An Alltrack for all seasons: Volkswagen adds new layer to Golf brand

No matter a car-buyer’s preference in hatchbacks, the Volkswagen dealership can be a one-stop shop. All doors lead to the Golf, whether it be two doors, four doors, performance-based, electric-powered or an elongated wagon. And now, that’s not all. For 2017 VW unveiled the Alltrack, a higher sitting, all-wheel drive version of the SportWagen. With the Alltrack, Volkswagen has targeted Subaru’s dominance of the station wagon category, although its sights might be a bit off.

To determine just where the Alltrack stands in the landscape, former Wheels editors Jimmy Dinsmore and Dave Mikesell took it for a ride.

DAVE: The Alltrack has an additional 1.4 inches of ground clearance than the SportWagen and the cabin sits more than half-an-inch higher thanks to 17-inch wheels and all-season tires. Subtle. Exterior differences are numerous, from the honeycomb grille to lower-body cladding to front fog lights.

While Volkswagen speaks of challenging the Subaru Outback, the Alltrack’s length of 180.2 inches is 9.4 inches shorter than the intended target. It actually aligns better with the Subaru Crosstrek, which is 175.2 inches and has a near identical wheelbase to the Alltrack. Now that we’ve laid the groundwork outside, what did Volkswagen bring to the inside, Jimmy?

JIMMY: The Golf, in general, is my favorite offering from VW. It really is such a versatile car. With this wagon, I expect a nice interior, and I’m not disappointed. It’s not going to be ultra-luxurious like a Volvo, but it certainly can go toe-to-toe with the Subaru Outback. The interior is not quite as rugged or hippie-like as the Outback, but it’s nice, with quality materials found throughout. It has a well-organized center stack and the seating angle is ideal. The rear seats have ample leg and head room. Three adults could still back there easily. It’s bigger than many SUVs on the road in that regard. Dave, the interior is fine, but what about that turbo?

DAVE: The Alltrack comes with a 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that turns out 170 horsepower and 199 lbs.-ft. of torque. A six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission pairs with the engine. The German automaker calls this DSG and it is generally favorable to a straight automatic transmission, turning potential pedestrian shifts into something a bit more drive worthy.

JIMMY: I didn’t take it off-road, but I’m sure the Alltrack lives up to its name with rugged ability. On the streets, it has a subdued ride performance. It’s neither exhilarating nor boring. The suspension is comfortable on concrete and asphalt, so it might really be bumpy off the road. Subaru claims off-road ability, just as Volkswagen does, but really, the Alltrack is more suitable as a family hauler and on-the-road mover.

DAVE: Like the SportWagen, Alltracks expand on the standard Golf with nearly 14 more cubic feet of cargo space at 66.5 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded. In the back end alone is 30.4 cubic feet of space. This is part of where the Alltrack will leave its mark – in the area of hauling the recreational playthings of the young at heart without having to do so in a larger, full-blown sport utility vehicle.

JIMMY: The Golf is the best thing Volkswagen has going for it. It’s versatile with an offering for almost any type of demographic. While the true station wagon segment is truly a niche, it’s still one with interest outside of Clark Griswold. But, undoubtedly, the Alltrack would be ready for all of the Griswold family’s daffy adventures, both on and the off road, on their way to Vegas or Wallyworld. And that’s the Alltrack’s sweet spot – those who want a family station wagon for any situation.

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