By on June 28, 2016

Golf Alltrack Subaru Outback combo

We don’t yet know the exact price of Volkswagen USA’s 2017 Golf Alltrack.

We are certain, however, that Volkswagen, a company with a brand image severely tarnished in the United States, will be able to do no better than slightly undercut the basic price of the Subaru Outback.

And that might be a problem.

Increasingly seen as a vehicle no different from the standard crossovers of our day — the Toyota RAV4s and Ford Edges and Nissan Muranos — the Subaru Outback continues to distinguish itself as a true crossover. Blending the qualities of a typical high-riding utility vehicle – or emphasizing them with 8.7 inches of ground clearance – with a more traditional wagon shape, the Outback truly does cross over. John Edward would be proud.

Now in its fifth generation, the Subaru Outback has outright ownership of the sub-sub-segment it created. Pretenders to the throne, often inevitably rare premium brand tall wagons, have come and gone.

2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Now that you’re hackles are up, we’ll acknowledge the AMC Eagle’s role in crafting the category. But with Eagle – and AMC – left behind, Subaru carved out a corner of the U.S. market in which a handful of others have done little more than nibble at the edges.

Honda’s Crosstour, more of an elevated Accord hatchback than a wagon, almost an upsized Subaru Crosstrek, generated 109,000 U.S. sales since 2009. Subaru sold more than 152,000 Outbacks in the U.S. just last year.

Volvo, up a notch or two from the Outback in terms of price, sold nearly 20,000 XC70s in 2002, but XC70 sales declined in the following seven years and the XC70 now averages little more than 5,000 annual U.S. sales. Volvo’s U.S. division produced fewer than 3,500 V60 Cross Country sales over the last 17 months.

Audi USA gave up on the A6 Allroad; the A4 Allroad produced fewer than 17,000 sales since 2012.

Toyota Venza? Toyota USA has given up on the Venza’s attempt to bridge the divide between RAV4 and Highlander, or between the Camry and Highlander, or between the Matrix and Camry, or whatever. Sales plunged 45 percent between 2009 and 2014.

But if Volkswagen’s previously hurting U.S. operations are to recover from the diesel emission scandal’s self-inflicted wounds, entering a new sector may just be the ticket. If Fuji Heavy Industries’ little ol’ Subaru brand can do it, surely a global power powerhouse such as Volkswagen can do so, as well.

The foundation is worthy, though the idealistic all-wheel drive, manual transmission, diesel wagon so long sought after in North America won’t be available. But the Golf family earned the tenth spot on TTAC’s list of the best automobiles in 2016, and the platform is arguably at its best in its most practical wagon form.

At first, none of the Golf Alltrack’s three trim levels (S, SE, SEL) will offer a manual transmission, but every Alltrack will be fitted with the torquey 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four and all-wheel drive. Every Golf Alltrack’s ground clearance will be elevated by 0.8-inch. Every Alltrack will feature the 360-degree cladding, especially important around the wheel arches, that will suddenly cause the collective American car consumer to consider the Golf SportWagen emasculated. Poor dear.

Yet all Golf Alltracks will be significantly smaller than the Subaru Outback. Remember, the conventional Golf is a direct rival of the Subaru Impreza, and we would think nothing of directly comparing an Alltrack version of the non-SportWagen Golf to the Subaru Crosstrek. The Golf wagon body provokes an unfair Outback comparison. The Subaru Outback is 10-inches longer than the wagonized Golf, greater exterior dimensions that create 15-percent more space for passengers, 17-percent more cargo volume, and 10-percent more cargo space with the rear seats folded.

The Golf Alltrack’s smaller interior highlights the difficult road ahead for Volkswagen’s semi-direct Outback rival. Not only is the Golf Alltrack’s Volkswagen badge representative of a scandal that will see the company buy back hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered cars and pay owners $5,100-$10,000, the smaller Golf Alltrack interloper will be priced right alongside the car which dominates the very segment it essentially created. (And the Golf Alltrack will be expected to add to Volkswagen’s tally, not just cannibalize the roughly 900 monthly Golf Sportwagen sales.)

