By on November 17, 2017

The Volkswagen Golf is one of the best-selling vehicles of all time, in the top three in many global markets, but is somehow a niche vehicle in the United States. With consumer tastes shifting to crossovers and SUVs, Volkswagen has continued to differentiate the Golf from its peers by offering six unique versions. The most notable addition to the seventh-generation Golf is the off-road focused Golf Alltrack. Volkswagen accomplished this by lifting the Golf Sportwagen, adding standard all-wheel drive, and slapping on some body cladding.

The result is an attractive and viable crossover alternative. However, it may give up something car buyers love about the Golf: how it drives. After driving the Golf, Golf Sportwagen, and Golf Alltrack, it was obvious that significant driving fun is lost in making the Alltrack a crossover competitor. In its basic hatchback form, the Golf is an excellent driving vehicle. The Sportwagen retains most of that fun-to-drive character. The Alltrack however, doesn’t feel nimble or precise.

Volkswagen used the slogan “Drivers Wanted” for a number of years, but the Alltrack isn’t what someone who prioritizes driving actually wants.

Disclaimer: Volkswagen provided the test vehicle as well as lunch in picturesque Livingston County, MI.

Refreshed for 2018, the Golf family looks like another evolution of the same styling theme that has worked for decades. Compared to the competition, they are downright conservative in style. New LED taillights and daytime running lights freshen the exteriors, while an updated infotainment system improves the user interface behind the wheel. Some other standard features have been added, but all are still seventh-generation Golfs.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rival models have been introduced or updated since 2015, but none of these products feel old or out of date.

Driving the 2018 Golf S was an excellent way to establish a driving standard among the Golf family. At a starting (and as-tested) MSRP of $20,910 (plus an $850 delivery fee), this is the cheapest way to get into a Golf. It, as well as the Sportwagen and Alltrack, features a compact turbocharged and direct-injected 1.8-liter four-cylinder TSI gasoline engine. The engine produces 170 horsepower and torque peaks at 184 lb-ft (199 lb-ft with the automatic). In this variant, it’s mated to a traditional five-speed manual gearbox. A six-speed automatic is available as a $1,100 option.

The 1.8 TSI and five-speed transmission is an almost perfect combination. The engine is responsive, powerful, and smooth, while the transmission is engaging, direct, and competent. In typical Volkswagen fashion, the engine feels like it has more than 170 horsepower. At the same time, the transmission never feels overwhelmed. During my drive, I never felt like the Golf needed a sixth gear. The engine and transmission brought out the best in each other through rural Southeast Michigan’s backroads. It is a very eager and engaging car to drive.

Inside the cabin, there’s very few updates. Most notably, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system now comes standard. The Composition Color unit offers SD card and USB multimedia interfaces, as well as a rearview camera and Bluetooth. Both Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto are compatible with the system, and CarPlay worked flawlessly during my drive.

The interior of the Golf continues to be a simple yet upscale cabin. All buttons and knobs feel substantial, soft touch materials coat the interior, and the seats are comfortable. The seats are bolstered, but not aggressively so. Like so much of this car, it strikes an excellent balance. My 6’4” frame had ample leg, shoulder, and head room. While this version of the Golf doesn’t have automatic temperature control, the old-school knobs work like they should. These front seats are someplace a driver or passenger can enjoy spending time.

Next up is the 2018 Golf Sportwagen S. With an MSRP of $21,685, minus delivery, the additional $775 cost over the standard (but mechanically identical) Golf gives you an extra foot of length behind the rear wheels. This increases the cargo space from 17.4 cu ft in the Golf to 30.4 cu ft in the Sportwagen, making the Sportwagen’s cargo capacity competitive with many compact crossovers.

