The new 2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack combines almost everything I’ve always loved about the Golf SportWagen with a certain cool factor that non-wagon lovers might say was missing.
Almost? Yah, it would’ve been even better if TDI were stamped on its backside and the awesome 2.0-liter turbo-diesel still bolted into its engine bay. I know the dirty little devil isn’t exactly on good terms with the world right now, but those of us who love modern-day oil burners are lamenting their loss from VW’s lineup and most other Euro brands.
As it is, this beefy little five-door gets VW’s still impressive gasoline-powered 1.8-liter direct-injection four-cylinder that puts out 170 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque, which is plenty to propel its minimal mass forward in lickety–split quickness no matter the slipperiness of tarmac or alternative road surface underneath, thanks in part to standard 4Motion all-wheel drive.
The AllTrack’s increased ground clearance combines with an “Off Road” driving mode that is claimed to optimize “traction on uneven surfaces,” says VW, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to find out how it goes about its off-the-beaten-track business firsthand during my test week. I’m guessing it’s a soft-roader at best, as there’s no low gearset or locking differentials. Its all-season rubber on optional 18-inch Canyon alloys didn’t exactly fill me with rock-crawling confidence either, but a little summer beach sand might’ve been fun in the absence of any knee-deep powder.
I think Volkswagen had the latter in mind when creating the Golf AllTrack, along with weekend jaunts to the cottage, weeklong road trips with a tiny Boler or Scamp in tow (I wonder if you can get one of those in Tornado Red?), or any other light duty use for strong torque and four-wheel traction.
I don’t have either so I’ll keep my road test comments to driving without camp trailer, not to mention the usual laurels I laud on any Golfs’ superb interior, which in this case includes VW’s excellent 6.5-inch proximity sensing, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink infused touchscreen infotainment system. This is truly one of the better touchscreen displays in the business, with an excellent backup camera, nicely detailed navigation mapping and accurate GPS guidance.
All Golf SportWagens benefit from an outrageously roomy interior, especially in the very back for cargo where it can gobble up 30.4 cubic feet with the rear seats upright and 66.5 cubic feet when laid flat, while a center pass-through makes the 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks more flexible, so being that this new AllTrack is no different from the wagon in this respect it works very well for heavy hauling.
The base 2017 Golf AllTrack S starts at $25,850 and comes packed full of features, some items not yet mentioned including a raised suspension, SUV-like matte black body cladding, aluminized front and rear undertrays, aluminum-look rocker molding trim, silver roof rails, aluminum-finish mirror caps, a six-speed manual gearbox, 17-inch Valley alloy wheels, halogen headlamps with static cornering capability, powered and heated side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, ambient LED interior lighting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and handbrake lever, cruise control, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, voice activation, SD card slots, Car-Net App-Connect, a rearview camera, satellite and HD radio, a USB port, V-Tex leatherette upholstery, heatable eight-way partial-powered front seats, variable cargo load floor, in the cargo area, etcetera.
The $29,430 Golf AllTrack SE adds auto on/off headlamps, fog lights, proximity keyless access with pushbutton ignition, rain-sensing wipers, 400-watt Fender premium audio, a 115-volt household-style power outlet, and a really nice powered panoramic sunroof, while as-tested $32,890 SEL trim includes the automatic DSG transmission as standard, the larger 18-inch alloys noted earlier, dual-zone auto climate control, more upscale Discover Media infotainment with navigation, and 12-way powered front seats.
A $1,995 Driver Assistance and Lighting package adds HID headlights, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane assist, parking assist, and park distance control, which is enough for an IIHS Top Safety Pick when equipped, whereas all Golf AllTracks get a 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA.
All of this kit comes in a cabin that’s extremely well finished for the class, albeit this will hardly be unexpected for any Golf owner. Some of the premium-like detailing includes fabric-wrapped A-pillars, a soft-touch dash that extends to the halfway point of the instrument panel, soft-touch front door uppers, a beautifully finished leather-wrapped flat-bottom sport steering wheel with wonderfully thin spokes filled with high-quality switchgear, stylish gray carbon-like dash and door inlays, glossy piano black accents, and plenty of satin-finish aluminum trim throughout.
The AllTrack’s monochromatic multi-information display between the otherwise highly-legible gauge cluster isn’t up to standards in a class that’s now filled with high-resolution TFT color graphics in this position, but as noted the infotainment system is ultra impressive. Additionally, the just noted HVAC system is nicely laid out and easy to operate, plus the three-way heatable front seats come on fast and stay strong.
On that note the seats are superb, with excellent side bolstering, plus there’s loads of room in back, good lower back support, and a nice wide folding armrest with integrated cupholders at center.
The AllTrack drives much like any other Golf wagon, with a very compliant fully independent suspension that, while extremely comfortable over rough pavement, still manages curves much better than expected from a vehicle with more ride-height than its donor platform. I like the tradeoff, the raised suspension providing plenty of travel as well as better visibility all around, while any added weight certainly wasn’t noticeable at takeoff where the little turbo four provided all the get-up-and-go needed, the optional six-speed automated dual-clutch transmission with manual mode especially quick shifting.
Of course, the engine and autobox were set up for fuel economy first and foremost, the 2017 Golf AllTrack achieving an EPA rating of 22 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway and 25 combined as-tested with the automatic, and 22 mpg city, 32 highway and 26 combined with the manual. These numbers are identical to the Golf SportWagen when outfitted with similar equipment.
With the Golf AllTrack, Volkswagen has taken one of my favorite cars and made it better. This type of crossover SUV makes a lot of sense these days, as it combines the raised ride height, rugged styling, and roominess of an SUV, with the sporty handling and fuel economy of a car. I highly recommend it.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press Copyright: American Auto Press