Friday, March 10, 2017

VW's Golf Alltrack more than meets the eye

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at

This review first appeared in the February 2017 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California The all-new-for-2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is a segment bender.

Motor Trend magazine calls it a sport-utility vehicle.  I don’t agree.  Volkswagen calls it a derivative of the Golf SportWagen. Well, OK.  Fellow auto reviewers have called it a high-riding station wagon.  Uh, that doesn’t quite cover it, in my view.

It’s not like this is new.  Subaru has been playing this game for years.  But I digress.

Here’s what I didn’t expect out of my 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack TSI S w/4Motion (yeah, say that four times fast): It’s a peppy performer.

How so?  Well, I made a fool out of myself just driving it out of the parking lot for the first time.  I stepped on the gas expecting an easy coast into traffic, and instead, I found myself hanging on to a rapidly accelerating car seemingly ready to jump the opposite curb and keep going.

Thankfully, only a handful of witnesses saw this humiliating performance.  Snatching up the owner’s manual, I quickly saw that the power plant was a turbocharged 1.8-liter, four-cylinder spitfire with 170 horsepower and 199 foot-pounds of torque.

OK, that explains things.

Over a week’s time, the Alltrack and I learned to get along, but I was consistently impressed with how quickly the vehicle dished up power with very little asking.

No, I did not take it off-road, but I did have fantasies of me chasing fleet woodland creatures through the backwoods in the wilds of Northern California.

So, here’s the thing:  Yes, it looks very much like a wagon with serious off-road capabilities.  But it’s more than that.  I could see myself happily using an Alltrack as a daily commuter/driver, never leaving the paved flatlands.  Seriously.

It steers with the ease of a midsize sedan.  Engine noise is comfortably controlled.  The 360-degree view from the driver’s seat is superb.

Another bonus: With the rear seats folded, the Alltrack’s interior cargo space measures 66.5 cubic feet, a serious number that I would have guessed to be hopelessly overinflated when I first viewed the car.

The list of standard safety features is impressive (the feds gave the Alltrack a maximum five-star overall safety rating), as are the number of standard comfort/convenience features.  Hard to argue with the price: a reasonable $26,950 to start, and that included no extras on my ride.

Gas mileage is pretty good as well: 22 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Volkswagen seems to advocate that it’s OK to treat this Alltrack roughly, because, well, it can take it.  I’m good with that, but frankly, I felt better mashing the accelerator and dusting off roadway crawlers.

Nothing wrong with that, right?

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