The Sportwagen does have a few options that are unavailable on the Golf. Starting at an MSRP of $23,935, the Sportwagen comes equipped with Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system and six-speed manual. For $1,100 more, the AWD Sportwagen vehicle can be equipped with Volkswagen’s ubiquitous six-speed DSG transmission. Currently, only the S trim is available with all-wheel drive. The interior is largely the same, and the 6.5-inch infotainment display carries over. Buyers of SEL-trim models receive an upgraded 8-inch Discovery Media display that adds Navigation.

Unsurprisingly, the front-drive Sportwagen feels almost exactly like its hatchback sibling. More competent in the corners than compact crossovers, the Sportwagen still offers the storage space Americans so desire. Still, despite an identical powertrain, the Sportwagen does feel a bit slower than the Golf. The additional body length also makes corning slightly less enjoyable. While still an excellent driving vehicle, if my primary reason for purchasing a Golf was enjoyment behind the wheel, the Sportwagen wouldn’t top my list. However, if I needed a compromise between family-friendly and fun-to-drive, this is where I would start.

Last, we get a look at the refreshed Golf Alltrack. Introduced for the 2017 model year, this version of the Golf is geared towards those looking for a crossover or a Subaru alternative. It comes with standard 4Motion AWD, 1.5 inches of increased ground clearance, body cladding, and exclusive “Off Road Mode.” Sharing its underpinnings with the Golf and Sportwagen, the Alltrack retains the 1.8-liter 170 horsepower engine, and is available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic transmission. MSRP starts at $25,955.

At an MSRP of $35,660, the Alltrack SEL was, by a significant margin, the most expensive vehicle tested. The SEL trim adds a more sophisticated infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, 12-way power seats, the Fender Premium Audio system, adaptive cruise control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. It also comes in a rather fetching shade of dark green with tan leather. Still, it’s the worst driving vehicle in the Golf family.

With the Alltrack, Volkswagen aims for a lifestyle sort of vehicle that would compete with Subaru Outbacks and crossovers. In doing this, it lifted a Sportwagen while retaining the same front and rear suspension, brakes, and chassis. The Alltrack weighs 350 pounds more than the front-wheel-drive Sportwagen, while boasting a higher center of gravity and the same amount of power. It’s impossible it could ever drive as well as its siblings.

In the corners, the Alltrack doesn’t feel as planted or accurate as the Golf or Sportwagen. It feels more like a crossover, exhibiting noticeable wallow and body roll. It feels this way because that’s the segment it’s competing with — a lifted AWD wagon with body cladding is a crossover by any other name.

Down straight roads, the Alltrack is composed and comfortable. It should be a comfortable vehicle for longer highway drives. It isn’t meant to be a canyon carver. And, as long as it’s more enjoyable to drive than a compact crossover, that should be more than sufficient. In terms of road manners, the Alltrack feels similar to a Mazda CX-5 or Ford Escape.

It’s an appealing vehicle on paper — it has a reasonable starting price, unique styling, and standard all-wheel drive. It should be a hit in the snow belt. I’m just not convinced it is a better vehicle than the cheaper Golfs.

After spending significant time behind the wheel of all three vehicles, I’m convinced the Golf is still one of the best-driving cars in the $20,000 price range. The Sportwagen continues to be an excellent compromise of fun and functionality, and the Alltrack is a good vehicle that’s outshined by cheaper vehicles in Volkswagen’s own showrooms.

[Images: ©2017 Adam Tonge/The Truth About Cars]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

89 Comments on “2018 Volkswagen Golf Family First Drive – Stick With What VW Does Best...”


  • avatar
    kkop

    We need more reviews from this normal-sized 6’4″ human! Seriously, knowing dimensions of reviewer helps in evaluating their evaluations. Since I’m also 6’4″, I’ll have to consider the Golf for my next purchase.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      For tall people, the Golf family of cars are the best compact cars. Their boxy shape and excellent packaging make it so I am comfortable in all of them. VW also does a good job with its seat tracks. They have a wider range of travel than most other cars. I am more comfortable behind the wheel of an Alltrack than I am a Flex.

