The Volkswagen Golf lineup gets one of our highest ratings for fuel economy, even though there's not a hybrid in sight.
The Golf's turbodiesel four-cylinder does even better than some hybrids. According to the EPA, it delivers fuel economy of 30/42 mpg, whether you choose its six-speed dual-clutch automatic or a manual six-speed transmission.
In 2015, Volkswagen admitted diesel engines in this model illegally cheated federal tests and polluted beyond allowable limits. As part of unprecedented settlements with federal and state governments, Volkswagen agreed to buyback from owners diesel-equipped models of this vehicle. To determine eligibility for all affected Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi models, Volkswagen set up VWDieselInfo.com for owners. (Owners of affected vehicles can enter their VIN numbers to see if their cars are eligible for buyback.)
With the standard five-cylinder, the Golf still passes the 30-mpg mark, though new compacts like the Hyundai Elantra are pushing 40 mpg. The Golf is rated by the EPA at 24/31 mpg with this engine and an automatic transmission; opting for the manual cuts city mileage down to 23 mpg, but boosts highway numbers to 33 mpg.
The Golf lineup includes a distinct GTI model with a turbocharged engine. It's covered separately, and rated separately.