Volkswagen’s Golf Alltrack is a new model for 2017, an offshoot of the Golf SportWagen, with the same practicality and fun-to-drive character, mated to 4Motion all-wheel drive capability and rugged styling, for an affordable, upscale alternative.
Alltrack also offers the utility of a compact SUV – roof rails and cavernous cargo area – with the road manners of a family vehicle.
Raised suspension for 0.6-inches extra ground clearance (6.9-inches total), traction-enhancing features, and tough-looking black body cladding, 66.5 cubic feet of cargo space (with the rear seats folded), a smooth turbocharged four-cylinder engine and driver-centric interior add up to an excellent vehicle for light off-road fun, hauling lots of gear or supplies, or cruising around town.
Alltrack is available in three trims – S, SE, SEL – with a six-speed manual transmission available on the S and SE models. Prices start at $25,850 for the manual S, with a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission adding $1,100. The top-of-the-line SEL only has the automatic, priced at $32,890.
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All trims feature a powerful yet fuel-efficient 170-horsepower 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder engine, EPA rated for 22 mpg city/30 highway, with power routed to all four wheels via the 4Motion permanent all-wheel drive system. Alltrack has a 14.5-gallon fuel tank for greater range than SportWagen’s 13.2-gallon tank.
4Motion activates before any wheelspin can occur to effectively eliminate all traction loss. The system operates based on specific driving conditions – under low load or when coasting, only the front wheels are engaged, activating the rear wheels in fractions of a second when needed.
Uncoupling the rear wheels helps conserve fuel. A wheel that is slipping will briefly brake, sending power to the wheel on the opposite side. All this happens without thought or input from the driver. Alltrack’s drive mode selector adds “Off-Road” (Normal, Sport and Custom are basic on Golf models), which activates Hill Descent Control and alters how traction control responds.
SportWagen DNA is evident in Alltrack’s body shape, with length and width roughly the same. The elevated ride height, however, gives Alltrack a bolder, more capable appearance while maintaining Volkswagen’s tight, crisp lines and understated, modern surfaces.
My sporty Alltrack was the base S model, in Tornado Red with Beige Leatherette interior, riding on standard 10-spoke 17-inch silver-painted alloy wheels with all-season tires.
A redesigned bumper with silver underbody guard, a unique matte-aluminum low-profile grille crossbar stretching into the headlights (halogen with daytime running lights), foglights incorporated into a lower silver crossbar, and black honeycomb grille inserts emphasized Alltrack’s rugged character.
Alltrack’s profile showed the difference with the black body cladding along the sides and around the wheel arches to lower edges of the redesigned bumpers, silver anodized roof rails, Reflex Silver heated side mirrors, and chrome molding on the lower window edges.
The new bumper in the rear was also highlighted by silver underbody protection in the style of the silver side sills, and incorporated chrome exhaust tips and red reflectors on each side. Dark red LED taillights had a unique rectangular design reflector. Alltrack badging on the front quarters and the front grille, and a 4Motion badge on the liftgate left no doubt this was a different Golf.
V-Tex leatherette seating is standard, along with heated front seats, and, unique to the Alltrack, an Alltrack-branded chrome strip on the center console, brushed and polished stainless-steel doorsills with the Alltrack logo, and custom aluminum-look pedals.
The driver-centric cabin featured controls positioned for ease of usability, especially the center stack, which is angled toward the driver. The driver’s seat is easy to adjust for best visibility – thanks in part to the large windows and narrow pillars – and comfort. The telescopic steering wheel has plenty of range, and the shifter is conveniently placed.
Well-placed adjustable ambient lighting and footwell lights highlighted the upscale interior, featuring soft-touch plastics and leather-wrapped parking brake handle, shifter knob/boot, and multi-function steering wheel (includes paddle shifters). Gloss black trimmed the steering wheel and the brake handle, while gray metallic plastic trimmed the dash, center stack, and instrument cluster. Gray woven-look plastic trimmed the upper door panels, front and rear, and across the passenger’s side dash.
Alltrack has the same expansive interior space as the SportWagen, with 94.3 cubic feet of passenger area, 30.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, and 66.5 cubic feet total cargo space with the seats folded. Rear seatbacks can be folded using a lever on the top edge or release handles on either side of the cargo area. A two-position sliding cargo cover keeps cargo out of sight while helping keep objects contained.
Headroom is 38.6 inches, with 41.2 inches of legroom in the front and 35.6 inches in the rear. The rear door opening is relatively narrow, and if the front seat is pushed back, rear passengers don’t have much room for sliding in – knees may also make contact with the seatback when seated.
Unfortunately, passengers don’t have much room for odds and ends up front, although the ashtray area has been converted into a phone/device shelf with a USB port and aux jack. The center console has two cupholders, a 12-volt power outlet, and a small armrest bin with another power outlet. The large glovebox has four coin slots on the door – nice, but not handy for the driver.
The driver has a small pullout bin on the left lower dash, with a small slot for storing an SD card. Rear passengers have small door pockets – and air vents on the center console. There is one 12-volt outlet in the cargo area. A temporary spare is stored under the cargo floor, with room for tools or other small objects.
Alltrack tech features include a standard 6.5-inch touch screen with proximity sensor and rearview camera, Volkswagen Car-Net App-Connect and Security & Service, and Bluetooth. My Alltrack S had an eight-speaker Composition Media unit
The standard MIB II infotainment system is the base for Car-Net, as well as a comprehensive suite of connected services and features. Smartphone integration – Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirroLink – allows users to run certain smartphone apps on the display screen.
The system has AM/FM/CD, AUX-in, SD card and USB interfaces with iPhone and iPod compatibility, and is capable of syncing two phones at once. A JPEG viewer, satellite radio, HD radio, support for lossless audio file format (FLAC) are also included. Car-Net Security & Service allows owners to access Alltrack remotely via the web as well as on a smartphone.
Security features include Automatic Crash Notification, Manual Emergency Call, Roadside Assistance, and Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance. Conveniences include remote vehicle access, remote door lock and unlock, remote honk and flash (lights), last parked location, remote window and door status check.
Family Guardian includes speed alert and boundary alert – helpful for families with new/teen drivers.
Vehicle Health Report allows owners to see an overview of vehicle diagnostics, and even schedule service by locating the closest dealer.
App-Connect is a free service, while Car-Net Security & Service requires a subscription after the six month trial.
My Alltrack had a Driver Assistance Package ($845) with Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking, front and rear Park Distance Control (Park Pilot), and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist).
Park Assist scans for an available parking space (below 25 mph) when the driver uses the turn signal to indicate which side of the road they wish to park on. Park Assist then steers the vehicle into the space – parallel or perpendicular, indicated when the driver presses the Park Assist button – with the driver controlling the accelerator and brake as needed.
Alltrack features a combination of passive and active safety systems, and received a five-star overall safety rating from NHTSA. Intelligent Crash Response is standard, responding in certain types of collisions by shutting off the fuel pump, unlocking the doors, and switching on the hazard lights. Electronic Stability Control is also standard on all trims.
Although the cushioning was a little firm, the seats were comfortable, and the front seats had the added bonus of being heated. The ride was a little stiff over some rough pavement, but generally quite acceptable.
Handling and acceleration were average, with a smooth takeoff and confidence around curves and corners.
With the $845 Driver Assistance Package and $820 destination charges, the total delivered price for my sporty, attractive, well-equipped Alltrack was $28,615.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.