2015 Subaru Outback

Do the math. A Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen in base S trim costs $22,445 including destination — but that car includes a manual transmission, which won’t initially be available on the Golf Alltrack. The automatic? An extra $1,100. Also standard on the 2017 Golf Alltrack is all-wheel drive, for which Volkswagen USA charges $1,975 on the one model where it’s offered as optional equipment: the Tiguan.

Now the Golf Alltrack S price has risen from $22,445 to $25,520, or precisely $1,000 less than the least expensive Subaru Outback. But this assumes Volkswagen won’t charge a single penny extra for anything other than the transmission and all-wheel-drive system. Improbable.

Despite capacity constraints, Subaru sold 63,969 Outbacks in the United States in the first five months of 2016, a 6-percent year-over-year increase. Based on history’s perspective, the Outback’s share of the market appears unlikely to be dented by the arrival of the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack.

[Images: Volkswagen, Subaru]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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93 Comments on “Can Volkswagen Outback The Outback with Alltrack?...”


  • avatar
    seth1065

    I saw the all track at the NY auto show and really do not understand what the big deal, it is basically the same as a Golf wagon, less than a inch higher , some plastic and that is about it, yes it has 4wheel drive but really is that needed for 95% of the folks who may buy one?? My jetta sports wagon seems about the same size as my friends subie wagon but both are last models so maybe the sub grew more this model. I do not need $WD I have snow tires for metro NY winters but I can not really see VW selling a ton of these but on the other hand there will be many folks trading in the VW so maybe if the have killer deals some may buy it, I will test drive one but my guess is I would have a 2wd golf wagon before this.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      To you it’s just a jacked up wagon. To the average consumer it’s a crossover. Look at XV Crosstrek sales. You are adding 5k on the price of an Impreza hatch in exchange for a lift kit and some cladding. It outsells the Impreza hatch by a vary serious margin.

      • 0 avatar
        stevelovescars

        You are right that Crosstrek sales far outpace Inprezas. However, I believe it’s because Subaru builds them that way. Their profit in a Crosstrek is substantially higher and they sell quickly. Try to even find a “regular” Impreza in inventory anywhere in the Midwest. I can’t blame them but I agree that the body cladding image sells well. I just don’t “get it” myself.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        It seems to me that the XV is what VW is targeting, not the Outback. They still want a price premium for German engineering. Subaru will stomp them in this segment.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      I don’t know why people fail to understand that to many people, a FWD car with minimal ground clearance is simply not something they can even consider. I’m one of them. Any car meeting that description is simply off the list.

      Ford figured it out, and realized they were losing Fusion sales in New England and elsewhere, and added AWD at trim levels below Titanium. I’m convinced that the primary reason I see so many “luxury” brands here in metro Boston is AWD. A BMW with RWD (aside from convertibles and M3s) is a lot turd that won’t sell here. I’ve never even seen an E350 without 4matic in the last two generations of the car.

      I don’t think VW will have a huge hit with this, but it will do better than the normal sportwagon.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’m in Western PA so I know about that four letter word (s-n-o-w). I’m curious what is this obsession with AWD and “ground clearance”? Did the roads and snow suddenly change in the last fifteen years to the point where both of those things are required?

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          The roads and snow didn’t change, but automotive technology did.

          People got by just fine without AWD and extra ground clearance.

          But now both of those things are readily available, and make life easier in inclement weather. So people buy them.

          If the tradeoffs imposed by AWD are minor or don’t impact things you care about why *not* get it?

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            “If the tradeoffs imposed by AWD are minor or don’t impact things you care about why *not* get it?”

            A. Because AWD introduces complexity and eventual repair expense
            B. Because AWD adds weight, reducing fuel efficiency
            C. Because AWD reduces handling in many cars, esp. RWD cars
            D. because it costs more, typically $1,500 – 5,000 additional

            And you even get a bonus reason:
            E. Because a dedicated set of snow tires on separate rims are cheaper and work in the snow much better than AWD.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks for the reply. What I’m imagining is, well I’m spending money and I perceive added AWD systems to give me more value so why not get it. I grew up in the time when FWD was “the thing” everyone was buying, partially due to better perceived traction in the snow. Two of my three are FWD and the Saturn is great in the snow. So from my view I don’t see a need to add a diff and complexity to my FWD ride which is why I asked.