      • 0 avatar
        ldl20

        I have the same problem at 6’3″ with a 34″ inseam.

        As for the Flex, did you try one with the adjustable pedals? I found that unless a Flex came with that option, I, too, would be uncomfortable.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          We have an MkT with adjustable pedals and it’s fine. I still think I’m more comfortable in an Alltrack. Well, as a driver at least. The MkTs rear seat wins hands down.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        The range of travel is impressive indeed; in your pic of the Alltrack the headrest is well behind the B pillar!

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I’m not remarkably tall at 6′, but I have a tall torso that causes problems in a surprising variety of cars. The MK7 Golf is definitely not one of them. It has fantastic packaging.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          I found the Mk 7 to feel much less roomy and airy than my old Mk 5. The car is an inch lower, and it’s all come out of the headroom. It’s all right, but I still want more headroom and window space, not less.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I believe it. Headroom and window space are trending in the wrong direction in all segments. Even if the MK7 lost some space compared to its predecessors, it beats any current compact and most larger cars as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Assuming things haven’t changed within the past three model years–I was in a friend’s ’14 VW last week–VW also deserves praise for its manual seat adjustments. The knob-style rake adjustment is a bit slower than the lever style found on most manual seats, but it allows you to to get to the exact angle you want. I was in a rental Mustang a few years ago where the “notches” in the rake adjustment were set too far apart, and I couldn’t get the seat to an angle I liked. Even if I’d loved everything else about it, it would’ve been a deal-breaker for me if shopping that model.

    • 0 avatar
      badreligion702

      I am 6’3, and I drive a MK7 GTI S every day. It is very comfortable. I have a long torso with average length legs. I was less comfortable when I sat in the SE with the sunroof. Lucky for you, you can get the Sport now and get a few good options without a sunroof.

    • 0 avatar
      tallguy130

      Preach brother! I’m 6’5” and it’s a small automotive world. Anyone that sells a car that I can sit in with a normal sized person behind me gets big points.

      VW side note: the Passet is Towncar big on the inside. Like crazy big. I nearly bought one to haul my family of giants.

    • 0 avatar
      kegs

      Im shocked by all the taller guys who think this car is roomy. Im 6’2″ and I thought it was way cramped. I like the car, but getting in and out and trying to duck under the A pillar was ridiculous. Back seat was tight too. For a wagon type setup I would go to Subaru even though I hate the boxer.

  • avatar
    gtem

    I love the color combo on the Alltrack is amazing. Wonderful shade of green with a saddle interior. I like it. The availability of a 6spd manual in the Alltrack is awesome too. I’m seeing these pretty decently discounted, along with the regular FWD variants of the wagons. Between these, the super-cheap Jettas, and Passats that I actually really like to drive, I gotta say for a company in such dire straits from a PR perspective, they have a very appealing product line up. I’d have to get over a serious phobia of VAG products, and ones being shipped from Mexico on top of that.

    You people better buy some Alltracks and Buck TourXs when they come out!!

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    This makes me miss my older Sportwagen.

    VW just nails the comfort, refinement, ride/handling balance, and perceived quality I look for in an affordable family hauler & commuter. If I was willing to suffer the depreciation hit that accompanies new vehicle ownership every 5-6 years, I’d happily roll from one Sportwagen loan to another.

  • avatar
    dirkpitt73

    Love the green Alltrack but I don’t see that as an option on the VW configurator. Anybody know?

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I think the VW configurator is for the 2017 models. The green is a new color for 2018.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Are greens making a comeback in cars? Toyota and GM and Ford and have a wonderful shade of green these days, sad to say it’s not more commonly picked by consumers. The Impala in GM’s nice forest green is particularly fetching. Sierras and F150s and Tundra (prior to ’14 refresh when it was dropped) all looked awesome in their respective shades of darker green.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Adam, do the 2018 models have amber or red turn signals?

