2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Review

Golf goodness with cavernous cargo space. An intriguing alternative to larger, taller crossovers.
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack provides familiar Golf goodness along with all-wheel drive, rugged styling and a cavernous cargo area. It's a compelling alternative to similarly priced crossovers. If you like the idea of a Golf wagon but want more of an SUV vibe, this is your option.

The formula is simple: Take the regular Golf wagon (aka the SportWagen), give it all-wheel drive, a slightly raised suspension for extra ground clearance, and a few traction-enhancing features, and wrap it all up in some tough-looking body cladding. The result is an all-terrain wagon with 66.5 cubic feet of space to carry stuff with the rear seats folded. That's the kind of space usually afforded by compact crossover SUVs. Factor in the Alltrack's smooth turbocharged four-cylinder engine and ergonomically sound interior, and you're looking at an excellent choice for the crossover-averse or anyone who just prefers the sleeker wagon look.



what's new

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is an all-new model that's based on the pavement-oriented Golf SportWagen.

we recommend

The base model comes well-equipped, but we'd get an SE with the Driver Assist package. That brings a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and even a self-parking system. In early 2017, you can also get an Alltrack SE with a manual transmission.

The manual is great news, of course, for those who enjoy shifting their own gears. The bad news? You can't get the manual on the loaded SEL trim. Still, we're glad VW took the time to throw its stick-shift loyalists a bone, and the SE is nicely outfitted in its own right.

trim levels & features

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack comes in three trim levels: S, SE and SEL. The base S is actually pretty well-equipped and offers most all you need if you're just seeking good adventure-life wheels, including roof rails, heated seats and side mirrors, a rearview camera, Bluetooth and smartphone integration. Stepping up to the SE brings a big sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, and a better sound system. Meanwhile, the SEL dials it up with nicer wheels, power seats and a navigation system.

The base S starts with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine (170 horsepower, 199 pound-feet of torque) and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, dubbed DSG in Volkswagen-speak. Purists can raise a cheer: A six-speed manual transmission will also be available starting in early 2017. Regardless of transmission, power reaches all four wheels through the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.

Standard features include 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, LED daytime running lights, power-adjustable and heated side mirrors, silver roof rails, air-conditioning, cruise control, power windows and locks, a leather-trimmed tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats with manual adjustment and power recline, 60/40-split folding rear seats with a center pass-through, and ambient cabin lighting.

Also standard are a rearview camera, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, VW's Car-Net App-Connect smartphone integration and Car-Net Security and Service telematics, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The base audio system includes eight speakers, a CD player, satellite and HD radio, and auxiliary audio, USB and SD card inputs. 

Options include the Driver Assist package, which bundles adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, and steering guidance for parallel and perpendicular parking.

Moving up to the SE adds automatic headlights, automatic wipers, heated windshield washer nozzles, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, a 115-volt outlet in the cargo area, and a Fender Premium audio system (adds a subwoofer and upgraded sound). The Driver Assist package and a manual transmission are also optional.

The top-level SEL builds on SE features with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic dual-zone climate control, a 12-way power driver seat, and upgraded infotainment with touchscreen navigation. A Driver Assistance and Lighting package is optional and includes that same features as the Driver Assist package as well as adaptive xenon headlights that bend in the direction of the car's turn and automatic high beams.

driving

The Alltrack's about 300 pounds heavier than a Golf SportWagen with front-wheel drive, so the turbo engine doesn't feel quite as punchy. Handling also suffers a bit with the slightly higher ride height. It's still a confidence-inspiring road car, though, and it's also decent in light off-road use.

acceleration

There's smooth propulsion from VW's rewarding 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, but 170 horsepower isn't that much for more than 3,400 pounds of wagon. It's hardly slow, but the Alltrack isn't in a particular hurry, either. The dual-clutch automatic transmission can feel sluggish from a stop.

braking

We observed an uncharacteristically firm brake pedal feel for a VW product, which is a good thing. These brakes don't draw much attention to themselves — that's a good thing — and they feel capable and predictable at all speeds.

steering

There's little in the way of on-center slop in this steering system, giving the Alltrack a responsive character from the helm. We wouldn't call this steering engaging, exactly, but most drivers should find it perfectly adequate.

handling

The Alltrack leans a fair amount when you drive around turns. We've been disappointed by the regular Golf SportWagen in this regard, and the Alltrack's elevated ride height doesn't help matters. There's nothing sloppy about the Alltrack's handling, but like the steering, it doesn't really engage the driver.