            @VoGo

            Excellent points.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Advertising and image changed in that time. Now AWD + cladding adventurism = winning.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            JMHO, but AWD is usually worth the premium on the back end. Assuming this AWD system is reliable, and I believe that most 4Motion units have been, the next buyer down the road will pay a premium for it. FWD seems to only be a negative if AWD is available when it comes to resale (FWD Accord isn’t hard to move, but a FWD CR-V isn’t going to be nearly as desirable). Whether snow tires are better than AWD on all seasons is true or not, the market wants AWD. Just doing a quick and dirty look on cars.com, the AWD CR-V (not known for being a “good in snow” AWD system) command a $2k-$3k premium over same mileage, trim, and model year. A FWD intending buyer will settle for AWD. An AWD intending buyer is unlikely to settle for FWD, so you have a bigger market to sell your car to when it comes time to replace it.

            My wife never had a problem with her FWD in her MINI, but when the Clubman came available with AWD, she was dead set on it despite there being maybe 5 times that we, as a family, needed 4WD last winter. I do intend on putting snow tires on a second set of wheels for her, though. The 18″ wheel option set summer tires as standard.

        • 0 avatar
          slance66

          Cars didn’t really work just fine then. I saw cars on the side of the road, sometimes for days back in the 70’s.

          Snows are nice, but I don’t have time to take two days off a year to swap them, and don’t have any place to store 4 tires (or the wheels). I also have a steep driveway, and I know from experience that FWD doesn’t cut it. AWD barely does. While my 328xi was good in the snow, several times I had to drive in snow deeper than the ground clearance.

          The tradeoffs of modern AWD systems are negligible.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            I’m not going to try to convince you to get snow tires (although you should, you really should). But it doesn’t take 2 days to swap tires. Just drop them off at your mechanic and he’ll charge you $20 to do it in 30 minutes – it can take the place of your usual semiannual tire rotations.

            You do rotate your tires, right? Because you should, you really should.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge (bball40dtw)

            I dropped my car off at Belle Tire, took an Uber to work, took an Uber back during lunch, and picked my car up. Easy peasy.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            Why would you have to take an entire day off from work to swap tires? If you DIY it can be done almost any time.Most shops are open weekends ad the last swap I did took 25 mins……

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            Get a second set of steel rims and do it at home. The other advantage of the second set of rims is that you might be able to go down a size to give yourself a bit more sidewall height for extra cushioning on winter/spring potholes.

            For storage, there are outdoor covers available for tire sets. I got one from Bavarian Autosport in Portsmouth NH when I didn’t have space.

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            >>The tradeoffs of modern AWD systems are negligible.

            Not really. You still need snows because AWD only gets you going. Test after test and the real world proves that AWD adds nothing except a false sense of security when stopping or keeping your vehicle on the road while going around corners in snow and ice compared w/ cars w/ dedicated winter tires.

            I’ve driven by and around many AWD vehicles immobilized by icing conditions they cannot drive in. The owners sitting in them and learning the hard way that AWD is a simple solution to a more complex problem than they had anticipated.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          For a lot of us, the roads aren’t the big problem. It’s our own driveways. Mine meets a busy-well-plowed street, but 40 feet of slope make it dicey when it a couple of feet of snow pile up on it. Oh, and there were two steep hills on my morning school drop-off run. So for those dozens days a year, I needed an AWD in the family fleet. Near Denver, Seattle and other Western cities are tens of thousands of foothills residents who commute to the city, too. When you absolutely, positively have to get there, who else you gonna call?
          This may not be a mass market, but Colorado and New England were enough to Subaru in business over here through many lean years.

          • 0 avatar
            slance66

            Exactly this. The driveway is the issue. I need to climb. AWD makes a huge difference. In fact, RWD is better than FWD for climbing, which is why my RWD biased BMW was much better at it than FWD biased AWD systems.

            The roads get plowed. Any driving on snow is infrequent. Are snows better? Of course. But since 98% of winter driving is on dry pavement and I have no place to store extra tires, they are too big an inconvenience.

          • 0 avatar
            Promit

            Chalk me up in the “steep driveway” crowd – both my own and several relatives in the mid-atlantic. It’s extremely common for these driveways to patch ice at night after plowing, where the salt missed it or water/mud fell or something. I’ve watched my old Mazda3 pointlessly spin its wheels on ice while the back wheels sat idle on solid asphalt. AWD can scale these paths as long as it finds grip *somewhere*. FWD has nothing to go on without fully studded tires.