  • avatar
    ccbc

    The manual transmission variant doesn’t have 199 lb-ft, but 184 lb-ft.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      I was going to point that out.

      Is that also true of the AWD SportWagen S and Alltrack S or SE which have a 6-speed manual, or only the FWD hatchbacks and wagons with the 5-speed stick?

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Yes, you are right. VW press releases get all goofy, but the manual transmission is down on torque (it doesn’t feel like it though).

        FWD Golf hatch and wagon = 5-speed or 6-speed auto
        AWD Golf wagon or Alltrack = 6-speed or 6-speed DSG
        GTI = 6-speed or 6-speed DSG
        Golf R = 6-speed or 7-speed DSG

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          Adam
          The same torque claim was sent out in 15 during the mk7’s debut. Vw ended up saying that all of the golf family 1.8t’s make 199 lb/ft regardless of transmission. It’s every other 1.8t that makes 184.

          I’m not sure why this keeps happening, maybe there’s an employee they use for vehicle launches that doesn’t have their product info down. Or, maybe it’s true of course and they restated incorrectly a few years ago. I’m leaning towards all of them being 199 and a German intern or an American contractor is to blame.

          BTW I ended up in a 17 4motion sportwagen manual. I also ended up lowering it and adding a golf r rear sway bar because I think all of the awd wagons suffer in comparison to their fwd siblings handling wise. I absolutely love this car.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    That’s a beautiful green color.

    Also the opening photo notes an interesting upgrade. With pre-facelift (2015-2017) units that had the bi-xenon HID lamps, there were two ringed accents per lamp pod, but only the outboard ones lit up. That was…unless you got the Golf R or the e-Golf, which also had LED indicators. Looks like they’ve streamlined things somewhat.

  • avatar
    la834

    It appears VWoA dropped the Golf SEL hatchback at the last minute, after including it in early press releases. If so, I’m bummed. The SEL has much more comfortable and adjustable seats, better headlamps, and lots of extra safety tech and gizmos. OTOH, for the first time in a Golf Mk7 you can get an SE hatchback with a manual transmission.

  • avatar
    JaredN

    I just bought a ’17 Golf Sportwagen S 4Motion DSG- unless something changed for ’18, the base Sportwagen is 2WD with a conventional 6 speed Aisin automatic. When you add AWD, that adds the DSG box.

    Also, I should point out that I am a 10 year+ Subaru salesperson, and the Sportwagen filled a niche I sadly could not fill with a Subaru- it’s Impreza sized but with a proper wagon trunk! I love this MQB platform, I’m a convert after driving my girlfriend’s ’16 GTI quite a bit.

    I’ll have to see how the 4Motion performs compared to the Subaru systems I’m used to, but even if it’s just “kind of ok” I’ll be happy.

    Tried to hold out for a ’18 6MT, but I just really fell for the DSG performance. I traded in a ’16 WRX with manual transmission, and I’m not bumming in the least.

  • avatar
    Stevo

    My family has both a 16 Golf and 17 Golf Wagon to go with our old Odyssey. The wagon is just plain wonderful. 80 and 40 pound dogs behind back seats in a pinch? Done (just drop the load floor to its lowest level). 3 adults and gear for camping? Done. 37 MPG hwy? Easy. Parking in narrow garages and tight street spots? Yep. I even picked up 4 adults each with 2 huge checked bags plus backpacks from the airport last month. We were jammed but it worked. Only drivetrain gripe is twitchy throttle tip in from a stop, which is tempered in the wagon, probably due to a little more weight.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    The old siren song of VW. Always so sweet and alluring.

    And it’s always gonna be different, this time.

    If you’re gonna fall for it for the umpteenth time – make sure you lease and then some other sucker will wind up w/ the mistake

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Or keep it for 6 years or 72,000 miles. Whichever comes first.

    • 0 avatar
      JaredN

      I used to think that, but the 15+ has been stellar by most accounts. I know a few people personally who have them, and all being long-term VW fans (through the gross Mk IV era, etc) they promise me that the Mk VII is a different story.

