October 28th, 2016 at 4:06pm
Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.
Reviewer: Sean McElroy
Vehicle: 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
Price: $26,500 – $34,000
With the sport utility market on fire, Volkswagen has one giant hole in its lineup… a mid-size SUV. The company will remedy that in the second-quarter of next year with the all-new Atlas that will be built in Chattanooga, Tennessee. For now, however, VW will bridge the gap with the new Golf Alltrack, which is in dealerships now.
The car is mostly just a SportWagen with a few cosmetic tweaks, but the suspension has been raised .6-inches and it gets all-wheel drive. The Alltrack will mark the first time VW offers its 1.8L TSi engine, the only option available in the wagon, with all-wheel drive and a manual or DSG transmission in the U.S. The same setup will be offered in the base-level SportWagen as well, also a first.
The MQB platform, on which the Alltrack is built, has proven itself to be better than good. It’s used for several VW, Audi, Skoda and SEAT models. And the Alltrack shares many of the same attributes. It handles well, I didn’t really notice the extra length of the vehicle behind me. I almost felt like I was in a regular Golf. But the extra suspension lift does give it away. It’s not much, but you do get a more commanding view of what’s in front of you. The Alltrack is also a well engineered vehicle. There’s no squeaks or rattles, everything just seems tight. That includes exterior and interior parts. To me, it’s a vehicle that could easily last a long time, if well maintained.
The Alltrack uses Volkswagen’s latest-generation of 4Motion all-wheel drive system. To help make the system more efficient, it will drive just the front wheels and decouple the rear. A control unit monitors the inputs and activates an electro-hydraulic pump to engage the rear wheels when needed. Up to 50% of the power can be sent to the rear. I found this system was a little slow to react to slippage. When going around a curve on a gravel road I could feel the car start to understeer or push until power was sent to the rear wheels to get the car to rotate. My only other issue with the Alltrack is the dash. It’s just so bland and outdated-looking.
Volkswagen sees the Alltrack attracting active outdoorsy customers and expects it to be cross-shopped with the Subaru Outback, which it believes it stacks up pretty well against. I think that’s pushing it a little bit. The Outback is bigger and much nicer on the inside. But the Alltrack does a lot of the same things well that the Subaru does. So, it would be a good fit for an active outdoorsy person. The Golf Alltrack has a base price of about $26,500 and a top price over $34,000.