2017 Golf Alltrack: Volkswagen's Active Wagon

By Sue Mead, December 17th, 2016

Car buyers who move out of comfortable sedans to more practical crossovers and utility vehicles, have a number of new models available on the market. Volkswagen expands its Golf lineup to include a rugged wagon variant -- the new 2017 Alltrack.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new Golf Alltrack is the derivative of the Golf SportWagen, combining that vehicle's practicality and fun-to-drive nature with the Alltrack's virtually go-anywhere capabilities of 4Motion all-wheel drive and rugged exterior styling
Manufacturer photo: The all-new Golf Alltrack is the derivative of the Golf SportWagen, combining that vehicle's practicality and fun-to-drive nature with the Alltrack's virtually go-anywhere capabilities of 4Motion all-wheel drive and rugged exterior styling

Touting it as "more than just a shiny wagon," Volkswagen boasts increased ground clearance on the Alltrack, along with 4MOTION all-wheel drive, hill descent control, rugged bumpers and cladding to help protect against tough road conditions. Alltrack is targeted as a fun-to-drive, ready-for-adventure, uber-versatile wagon for active lifestyle drivers.

We drove the 2017 Golf Alltrack over a course of 200 miles in the Seattle environs -- one of the top target markets for this melded model that slots between a wagon and a small SUV. It delivers a punch of styling panache and everyday practicality that is perfect for couples with outdoor interests and small families.

On road, it has driving dynamics that make it competent for scooting around busy cityscapes and settling comfortably into a commute on the highway, with ample power and smooth shifting, plus stable cornering and braking.

We motored on a 4WD dirt track with ruts and gullies and were impressed with its backcountry capability that allows safe travel over traction-compromised surfaces, aided by its higher ground clearance and talented and capable off-road mode. Of note is the Alltrack's elbow room in this smallish footprint, attractive interior with high quality materials and good stowage.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new Golf Alltrack is the derivative of the Golf SportWagen, combining that vehicle's practicality and fun-to-drive nature with the Alltrack's virtually go-anywhere capabilities of 4Motion all-wheel drive and rugged exterior styling

Aimed directly at Subaru's outdoorsy Outback wagon demographic, the five-passenger Alltrack is a more beefy and taller, all-wheel-drive evolution of the Golf SportWagen (6.9 inches of ride height on the Alltrack compared to 5.5 for the standard Sportwagen); its interior volume (30.4 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and 66.5 cubic feet with the seats folded) and most of the exterior dimensions are identical to the SportWagen.

Upfront are halogen headlights and foglights, and on top are silver roof rails. Riders will enjoy a special Alltrack-designed interior with standard ambient lighting, a rearview camera system, heated front seats, leather-wrapped shift knob and brake handle, and V-Tex leatherette door and seating trim.

Under the hood is a peppy 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 170 horsepower and 199 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission; an optional six-speed manual is available. Fuel economy is rated at 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined.

VW's Driving Mode Selection system allows changes to the steering, engine, and transmission for Normal, Sport, or Individual settings; Alltrack also offers an Off-Road mode that adjusts the performance of the all-wheel drive, throttle, and traction/stability control systems to maximize grip over dirty, wet, and uneven surfaces.

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is offered in three trim levels: S ($26,950), SE ($30,530), and SEL ($32,890), equipped with the DSG automatic transmission. Prices are slightly lower (subtract $1,100) on the manual transmission model on S and SE trims.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new Golf Alltrack is the derivative of the Golf SportWagen, combining that vehicle's practicality and fun-to-drive nature with the Alltrack's virtually go-anywhere capabilities of 4Motion all-wheel drive and rugged exterior styling

Voice-controlled Bluetooth connectivity allows audio streaming for compatible devices, as well as Android Auto, MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay integration and Volkswagen Car-Net App-Connect for smartphones.

Available driver assistance systems include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, park distance control, parking steering assistant, lane departure warning, and high beam control.

Specifications

Base price $32,890 (as tested: $35,705)
Curb weight 3,300 lbs.
Displacement 1.8-liter
Engine type 16-valve turbocharged 4-cyl. w/DI
Epa mileage rating 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 13.2 gal.
Horsepower (net) 170 at 4500 rpm
Overall length 180.2 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 199 at 1600 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger AWD compact wagon
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