      I guess I’ll find out!

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Thorn,

      Yeah, I’m a bit of an apologist, but the MQB based product (Audi A3, Golf, etc.) have been light years ahead in overall quality and reliability of anything else Volkswagen Group has delivered before.

      The big changes started in 2008 with the A4 MLB architecture and these improvements carried over into the MQB product that followed in 2012 with the launch of the A3 and Golf.

      It would appear that they finally have gotten their proverbial you-know-what together to the point where the old stereotypes are beginning to sound out of touch.

      • 0 avatar
        vwgolf420

        My MK VI 2010 Golf has been as reliable as a Toyota–knock on wood. Honestly felt a little anxious when the warranty expired, but it’s been perfect. I’ve thought some about getting a MK VII Golf hatch or a Mazda 3, but I just can’t justify it.

    • 0 avatar
      Whatnext

      I had Zero problems with my 2011 Jetta before it was totalled by some wanker after 5+ years. One and a half years into my CC snd so far so good (touch wood).

      • 0 avatar
        blppt

        I didnt have any problems in the 3 years I had a CC on lease (2.0T/DSG), but watch out for tire cupping, which will make itself audible when the dealer rotates the tires.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    So VW makes a car with offroad pretenses and the review focuses on driving enjoyment on pavement. Pointless.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Volkswagen is the one that held the event and picked the drive route.

      And I’d venture to guess that the average Alltrack owner will keep their car on the pavement a vast majority of the time. The amount of places that an Alltrack can take you that a Golf Sportwagen 4Motion can’t is extremely small.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Maybe you’ve got a long highway drive to your favorite dirt roads. Or to your mountain cabin, with that dodgy road for the last mile. Everybody’s different, and most aren’t just like you. Haven’t you noticed that yet?

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Again, VW picked the drive route. If they wanted me to review the Alltrack’s off-road character, they could have at least thrown in a dirt road.

        I think I’ve been very fair to the Alltrack. It is a very good product that is outdone on the road by its cheaper siblings. If you demand the extra performance of less than two inches of ground clearance, by all means, buy the Alltrack instead of the Sportwagen. Well, also buy it if you want AWD and leather and a big infotainment screen.

        If I were buying a VW wagon, which I am considering, I would buy either. The Alltrack may be the product I would choose because it would be a compromise with my crossover loving spouse. $2000 over 5-10 years of ownership is insignificant if my wife, who would be the primary drive, is happy.

    • 0 avatar
      palincss

      And as far as I can tell (based in part on my nearly 10,000 mi on a ’17 Alltrack and in part on the various reviews I’ve read of the car) he gets that all wrong. I own an Alltrack and have driven the FWD Sportwagen and the 4Motion Sportwagen. If there’s any kind of handling difference, I haven’t found it. My car certainly doesn’t “wallow.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the author hasn’t actually driven an Alltrack, but rather is extrapolating using his imagination based on what he expects the effects of the additional ride height on handling to be. Most of the Alltrack’s extra ride height is the result of a taller tire, the actual suspension lift is only about 0.5″. I’m no fan of jacked up ride height, but a half inch is no big deal and there are advantages to a tire that doesn’t have the cross section of a rubber band. The Alltrack drives like a Golf, not an SUV. If they made the 4Motion wagon with the SE trim level I might have been interested, but it’s only available with the S trim; and the SE Alltrack w/DAP is equipped a lot nicer than the 4Motion Sportwagen.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Interesting tidbit about the lower torque with the manual, Adam…and it makes me wonder whether the clutch is up to handling the greater additional torque.

    Based on the experience I’ve had with my ’17 Jetta manual, which can occasionally reward me with Eau Du Clutch if I drive it too hard, maybe that’s the case.

    Hmmm…

    Either way, the Golf has my vote for the best all-around car you can buy for under $25,000…hands down. It’s impossible to beat the utility, performance and refinement here.

