Automobiles

2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack review

What do you get when you take the Golf Sportwagen, add 1.5 inches of ground clearance and some rugged looking body panels?

Say hello to the 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack wagon.

What is it?

Following on the popularity of the Subaru Outback and Audi’s A4 Allroad, Volkswagen continues to offer consumers another type of crossover as a response to customer demand.

Although it’s rather late to the game, the Alltrack joined Volkswagen’s Golf range as a 2017 model back in 2016.

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Basically, the Alltrack brings a pseudo-SUV appearance to the Golf Sportwagen. The right ingredients are all there: Volkswagen’s 4Motion Haldex-based all-wheel-drive system, plastic cladding around the wheel arches and on the door sills for a more rugged image. Polished satin-finished roof rails are a nice touch and worthy of even being on an Audi.

Ground clearance is bumped up to 6.9 inches, helpful if you should find yourself needing to drive over packed snow on during the winter, or on some logging roads enroute to camp sites in the Okanagan.

The higher ride height also makes it easier to get in and out of the Alltrack versus the Golf wagon, which parents will rejoice as loading babies and toddlers requires slightly less stooping over on a daily basis, and perhaps fewer visits to the massage therapist.

What’s new?

For 2018, there are no major mechanical changes to the Alltrack. However you’ll be able to spot the a 2018 model from earlier Alltracks thanks to its redesigned LED lighting which has been updated like the rest of the Golf models. My top-end trim vehicle included both front LED daytime running lights and stylish LED taillamps too.

Updates also include standard forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking for lower trims, and on my test vehicle, adaptive cruise control and a very fast acting automatic self-park system which works on both parallel parking spaces and perpendicular spots.

Impressive, as BMW doesn’t include the latter feature except on their top-end models.

What hasn’t changed is all of the good stuff. That is to say, 24 per cent more cargo space than the Golf hatchback, or in real numbers, 66.5 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded. Roughly speaking this is comparable to other compact SUVs and crossovers.

The Alltrack’s interior is standard Golf. Well-thought-out, well-equipped, and well-made, offering everything you need for an active lifestyle car. There are nicely chosen materials, ergonomically sensible controls, and good use of space. It’s typical German, and typical Golf.

Like top-end Golfs, an 8.0-inch touchscreen is standard equipment. New for 2018 is updated infotainment software. The displays are modern and the connectivity offerings plentiful. There is also a proximity sensor to bring up more on-screen controls as your hand nears the screen.

The system includes standard Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. That being said, as a whole, the infotainment system’s interface could be a bit more responsive. It’s acceptable, but far from the most responsive offering out there.

With its nicely padded heated front seats and spacious rear seats, the Alltrack feels significantly more spacious than what its modest legroom and headroom measurements may say it is. Despite the 4Motion system, footwells are unobstructed with enough room to stretch out reasonably well.

Automatic climate control and a full power-adjustable driver’s seat were on my top trim test vehicle, but notable omissions on lower trim models. Also missing is a heated steering wheel, handy for cold Canadian fall and winter months.

How does it drive?

With its large upright rear tailgate window and its thin roof pillars, visibility out of Alltrack is excellent all around.

Every Alltrack uses the same 1.8-litre 170 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine as other Golf models. With 199 pound-feet of torque, there is enough hustle to make the Alltrack a pleasant enough daily driver. Despite its modest horsepower, the punchy four-cylinder is tuned for good midrange power that makes the Alltrack feel sprightly enough.

There is enough power for adequate acceleration around town and merging onto highways, but load the vehicle up with passengers and some luggage and it will require a deeper dig into the throttle to get the speed up.

A six-speed dual-clutch automatic is optional on the Alltrack, and as equipped on my test vehicle. The 6-speed DSG gearbox is quick shifting, but don’t mistaken it for the performance and responsiveness that you’ll get from a Golf R. Likewise, the default steering tune is light and accurate, and selectable Sport mode adds some very welcome weight to the steering action, however small it may be.

Overall, the Alltrack is enjoyable to drive. Its raised ride height doesn’t seem to affect body roll much, which is largely kept in check for mostly flat cornering. The ride is balanced, comfortable, and nicely controlled.

The Alltrack also adds a driver selectable Offroad mode, in addition to the Eco and Sport driving modes found in other Golfs. This mode alters throttle and brake calibration and also enables a hill-descent-control feature.

Final Thoughts

Fans of station wagons fear not as they’re making a come back. One of the ways that manufacturers have found a way to make them stay relevant is, funny enough, by mimicking crossovers.

The Alltrack is packed with much of the DNA that has made the Golf such a globally successful small car – fun to drive, functional, and economical. If you like the idea of a Golf-based all-wheel-drive wagon but want a touch more performance than the Alltrack, the regular Golf SportWagen 4Motion has the same powertrain but is a hair quicker.

With its SUV-inspired disguise and a plethora of safety features, including automatic high beams, blindspot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, rear automated emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic monitoring, the Alltrack is sure to please those shopping for a family vehicle.

Plus when you buy one over a VW Tiguan, you’ll get some bonus cool points for helping to keep station wagons around on Canadian roads! And that’s a good thing.


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Andrew Ling
Andrew is a proud car and tech geek who has worked in Surrey for over the last 10 years. He comes from a communications/marketing background and has worked for automotive-related companies such as Edmunds.com, BenzWorld.org since 1999. From track driving, to rally driving to autocross, he has done it all! When he’s not reading about the latest automotive news, he can be found outdoors snapping pictures at various events around town.
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