drivability

Once you're underway, the DSG dual-clutch transmission is masterful, upshifting so quickly and smoothly that the tachometer needle may be your only indication. It sometimes feels indecisive in parking situations, but that's normal for the breed. The engine is a little sleepy below 2,500 rpm.

comfort

Though the crossover-inspired styling may imply a cushy ride, that's not the case. German cars tend to be tautly sprung, and the Alltrack is no exception, so it can feel somewhat stiff and out of sorts on broken pavement. Seats are a strong point, however, and overall refinement is excellent.

seat comfort

There's a big difference between the base S trim's bare-bones front chairs and the SEL's well-bolstered power seats, though the base versions are comfortable enough. In the usual Germanic fashion, the cushioning is on the firm side.

ride comfort

The SEL comes standard with 18-inch wheels that look nice but don't help the ride any. Small impacts can register vividly in the cabin, and the ride quality is more taut overall than the SUV-lite looks suggest. The shocks feel supple over big dips; it's the little stuff that can be unsettling.

noise & vibration

In limited testing, we've found that road noise can sometimes be intrusive. Engine refinement is great, though. As usual, VW has taken the time to give this turbocharged four luxury-grade manners. A smooth operator.

climate control

Three knobs keep things blissfully simple. The air-conditioning system had no trouble keeping the cabin cool on a warm summer day, enormous panoramic sunroof notwithstanding. The specific dual-zone controls are very intuitive.

interior

A large greenhouse with ample glass and a simple, sensible control layout make the Alltrack's cabin a pleasant, user-friendly environment. We'd ask only for roomier rear quarters with a higher bench, which you'll find in many similarly priced crossovers.

ease of use

Seemingly every control is where you expect it to be, and if it's not, you quickly see the logic in where it ended up. Gauges are straightforward and highly legible. Nothing fancy, just strong fundamentals.

getting in/getting out

Front passengers will have no complaints, but those in back might have something to carp about. The rear doors have a relatively narrow opening, and if the front seat is pushed back for long legs, there's not much room for the rear passenger to squeeze behind.

driving position

Everything falls readily to hand in the Alltrack, which is unsurprising because it's basically the same praiseworthy interior you'll find in an ordinary Golf. The wheel telescoping range is very generous for taller drivers, as is the seat-height range.

roominess

Rear passenger space is at a premium relative not just to the crossovers the Alltrack competes against, but also to the Subaru Outback. With a tall driver settled in, the rear passenger's shins may rub against the driver seatback. The front compartment, on the other hand, is airy and spacious.

visibility

Excellent in all directions, thanks to the Alltrack's tall greenhouse, plentiful glass and relatively slim pillars for a modern car. With the panoramic sunroof, you've got great skyward visibility, too.

quality

The rear door panels use hard plastic right up to the windowsill, unlike the softly trimmed panels in front. Likewise, the lower dashboard wears a hard, shiny plastic covering that's not up to VW's usual quality standards. Everything seems nicely put together, though; no squeaks or rattles.

utility

Impressive cargo space puts the Alltrack in a league with many small crossovers, and it's a cinch to fold the rear seatbacks flat while you're loading cargo. We also like the nifty two-position sliding cargo cover. There's just not much room for odds and ends when you're riding up front.

small-item storage

To VW's credit, the flip-door ashtray area in front of the shift lever has been converted into a phone shelf with a USB port and aux jack — it's super-convenient for stashing and connecting your phone. Otherwise, though, the center console only offers two cupholders and a shallow armrest bin.

cargo space

The Alltrack's 30.4 cubic feet of standard cargo space seats is SUV-grade stuff, as is the 66.5-cube maximum when you fold the rear seatbacks down. Those seatbacks conveniently flip forward via release handles on either side of the cargo area, so there's no need to walk around to the backseat.

technology

If the Alltrack has a clear weak spot, tech is it. The central touchscreen's graphics are surprisingly rudimentary for this day and age, and the navigation voice is robotic. On the bright side, the voice-control system is well-executed.

audio & navigation

Low-resolution touchscreen graphics set the Alltrack apart from most cars in its price range (and plenty of cheaper ones). It's as if VW dumbed things down to entice shoppers to buy an Audi. Also, plenty of navigation voices on the market don't sound like robots. VW has some catching up to do.

smartphone integration

Sophisticated smartphone capability is anchored by Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, plus compatibility with commonly used apps such as Pandora, Spotify and TuneIn internet radio We had no issues connecting an iPhone 6, whether by ordinary Bluetooth connection or Apple CarPlay.

driver aids

The optional Driver Assist package for S and SE trims adds adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous braking and parking steering assistance. Common aids such as blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning are curiously absent, though.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.