Does The Volkswagen Golf Have 4 Wheel Drive?

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  • Post last modified:September 11, 2021

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If you are looking for a fun vehicle to drive, fuel-efficient, and packs plenty of cargo space into a compact space, the Volkswagen Golf checks all of those boxes. You might also wonder what drivetrain options there are for the Golf, especially if you plan to drive in snowy or icy conditions. Here’s the lowdown:

The Volkswagen Golf and Golf GTI models do not feature 4-wheel drive. The Golf R, Golf Alltrack, and Golf SportWagen come with Volkswagen’s 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system, either standard or available as an upgrade. Other Volkswagen vehicles, including a selection of their sedans, SUVs, and even electric vehicles, also feature the 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system.

We’ve put together all the information you need to know to help you navigate different Volkswagen models and their drivetrain options. Read on to learn more about the Volkswagen Golf, the 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system, and driving in snowy conditions.

New Volkswagen Golf Mk8 estate car in R-Line trim parked at a dealership, Does The Volkswagen Golf Have 4 Wheel Drive?

Are all Volkswagen Golfs front-wheel drive?

Most Volkswagen Golf models, including the standard Golf and Golf GTI models, are front-wheel drive. The Golf R and Golf Alltrack, which are slightly upmarket but still very reasonably priced, both feature Volkswagen’s 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system standard.

The Golf SportWagen comes front-wheel drive standard, but it does have an option with the 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system.

Car tires on winter road

Are Volkswagen Golfs good in snow?

If you live or plan on driving somewhere that gets a lot of snow regularly, you may want to opt for one of the Golf models with all-wheel drive.

Dry pavement allows cars to maintain good traction with the road, whether operating on two or four wheels. But the moment the pavement gets wet, icy, or snowy, traction rapidly deteriorates.

Going with an all-wheel-drive option, you will be able to rely on all four wheels generating traction and momentum as you drive, even as road conditions worsen. This makes controlling your vehicle and ensuring you don’t get stuck in a snowdrift a lot easier.

2-wheel drive Volkswagen Models in the Snow

If you typically only drive in light snow, 2-wheel drive models will still get the job done. All the 2-wheel drive models feature front-wheel drive, which performs better than rear-wheel drive. 

The front-wheel axel sits below the engine of the car, meaning there is more weight on the front wheels than the rear wheels.

This added weight leads to more traction and better handling in snowy conditions. The Golf and Golf GTI also have 5.4-inch ground clearance, which is decent for a hatchback and suitable for light snow.

Whichever option suits you best, though, be sure to take proper precautions when driving in snow. Invest in good snow tires and take care of them, and be sure to have emergency supplies in your vehicle at all times.

Also be sure to check out our guide How To Drive On Ice (Tips That Could Save Your Life)

Which Volkswagens are all-wheel drive?

Volkswagen Golf R at the VW stand

Several Volkswagen models come with all-wheel drive, either standard or as an option. We’ve already mentioned the Golf R, Golf SportWagen, and Golf Alltrack.

If you prefer an all-wheel-drive sedan, the Arteon SEL Premium R-Line also features Volkswagen’s 4MOTION system. Those looking for all-wheel-drive SUVs will be happy to know the same system is available for the Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, and Tiguan.

Even their all-new, all-electric SUV, the ID.4, will include an option for those who favor all-wheel drive.

How does Volkswagen all-wheel drive work?

Let’s talk a little more about how all-wheel drive works in these vehicles. Volkswagen’s 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system is always on. This is great for you as a driver because it skips you the step of wondering if it’s really necessary and when to use it.

You might worry about the energy cost of keeping 4MOTION permanently engaged, but you needn’t be. The system uses front-wheel drive by default, keeping energy expenditure low in normal conditions.

If sensors detect that one of the rear wheels is about to lose traction, the all-wheel-drive system activates the rear axel very briefly, just long enough to maintain traction and prevent wheelspin.

