The turbodiesel-powered 2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI is universally praised by reviewers for its fuel efficiency, fun and sophistication, making it a best reviewed economy car as a top fuel-economy choice. The only significant drawback to the TDI is its high base price of $23,225, which is decidedly higher than most economy cars, including other best-reviewed models. Newer competitors like the universally praised 2011 Hyundai Elantra (Base MSRP: $14,830 to $19,980) and the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze (Base MSRP: $16,275 to $22,225) are also well reviewed and can achieve similar levels of fuel efficiency. The Golf TDI hatchback comes with plenty of standard features though, and it's available in two-door and four-door configurations.
The 2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI is unchanged from the previous model year aside from minor feature packaging arrangements. For a detailed report, see our page on the 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI (Base MSRP: $22,155 to $22,760).
Fuel economy is just one of many areas where the VW Golf TDI shines: its 2-liter, four-cylinder, diesel engine produces more than ample power and returns a class-leading 30 mpg city/42 mpg highway/34 mpg combined fuel economy with both the six-speed manual and six-speed automatic.
Standard safety equipment includes front airbags, head curtain airbags, antilock brakes and electronic stability control. Rear-seat side airbags are optional on the four-door Golf but are not available on the two-door version. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2011 Volkswagen Golf (Base MSRP: $17,995 to $19,755), including the TDI, its coveted Top Safety Pick designation, meaning it scores top ratings in all IIHS evaluations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration only has test results for rollover resistance on the four-door model, for which the Golf receives 4 stars out of 5.
Base MSRP for the cheapest TDI variant, the two-door, is $23,225. The four-door Golf TDI starts at $23,885.
The 2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI is tested by the editors of Edmunds.com along with the gasoline-powered Golf. The editors find that the Golf delivers "Audi-like" levels of quality, and they are impressed by the high mileage that the diesel-powered TDI achieves.
Review: 2011 Volkswagen Golf , Editors of Edmunds.com
ConsumerReports.org tests a four-cylinder TDI with a manual transmission. You can find editors' driving impressions here and see how they rank the Golf TDI compared to many other economy hatchbacks and sedans.
Review: New Cars: Small Cars, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
3. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The 2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI and other Golf variants do very well in IIHS crash testing. The IIHS gives the Golf its Top Safety Pick, acknowledging that it receives the highest rating of Good in all four tests.
Review: Small Cars, Editors of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The 2011 Golf has only been given a rating for rollover resistance as of this writing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates it 4 stars out of 5 in that regard.
Review: 5-Star Safety Ratings, Editors of SaferCar.gov
The Golf TDI's diesel engine produces one of the most fuel-efficient, nonhybrid vehicles available. The car is rated by the EPA to deliver 30 mpg city, 42 mpg highway and 34 mpg combined.
Review: 2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI, Editors of FuelEconomy.gov
This full report on the 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI assembles expert opinions and pertinent facts to produce a comprehensive analysis.
Review: 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI, Editors of ConsumerSearch.com, March 2010