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Drove To Florida And Back With The Family In A Volkswagen Golf Wagon And Lived To Tell The Story.

You don’t need an SUV when you’ve got a VW Golf Sportwagen and road trip properly.

  • With over 800 litres of boot space and a 500 litre box on the roof, cargo room was not an issue.

  • In two months’ time, we covered nearly 7,000km and averaged 8L/100km.

  • I’ve got only two “issues” with the car.

When asked why an SUV, the owner will typically tell you that they opted for a sport utility vehicle for its ability to carry everything and everyone at once. That “ease-of-use” or practicality is understandable and mind you, on an occasion or two, I have thought that my compact Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen was just shy of being the right size. But these one or two occasions were not when my wife and I decided to drive down to South Florida from Montreal with the kids.

Long story short, late last summer, my parents considered renting a house in South Florida and checked with us to see if we wanted to come with. Luckily, our work/family schedules enabled us to join them on the drive down, spend nearly two months in Florida, and then head back home.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Fitting Everything

As the plan was put into place early enough, we were able to go out and purchase a Thule roof box on special at 50% off. At this price, the box was just shy of $400 before taxes. Even so, with this cargo-extender set up, our trunk space grew by over 50%, enabling us to bring everything down to FLA save for the kitchen sink.

The trick with the box was that it handled the difficult to Tetris-ise items like the stroller, the beach toys, and more. This enabled the trunk-Tetris champion that is I to get everything to fit in the boot and box with relative ease.

As we set off before sunrise on an early January morning, the wife and I could not be more satisfied with the fact that we were about to embark on a 2,700km one-way road-trip in our modest AWD 6-speed manual turbocharged 2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

More Power And More Support

We opted to keep the winter tires on for the duration of the trip if mostly for the return drive home in what could have been a snowy and cold late February. Although the entire trip was blessed with clement weather, I never once regretted the winter rubber on the car. The MK7 VW Golf is a remarkable handler and what’s even more impressive is that the Golf’s chassis was ideally suited to tackle the extra burden. Said burden included the near 80lbs on its roof plus 600lbs of people and gear on board.

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At times, I would have liked a little more power. In normal driving circumstances, the turbocharged 1.8-litre’s 168-horsepower and 199 lb.-ft. of torque are fun. The extra weight taxed the mill occasionally however, it proved to be extremely frugal. The entire trip, all 6,800km of it, the Golf returned an average of 8L/100km, and believe me, I was not always hovering about the speed limit. The beauty with the relatively torque-rich engine is that in 6th gear, dipping into the throttle at low engine speeds results in decent and easy acceleration. But more oomph would have been welcomed.

The other inconvenience I discovered on the drive to Florida was that my Comfortline’s leatherette seats desperately lack lumbar support. I’d never driven more than two hours straight with the Golf – by hour #4, I was squirming in my seat. By contrast, my father’s Alltrack is fitted with leather-wrapped sport seats with adequate lumbar support.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen and Alltrack | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Shopping And Speed

While in South Florida, we drove around in the Golf and enjoyed the car’s performance at every turn. One such turn brought us to a local Walmart where I picked up a gel-filled cushion designed to support the lower back.

Seven weeks after our arrival, it was time to pack up the car once more, and head north. Loading up for this round actually worked out better as I smartly used the large under-floor storage area – despite all the paraphernalia and stuff we bought while away, everything once more fit beautifully.

The drive back to Canada was very different than the trip down. For this trek, I opted to drive straight on with minimal stops from Ft. Lauderdale to Montreal. In January, we spent two nights in hotel rooms over the three-day drive but round two was to take the Golf and the family on a cannonball-like drive through the night.

At times, I had the cruise control set at speeds well in excess of the posted 70mph speed limit, and this held true for much of the drive back. With my newly acquired cushion in place, I drove straight home in under 28 hours, with only a 2-hour nap in the middle while the wife drove.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Wagon > SUV < Minivan

Truthfully, the Golf Sportwagen delivered on every conceivable level during this incredible trip. It proved reliable, efficient, roomy, and good fun thanks to the manual gearbox and boosted torque. And the kids survived!

Finally, those who say that SUVs are the ultimate in utility are lying to themselves. As we all know, minivans are the truest utility vehicles and one may be in my future. If not, then another wagon.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen and Alltrack | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen and 1983 Chevrolet LUV | Photo: Matt St-Pierre


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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


  1. Very informative/entertaining article. Too bad the subject vehicle wasn’t a TDI. I have a 2011 Jetta Sportwagen TDI with DSG. My diesel mpg has been as high as 44 cruising at 75/80. I look forward to an Indiana to Florida road trip. The utility of the car is great.


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