The Volkswagen Golf family earns excellent safety ratings, and that combined with its strong safety equipment place it among the top small-car picks for occupant protection--especially if you choose one of the five-door models.
Standard features across both the Golf and GTI lineups include six airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and brake assist. On the five-door models, rear side airbags are an option--although the Golf lacks options for either parking sensors or a rearview camera, both features that are beginning to become available even in small-car models.
The federal government hasn't at all tested the Golf or GTI in its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)--and it no longer has enough in common with the Jetta sedan to be able to draw those results in for the Golf. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the Golf and GTI top 'good' ratings in all test categories, as well as its Top Safety Pick accolade. But it should be noted that those results apply only to five-door models, leaving the three-door models without much information to go on.