Volkswagen Golf Alltrack vehicles stopped on the parking

Is Volkswagen’s all-wheel drive good for off-roading?

Most Volkswagen vehicles come with a dashboard interface called Drive Modes. These options set your drivetrain to different parameters, as well as your steering, engine power, and transmission shifts.

An offroad setting is included in these options in some vehicles, such as the Atlas, Tiguan, and even the Golf Alltrack. This setting eases 4MOTION’s wheelspin settings to be better suited for driving on loose dirt, among other changes.

Volkswagen’s SUVs are better-suited for various offroad conditions. The Atlas and Tiguan feature 8- and 7.9-inch ground clearance, respectively.

With 4MOTION all-wheel-drive and 6.9-inch ground clearance, the Golf Alltrack can handle off-roading on relatively flat dirt trails better than the standard Golf but might not be the best choice for serious off-roaders.

Whichever vehicle you use, be sure to equip it with appropriate off-road tires before setting out on your adventures. Off-roading can be fun, exciting, and safe, but only if you take the necessary precautions and preparation.

Familiarize yourself with the trails, read your owner’s manual, and keep emergency supplies.

To learn more about off-roading, check out our article 7 Crucial Pickup Truck Off-Road Tips You Need To Know. While this article focuses on off-roading in a pick-up truck, much of the advice will apply to SUV or Golf Alltrack off-roaders as well.

Can you tow a trailer in a Volkswagen Golf?

Because your standard Volkswagen Golf doesn’t have 4-wheel or all-wheel drive, it’s hard for it to generate enough torque to tow even the lightest of trailers. This is why manufacturers and dealers don’t recommend towing with the Golf, the Beetle, or the Jetta.

We here at VEHQ also advise against towing with a Volkswagen Golf, but if, for some reason, it is necessary to do so, you can learn more from our article Can A Volkswagen Golf Tow A Trailer?

Other Volkswagen Tow Options

While the Golf isn’t the best option, some of the other vehicles that Volkswagen manufactures are plenty capable of towing a trailer. Be mindful of the weight limits.

The Volkswagen Touareg hasn’t seen a new model since 2017, but it also comes equipped with 4MOTION all-wheel drive, and it’s still the most powerful tower in Volkswagen’s arsenal, with a towing capacity of 7,716 pounds.

This is comparable to a mid-size truck, enough to tow plenty of trailers, campers, or boats.

Volkswagen’s Atlas and Tiguan models can also tow; capacity ranges from 2,000 to 5,000 pounds, depending on how the models are equipped. If you just need to tow a trailer to move some furniture or other items, this will likely be plenty.

That being said, always follow the guides in your owner’s manual. If you need to tow more, there are upgrades available for the Atlas that increase its towing power.

It may come as a surprise, but the Jetta SportWagen also has a towing capacity of 2,000 pounds. While not enough to pull a full-size airstream trailer, it’s also not the death knell to dreams of taking a camper trailer to Yosemite or Yellowstone.

These days, travel trailers like the Happier Camper and the 13′ Scamp are surprisingly light. You can learn more about them in our article Which Travel Trailers Are The Lightest? (13 Models Reviewed).

In Closing

While the standard Volkswagen Golf doesn’t feature 4-wheel drive, its front-wheel-drive system will be more than adequate for light snow with the right preparation.

If you expect to deal with heavier snow or ice, consider opting for one of Volkswagen’s models. Good options are those that come with their 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system, like the Golf R or Tiguan.

This permanently engaged system takes the guesswork out of keeping you in control of your vehicle. You are ready even when the snow and ice start piling up. It can also be useful if you’re looking to get more adventurous with your vehicle, whether for off-roading or towing.

Volkswagen’s customers stay loyal to them for the value and quality of their cars. Whether you’re just looking for a practical commuter vehicle, a car to get you through the snow and ice, or something sporty and adventurous to take you across the country, they have an option that could be perfect for you.

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