2017 VW Golf Alltrack: First Drive Impressions [Review]

2017 vw golf alltrack

The all-weather capability of all-wheel drive doesn’t have to come packaged in an oversized, overweight crossover. Volkswagen has found a nice niche by adding their 4Motion full-time AWD system to the Golf SportWagen. A new addition to the Golf family – called the Alltrack – differentiates itself from the SportWagen 4Motion with a higher ride height, ruggedized body cladding for mild off-road excursions, and four specialized drive modes that can be called upon with a touch of a button.

Underneath the Alltrack’s rugged looks is a lively and torquey 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection 4-cylinder engine that channels power through either a 6-speed manual (available in the base S trim or mid-level SE trim) or DSG 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission available in all three trim level from S to SEL. The top-of-the-line SEL trim only comes with the 6-speed DSG. Power is distributed by a fifth-generation Haldex controller, which sends 90 percent of the power to the front wheels. When extra grip is needed at the rear wheels, then it can shift up to 50 percent of its power to the rear as slip is detected.

The test drive on dry, paved roads feels very close to the SportWagen. Overall, the Alltrack does a splendid job of smoothing over bumps and torn asphalt that I’ve come to associate with VW’s passenger cars. It’s not a GTI but the family wagon has a broad power band and knows how to get out the way in a jiffy.

2017 vw golf alltrack cockpit

The highly capable 4Motion all-wheel drive system should be excellent for foul weather driving. If conditions become more demanding, there are four selectable driving modes – normal, sport, custom, off-road – which can help manage traction further. Even when the pavement disappeared during our drive test, it performed really well on a loose gravel road and a technical off-road trail – before the off-road driving mode was engaged. If extra grip is needed over dirty, wet and uneven conditions, the off-road mode brilliantly adjusts power distribution, throttle, and traction/stability control systems. And it has an integrated hill descent control system that automatically guides braking of the individual wheels for a slow and steady pace when pointed downhill.

Sitting on the same MQB platform as the Golf SportWagen, the Alltrack’s exterior dimensions and interior volume are nearly identical. The extra 0.6 inches of ground clearance, composite underbody panels, and larger fuel tank prepare the Alltrack for off-road excursions.

2017 vw golf alltrack center stackIt seems the VW interior design team has been paying attention to its luxury arm at Audi. The Alltrack’s cabin design features good aesthetics and design harmony, as well as scoring high marks with regards to materials, ergonomics, safety, comfort, value, and fit and finish.

Small things – like more than one USB port and a larger infotainment screen – would be desirable but are not deal breakers in my book.

Rear cargo space is good, although legroom for the second-row passengers could be better. The pass-through portal integrated into the 60/40 split-folding rear seats makes it possible to carry three friends and long objects – like skis or snowboards – without having to sacrifice a passenger.

Schedule to arrive mid-October, the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack will be available in S, SE and SEL trim levels ranging from $26,950 to $32,890 for DSG-equipped models before an $820 destination charge and options. When the 6-speed manual arrives early 2017, price for the manually equipped S trim will start at $25,850 and the SE trim will open at $29,430.

2017 VW Golf Alltrack
MSRP $32,890
Price as tested $33,710
Engine 1.8L turbocharged and direct injection 4-cylinder TSI
Power (hp) 170 @ 4.500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 199 @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Drivetrain layout front engine / all-wheel-drive
Curb weight (DSG) 3,422 lbs.
EPA-estimated fuel economy 22/30/25 mpg (city/highway/combined)
Fuel tank capacity 14.5 gal.
Passenger volume 94.3 ft3
Cargo volume 34.4 ft3
Max. cargo volume 60.4 ft3
Wheels 17×7-inch aluminum alloy
Ground clearance 6.9 inches
Roof height 59.7 inches

Alongside the Golf Alltrack, Volkswagen also showcased another new addition for the 2017 model year, the Golf SportWagen 4Motion. Fitting nicely between the front-wheel drive SportWagen and the Alltrack, the SportWagen 4Motion is an option for Golf buyers who want the four-seasons stability of all-wheel drive but don’t need the increased ride height and ruggedized appearance of the Alltrack. It will also be offered at an intermediate price that makes it a bit more affordable than the Alltrack. Click the link to read all about the differences between the two models.