            Realistically, I got stuck in the Mazda3 1-2 times a year. It certainly wasn’t often – but it was extraordinarily inconvenient when it did happen. I switched to a Subaru and haven’t looked back. I get twice the power to the road before traction breaks, and the system has twice the surface area to search for it.

            (On the otherside of things, normal dry FWD handling really gets on my nerves, even with torque vectoring. I’m much happier with RWD or AWD, and there are no RWD hatchbacks below $30k.)

    • 0 avatar
      hoserdad

      I have driven on FWD/RWD/AWD/4×4 with and without snow tires in the great white north, and snow is not the issue, its easy to drive on. Ice is the issue, whether from freezing rain, or glazed over roads from cross winds, and only snow tires help; gummy rubber and sipes. With snow tires, AWD is a bonus for extra control.

    • 0 avatar
      Testacles Megalos

      Having had a string of quattros and then a couple of Jetta wagons, the AWD is an improvement in lousy conditions. But worth the extra dollars? Not sure. In a previous job in which I could be required to be on the roads no matter what the conditions, quattro was great – better than a 4wd S10. But for typical use? FWD and snows do just great.

      So what would make this thing worthwhile? Setting it up so I can use it anywhere short of a Rubicon. Let’s say the backroads in the National Parks, logging trails in Maine, or unplowed roads in Minnesota, or a roadtrip from Portland to Portland. Give it a stick, AWD based on a locking rear diff with either a center Torsen diff or a lockable open center diff (the 1st or 2nd gen quattro setup), adjustable height suspension, stage-rally grade underbelly shielding, and an easily-accessed high amp available voltage source front and rear controlled via CANBus , and now they’d have an interesting option to anything else on the market.

    • 0 avatar
      JK1

      The Alltrack might be for me. Assuming it will have the better engine, driving dynamics, interior, and fuel economy, I was expecting it to be priced slightly above the Outback. At least in terms of MSRP. With auto sales peaking this year (trending down next year) and VW’s reputation in the tank, I’m expecting a steep discount off MSRP.

      Audi Allroad is way too expensive, Volvo V60 cross country is too expensive, Outback’s looks aren’t really for me. Don’t like Crossovers much either. I want an awd (for steep dirt/muddy roads, not for snow people) that drives like a car and has some space for stuff. Might be the Alltrack?

  • avatar
    Sloomis

    So it’s like an unreliable, extremely expensive to repair Outback? Count me in then!

    • 0 avatar
      cwa107

      And with a fraction of the resale value to boot.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yeah, I wouldn’t bother. Everyone wants a used Subaru wagon – nobody wants a used VW.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          I beg to differ. Subaru’s past head gasket problems made it an expensive car to keep turning 100,000 miles. I’ve driven many VWs past that point, and the engines were utterly durable.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Well I didn’t mean an 02 Outback, more like 2010+, or a V6 one.

          • 0 avatar
            eThink

            Subaru uses a boxer configuration for their 4- and 6-cylinder engines. There is NO such thing as a “V6” Subaru engine.

          • 0 avatar
            BuzzDog

            “Well I didn’t mean an 02 Outback, more like 2010+, or a V6 one.”

            CoreyDL, you’re absolutely correct about newer Subarus being free of head gasket problems, and please let us know when you find a V6 Outback.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh wah. You knew what I meant.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      ‘Splain Lucy. My OB just hit 70k miles and needs a set of rear brake pads. That’s been it in 3 years.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Dave,
        Sloomis was saying that the VW is like a Subie, EXCEPT that it is less reliable and more expensive to repair. It was a complement to Subarus.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          Yeah but the other side of the argument is, It’s like a smaller outback but with a good engine, much better transmission, nicer interior and superior handling. I’m not deluded into thinking that’s going to matter to most people, but I can’t drive an outback without wincing. Id rather drive a forester, so this isn’t from a place of Subaru hate.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            I wouldn’t necessarily go with the nicer interior but certainly would agree on the handling. My OB is Toyota-like numb, but I guess I expected that.

