Best 2015 cars under $20,000: The all-new seventh-generation 2015 VW Golf offers more space and better fuel economy than the outgoing model, plus a turbocharged, direct injection engine as standard equipment. With a starting price of $17,995, it’s easy to understand why the Golf is VW’s best-selling model worldwide.
Also, VW has dropped the price of the Clean Diesel version by more than $3,000, to just $21,995, making it one of the least expensive diesels available. Also new for 2015 are two state-of-the-art safety systems, forward collision warning and automatic post-collision braking, which are not normally offered in vehicles at this price. An 8.5 inch touchscreen is standard in all models. The 2015 Golf is two inches longer than its prececessor, and with more trunk space than larger mid-size sedans. The interior design is sleek and user-friendly, with an 8.5 inch touchscreen standard on all models, and my favorite cockpit configuration of circular tach and speedometer with other digital information in between. Engine choices: There are two powertrains. The EA888 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TSI engine is mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission is standard. VW claims this new engine gets 20 percent better fuel economy than the outgoing Golf 2.5-liter. The other choice is the all-new EA288 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TDI Clean Diesel is fitted with a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. Trim models: Golf Launch Edition starting at $17,995 for the two-door model with a five-speed manual transmission,cloth seats with manual lumbar adjustment; power windows; power door locks; and air conditioning. VW is producing less than 1,000 of this special model, after which it becomes the Golf S, for $1,000 more, and still a bargain under $20,000. Golf S begins at $18,995 in two-door form with a manual transmission. Golf S with Sunroof begins at $20,995 with the manual transmission $22,095 with the six-speed automatic. It adds a power tilt and slide panoramic sunroof and available Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights. The $695 Driver Assistance Package adds a Forward Collision Warning system and front and rear Park Distance Control, less than the cost of your collision insurance deductible. Golf SE offers the roominess of a four-door and more content beginning at $24,495 with an automatic transmission, a cold weather package consisting of heatable front seats and heated front washer nozzles; rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers; automatic headlights; front foglights, a rearview camera; and VW’s exclusive Fender Premium Audio System. Golf Sport is a limited edition four-door model equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission, standard Bi-Xenon headlights, a front lip spoiler, side skirts, a rear valence, a larger rear spoiler, and chrome exhaust tips. Pricing starts at $26,930, Golf SEL is the top-of-the-line, with 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, Volkswagen’s latest-generation navigation system; Climatronic automatic air conditioning; Keyless access with push-button start; sport comfort seats with a 12-way power driver’s seat; and ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights. It’s available with four doors and an automatic transmission only, and starts at $26,995.
Golf TDI Clean Diesel is available only as a four-door model, in three trim levels, TDI S, TDI SE, and TDI SEL. With a starting price more than $3,000 lower than the previous-generation Golf TDI, the 2015 Golf TDI S starts at $21,995 with a six-speed manual gearbox, followed by the Golf TDI SE which begins at $25,495 with a manual transmission. The line-topping Golf TDI SEL trim starts at $27,995 with the manual gearbox.
GOLF TDI SE is priced at $25,495 with the manual transmissions and $26,595 with the automatic. It adds a sunroof and the same list of equipment and optional packages as its gasoline-powered counterpart, including the Fender Premium Audio System and the cold weather package.
GOLF TDI SEL is available with either six-speed manual or DSG transmissions. Pricing starts at $27,995, with the optional DSG adding $1,100. The standard equipment mirrors the TSI SEL, adding features such as a navigation system, Climatronic automatic air conditioning, and Keyless access with push-button start.
The seventh-generation Golf will go on sale as a 2015 model in August. It is being built at Volkswagen’s Puebla, Mexico factory.