Why would you want a wagon? The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack was released last year as the newest member of the iconic Golf family, and it’s designed for adventurous families. It has a more rugged appearance, all-wheel drive, and cargo carrying abilities rivaling similarly priced compact crossovers. It’s ready for the trail and gets better mileage than many small crossovers or SUVs.
And, you can’t find many vehicles with a 6-speed manual gearbox option like the Alltrack.
Returning for the 2018 model year is the Alltrack’s 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine, standard 4Motion All-Wheel Drive, and Hill Descent Control. The vehicle comes outfitted in three trim levels: S, SE, and SEL. This week, we drove the attractively outfitted 2018 VW Golf Alltrack SE.
Features & Options
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack SE gets perforated leatherette seating, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, heated front seats, heated windshield washer nozzles, ambient interior lighting, backup camera, foglights, LED taillights, LED Daytime Running Lights, alarm prep, automatic headlights with rain sensor, an 8-inch touchscreen with Composition Color infotainment, and a Fender Premium audio system, which adds a subwoofer and upgraded sound. The Driver Assist package added a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and a self-parking system. Total MSRP, not including destination: $29,765.
The inside of the VW Golf Alltrack is stylish with Marrakesh Brown perforated leatherette seats and black trim to set the tone. The seats are comfortable and there’s enough soft-touch materials to make it feel a bit more upscale than your average crossover. The 6-speed manual shifter is positioned perfectly and the controls are easy to understand and driver-focused.
Visibility is excellent in all directions thanks to Alltrack’s tall greenhouse, plentiful glass, and relatively slim pillars, which differs from many of the crossovers today with raked rooflines. With the panoramic sunroof, the wagon offers up lots of light and a great view skyward too.
In the back, room is not as plentiful as up front, but there’s enough legroom for taller adults. Our riders commented this week on how the backseats are positioned too low and they felt claustrophobic. They couldn’t see out and wanted a better view of the road. The 60/40-split folding rear seats do offer a center pass-through, so you can carry a 2X4 without strapping it on the roof.
What adventurous families will like is Alltrack’s 30.4 cubic feet of standard cargo space which is SUV-like. And fold those seats down flat and you have room for extra camping gear with 66.5 cubic feet. The seat backs conveniently flip forward via easy-to-reach release handles on either side of the cargo area, so there’s no need to walk around to the backseat. We also like the handy two-position sliding cargo cover to conceal valuables during your weekend adventures.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The VW Alltrack is powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine producing 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft. of torque. This tester came with a 6-speed manual gearbox and 4Motion all-wheel-drive. With the 6-speed manual, EPA fuel mileage estimates are 22/32 city/highway and 26 combined mpg.
Because the 1.8-liter engine is turbocharged, we had no problem scooting up the mountains west of Denver at elevation. The engine’s torque also gets the Alltrack moving quickly from a stop, and is useful for carrying extra weight on those weekend excursions to the high country. Our only complaint is how the outside mirrors were small and were too touchy to adjust. We found ourselves taking longer than expected to change them to the right driving position.
Underway, the Alltrack has smooth power and the 6-speed manual gives the driver extra control in the curves. There’s a slight body lean in the curves because of the wagon’s 6.7 inches of ground clearance, which gives extra room when taking it off-pavement. But the VW Alltrack won’t be challenging the Subaru Outback (8.7 inches) for off-road-wagon supremacy.
Overall, we found the Alltrack to be a competent road warrior and the perfect size for those urban-dwellers to navigate tight city streets.
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack offers all-wheel drive, all-weather capability, cargo carrying abilities rivaling similarly priced crossovers, and it’s rugged enough for your weekend adventures away from civilization. It gets excellent fuel mileage and offers a 6-speed manual gearbox which is hard to find these days.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy