Iraj Khan
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Review: 2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Fuel Type
Gasoline
Engine
4 Cylinder
Transmission
Automatic
MSRP
$22
City MPG
11.1
Highway MPG
7.8
OVERALL RATING 4.5 of 5.0
  • Performance
    4.6 of 5.0
  • Comfort
    4.8 of 5.0
  • Interior
    4.2 of 5.0
  • Exterior
    4.4 of 5.0

What’s new

  • Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking now standard
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert now standard
  • Manual transmission is now offered on all trims
  • Part of the seventh Golf generation introduced for 2015

Pros

  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Comfortable interior marked by quality design and materials
  • Cargo capacity rivals the space in many compact SUVs

Cons

  • Transmission often hesitates to shift when driving at low speeds
  • Fuel economy ratings are low for this class
  • Infotainment looks dated and feels slow, but new updates might fix that

Which Golf Alltrack does Vin Busters recommend?

The base Golf Alltrack S comes well-equipped, especially now that it comes with more common driver aids such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. The SE’s panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, and larger 8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface are a draw, but we’re not convinced the extra cost is worth it.

Overall rating 7.4 / 10

Today’s crossover SUVs do a pretty good job packaging big cargo space and wet-weather capability in a car-like package. Yet some shoppers still prefer a vehicle that looks and rides more like a sedan. If you’re one of them, the 2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack makes perfect sense.

Like the Golf SportWagen on which it’s based, the Alltrack follows a similarly simple formula: Add more length to the popular Golf hatchback’s proportions for larger cargo volume. In this case, you get 66.5 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, which is similar or larger than the capacity of many crossover SUVs. The Alltrack also shares the SportWagen’s top engine choice, a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder, and the availability of both manual and automatic transmissions.

But the Alltrack’s standard all-wheel drive, protective lower body panels and taller ground clearance give it the ability to venture farther off-pavement than the SportWagen. The Alltrack’s 7 inches of ground clearance (compared to the SportWagen’s 5.5 inches) and mild all-wheel-drive system are still no match for trails better suited to a Jeep or Toyota SUV, for example. But they are still enough to get most adventure-minded drivers deeper out into the woods, rocks and sand.

For 2019, the Alltrack adds a few new standard driver safety features and now offers a manual transmission on all three trim levels, but otherwise, it carries over unchanged. This news will cheer up drivers disappointed in the regular SportWagen for dropping desirable features such as navigation and an upgraded audio system. These features are still available on the Alltrack SEL trim.

You might also want to consider the Subaru Outback or Audi Allroad; either is similar in theme. But overall we think the VW Alltrack is a great choice for drivers who don’t want an SUV or just prefer a sedan-like ride with extra utility and the ability to handle rough terrain.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack configurations

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack comes in three trim levels: SSE, and SEL. The base S is pretty well-equipped and offers most all you need for an active lifestyle car, including roof rails, heated seats and side mirrors, a rearview camera, Bluetooth and smartphone integration. Stepping up to the SE brings a big sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, and a better sound system, while the SEL dials it up with nicer wheels, power seats and a navigation system.

All Golf Alltracks is powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine (168 horsepower, 199 pound-feet of torque) and come with all-wheel drive. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (dubbed DSG in Volkswagen-speak) is an option.

Standard features on the S include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers, foglights, LED daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, roof rails, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, simulated-leather upholstery, heated front seats with manual adjustment and power recline, 60/40-split folding rear seats with a center pass-through, and ambient cabin lighting.

Also standard are a rearview camera, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Bluetooth, VW’s Car-Net communications, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a USB port, and a six-speaker sound system. New for 2019 are standard driver safety aids including forwarding collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Moving up to the SE adds a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, a 115-volt outlet in the cargo area, and an upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen interface. An optional Driver Assistance package for the SE adds 18-inch wheels, adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, parking sensors, lane keeping assist, and an automatic parking system and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The top-level SEL comes with all of the above plus adaptive cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, a navigation system, and a Fender premium audio system.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack SEL (turbo 1.8L inline-4 | 6-speed dual-clutch automatic | AWD).

Driving 7.5

The Alltrack is about 300 pounds heavier than a Golf SportWagen with front-wheel drive, so the turbo engine doesn’t feel quite as punchy and the handling is somewhat blunted. But it’s still a confidence-inspiring road car. It’s not really an off-road vehicle despite its butch styling.

Acceleration 7.0

You get smooth acceleration from VW’s 1.8-liter turbo, but 168 hp isn’t much for a 3,500-pound car. It’s hardly slow, but even when you give it a decent amount of throttle in the city, the Alltrack isn’t in a particular hurry. At the Edmunds test track, its 0-60 mph time was 7.1 seconds.

Braking 8.5

The brake pedal is firm, which isn’t typical for Volkswagens, but it’s definitely a plus in the Alltrack. You get quite a bit of braking response quickly after depressing the pedal. At the Edmunds test track, the Alltrack stopped from 60 mph in 114 feet, an impressively short distance.

Steering 7.5

The steering is very well-weighted and responsive to quick movements, with decent feel on-center, but otherwise it’s vague. We wouldn’t call this steering engaging, but most shoppers should find it perfectly acceptable. As a bonus, the steering wheel is chunky and feels good in your hands.