            Tedward, I haven’t spent much time driving a Forrester – is there a discernible difference?

            Anyway, back to the VW – I’m glad they have an offering in this arena despite it’s smaller size for the price. I’m not sure how much of a market they’ll find though…

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            Re outback
            I just don’t like the way it handles and shifts overall. I love the packaging, much better than the forester, but there are at least manual transmission late model foresters around. Really my main problem is the transmission. For my selfish purposes the wagon love is all about improving the driving experience vs the suv. The raised suspension height really hurts the cause as well, although this vw will share that problem. I grew up driving last gen broncos and pickups so maybe I’m a little hypersensitive on the issue.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Whenever you write OB, I think tampon.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    This will be a big seller in the mountain state’s.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The pertinent question becomes: “Will anyone care?” Yes some will be sold in places like Colorado where you could sell twice as many Sonics in the state as current if there was an AWD version, but what about the rest of the country?

    I see Outbacks with Texas plates on them and I doubt those owners are buying them to tow their ATVs to the dunes.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    GTI engine. AWD. $28K. Make it happen.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Or just offer the Golf Sportwagen with the 2.0T. They are already making the Golf Sportwagen with the 1.8T, 6MT, and 4-motion. I don’t have a need for another wagon in the household (already have a 4Runner and a MINI Clubman), but that would be a very cool ride.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        There was a very limited number of the old Jetta SportWagens for 2009 with the contemporary 2.0T gas engine, on the top SEL trim. It could even be paired with a manual transmission.

        http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/track-tests/track-tested-2009-volkswagen-jetta-sportwagen-sel.html

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      If they do the not lifted awd wagon they’ve been hinting at it’ll be pretty damn close to that 09 sel that kyree is talking about. Similar torque, sacrifices 30hp but gains awd. With the six speed on the table that makes this the only wagon I can see myself getting excited about as a potential future purchase (more bc of the transmission than anything else). Sooooo close to gti wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        The GSW with the 1.8T, 6MT, and 4Motion is a done deal for 2017. It was on the ordering guide that I saw over at vwvortex. Only comes in S trim, though. If you want SE or SEL, you have to get the lifted version.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          That’s the other thing. Up to now, the Golf SportWagen TSI’s only choice for the manual transmission (and in S trim, like you said) was actually a 5-speed, not a 6-speed. The 6-speed manual was only available on the TDI, and could be had all the way up to the SEL trim.

          If what you’re saying is true, it makes sense because (a) I don’t think anything over $20K should still have a 5-speed, and (b) the TDI is no longer available, so there’d be no other way to get the 6-speed.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheatridger

            According to the VW ad I saw tonight, the Tiguan is their official Forester-fighter. I haven’t seen the official matchuo for the Sportswagen yet. I’m familiar with the Forester and the Tiguan. The former is a likeable, inoffensive family car, but the TIguan has the heart of a GTI inside. Besides the speed potential, it’s a much better tow car. Reasonable people might choose either one…

          • 0 avatar
            derekson

            It’s the 6 speed because they use different transmissions for the models with 4 Motion. This is also why the automatic in this car is the DSG rather than the Aisin slush box.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I can provide VW with the correct answer from their own parts bin. Skoda Yeti.

    As for the need for increased ground clearance, it is because ‘modern’ cars are lower to the ground than vehicles of previous generations.

    Therefore, the need for increased ground clearance. Not to mention that it is more practical.

    AWD/4wd in a car, is however not necessarily more practical.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      They have an “Outback” version of the Octavia wagon in Europe too:
      https://images.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.caradvice.com.au%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2015%2F03%2FSkoda-Octavia-Scout-1.jpg&f=1

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    This is essentially a Skoda Scout with different front and rear clips, right?

    http://s3.caradvice.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Skoda-Octavia-Scout-1.jpg

    I like that better.

