2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Overview

Yes, I know the crossover SUV has a huge fan base all over the world. And yet, personally, I’m a bit underwhelmed by them. I believe you buy what you need for what you do, rather than what you want people to think you do. Thus, a car disguised as an SUV feels like a giant jar of Faker-ade to me.

 

This is why I really appreciate the 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. It’s designed to do what most people who buy crossovers actually do and leaves you room to be a bit adventurous if the mood (or the need) arises.

Based upon the VW Golf Sportwagen, the Alltrack is differentiated by a 0.6-inch higher ride height, in combination with a set of taller wheels and tires to provide 6.9-inches of ground clearance, as opposed to 5.5-inches with the Sportwagen. This means soft roads and mildly adventurous trails are negotiated with ease, while performance on pavement remains largely unadulterated. In other words, it’s still competent on the street, even though it can deal with dirt too.

Yes, wrestling the Rubicon and manhandling Moab are well outside of the realm of the Golf Alltrack’s capabilities, but they are also well outside the realm of reality for most crossover sport utes as well. However, if skiing is your thing and you’re looking to get into the mountains without stopping to deal with chains in the snow, VW has a very nice ride for you in the Golf Alltrack.

The high quality interior’s comfort is first rate, its esthetics are pleasing and the Golf Alltrack’s equipment levels are quite sumptuous, particularly considering the price point. Plus, legroom is good for both front and rear seat passengers. My tester was the base “S” trim package, the highlights of which included a leather wrapped multifunction steering wheel, heated front seats, a rearview camera, heated exterior mirrors, foglights, Bluetooth and satellite radio.For 2018, VW added automatic headlights as a new feature of the standard equipment package.

Go for the top-of-the-line SEL and you’ll find active cruise control, forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, park-distance control and park assist. The SEL also gets lane-departure warning, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic high beams, and swiveling xenon headlights.

Power comes from VW’s venerable 1.8-liter turbocharged inline four, which is good for 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch semi-automatic transmission routes power to all four wheels. Fuel economy is rated at 22 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway. I averaged 27 overall.

The powertrain funnels 90 percent of its motive force to the front wheels, unless traction is compromised; at which point up to 50 percent of available torque is transmitted to the rear wheels to compensate. The Alltrack also has an “Offroad” mode, which adjusts throttle response for more challenging terrain  and pulses the ABS system to help control steep downhill descents.

On the road, the 1.8 is more than up to the task of providing satisfying motivation. Still, the Golf Alltrack is better characterized as fast rather than quick. Said differently, the VW handles high speeds with the aplomb expected of German automobiles, but screaming away from traffic signals is better left to its GTI and Golf R siblings. Ride comfort is outstanding and the Golf Alltrack’s highway manners make it a great choice for long distance touring.

Handling is easy around town and the reasonable size makes parking far less challenging than a crossover sport utility vehicle. Getting in and out of the VW is easier too. Yes, you’ll forego the third row many crossovers bring to the equation, but the VW is way more pleasant to drive too.

Pricing starts at $25,955.

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