2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen vs. 2019 Toyota Rav4

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Golf SportWagen has standard whiplash protection, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the whiplash protection system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Rav4 doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Golf SportWagen has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Rav4 doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Both the Golf SportWagen and the Rav4 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 crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Golf SportWagen comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The Rav4’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 3 years and 36,000 miles sooner.

The Golf SportWagen’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the Rav4’s (10 vs. 5 years).

Engine

The Golf SportWagen S 4MOTION’s optional 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. produces 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (199 vs. 184) than the Rav4’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Golf SportWagen 4MOTION is faster than the Toyota Rav4 (automatics tested):

Golf

Rav4

Zero to 60 MPH

7 sec

8.1 sec

Quarter Mile

15.5 sec

16.3 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Golf SportWagen FWD Auto gets better fuel mileage than the Rav4 FWD (27 city/36 hwy vs. 26 city/35 hwy).

Transmission

The Golf SportWagen offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Rav4 doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

The Golf SportWagen stops much shorter than the Rav4:

Golf

Rav4

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

134 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The Golf SportWagen SE’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Rav4 XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited’s 55 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Golf SportWagen has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Rav4 doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The Golf SportWagen’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (56.9% to 43.1%) than the Rav4’s (58% to 42%). This gives the Golf SportWagen more stable handling and braking.

The Golf SportWagen S handles at .80 G’s, while the Rav4 Limited pulls only .74 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Golf SportWagen S executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.6 seconds quicker than the Rav4 Limited (27.3 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.9 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Golf SportWagen’s turning circle is .3 feet tighter than the Rav4 LE/XLE’s (35.8 feet vs. 36.1 feet). The Golf SportWagen’s turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the Rav4 XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited’s (35.8 feet vs. 37.4 feet).

Chassis

The Volkswagen Golf SportWagen may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 pounds less than the Toyota Rav4.

The Golf SportWagen is 8.7 inches shorter in height than the Rav4, making the Golf SportWagen much easier to wash and garage and drive (lower center of gravity).

Cargo Capacity

The Golf SportWagen’s liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The Rav4’s swing out door blocks loading from the driver’s side.

Ergonomics

The Golf SportWagen’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Rav4 LE’s standard fixed intermittent wipers only have one fixed delay setting, so the driver will have to manually switch them between slow and intermittent.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Golf SportWagen SE has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Rav4 doesn’t offer cornering lights. The Golf SportWagen SE also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

Model Availability

The Volkswagen Golf comes in four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Toyota Rav4 isn’t available as a four door.

Recommendations

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Golf SportWagen second among compact cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Rav4 isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The Rav4 has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The Rav4 has never been chosen.

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

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