Neither the exterior nor the interior of the VW Golf Alltrack are what I’d call high-end. Not that it’s shabby, but at the same time no one will confuse it with an Audi. Clearly the focus was on what’s under the hood of the Alltrack.
Still, the interior is adequate (with optional leatherette interior) and arguably nicer than the Outback. The Alltrack also offers impressive legroom and headroom, though the back seat is a bit small. Storage space was adequate but not overwhelming.
One area where the VW Golf Alltrack loses to the Outback is utility; as the Outback does offer more space for people and cargo.
HOW'S THE RIDE?
The 2017 VW Golf Alltrack that I tested featured a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine; which offered 170 horsepower and 199 lb.-ft. of torque.
The Alltrack features VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive; and there’s a driving mode selector, including an off-road option if you want to take it out on your next camping trip and feel comfortable doing so. You get a four-wheel independent suspension, and both manual and automatic transmission are offered (which can’t be said for the Outback, which is more about function than driver enjoyment).
In my experience driving the Alltrack, I found it to be a very smooth and responsive ride, and one I enjoyed to the point where I forgot I was driving a wagon.
The Golf and its many varieties are almost universally praised as a top pick across the board each year, and if you’ve ever driven one you’ll know why. The Outback, the Alltrack’s main wagon competitor, has a slightly better horsepower ranking than the Alltrack but it takes a longer time to get up to speed. So if performance is crucial to you, the Alltrack is a better option, though if you plan to do a lot of towing the Outback has the Alltrack beaten handily in that department.
As per usual with VW, they are pretty no-frills with the tech setup, while at the same time being efficient with how it works. The Infotainment system is simplistic looking and won’t win any design awards, but it works very well and is responsive.
Navigation works perfectly, even by voice commands. And other voice commands (for phone calls, radio choices, etc.) are easy to learn via onscreen suggestions. While others may go for flash, VW goes for function, and I don’t see any problem with that. But if you want it to look pretty, go elsewhere.
The Alltrack comes with a rearview camera, keyless access, push-button start and a 6.5-inch touchscreen. You get Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, and an optional Fender Premium Audio System. It features compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can also add safety features including emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
Official numbers are 22 city/30 highway/25 combined. I averaged about 26 mpg during my time in the vehicle.
PRICE , BOTTOM LINE
My test vehicle came in at $35,705; and its base price starts just under $26K (though some deals may be in play now since it is year-end).
While most automakers outside of the luxury realm have given up on the wagon and are sticking to SUVs/crossovers, VW is smart to have introduced the Golf Alltrack wagon, as there was little competition for the Subaru Outback’s domination of the market. It will take a while to chip away at the huge sales lead that the Outback has due to its fiercely loyal fans, but with a quality vehicle like the Golf Alltrack, VW has a fighting chance to keep gaining ground. Both vehicles have their stronger points, but wagon lovers who love driving will probably lean toward the VW offering unless maximum storage and towing is critical for them.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.