Elevate to Escalate: Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Is Crushing Golf SportWagen

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
elevate to escalate volkswagen golf alltrack is crushing golf sportwagen

It’s no Subaru Outback, soaring toward the top of sales charts with all the force of an automaker riding a decade-long wave of rapid U.S. growth. But the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, launched in the United States last autumn, is steadily earning a place as the most important Volkswagen wagon. By far.

In fact, the Golf Alltrack is quickly becoming the bright spot in Volkswagen of America’s Golf lineup and the Volkswagen brand’s overall hierarchy. Not surprisingly, the Alltrack is also dimming the spotlight previously shone upon the Golf SportWagen.

Predictably, total U.S. sales of the entire Volkswagen Golf family slipped in 2016, yet total Golf sales began to soar late in the year and have risen 54 percent over the last three months, due in large part to the Alltrack’s early success.

The Volkswagen brand’s recent U.S. sales recovery is artificially enhanced by horrendous results following the diesel emissions scandal. Sales across the brand have increased in each of the last four months, year-over-year, but that’s only because of how awful the results were during the year-ago period.

Go back to the winter of 2012-2013, when Volkswagen had just reported a 39-year sales high in the United States, and brand-wide volume was 22-percent stronger than it is now.

Year-over-year, U.S. sales of the low-rise Golf SportWagen haven’t cratered, but again, sales of the SportWagen were already unexpectedly low following the launch of a diesel-friendly car that didn’t go quite according to plan. Six months into its run, the Golf SportWagen lost the diesel engine that was expected to produce 80 percent of its sales.

Undeniably, the Alltrack has taken over as the primary wagon of choice in Volkswagen’s U.S. showrooms after Volkswagen followed a formula Subaru created two decades ago, a formula that eventually killed off the Legacy wagon.

In Volkswagen’s case, standard all-wheel drive, less than an inch of additional ride height, and slivers of dark cladding under the bumpers, around the wheelarches, and along the sills are all that were required for the Alltrack to now produce 72 percent of all Golf SportWagen sales.

In fact, the Alltrack’s share of the Golf wagon’s volume has grown every month since its September launch, from 14 percent in September to 55 percent in December to 72 percent in February 2017.

Over the last three months, the Alltrack, exclusively available with the 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, has generated nearly one-quarter of all Golf volume, easily outselling the Golf 1.8T in the process.

While the Alltrack has certainly eaten into the regular SportWagen’s territory, even with the SportWagen offering the Alltrack’s all-wheel drive in the basic S trim level, total wagon sales at Volkswagen have shot through the roof at Volkswagen. The last quarter resulted in 7,473 total Golf SportWagen/Alltrack sales in the United States, more than triple the total achieved one year earlier.

Comparisons with the Subaru Outback aren’t entirely unfair, of course, but the Outback’s level of success is so far removed from Volkswagen’s wagons that the contrast lacks proper perspective for the Volkswagen duo.

In just the first one-sixth of 2017, Subaru has already reported 26,663 Outback sales in America, enough to make the Outback Subaru’s best-selling product and America’s 23rd-best-selling vehicle. In any given month, Subaru sells more Outbacks than Volkswagen sold SportWagens and Alltracks — combined — in the last six months.

The Outback didn’t become America’s 23rd-best-selling vehicle overnight, nor will the Golf Alltrack, 6,404 of which have been sold since September.

But as the Alltrack trends upward, perhaps the most positive sign for Volkswagen is America’s willingness to consider a Volkswagen crossover-esque wagon. This does not bode poorly for the new Tiguan and Atlas.

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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2 of 57 comments
  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Mar 14, 2017

    What a shock, said no one ever.

  • Daniel J Daniel J on Mar 15, 2017

    They had 3 sitting on the VW lot a few weeks ago. Our VW dealership is also a Mazda dealership, and I was getting our CX-5 an oil change. 2 of them were north of 33K and one was just over 30K. Pretty well loaded. They only had 1 sportwagen on the lot, and it was just over 24K, but was selling for 21K. While the interior was slightly better in the loaded Alltrack, I couldn't justify the price difference. Both had the 1.8T. Also, given the DSG and the 40K service at 695 dollars at the dealer, I'll pass. The new CX-5 seems more appealing.

  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that