Engine: 1.8-liter TSI, DOHC turbo, direct injection four-cylinder
Transmission: Six-speed DSG automatic
EPA Ratings: 22/city, 30/highway, 25/combined
Base Price: $26,950
As Tested: $28,615
Overview: A new entry for 2017, the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack wagon, based on the Golf SportWagen, features VW’s standard 4Motion all-wheel drive plus an extra half-inch of ground clearance. Last redesigned for the 2015 model year, the Golf lineup’s base engine is a turbocharged 1.8-liter, direct-injected four-banger that delivers 170 horses and 199 pound-feet of torque.
Model Lineup: The Alltrack S (our test driver) rides slightly higher than a SportWagen, with all-wheel drive and body cladding. Active safety features are available, with a manual gearbox standard and six-speed automatic optional. Alltrack SE adds a sunroof and keyless entry/start. Alltrack SEL has automatic transmission, power front seats, automatic climate control and navigation.
Walkaround: Styling is typical VW conservative but in establishing its own identity, the Alltrack is fitted with lower-body cladding, foglamps, a honeycomb grille and unique bumpers.
Interior: The cabin is spacious and functional with a driver-focused, simple, straightforward layout. The center stack, including the 6.5-inch infotainment screen, leans toward the driver and features hooded instrumentation.
The highly supportive front seats adjust easily to accommodate a variety of body types and sizes. Rear-seat space is a little tight but getting in and out of the back seat isn’t the ordeal some are. Cargo volume is 30.4 cubic feet behind the seat and 66.5 with seatbacks — which don’t fold completely flat — down.
Behind the Wheel: Handling, minimal road noise and fun drivability are the Alltrack’s top distinctions. The base 1.8-liter powertrain performs well coupled to the automatic, with imperceptible turbo lag and crisp, well-timed gear changes. Overall, the Alltrack delivers a smoothly polished driving experience.
Whines: Despite its slightly higher stance than the SportWagen and all-wheel drive, plus an off-road mode, off-pavement ability is only slightly improved.
Bottom Line: Styling of the 2017 VW Alltrack — as well as the entire Golf lineup — may be too conservative for some, but that is easily outweighed by admirable performance and a strong safety record. With a spacious and carefully planned interior, great handling and a serious fun factor to its drivability, the VW Alltrack raises the bar for this market segment.