The 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack isn't quite an SUV, and it's not quite an ordinary wagon; it sits somewhere in the middle — quite literally, if you use a tape measure. Based on the Golf SportWagen, the Alltrack features all-wheel drive, a raised suspension that gives it extra ground clearance, and extra-rugged styling, yet it maintains its long, low wagon shape. It's a compelling alternative to SUVs and crossovers in the same price range.
The Alltrack is based on the Volkswagen Golf, which, though not a huge seller in North America, is one of the most popular cars in Europe and other markets. We like the Golf for its high-quality, no-nonsense cabin as well as its space and utility. Both of those attributes make their way to the Alltrack. The cabin is roomy up front, offering excellent visibility all around, and the control layout is straightforward and easy to use.
There's a marked difference between the front seats on the base-model S and the power-adjustable chairs offered in the top-of-the-line SEL; the latter offer better bolstering and more support, though both have firm cushions in the Germanic style. Backseat space could better, but in terms of utility, the Volkswagen gives up nothing to rival crossovers: It offers 30.4 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear seats and 66.5 cubic feet with the backseats folded down.
The Golf Alltrack is powered by the same 1.8-liter turbocharged engine found in other Volkswagen vehicles; it produces 170 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. For the Alltrack, Volkswagen offers either a six-speed manual or a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic, along with the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system used in the high-performance Golf R. We've been satisfied with the amount of thrust this engine produces in other Golf variants, but the Alltrack is heavier and can feel a bit sluggish when accelerating from a stop. The EPA rates the Golf Alltrack at 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway).
The Alltrack's tall suspension gives it 6.7 inches of ground clearance, not as much as with some SUV-like wagons but adequate for traversing rocky trails without worrying about the underside of the car. The added height does mean that the Golf Alltrack handles somewhere between an SUV and a car on the road, but that shouldn't put off buyers interested in the Alltrack's off-road capabilities.
Volkswagen sells the Golf Alltrack in S, SE and SEL trim levels. Even the base-model S is surprisingly well equipped, and advanced driver aids such as forward collision avoidance with autonomous braking and adaptive cruise control are on the options list. The SE is a nice package for the money, and the SEL offers several tempting comfort and convenience features. Make sure to check out Edmunds' full review and shopping tools, which will help you find the right 2017 Volkswagen Golf to fit your needs.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.