    Also:
    -The Venza was awkward looking and had a bad interior, and not that much space. They got the name wrong too, Camry Crossroads would have increased sales greatly.
    -The XC70 is a question mark on reliability for a lot of people, and is quite a lot more expensive than the Outback, which -will be- more reliable.
    -The A6 Allroad was not really reliable, and the A4 Allroad replacement is even more costly than the XC70. And it’s too small.
    -I suspect there will be a big initial price premium, as VW treats this as “special item” like a GTI or R32.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Who wouldn’t want something like an Outback, only less reliable?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    As you outlined, the slightly-lifted-wagon segment is as much of a niche as the wagon segment itself is. The Outlander was the only one to thrive, and (now that it has more ground clearance than a Jeep Grand Cherokee) it’s basically an SUV/crossover.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      Its overall shape and design have drifted much more into the SUV realm too. It really isn’t any differently shaped than the current Ford Explorer.

      The XV Crosstrek, on the other hand, is a genuine lifted wagon (or hatch, technically?) still.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Aww remember the first Outlander, which was like a little Forester thing?

  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    Guys…screw VW…they’re toast. I think GM is missing a huge segment. The super performance CUV. Make a hatch-back, AWD, lifted Corvette…make it in Mexico to lower costs…and call it the VetteBack. I don’t see the problem.

  • avatar
    eThink

    After 39 years of owning Audis and VWs, my family recently purchased a 2016 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited. This Subaru replaced a 2002 Audi A4 3.0L Quattro Sedan with 182,000 miles.

    We compared Audis (A4 and A5) with the Subaru. The ONLY engine choice available in a new or CPO Audi was the 2.0T engine. This engine has a bad reputation for oil consumption. Plus the cost for a 2014 CPO Audi A4 was approximately the same as a NEW 2016 Subaru Legacy with the H6 3.6 non-turbocharged engine. The new generation Subaru legacy has an interior that is 90-05% of the quality of a new VW Golf. My wife loves her new Subaru.

    Most customers in the market for VW Alltrack will probably cross-shop a Subaru Outback. You get a lot more for your your money with a Subaru than a VW.

    The VW Passat Alltrack is a much closer competitor to the Subaru Outback in terns of size and capabilities.

    http://www.autoblog.com/2015/02/19/volkswagen-passat-alltrack-europe-official/

    However VW does NOT offer this car in North America.

    So VW is offering the US consumer:
    – Less car
    – Same cost
    – An inferior AWD system (retro-fitted to a FWD drivetrain)
    – Poor engine reliability
    – Higher maintenance costs

    All on top of the Diesel Scandal. Add to this the low percentage of VW owners that will recommend a VW to their friends.

    This does NOT sound like a winning VW product offering! It reaffirms the commonly held position that VW does not understand the US market.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      I can see appeal coming from three directions
      1. Interior – VWs do have very nice interiors
      2. Manual transmission – not for everyone but some people still like it
      3. Size – the Outback is a virtual land-barge these days

      I don’t think many people will quibble with Subaru’s AWD system versus Haldex. Hopefully not as many as would prefer a manual.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        The awd difference is real, but only for the six cylinder outback if memory serves me correctly. The Subaru 4 operates basically just like this more pedestrian haldex from vw does (as opposed to the golf r’s). 100% front, splitting to a maximum 50% rear under the right conditions. I think the outback 6 gets the permanent 40/60 split with torque vectoring, but I’m not sure about vectoring percentage limits side to side and front to back.

        A buddy of mine works for Subaru and I remember talking him down like he was a bridge jumper when they made the switch.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          But manual Subarus are still 50/50 I think. Someone correct me if that’s not right please.

          • 0 avatar
            runs_on_h8raide

            Correct

          • 0 avatar
            Advance_92

            Manuals are (or at least were) 50-50; my wagon is from 2005 and since Subaru doesn’t make an Impreza – or Legacy – in that style anymore the Golf with a manual is the main candidate for replacement if I ever need one. At 162,000 miles it is consuming more oil than it used to. Or maybe the dealer’s been using synthetic again (can’t turn down the coupons they keep sending me).

        • 0 avatar
          eThink

          Here are the details about the AWD systems used in current Subarus.

          http://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/not-every-subaru-all-wheel-drive-system-is-created-equal/

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Major difference: VW uses a Haldex awd system which is reactive AWD, and at best can only send 50% of power rearward. Subaru’s AWD is full time and can send nearly 100% power to whichever wheel needs it.
    This VW seems more like a Forester than an Outback.
    An Audi Allroad is a better comparison for the Subaru Outback (particularly the Subaru 3.6R Outback).

