2017 Volkswagen e-Golf review – Roadshow

When I unplugged the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf and got behind the wheel, the center cluster display said it had 145 miles of range, 20 miles over its EPA-rated range of 125 miles. I tracked the e-Golf’s stated range against its real-world miles on a trip that involved freeway speeds, a hill or two and urban traffic.

After parking and plugging the e-Golf back in, I calculated that the estimated range was almost exact, as I drove one more mile than the car thought it could go.

VW may have overestimated its emissions compliance for its diesel cars, but it appears to underestimate the range of the all-electric e-Golf.

In fact, the e-Golf received an impressive upgrade for its 2017 model year. Although it looks virtually identical to the previous e-Golf, VW gave it a more powerful motor and a bigger battery pack, increasing the range from 83 miles to the EPA-rated 125-mile specification.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

With a substantial range increase for the 2017 model year and its hatchback body, the e-Golf makes a great first step into the electric pool.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

As with its gasoline-fueled counterparts, the e-Golf is a four-door hatchback, which I could argue is about the best body type for any car, as it combines ample cargo space with seating for five. As a testament to the compact size of the batteries and the flexibility of the Golf platform, the e-Golf doesn’t lose any cargo capacity compared with its model siblings.

The e-Golf’s 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space, with the rear seats up, bests that of the Mazda3 Hatchback and even squeaks by the Subaru Impreza Hatchback. And although the Honda Civic Hatchback comes out ahead at 25.7 cubic feet, it is also a bigger car, measuring 10 inches longer than the e-Golf. Sticking to electrics, the Chevy Bolt only gets 16.9 cubic feet under the hatch, although the longer Hyundai Ioniq Electric comes in at 23.8 cubic feet.

Numbers aside, I easily fit a flat-pack Ikea bookcase in the e-Golf, with room left over for far more Ikea Köttbullar, or meatballs as we call them, than I could ever eat.

VW offers the e-Golf in two trims, SE and SEL Premium, the latter of which I drove. Both come with an 8-inch touchscreen in the dashboard, but the SEL Premium adds onboard navigation to the standard stereo, phone and energy management controls.

This generation of Volkswagen’s infotainment system uses an intuitive icon-driven interface and works very well, with responsive touch times. The navigation system includes charging station locations, although it lacks real-time information on plug availability. When entering destinations manually, the system gave me a single entry box, much more convenient than choosing between a points-of-interest or address menu. However, the e-Golf doesn’t integrate online destination search.

Volkswagen conveniently includes a list of charging stations in the navigation database, although it doesn’t show real-time availability.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET Roadshow

As the e-Golf supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, I didn’t sweat the limitations of its own navigation system much. The CarPlay integration worked as well as I’ve seen on any car. Annoyingly, Apple hasn’t added to CarPlay apps much since launch. I would absolutely love to have the PlugShare app, which shows real-time availability for EV charging stations, on the e-Golf’s dashboard.

One nifty feature on the e-Golf’s infotainment system is its ability to schedule departure times, which helps the car know when to begin charging its 35.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Charging in the darkest hours of the night can take advantage of lower electricity rates for regions that use variable pricing.

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