By BOB GRITZINGER, Contributing Editor | @bobgritzinger For some time…
For the 2017 Golf Alltrack, part of Volkswagen’s forward vision is to tackle a somewhat untouched segment – the practical wagon. In the height of crossover craze, VW has turned its focus to an area where it has long been successful, yet many carmakers have all but ignored (largely because a certain Japanese brand vehicle has remained undefeated in this category).
We traveled to the Pacific Northwest to experience the newest predator to Subaru’s Outback. Bainbridge Island off the coast of Seattle is where we would explore the capabilities of the outdoorsy VW wagon.
It’s no surprise why Volkswagen chose to launch this new product in the Seattle area either. The PacNW is known for being supersaturated with Subarus. Outbacks abound from northern California, through Oregon, and into Washington state.
Why the Golf Alltrack may have you reconsidering that Subaru
The Subaru Outback is a terrific vehicle, hence why it sells in droves across the country’s far corners where the weather is the most severe. But it does have shortfalls. For example, the fit and finish on the inside is lacking in refinement, as is the technology.
Entry-level brands like Hyundai and Kia that offer panoramic sunroofs, heated and ventilated seats, seamless Apple and Android connectivity, and driver safety technologies, are putting pressure on more established carmakers to provide these once-luxury features at an affordable price.
The Alltrack is kind of a big deal for the VW brand. Powered by the 1.8 TSI engine with 170 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque, this wagon comes standard mated to a DSG six-speed automatic transmission. However, wait just a few more months and you automotive purists can get a wagon with a manual transmission (unfortunately, VW isn’t offering this car in brown – on the outside anyway).
Sitting just 0.6-inch higher, the Alltrack is just a “ruggedized” Golf Sportwagen, as VW product manager Megan Garbis puts it. The company essentially added some body cladding and a little extra ground clearance to give us a car that’s not afraid to tackle outdoor activities alongside its adventurous owners.
Now that the vehicle has arrived at dealerships, Volkswagen hopes to exploit the Outback’s few weaknesses and conquer future cross-shoppers through the Golf Alltrack’s standard features, driving dynamics, and cargo capabilities.
Features packed on the Alltrack
- Heated seats and side view mirrors are standard
- Easy to clean Vtex leatherette, especially the new Marrakesh brown interior
- 8 speakers with available Fender premium audio with 9 speakers
- 60/40 split rear seat with center passthrough standard
- Standard roof rails compatible with any of VW’s cross rails
- NHTSA 5-Star rating and IIHS Top Safety Pick
- Automatic post collision braking to help prevent secondary collisions
- CarNet Security and Service system with automatic crash notification
- Rear view backup camera
- Full suite of driver assistance features available
- Light Assist (high beam control)
- EPA estimated 30 mpg highway
- It will be coming in a manual transmission
Three well-equipped Alltracks to choose from
Volkswagen is introducing the Alltrack with three trims. The entry level is the S trim, which is well-equipped at $29,650 with DSG, 17-inch wheels, heated front seats, CarNet App Connect, 6.5 in. touchscreen, daytime running lights, and fog lights.
The SE trim takes existing equipment from S trim and adds a plethora of features such as automatic headlights, auto rain sensing wipers, panoramic tilt and slide sunroof, keyless access with push button start / stop, 115V outlet in rear, three 12V outlets, available driver assistance for S and SE packages with Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking, adaptive cruise control, Park pilot and Park Assist. Snag the SE for $30,530 with DSG automatic transmission now or wait for the manual transmission in Q1 2017.
The top-of-the-line Golf Alltrack, the SEL trim, comes with a custom 18-inch canyon alloy wheel design, navigation, unique offroad screen for stats, dual zone climate control, 12-way power driver seat, and LED DRL’s for just $32,890. The only package available this model is driver assistance and lighting, which adds an auto-dimming rear view mirror, U design DRL, forward collision warning, auto emergency braking, park pilot and park assist.
VW’s new Alltrack ticks all the boxes for a practical, versatile wagon. It’s fun to drive, safe, and comfortable.
At a base price of $26,950, the 2017 VW Golf Alltrack is competitively priced with the Subaru Outback. Where this V-dub has the upper hand, however, is it comes stock with more power, more choices for transmissions, and better integration with passengers’ tech devices. Smartly, all of the most desired features – such as heated seats and mirrors, 60/40 split rear seats with a pass-through, and VW’s V-Tex leatherette — are included across all trims: S, SE, and SEL. On the lower models, you can opt in for a panoramic sliding sunroof and Volkswagen’s suite of driver assist technologies.
The VW Alltrack will likely be popular among customers shopping for an Outback but who want something a little fresher and easier to integrate with their personal technology. We think it’s at least a cross-shop given how well Volkswagen has targeted the few weaknesses of its competitor. And if both VW and us are lucky, we may even see a resurgence of the beloved wagon.
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