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Subaru neutered their AWD system a few years back. If it is hooked up to a CVT (in anything other than a WRX, IIRC), don’t have any expectations of a superior AWD system.

      • 0 avatar
        runs_on_h8raide

        This is false. The Subaru Symmetrical AWD is superior to all of its competitors in the mainstream segment. Like my snow plow operator friend said…he’s never seen a Subaru stuck in the snow…ever. That’s why he owns Subies for the past 20 odd years.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Runs_on, Quentin is correct. My understandings is that Subaru adapted some of their core AWD technology when it became clear that MPG was the name of the game. My understanding of it is that they baised the torque split more towards the front (90/10 or 80/20?) on CVT equipped models. Most buyers will quite frankly never notice, the new AWD setup is still “good enough” and the big ground clearance and long travel suspension still gives Subies the edge vs most rank and file CUV AWD setups, which send 0% to the rear and can only react once the front starts to slip, and the torque sent to the tiny rear diffs is very limited it seems.

          • 0 avatar
            eThink

            Here are details about the AWD systems used in current Subarus:

            http://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/not-every-subaru-all-wheel-drive-system-is-created-equal/

          • 0 avatar
            runs_on_h8raide

            Incorrect Gt. Ethink has the link. Like I said…Subaru’s AWD system is superior in the mainstream market place vs. it’s competitors (Toyota, Honda, Nissan etc…I’m looking at you).

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            Runs on
            That links shows that you are incorrect. While not discussing the outback in particular it specifically calls out modern 4 cylinder cvt equipped cars as using a computer controlled multi plate clutch. So, a very similar awd system to anything found in a cuv, anything with a transverse engine layout or what we refer to as haldex (a brand name) when discussing vw. There are differences in execution and possible rear torque bias, but in this case it looks like the 4 cylinder outback and alltrek will be doing the same thing in that regard. The crv was the car that was called out for having the bare minimum of rear torque btw.

            These systems are clearly leaping ahead lately however. Audi is discussing a switch to electric controlled clutch packs on some Quattro models and the focus rs and, gti pp and golf r have what are clearly superior and all very different versions of this technology than what you find in pedestrian commuters like the outback, alltrek and non jeep cuv’s. They are now capable of proactively sending any amount of power anywhere they want, whenever they want. It may soon be time to revisit the truism that geared/purely mechanical awd drivetrains are superior to computer controlled units.

  • avatar
    vvk

    >to consider the Golf SportWagen emasculated. Poor dear.

    This caused me to LOL on a crowded train. I cannot stop smiling.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    Of all the products that VW could have introduced to the American market, this is the worst possible addition to the lineup. I think even the Up! would sell better as cheap transportation, a la original Beetle. Exactly no one thinks raising a wagon’s suspension makes it an SUV, and the people who *would* buy a wagon would probably rather they add a 4-motion option to the SportWagen. The Skoda Yeti, as an AWD Kia Soul Competitor, makes more sense. VW has moved beyond simply not understanding the American market. At this point, it’s become willful ignorance.

    So, VW, here’s your free advice of the day: Make. A. Crossover. It needs to look like an SUV. It needs to start under $20k. And it needs to do something or offer something better than everyone else. Starting with the industry’s first 12-year, 120k warranty would do wonders.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Not a bad idea, but consider using the Passat chassis so you go for the 3 rows. Target the Pilot lineup, starting at $30k and topping out near $50k. If you could put one together with leather and sunroof for $35k, they may well sell a lot of them.

      And jacking up the warranty ala Hyundai/Kia, it would work wonders to get folks in the showroom. Dependent of course that the drivetrain meets the warranty…

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      A much longer warranty would be great, but it would also have to be accompanied by a better reliability to actually make a lasting impression on consumers. Free or not, no one enjoy making dealer visits. Do anyone remember Chrysler’s “lifetime” powertrain warranty that they had for a while?

      Also, given that VW’s warranty cost is already one of the highest in the industry even with their reputation for denying warranty claims… I doubt they can afford it in their low margin products.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      They have new crossovers coming in the next year or so. Both a 3 row LWB Tiguan and a new Pilot-sized 3 row CUV, and both are on the same modern MQB platform as the current Golf family and A3, etc. Who knows if they can finally get pricing right, but both are being built within NAFTA zones so they have a shot at competitively pricing them.

