Interior view of the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack with 4Motion.
The 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack offers the utility of a compact SUV, with a big caveat: it’s a Volkswagen. So, right there you know you’re going to get that German driving experience: a tight turning radius, excellent performance and butter-smooth acceleration. Close your eyes and you’d swear you’re in a sports car, not a station wagon., writes our automotive editor Sally Miller Wyatt.
Long, long ago, before sport utility vehicles, there were station wagons. Big, huge Conestoga-like wagons with gigantic non-tinted windows and a third row of seats that faced backwards. For those who remember always being stuck riding in those rear-facing seats – because our oldest siblings usually got first dibs – the advent of a SUV meant we would never have to subject our children to such a nauseating experience.
But a SUV may not be for everyone. Station wagons offer a good option for those who don’t want or need a gargantuan vehicle but still need to haul stuff or large pets, for those who live in an area with tight parking spaces, or those who simply miss the lithe driving experience of a smaller car. And, rest assured, that sunbaked rear seat is a thing of the past.
If this is what you seek, you may very well want to consider the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. It offers the utility of a compact SUV, with a big caveat: it’s a Volkswagen. So, right there you know you’re going to get that German driving experience: a tight turning radius, excellent performance and butter-smooth acceleration. Close your eyes and you’d swear you’re in a sports car, not a station wagon.
The 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is a derivative of the Golf SportWagen. It has a powerful 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine, offering 170 horsepower and 199-pound feet of torque. The Alltrack comes in three trims: the S, SE and SEL. MSRP ranges from $26,950 for the S model, to $32,890 for the top-tier SEL trim, which even when fully loaded offers an upscale experience without blasting the budget.
Our test car was the S model, and it was loaded with many standard features, including snappy-looking two-toned leatherette seats. Its sticker price was $27,770.
One of the key features of the Alltrack is its 4Motion all-wheel drive system. It is permanent and activated even before you leave the curb, and is sophisticated enough to provide advanced traction control under all driving conditions: with light or heavy loads, while coasting or freeway speed, seamlessly shifting torque from front to rear wheels. When you’re coasting, for example, the front wheels are driven, and the rear wheels are decoupled, which helps save fuel. The rear wheels will engage in a fraction of a second whenever necessary. But for other circumstances, the “Off Road Mode” is available.
Other key features of the 2017 Golf Alltrack include a host of advanced Driver Assistance Systems. They are available on the S and SE trims for an additional $845, and include Advanced Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking. This helps alert the driver to potential front-end collision situations, both with sound and signals, and helps brake the car if the driver isn’t acting fast enough, or not braking hard enough. So much peace of mind for such a relatively small price, right?
Other driver assistance features include ParkPilot (which offers a rear park distance control, ParkAssist (a parking steering assistant), a Lane Departure Warning System that warns you if you’re straying from your lane, and High Beam Control.
High-tech features also include a standard 6.5-inch touchscreen with rear view camera, and Volkswagen Car-Net Guide & Inform, an enhanced navigation system and infotainment package. Satellite navigation is refined by adding several layers of information right onto the screen. Volkswagen’s MIB Ap-Connect and infotainment platform adds such things as real-time fuel prices and traffic information, sports scores, movie information and weather data, among other features.
Compatible smartphone integration is on board, and offers users the ability to run certain smartphone apps directly on the vehicle’s display, through services like the Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirroLink. Other features include the ability to sync two phones simultaneously, along with a JPEG viewer, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and HD Radio.
The Alltrack’s interior is good-sized and the cargo area is quite generous. Although the windows weren’t tinted, cargo can be protected from prying eyes by a screen.
On the road, I found that headroom seemed a bit tight and I’m a shorter driver, so that may be a negative for taller people. Visibility was excellent.
The seats are comfortable for both for the driver and front passenger, as well as the outboard rear passengers. However, the rear middle seatback has a fold-down arm rest embedded in it, and so anyone sitting there may find it protruding and stiff. Foot space for the rear middle passenger is also compromised because of the climate control vents in the floorboard.
I will admit I really liked that large touch screen and Volkwagen’s rear view cameras, especially for their range. If you’ve ever parked in between two large trucks or SUVs and were frustrated that you just couldn’t see behind you when backing up, you’ll appreciate this rearview camera’s range. It is wide enough to see even beyond those bigger vehicles.
I also was impressed with the halogen head lamps. When driving at night, a side head lamp is automatically engaged when you turn the wheel, which really helps to illuminate your view as you’re rounding corners.
The 2017 Volkwagen Golf Alltrack is a straight-up fun car to drive, thanks to its German engineering and performance DNA. It’s packaged in a right-sized, sporty-looking package that is so nicely designed you may forget you’re driving a wagon.