    • 0 avatar
      JaredN

      Part of the reason I went for the DSG was reports on the forums that the stock clutch is rather weak. Can’t handle much more in the way of power.

      You can chip these 1.8’s and unlock something ridiculous like +40hp +60tq and people have reported slipping clutches, whereas the DSG is good for something around 350 lb ft.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      well, that makes one of you. I have never heard anyone ever make anything close to that claim.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    “Still, it’s the worst driving vehicle in the Golf family.”
    And yet, it will outsell them all, defying logic and reason. yay for chick feelz.

    I’m very happy with our GSW and it compares well to the more upscale decade+ old euro wagon it replaced. The auto tranny can be a little lazy unless in sport mode, though.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “The Volkswagen Golf is one of the best-selling vehicles of all time, in the top three in many global markets, but is somehow a niche vehicle in the United States.”

    US buyers aren’t as flat-out stupid as the rest of the world?

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      the VW experience in the US since about 1968 has been dire

      sure, sometimes there are episodes of brilliance but for most the VW experience since then has been regrettable if you want to put a gloss on it

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Turns out that being the “most upscale compact hatchback” doesn’t have much appeal in the US. The GTI is a good car in a market segment not that many US customers want. Most people buying a new car don’t need to park it in small unmarked parallel parking spaces on the street.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      US buyers are obviously stupid, look what the best selling vehicles in this country are. Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

    • 0 avatar
      Whatnext

      Yes Americans are just a paragon of intelligence just look at their president.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    You can get a ’17 Golf Wolfsburg with DSG in these parts for right at $20k. That’s a screaming deal for a fantastic car.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    I bought a 16 Golf Sportwagen SE in September of 15 and it has been excellent. I have but 40,000 miles on it so far with no issues, it is miles ahead of the competition on driving dynamics, extremely useful for hauling stuff, and is just flat out fun to drive.

  • avatar

    This summer I picked up a CPO ’16 Golf TSI 2dr with the DSG. I added coilovers, wheels and tires and an APR Stage I. The car is exceptionally entertaining and incredibly comfortable although after having sampled the infotainment setup in a 2017 Passat R-line I’m kind of looking at bumping up out of the base trim and into a 4-door with the heated seats and CarPlay.

    • 0 avatar
      JaredN

      Did you do the DSG tune as well? I am curious as to if that’s necessary. Or, if doing that first before the Stage 1 tune would be worthwhile on it’s own.

      I love the DSG but often find it shifting up way earlier than I’d like.

      • 0 avatar

        No I didn’t. I really don’t think it needs it. I’m not tracking the car or doing hard light-to-light pulls so with how I’m driving it Sport mode (or the manumatic mode) seems to work okay for now. This car is sneaky fast!

        • 0 avatar

          EDIT: And yeah in daily driving the DSG upshifts way too early especially under part throttle in-town. Also I wish top gear held the car a tick over 2K rpm instead of a tick under. The engines almost bogging there to me.

          • 0 avatar
            tedward

            Hey man. Not a dsg. Check out the tech specs or just look under the car. Both are 6 speeds though. Wait, what country are you in? Is there somewhere that the golf gets the a3 drivetrain combos?

  • avatar
    threeer

    Makes me miss my 2000 Golf. Gorgeous green, lovely tan cloth interior, super-cool blue lighting, five-speed manual and sunroof. My FIL had a new Pontiac Firebird and let me drive it. Sure, it was much faster, but comparatively speaking, my little Golf was positively luxurious and I enjoyed driving it much more than I ever would have driving the Firebird. The Golf was great until it wasn’t…about 2.5 years into ownership, it started to fall apart. Still, I find myself looking over a new Golfs today and wondering…

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Are you sure about the ride height difference between the sport wagon and Alltrack? I looked at these about 5 months ago and thought the difference wasn’t that great. The article says 1.5 inches but I thought it was really only about 0.6 inches. Perhaps you meant 1.5 centimeters higher?

