2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
by John Davis
The 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack follows a simple formula used by Subaru, Volvo, and even AMC’s Eagle if you want to go back that far. Take a station wagon, jack up the suspension, make some form of 4x4 system standard, add a touch of exterior ruggedness, and voila; a fun little all-wheel drive 5-door that’s as easy to drive as it is capable. That’s the VW Golf Alltrack.
Like the Golf SportWagen that it’s based on, output from its 1.8-liter turbo I4 engine is modest, at 170-horsepower. But its 199 lb-ft. of torque helps it feel much peppier. In the spirit of VW, a 6-speed manual transmission is standard; the option being a DSG automatic, also with 6-gears.
Things we’ve always praised about the Golf include its super-solid feel, very little noise intrusion, and fun disposition, and all are still here. Add in that you now sense you really can go just about anywhere in this Alltrack, and you’ve got a real winner.
We still think VW’s pop-out badge hatch release is brilliant, and were further impressed once we opened it up to find a very deep, unobstructed cargo space. There’s 30.4 cubic-ft. for filling up with stuff; 66.5 if you fold the seatbacks down. That’s just short of most compact crossovers; and much more than the typical subcompact utility.
As for the driver’s space, there are some special touches to help it feel a step above the SportWagen; including nicer materials and updated trim. It’s not quite SUV spacious in here, but there is adequate space to get comfortable up front, as well as more than expected room in back.
The touch screen interface doesn’t cut the edge as much as it once did, but VW still leaves plenty of manual controls and they work very well. 2018 models gain an updated screen.
More personality has been added outside. We’d stop short of calling Alltrack truly rugged, but we very much like the brighter cladding over the usual black, as it helps it to look more outgoing, perhaps even classy. Ground clearance is up 1.4-inches over the SportWagen to 6.9.
As for when the weather gets rough, an off road setting has been added to the usual choices of drive modes. It modulates traction-control and hill decent control to match rougher terrain. Together with the capable 4Motion all-wheel drive system, you do feel kinda unstoppable. On that note, active safety features including automatic emergency braking are available.
For our complete road test of the 2017 Volkswagen GolfAlltrack, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3717 that begins airing on December 29, 2017. For a listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable network.
We’ve been waiting for quite a while for a true Subaru fighter to emerge, and the 2017 Volkswagen Alltrack certainly qualifies. In addition, no Subaru delivers driver satisfaction like a Volkswagen. So, to sum it all up, we think VW has settled on the right track for Alltrack.