• Car Review

Review: 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

By David Undercoffler | May 7, 2018

Autolist rating: 3/5
But would we buy it? Yes
Price range: $26,805 - $36,510, including destination

Key takeaways:

  • The Alltrack is a slightly more rugged version of VW’s Golf SportWagen.
  • Features excellent refinement and driving dynamics.
  • Runs a little small compared to competitors.
  • Offers a manual transmission.

What is it?

The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is a station wagon and the slightly beefier version of VW’s Golf SportWagen (which is actually closer to the Jetta than the Golf, but nevermind that).

It doesn’t have many competitors: currently it’s only up against Subaru’s excellent Outback wagon and Buick’s new Regal TourX wagon, both of which are considerably larger than the relatively compact VW.

The Alltrack comes in three different trim levels: S, SE and SEL, ranging in price from $26,805 to $36,510.

They all come with all-wheel drive and the same engine: a 1.8-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 170 horsepower. A six-speed manual is standard on the S and SE, with a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox offered as a $1,100 option. The high-end SEL comes standard with the dual-clutch gearbox and doesn’t offer the manual.

In an effort to burnish its rugged credibility and separate it from the lesser Golf wagon, the Alltrack has an extra 0.6 inches of ground clearance, gray body cladding around the wheel arches, silver side-view mirror covers, LED tail-lights and unique alloy wheels.

What’s good

TLDR: Powerful, refined, stylish.

Power. Though 170 horsepower doesn’t sound like much on paper, the engine is nicely tuned and delivers all the get-up-and-go that drivers will want (note that we tested an SE model with the manual transmission).

Refinement. This Alltrack does its European heritage proud by offering an impressive level of refinement and build quality.

Style. VW did a nice job of giving the Alltrack just enough rugged flair to set it apart from its more pedestrian Golf SportsWagen, while keeping the car stylish and handsome.

What’s bad

TLDR: Pricey and smaller.

The size. Compared to its main rivals (the Subaru Outback and Buick Regal TourX), the Alltrack is considerably smaller where it counts: rear legroom and cargo space. This may not be a concern if you like the VW’s smaller footprint for easier parking, but if you have tall passengers and/or lots of gear, this could be a reason to choose a competitor.

The cost. While the Alltrack is above average in refinement, you definitely pay for this advantage. Despite being smaller than its peers, this VW is the most expensive of the trio when comparing high-end models.

5 stars of execution

Safety? Yes

  • The VW Alltrack has a five-star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2017, it was also named a Top Safety Pick by the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though that didn’t carry over for 2018.
  • The high-end SEL also comes standard with adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, adaptive headlights and pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection.
  • These are great features, though we’d like to see them offered at least as options on the lesser S and SE models in order to match the Subaru Outback’s considerable safety features.

Value? No

  • Rugged wagon fans (or even crossover buyers) who are shopping largely on price will find the VW doesn’t match the Subaru dollar for dollar.
  • The VW is certainly priced fairly when you take into account its high level of refinement and style, but on paper, there’s no denying that the Alltrack is smaller and costlier than its peers.

Efficiency? No

  • The Alltrack isn’t particularly efficient despite a small turbocharged engine.
  • Alltrack models with the automatic transmission are rated at 23/30/25 mpg city/highway/combined, while the manual transmission models are 21/30/24 mpg city/highway/combined.
  • Not only is that subpar for a compact wagon, but it also lags behind the Subaru Outback, which is rated at 25/32/28 mpg city/highway/combined.

Driving experience? Yes

  • Setting aside the fact that our test model had an excellent manual transmission that most buyers will skip, the Alltrack is a lot of fun to drive.
  • The engine has more than enough power, and it’s smooth and quiet too.
  • The Alltrack has excellent handling for a wagon that wants to be a mini-SUV.

Execution? Yes

  • Despite the higher cost, smaller size and lower efficiency, the VW Alltrack is an excellent all-around car.
  • Buyers who prioritize refinement, style and build quality over pure space and value will love what the Alltrack offers.

Total Rating: 3 stars

What’s it gonna cost me?

A base S model starts at $26,805. That comes with a six-speed manual transmission, the 1.8-liter, turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive, faux-leather seats that are heated up front, a 6.5-inch touchscreen audio system with Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity and a backup camera.

Next up is the SE model that we tested. It starts at $30,615 and adds to the S a huge panoramic sunroof, an eight-inch touchscreen audio system, push-button start, blind spot monitoring and pre-collision braking. This is the model we’d choose, especially if you like the manual transmission.

The six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission is another $1,100 on the S and SE models.

The loaded SEL model starts at $36,510. It comes with the dual-clutch transmission, LED headlights, power driver’s seat, adaptive cruise control, a Fender audio system, a high-end, eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, parking sensors and adaptive headlights that turn with the direction of the steering wheel.

Also consider

The VW Alltrack only has two direct competitors: the excellent, but aging, Subaru Outback and the new Buick Regal TourX. Test both if you’re interested in the VW.

There are also a huge number of crossovers in the space and price range of the VW Alltrack, but none will match the Alltrack’s driving dynamics or style.