Handling 7.0

The Alltrack handles corners relatively well, but it’s not as sporty as the standard Golf. There’s noticeable body roll when going around turns, and the Alltrack’s higher center of gravity doesn’t help. It’s competent, but that’s about it.

Drivability 8.0

The automatic transmission is sluggish to engage from a stop and sometimes feels indecisive in parking situations. But once underway, it upshifts so quickly and smoothly that the tachometer needle may be your only indication that it’s doing something. Overall, it’s an easy car to drive.

Off-road 6.0

With 6.9 inches of ground clearance, the Alltrack won’t be challenging the Subaru Outback, with its 8.7 inches, for off-road-wagon supremacy. That said, you can traverse some rocky trails without destroying the underside. The Off-Road mode is mild, affecting ABS, throttle gain and hill descent control.

Comfort 7.5

Although the crossover-inspired styling suggests a cushy ride, it is not the case. The Alltrack is tautly sprung, so it can feel somewhat stiff and out of sorts on broken pavement. The seats are comfortable, though, and overall refinement is a strong point.

Seat comfort 7.5

The seats in our top-trim SEL test car were relatively comfortable with firm but supportive bolstering. The seat bottoms, both up front and in the rear, are relatively flat, so your legs may grow tired on ultra-long journeys.

Ride comfort 7.5

Impacts make their way into the cabin in a sharp and muffled manner, but the Alltrack’s ride is generally pretty good. Bigger wheels mean shorter tire sidewalls so that you can feel most of the rocks and bumps underneath you. Big dips don’t upset the ride much.

Noise & vibration 7.5

There’s an average amount of road noise on the highway, depending on the road surface, but wind noise is noticeable. Put the stereo on at the faintest of volume, and you’ll drown out most noise. The engine stays relatively quiet in almost all scenarios.

Climate control 8.5

The automatic climate control system is a set-it-and-forget-it exercise. Put the Golf at 74 degrees, and you’ll be comfortable no matter how warm it is outside. The heated seats warm up in average time, but heat is not distributed very evenly.

Interior 8.0

A large cabin with ample glass and a simple, sensible control layout make the Alltrack’s interior a pleasant, user-friendly environment. We’d only ask for a roomier rear seat with a higher bench, which you’ll find in many similarly priced crossovers.

Ease of use 9.0

The buttons are simple, clearly labeled and well-located. The Alltrack’s cabin may not be as fancy as some rivals’ cabins, but its simplicity and ease of use are refreshing. Nothing fussy, just strong fundamentals.

Getting in/getting out 7.5

Tall seat bolsters aside, you can pretty much slide right into the Alltrack. The rear doors have a relatively narrow opening, and if the front seat is pushed back for a tall driver, there’s not much room for the rear passenger to squeeze behind.

Driving position 8.5

You don’t have a tall, commanding view of the road as you do in a crossover, but the driving position is just as good as it is in a standard Golf. The power-adjustable seats and the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with plenty of range mean drivers of all sizes can get comfy easily.

Roominess 7.0

Rear passenger space is at a premium relative to competitive crossovers. With a tall driver settled in, the rear passenger’s shins may rub against the front seatback. The front compartment, on the other hand, is airy and spacious.

Visibility 8.5

The tall windows and the large windshield mean good visibility all around. With the panoramic sunroof, you’ve got great skyward visibility, too. A small gripe is that the rearview side mirrors are oddly shaped and limit visibility of what’s happening next to you.

Quality 6.5

The rear door panels use hard plastic right up to the windowsill, unlike the softly trimmed panels in front. Likewise, the lower dashboard wears a hard, shiny plastic covering that’s not up to VW’s usual standards. Everything seems nicely put-together, though, with no squeaks or rattles.

Utility 7.5

Impressive cargo space puts the Alltrack in a league with many small crossovers, and it’s a cinch to fold the rear seatbacks flat while you’re loading cargo. We also like the nifty two-position sliding cargo cover. But there’s not much room for odds and ends when you’re riding up front.

Small-item storage 7.0

The decent-size cupholders and the small door pockets mean there’s adequate but not abundant room for your stuff. The flip-door ashtray area in front of the shift lever has been converted into a phone shelf, convenient for stashing and connecting a phone, but it limits storage space.

Cargo space 9.0

The 30.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats is nearly SUV-level, as is the maximum 66.5 cubic feet when you fold the rear seatbacks down. Those seatbacks conveniently flip forward via release handles on either side of the cargo area, so there’s no need to walk around to the back seat.

Child safety seat accommodation 6.5

The two exposed LATCH points on each rear outboard seat are easy to reach and attach a child seat to. But the limited rear-seat room will definitely prevent you from accommodating larger child seats in the back.

Technology 7.0

The Golf’s infotainment system was updated for 2018, and many driver safety aids are available. The voice control system is relatively simple.

Audio & navigation 6.5

The standard touchscreen isn’t the most user-friendly interface, but it has all the features you’ll want. The upgrade system has a bigger screen.

Smartphone integration 7.0

Sophisticated smartphone capability is anchored by Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Compatibility with apps such as Pandora, Spotify and TuneIn internet radio is a plus.

Driver aids 8.0

The Alltrack now comes standard with forwarding collision warning, automatic emergency braking, parking assistance, and blind-spot and lane departure warnings. The SEL also has adaptive cruise control. All those systems operated well during our test without being overly sensitive or intrusive.
Author
Iraj Khan

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