      The part I don’t get is how Audi was so early with the CUV trend and benefitted so much while VWUSA just sat on the sidelines. YOu’d think they’d have seen the money their sister brand was raking in and moved quicker to get these to market…?

  • avatar

    car extreme elegance

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    “Now that you’re hackles are up . . .”

    At least when I tell you to fall on your sward, it still makes sense.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    Saw it at the Chicago Auto Show and thought it looked good, inside and out.

    Of course it won’t sell as well as the Outback, which has a 20-year headstart in market awareness, but that’s not the point. It should sell decently, and will give buyers another reason to visit a VW showroom, which IS the point.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    The answer is hard core skiers.

    Who are people that REALLY want/need AWD, a bit of extra ground clearance, and plastic cladding, Alex?

    AWD and ground clearance for my driveway and the darn parking lot on those days when it is snowing an inch an hour, and the lot gets plowed once, before lifts open, and that’s it.

    Plastic cladding because the gravel (more like small rocks) on the roads here will blast the shit out of your lower paint in a few seasons.

    Sign me up for the GTI version mentioned above!

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      And moderately-outdoorsy but not-hardcore-offroaders in general, not *just* skiers.

      (That’s why I got the XC70 – because my Corolla was not fit for logging roads, really, and my F250 was dramatic overkill and useless as a daily driver.

      An XC70/Outback – or, if size was not an issue, Allroad/Alltrack/Forester – is the sweet spot there.)

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “The Golf wagon body provokes an unfair Outback comparison. ”

    Indeed; the Outback’s not-competitor is the XC70 (I know, I was cross-shopping them – and the XC70 isn’t as ludicrous when you’re comparing against a 3.6 Limited rather than the 4-cyl…).

    This does suggest that the Allroad is going to tank even further, unless they decide to drop the price significantly; it’s stupidly overpriced.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I think the VW will be a blip on the radar. The Outback (despite being ugly as sin) is simply a great tool for the intended job, lasts forever, has a huge following, and great resale. Tell me how VW is going to beat any of that.

    Though I’m confused….some here seem to be indicating the Golf SportWagen/Alltrack will have manual transmissions available. Yet the article seems to indicate there are no manuals available.

    I do every now and then eye a 3.6L version of either a Legacy or Outback…

  • avatar
    Rompster

    I think the article misses two key points that could easily make people buy the VW Alltrack over the Outback: 1) The Alltrack will probably have a slightly better fuel economy to even the 2.5L Outback and a lot better than the 3.5L Outback, with roughly the same horsepower (170 vs. 174) and more torque (199 lb/ft vs 174); and 2) A lot of people (my wife and I, for instance) don’t like the new generation Outback precisely because it has gotten too big and looks like an SUV (why not just get a real SUV if bigger is always better?) — the VW Alltrack does not, on the other hand, look like or drive like an SUV (just as earlier generations of the Outback didn’t).

    I have a 2014 VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI manual — if I have to sell it I’ll go for an AllTrack if they bring the manual transmission in 2018 as expected (frankly I’d rather keep it though — super torque, acceleration, handling and 42 MPG combined, and I live in the country and ground ozone isn’t an issue here, while global warming CO2 is anywhere, I won’t feel too guilty if VW could just pay some money for environmental offsets — part of the reason they cheated on diesel emissions is because U.S. diesel regulations are so much stricter than Europe after U.S. car makers lobbied for that, while Europe is stricter on MPG and CO2).

    No way in hell will I go for the Outback. My wife may get a Crosstrek before they grow that model too in 2018 (I showed her the Outback and explained how they made it bigger like an SUV in the last generation, and she just shook her head and said “another reason not to buy it — they’ll think they were right to make another SUV”).

  • avatar
    Therealist

    Impreza and crosstrek are both far too small and the outback handles like a boat. If the all track handles similar to the regular sportwagen (or better) it will be a success in that market. VWs also have far better interiors than Subaru’s. My wife recently was car shopping and we were both excited for the outback as we actually like the look from the outside and it seems practical. The interior while not flimsy or poorly put together is just extremely ugly and it handles so poorly. I’ve been waiting for something like this for a long time.

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