rav4 Limited offers an optional Bird’s Eye View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Golf SportWagen only offers a rear monitor.

Both the Rav4 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, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Rav4 comes with free roadside assistance for 2 years 25000 miles. Toyota 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.

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Rav4 for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Volkswagen doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Golf SportWagen.

There are over 89 percent more Toyota dealers than there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Rav4’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Rav4’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Golf SportWagen’s camshafts. If the Golf SportWagen’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota 17th in initial quality. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Volkswagen is ranked 16th.

Engine

The Rav4’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 56 more horsepower (203 vs. 147) than the Golf SportWagen’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The Rav4’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 35 more horsepower (203 vs. 168) than the Golf SportWagen S 4MOTION’s optional 1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Rav4 gets better fuel mileage than the Golf SportWagen:

 

 

 

MPG

Rav4

AWD

Auto

LE 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

27 city/34 hwy

 

 

2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

25 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 Rav4 has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Golf SportWagen FWD’s standard fuel tank (14.5 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

The Toyota Rav4 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Golf SportWagen.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Rav4’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Golf SportWagen:

 

Rav4

Golf

Front Rotors

12 inches

11.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.1 inches

10.7 inches

The Rav4 stops much shorter than the Golf SportWagen:

 

Rav4

Golf

 

70 to 0 MPH

161 feet

171 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Rav4 has larger standard tires than the Golf SportWagen (225/65R17 vs. 195/65R15). The Rav4 XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Golf SportWagen (235/55R19 vs. 225/45R17).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Rav4 LE/XLE has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Golf SportWagen S. The Rav4 XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited’s 19-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 Rav4’s wheelbase is 2.4 inches longer than on the Golf SportWagen (105.9 inches vs. 103.5 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Rav4 is 1.7 inches wider in the front and 3.6 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Golf SportWagen.

The Rav4 Adventure handles at .84 G’s, while the Golf SportWagen SE pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The front grille of the Rav4 Adventure/Limited 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.

Passenger Space

The Rav4 has 4.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Golf SportWagen (98.9 vs. 94.3).

The Rav4 has .9 inches more front headroom, 1.9 inches more front shoulder room, .9 inches more rear headroom, 2.2 inches more rear legroom and 2.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Golf SportWagen.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Rav4’s rear seats recline. The Golf SportWagen’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Rav4 has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Golf SportWagen with its rear seat up (37.6 vs. 30.4 cubic feet). The Rav4 has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Golf SportWagen with its rear seat folded (69.8 vs. 66.5 cubic feet).

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the Rav4 (except LE) offers an optional power cargo door, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button or, optionally on the Rav4 Limited, 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 Rav4 has a 1500 lbs. towing capacity. The Golf SportWagen has no towing capacity.

Ergonomics

The Rav4 offers a 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 different drivers share the Rav4 (except LE/XLE/Adventure), the optional memory seats make it convenient. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer memory seats.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Rav4 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.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Rav4 XLE/XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited has standard extendable sun visors. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Both the Rav4 and the Golf SportWagen offer available heated front seats. The Rav4 Limited also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Golf SportWagen.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Rav4 Adventure/Limited keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Rav4 XLE AWD/XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The Golf SportWagen doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Rav4 XLE/XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited’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 Rav4 XLE/XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited’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 Rav4’s available 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 Toyota Rav4 outsold the Volkswagen Golf/GTI by over 10 to one during 2018.

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

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