2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Review

Golf Alltrack

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2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Overview

Volkswagen created the Golf Alltrack, now in its second year of production, as an extension of the popular Golf brand. In addition to the standard Golf, there's the Golf GTI, Golf R, e-Golf, and Golf SportWagen. With the Golf Alltrack wagon, VW created something both new and familiar, aimed at a practical yet adventurous consumer. Neither a typical wagon nor an SUV or crossover, the Alltrack is great choice for busy families who need a functional ride during the week but love to go exploring on weekends.

In creating the Alltrack, VW built upon the SportWagen. The Alltrack sits on a raised suspension, giving it a ground clearance of 6.9 inches. To bolster the Alltrack's off-road cred, VW equips it with 4Motion full-time all-wheel drive (AWD) as a standard feature. The AWD system includes an Off Road Mode driver-selectable setting with hill descent control that adjusts the antilock braking system and accelerator pedal's characteristics for off-road driving. The system also includes Normal, Sport, and Custom driving modes.

Outside, the Alltrack distinguishes itself from the SportWagen with a revised bumper, black mesh grille, and standard foglights. For rugged terrains, the Alltrack includes an underbody guard and black body cladding around the wheel wells and along the lower sides. Unique rear features include dark-red taillights, a revised bumper, and dual chrome tailpipes. Silver roof rails, heated Reflex Silver side mirrors with integrated turn signals, and a larger gas tank (14.5 gallons) are among the Alltrack's other distinctive features. The Alltrack rides on 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

Despite being only in the second production year, the Alltrack benefits from the Golf line’s mid-generation refresh. As in its first year, the Alltrack comes in base S, mid-level SE, and top-shelf SEL trims. New LED taillights, LED daytime running lights, and automatic headlights with a rain sensor are standard on all three trims for 2018. The S gets an updated 6.5-inch touchscreen and continues with halogen headlights, V-Tex leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, ambient lighting, and 6-way partially power-adjustable front seats.

The SE trim adds several new driver assistance features for 2018, including forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring. A blind-spot monitor with rear traffic alert is scheduled to be added later in the model year. The SE’s touchscreen is upleveled to an 8-inch unit. Roll-over standard features for the SE include push-button start, a power tilt/slide panoramic sunroof, a height-adjustable telescoping steering column, and LED reading lights.

At the top of the line, the SEL gets even better for 2018, thanks to new LED headlights with an adaptive front-lighting system and a number of additional newly standard driver-assistance features. These include adaptive cruise control, high-beam control, lane-departure warning, park assist, parking steering assist, and front and rear park distance control with maneuver braking—a collision prevention system that automatically applies the brakes when it detects a static object behind the vehicle. Like the SE, VW is adding a standard blind-spot monitoring system with rear traffic alert at mid-year. The SEL also gets an upgraded 8-inch touchscreen with navigation. Other standard features rolling over from the previous year include dual-zone climate control, a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and 18-inch wheels.

All trims come equipped with a wide range of tech features, including VW's MIB II infotainment system with satellite and HD Radio, a reversing camera, a USB port, and the Car-Net connectivity system, which provides Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The S trim comes equipped with an 8-speaker audio system; the SEL upgrades to a Fender Premium audio system. All trims offer plenty of storage space. With the 60/40-split rear seats up, cargo volume measures 30.4 cubic feet, and it expands to generous 66.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. Storage spaces inside the 5-passenger cabin include a glovebox with an adjustable cooling feature, seatback storage pockets, and a storage compartment in the front center armrest. All passengers will find plenty of leg- and headroom.

A 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged 4-cylinder engine continues to power the Alltrack. Utilizing direct fuel injection and an intercooler, the turbo 4 generates 170 horsepower and peak torque of 199 pound-feet across a wide range, beginning at just 1,600 rpm, for good acceleration. The engine mates to either a 6-speed manual transmission, standard on the S and SE trims, or a DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, available on the S and SE but standard on the SEL. Fuel economy numbers suffer a little with the AWD system, checking in at 22 mpg city, 32 highway, and 26 combined with the manual transmission and 22, 30, and 25 with the automatic.

Like all Golfs, the Alltrack gets high marks for its handling, performance, and safety features. All trims come equipped with electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering and ride on a unique independent suspension with MacPherson struts in the front and a 4-link setup in the rear. All trims include the automaker's brake-based XDS+ Cross Differential System, which monitors data from the wheel sensors and automatically applies the brakes to improve cornering at higher speeds. Electronic stability control, emergency brake assist, and an intelligent crash response system all come standard. The 2018 Golf’s 5-star safety rating awarded by the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) bodes well for the Alltrack.

The Alltrack is carving a track for itself in a market segment with few competitors. The Golf name and positive reviews will help as the Alltrack navigates a rugged road.

Updated

Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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