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Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Golf offers optional Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Corolla doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.
To help make backing safer, the Golf’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Corolla doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.
Both the Golf and the Corolla 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, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems and rear parking sensors.
For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Golf the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 155 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Corolla has not been tested, yet.
The Golf comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The Corolla’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 3 years and 36,000 miles sooner.
The Golf’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the Corolla’s (10 vs. 5 years).
To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Golf has a standard 480-amp battery. The Corolla’s 295-amp battery isn’t as powerful.
The Golf’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 8 more horsepower (147 vs. 139) and 58 lbs.-ft. more torque (184 vs. 126) than the Corolla’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. The Golf’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. produces 33 lbs.-ft. more torque (184 vs. 151) than the Corolla SE/XSE’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.
On the EPA test cycle the Golf Manual gets better fuel mileage than the Corolla SE Manual (29 city/37 hwy vs. 29 city/36 hwy).
In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Golf Auto’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Corolla doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies the Volkswagen Golf as a “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV). The Toyota Corolla is only certified to “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (ULEV) standards.
For better stopping power the Golf’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Corolla:
The Golf is 1 foot, 2.7 inches shorter than the Corolla, making the Golf easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The design of the Volkswagen Golf amounts to more than styling. The Golf has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is lower than the Corolla (.29 to .3) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Golf get better fuel mileage.
The Golf has 4.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Corolla (93.5 vs. 88.6).
The Golf has .1 inches more front headroom, 1.1 inches more front shoulder room, 1 inch more rear headroom and .8 inches more rear legroom than the Corolla.
The Golf has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the Corolla (22.8 vs. 13.1 cubic feet).
To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Golf’s hatch uses gas-strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Corolla’s useful trunk space.
The Golf uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Corolla uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.
The Golf’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 Corolla L’s standard fixed intermittent wipers only have one fixed delay setting, so the driver will have to manually switch them between slow and intermittent. The Corolla LE/SE/XLE/XLS’ manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Golf has a standard rear wiper. The Corolla doesn’t offer a rear wiper.
The Golf SE’s optional rear view mirror has an automatic dimming feature. This mirror can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on it, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Corolla doesn’t offer the luxury of an automatic dimming rear view mirror.
Both the Golf and the Corolla offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Golf has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Corolla doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.
The Golf SE/SEL’s optional Parking Steering Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Corolla doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
The Volkswagen Golf comes in four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Toyota Corolla isn’t available as a station wagon.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Volkswagen Golf, based on reliability, safety and performance.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Golf second among compact cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Corolla isn’t in the top three.
The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The Corolla has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.
Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The Corolla has never been chosen.
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