2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Review

Golf Alltrack

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2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Overview

First there was the Golf, then there was the Golf Sportwagen, and now there’s the Golf Alltrack. Thus: you can buy a Golf if you want a fun-to-drive hatchback, you can buy a Golf Sportwagen if you want a fun-to-drive wagon with some extra cargo room, and you can buy a Golf Alltrack if you want a fun-to-drive wagon with cargo room and decent off-road capability. The Alltrack was first available in Europe, of course—but a U.S. version is scheduled to go on sale in the Fall of 2016, taking on crossover-wagon kings like the Subaru Outback and Volvo XC70. Volkswagen could conceivably offer the Alltrack as an all-wheel-drive (AWD) trim in the Sportwagen range, but the automaker seems more intent on marketing the vehicle separately, placing it in a slightly different niche than the road-ready drive-fests of the Golf and Golf Sportwagen.

That said, the Golf Alltrack is built on the same MQB platform as the other Golf models (which also include the e-Golf, Golf GTI, and Golf R). But what the Golf Alltrack has to recommend it is Volkswagen’s 4Motion AWD system, which performs like a front-wheel-drivetrain (FWD) until it senses wheel slip, at which point the system can direct up to 50% of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels. Front and rear electronic locking differentials and an electronic stability control system are also incorporated into 4Motion to further prevent wheel slip. If and when you do take it off road, the Golf Alltrack has almost 1 inch more ground clearance than the Sportwagen.

All 2017 Golf Alltracks will be gasoline-powered, and it’s probably best not to expect diesel engines here anytime soon. You’ll find the same engine as in the Golf Sportwagen, a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder that Volkswagen classifies “TSI” (turbocharged straight injection). In the Alltrack, this engine puts out 170 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The automatic will be the only transmission available on the Alltrack when it first goes on sale, but Volkswagen has announced a 6-speed manual will also be available at some point. The EPA has not released fuel-economy estimates for the Golf Alltrack, but the 2016 Golf Sportwagen got 25 mpg city/36 highway/29 combined with the same engine; the Alltrack’s AWD will probably lower those numbers by about 1 mpg.

The Golf Alltrack trim lineup should mirror that of the Sportwagen: S, SE, and SEL. Though pricing has not yet been announced, the model will probably run a little more than the Sportwagen, which goes from just over $21,000 to almost $30,000. The Alltrack’s interior is meant to convey a slightly more upscale feel than the Sportwagen’s, with standard leatherette seating surfaces (a unique brown leatherette theme is optional), aluminum pedal covers, Alltrack-branded door sills, special trim on the dash pad, and ambient lighting. Cargo space stands at 30.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 66.5 cubic feet with the 60/40-split rear seatbacks folded (conveniently, the fold-down levers are accessible from the cargo area).

A standard 6.5-inch touchscreen display with a rear-view camera and VW’s Car-Net connectivity software—which allows you to interface with your smartphone through the vehicle’s infotainment system—keeps the Golf Alltrack competitive in a market of relentlessly rising expectations for cabin tech. You’ll also find a driving-mode selector with an optional off-road function that engages the hill-descent control system and optimizes traction.

There are many reasons the Golf Alltrack would make a good car for a small family (cost-effectiveness, versatility, cargo space), but one of the more obvious of these is that it seems to be a pretty safe vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2017 Alltrack a top 5-star overall safety rating, and though the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has not tested either the Alltrack or the Sportwagen, it did award the 2016 Golf a Top Safety Pick+ rating. Standard safety features aboard the Alltrack include a full suite of airbags and automatic post-collision braking and response systems. You can also optionally equip it with almost every other major safety technology out there, including adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning and assistance, and a parking-assist feature. One notable exclusion here is blind-spot monitoring/rear cross-traffic alert, which is available on the Golf Sportwagen—odds are this feature will become available on the Alltrack in the not-too-distant future.

If you’re willing to downsize somewhat from more crossover-oriented wagons like the Outback or XC70—and if you’re not too put off by Volkwagen’s emissions violations—the 2017 Golf Alltrack would probably be a great place to start your new-car search.

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