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VW Golf Alltrack: Wagon-like style has sure-footed all-wheel-drive traction


The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, now in its sophomore year, provides compact SUV buyers with a wagon-like alternative to the traditional SUV or crossover.

Based on the VW Golf SportWagen, the Alltrack adds more rugged exterior styling, a slightly raised suspension for improved ground clearance, standard all-wheel drive, hill descent control, and an Off-Road driving mode to automatically optimize traction when negotiating harsh terrain.

Alltrack provides a modest 6.7-inches of ground clearance and features an underbody guard for peace of mind when off-roading.

Still, Alltrack is not a rugged off-roader like some of its competitors, but it will let you explore moderate trails and fairly steep grades with confidence. For anyone facing snow-covered roads, Alltrack is more than up to the task. It delivers sure-footed traction thanks to VW’s impressive 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system that automatically transfers torque to the wheels with grip.

All Golf Alltrack models are powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. For those who like to shift the gears themselves, a 6-speed manual gearbox comes standard in entry-level S and mid-level SE trims.

A 6-speed dual-clutch automated DSG transmission is optional in S and SE trims, and comes standard in top-of-the-line SEL models. The DSG transmission shifts automatically, or manually via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Alltrack’s DSG transmission delivers slightly delayed engagement when taking off from a stop, but its shifts are ultra-smooth and almost imperceptible once you are in motion.

Alltrack’s turbo-four is responsive and peppy, with only a hint of turbo lag at low engine speeds. There is adequate power for starting off from a stop and for merging onto highways when the vehicle is lightly loaded, but the engine labors.

Alltrack delivers a stable and comfortable ride when driving on smooth pavement, but because of its somewhat stiff suspension, driving at boulevard speeds on rough roads can be a bit unpleasant.

Alltrack’s cabin is much akin to the SportWagen. Its seats are supportive and comfortable. There is plenty of head and leg room up front for taller folks, but there is not much leg room for rear passengers when the front seats are fully rearward.

Versatility is good with 30.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and 66.5 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded flat.

The entry-level Alltrack S trim ($25,955) comes well-equipped and includes 17-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, leather-trimmed tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, 6.5-inch touchscreen, rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, 8-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, VW’s Car_Net App-Connect and Car-Net Security and Service.

The top-of-the-line SEL ($35,910) adds 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, automatic dual zone climate control, power front seats, upgraded infotainment with navigation and VW’s Car-Net Guide and Inform system.

What I like most about Alltrack is its versatility and sure-footed traction. If you like all-wheel-drive wagons, especially ones that let you shift your own gears, Alltrack is a nice choice.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication