2012 Volkswagen Golf

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Key Specs
Our Take
Overview
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2012 Volkswagen Golf. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    27-35 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    170-hp, 2.5-liter I-5 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Diesel efficiency, performance
  • Nimble handling
  • Interior roominess
  • Premium cabin materials
  • Comfy front seats

The Bad

  • TDI's firm ride
  • Automatic transmission's upshift urgency (TDI)
  • Telescoping steering wheel could extend farther
  • Over-left-shoulder visibility in two-door

Notable Features of the 2012 Volkswagen Golf

  • Diesel (TDI) gets 42 mpg highway
  • Two- or four-door hatchback
  • Gas or diesel engine
  • Manual or automatic
  • Simplified packages for 2012

2012 Volkswagen Golf Overview

By Cars.com Editors
Vehicle Overview

Volkswagen updated its compact hatchback for 2010, giving it smoother exterior styling, cabin revisions and a diesel engine. It's related to the performance-oriented GTI, which was also redesigned then. The five-seat Golf competes with the Mazda3 hatchback, Toyota Matrix and Mini Cooper.

New for 2012
The base TDI model has new 17-inch aluminum wheels, but other than a shuffling of the car's packages and options, there are no other significant changes for 2012.

Exterior
Abandoning Volkswagen's once-ubiquitous plunging grille, the Golf's bumper separates the grille and air dam. Around back, the taillights have darkened lenses and white reflectors at their base. Other exterior features include:

  • Standard 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers
  • Standard body-colored mirrors and door handles
  • Optional 17-inch alloy wheels


Interior
Whether you get a two- or four-door model, the Golf seats five people. Both front seats have standard height adjusters. Although many areas were upgraded versus the Golf's late-2000s predecessor, the Rabbit, the overall layout isn't all that different. Interior features include:

  • Standard power locks and side mirrors with keyless entry
  • Standard one-touch power windows
  • Standard air conditioning and cruise control
  • Standard CD stereo with auxiliary jack
  • TDI models have a touch-screen stereo and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls
  • Optional Dynaudio stereo
  • Optional moonroof and heated seats


Under the ...

Vehicle Overview

Volkswagen updated its compact hatchback for 2010, giving it smoother exterior styling, cabin revisions and a diesel engine. It's related to the performance-oriented GTI, which was also redesigned then. The five-seat Golf competes with the Mazda3 hatchback, Toyota Matrix and Mini Cooper.

New for 2012
The base TDI model has new 17-inch aluminum wheels, but other than a shuffling of the car's packages and options, there are no other significant changes for 2012.

Exterior
Abandoning Volkswagen's once-ubiquitous plunging grille, the Golf's bumper separates the grille and air dam. Around back, the taillights have darkened lenses and white reflectors at their base. Other exterior features include:

  • Standard 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers
  • Standard body-colored mirrors and door handles
  • Optional 17-inch alloy wheels


Interior
Whether you get a two- or four-door model, the Golf seats five people. Both front seats have standard height adjusters. Although many areas were upgraded versus the Golf's late-2000s predecessor, the Rabbit, the overall layout isn't all that different. Interior features include:

  • Standard power locks and side mirrors with keyless entry
  • Standard one-touch power windows
  • Standard air conditioning and cruise control
  • Standard CD stereo with auxiliary jack
  • TDI models have a touch-screen stereo and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls
  • Optional Dynaudio stereo
  • Optional moonroof and heated seats


Under the Hood

The front-wheel-drive Golf 2.5L is powered by a 2.5-liter inline-five-cylinder engine. TDI models get a turbocharged four-cylinder diesel. With manual transmissions, VW says the five-cylinder and diesel Golfs can hit 60 mph in 7.8 and 8.6 seconds, respectively. The TDI, like most diesels, gets roughly 30 percent better overall fuel economy than the gas-powered model. Mechanical features include:

  • 2.5-liter inline-five-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 177 pounds-feet of torque
  • Five-speed manual or six-speed automatic (2.5L)
  • TDI gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel with 140 hp and 236 pounds-feet of torque
  • Six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic (TDI)
  • Sport-tuned suspension (TDI)


Safety
Safety features include:

  • Standard antilock brakes
  • Standard traction control and electronic stability system
  • Standard front-seat side-impact and side curtain airbags

Latest 2012 Golf Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Love this car

by Nick from MN on August 10, 2018

After you put some money into it to get rid of what Volkswagen did you make it more economically friendly you get better MPG and more power out of it. Read full review

(5.0)

The Golf is an upscale car and great value

by Mike on March 20, 2018

I've owned this vehicle since brand new, it now has 93,500 miles on it. It has been the most reliable car I've ever owned and never needed anything more than oil changes, breaks, and tires. Its an ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Volkswagen Golf currently has 5 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L 2-Door

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
marginal
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Golf received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker