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A red 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI hatchback parked in a desert with mountains and blue sky

The 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI Is a Surprise Pick for Families

While family minivans remain popular, that market has thinned down considerably, and hatchbacks are beginning to gain prominence. Volkswagen has seen the potential for hatchbacks and is taking advantage of it with the 2021 Golf GTI. It's a fast, good-looking car that won the Good Housekeeping award for the best hatchback.

As minivans have waned and SUVs have become increasingly popular, hatchbacks are also gaining traction. Volkswagen has seen the potential for hatchbacks and is taking advantage of it with the 2021 Golf GTI. It’s a fast, good-looking car that even won a Good Housekeeping award for the best family hatchback.

How does Good Housekeeping pick its top 18 family cars?

A red 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI hatchback parked in a desert with mountains and blue sky
2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI | Volkswagen of America, Inc. Newspress Limited

What makes a car a great family vehicle? That’s the question Good Housekeeping set out to answer. Rather than just looking at how fast a car could go and if it had enough horsepower, the magazine took a different approach.

Testers drove each vehicle over 5,000 miles before handing it over to another tester. As soon as the keys exchanged hands, the test drivers began to put the cars through their paces. Phones were paired up, car seats were installed, the noise levels were tested, and the fuel-economy rating. Good Housekeeping also took into consideration Car and Driver reviewers’ thoughts before ranking each vehicle. 

The Volkswagen Golf GTI won for best hatchback

Hatchbacks make sense for families. They offer room and versatility at a time when that’s becoming more important to consumers. Though small sports cars are great for some people, getting kids in and out isn’t easy. Plus, hatchbacks are generally more affordable than SUVs, saving more money for groceries, diapers, toys, and everything else that comes with having children.

And that’s where the Volkswagen Golf GTI shines. It’s not a large vehicle by any means and isn’t suitable for families with three or more children. But for small families with one or two kids, the Golf is an ideal car. Whether you’re headed to Walmart or the beach, this hatchback provides plenty of room.

What features make the Volkswagen Golf GTI stand out?

One of the best things about the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI is the sticker price. It starts at $28,695, which might be a bit of a stretch for some budgets, but owners get plenty for that price.

For example, the base-model Golf GTI S comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and heated seats. These are features often reserved for higher trim levels at higher prices, so the fact that consumers can get it for so cheap is a major plus for the Golf GTI. There may be cheaper hatchbacks on the market, but there’s no denying the GTI has enough features to justify the price. If you want even more amenities, the SE trim offers LED headlights, leather upholstery, blind-spot monitoring, and a panoramic sunroof for $33,660.

The 228-hp four-cylinder engine has the right amount of power and speed to make the Golf GTI a fun car for cruising around town. Manual transmission fans will be pleased to know it’s an option. For those who don’t want a stick shift, the GTI comes standard with an automatic transmission. 

However, a significant problem with the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI is the lack of standard safety features. If you’re interested in driver assists such as forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control, you’ll have to pay for it. Unfortunately, the Golf GTI S has no standard safety features at all, which is a major ding against this cute hatchback. That means the starting price of $28,695 might be a little deceptive, as you’ll have to pay to get the features that many families value most.

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