The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack offers up a great alternative to the bigger wagons on the market. It’s a Golf in every way but has a ride height and drivetrain suited to getting off the beaten track, be it gravel or snow, along with enough cargo space for all the associated equipment. The three trim lineup starts off at $25, 850 for the base S variant and $32,890 for the top SEL variant, with the SE in between at $29,430. All models feature a 170 hp 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder mated to with a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed DSG automatic transmission – all of which use Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system.
There’s plenty space inside the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, which is pretty much the main point of the car. While the body is raised for ground clearance, the seating is the same, as is the roof height which means sitting in the Alltrack feels like you’re sitting in a middle of the range Golf. The steering wheel, analogue instrument cluster and center console looks good but is more utilitarian than a selling point, there’s not much excitement to it.
The center console looks good and houses the screen for the infotainment system, climate control and the shift lever with the only real difference to a conventional Golf being the word Alltrack found on the gaiter surround. Seating is comfortable with space for five, and the three available colors are in leatherette, presumably because it needs to be easy to clean after an outdoor adventure. With two up front, the rear seats can be folded down to free up a large 66.5 cu.ft of cargo space.
The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is all about a different drive to that offered up by a conventional Golf, while being not too dissimilar too. The suspension is raised so that there’s now 6.9-inches of ground clearance, an indication that the car is made to get off the beaten path, to an extent. While being higher, it’s longer too so it doesn’t feel like it wants to fall over on tar like you might expect. Gravel roads are where the car is best, the 4Motion all-wheel drive system ensures maximum traction when in Off-Road Mode, and if things get too slippery the electronic differential lock will intervene to help out.
Hill descent control works well and gives the confidence to drive down hills that a normal car shouldn’t attempt. Power delivery is good from the tried and tested engine and both transmissions are good, but the 6-speed DSG automatic for an extra $1,100 is the one to go for because some roads need both hands on the wheel.
The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack features the tried and trusted 1.8-liter TSI engine that’s assisted by a turbocharger, power isn’t something worth bragging about, but the 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque is enough to get the job done while being frugal with a claimed 32 mpg on the highway. There are two transmissions available to get the best out of the 4Motion all-wheel drive system, a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed DSG automatic. The manual is smooth with gears slotting easily into place, and with purpose while the DSG version offers up smooth and fast shifts. The latter also has paddle shifters so that you can add in a modicum of control.
The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is well appointed for what it is, but unlike the normal Golf range the options are more limited. You do get a multifunction steering wheel that can control a lot of the functions on the infotainment system. The system is good and can be optioned with a 400-watt Fender premium audio system, and also features App-Connect that keeps you connected to a smartphone.
One nice feature is the Off-Road Monitor that relays altitude, steering wheel angle and a compass on three customizable digital gauges. Safety and driver aids include a rearview camera with park assist, adaptive cruise control, park pilot, lane assist and front assist with a forward collision warning system linked to autonomous emergency braking.
The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is a great option for those wanting the same drive and reliability of a conventional Golf but with all the right extras for it to be the perfect tool for an active lifestyle. It’s a Golf in every respect but is high enough to traverse roads that a car would battle on and it features the right driving aids for it to be safe while doing so. Luggage space is great, and it can be had with some interior bits that are tailored to dirty luggage and equipment for the extreme lifestyle types. It’s an adrenaline junky Golf, when that adrenaline is taken from an extreme lifestyle and not fast driving.