    Another item I preferred on the base GSW vs the Alltrack were cloth seats. It was a hot humid day when I drove the cars and the vinyl seats standard in the Alltrack were not ideal. I liked the family-friendly cleanability of the “leatherette” but it brought back too many memories of sticking to the seats of my mother’s Opel when I was a kid.

    • 0 avatar
      palincss

      I live in metro Washington DC, famed for its hot, humid summers. I’ve had my Alltrack since March — i.e., all through the summer. I haven’t found the upholstery to be either hot or sticky. Actually, it’s much nicer in summer conditions than the leather in the E39 BMW 5 series wagon I used to own.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    I had serious misgivings about getting swamp-ass in the V-Tex seats in my ’17 Jetta SE but I have to tell you, they breathe really well. I’d still rather have nice cloth but the perforated vinyl beats the heck out of the nasty cheap bonded leather I see in most new cars.

    My wife wants an Alltrack and would already have one if we could have made the numbers make sense. We’re halfway through a lease on a ’16 CR-V and need to wait until we get closer to the end of the lease before we unload it.

    I prefer the dynamics of the FWD wagon but she LOVES the “tough” look of the Alltrack and AWD even though we only get about 3 snowy days a year in Cincinnati any more and she never goes off-road.

    On my morning commute today, 20 miles on surface streets, my 1.4t automatic Jetta was showing 38MPG…gets more like 33MPG on weekdays when there’s more traffic. I know the 1.8t won’t do as well but these new VWs are very fuel-efficient machines.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      One of the big reasons I bought a GTI and not the MUCH better deal Golf Wolfsburg was the cloth seats in the GTI – both cloth and PLAID.

      Down here in FL the extra athleticism of the GTI is kind of wasted. The roads are straight, boring, and clogged with Grandpa and Grandma Moses.

      But I agree, I will take vinyl over actual cow hide (cheap version anyway) any day.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Adam, why no coverage of the new AWD GTI Sportwagen 6MT?!

    Oh wait, NM……

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Nice to see. w bringing back that green so popular in the 90s. It was offered on the Jetta last year.

  • avatar
    here4aSammich

    Quick search of Autotrader found the Alltrack S offered for $22,900. If the residuals are decent, I’d consider leasing one. I hate to say it, but I like the look with the higher ride height and the cladding. It looks better to me in the darker colors.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I’m not judging you for liking it more. I think it’s a great looking car. $22K-$24K is a great transaction range for the Alltrack. I know someone that bought a Sportwagen for $23K OTD. Both are excellent values at that price.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      Given the state of roads in the Northeast these days I’d take it for the softer ride alone. I like how the standard VWs drive, but our roads are getting too rough for a standard European suspension.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I’m actually not convinced that the Alltrack S would ride any better than say a Sportwagen S, in fact I suspect it might be worse. For one, the Alltrack has lower profile tires. Secondly, oftentimes those lifted springs are actually stiffer in an attempt to combat the raised ride height. Adam mentioned the Alltrack being more wallow-y why might imply softer springs, but we’d need to confirm.

        So Adam, how does the ride quality compared between a Sportwagen S and the Alltrack that you drove? I guess the Alltrack was an SEL with even lower profile tires so it’s not entirely fair.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I’ve had my 2017 Golf Wolfsburg 5 spd for about 2 months now. It looks good in Night Blue and has the beige V-Tex, which gives it some color inside too. The only things I really wish it had were the HID lights, better(brighter) reverse lights and auto climate control (last 4 cars have had it, spoiled by that). The lighting issue seems fixed for ’18. Other than that, it lacks nothing and at around the 19,500 I paid for it, it lacks nothing!

    It’s comfortable except that the seat bolsters a bit pinchy (but I’m not small either). The 1.8 with a manual is a wonderful engine. It’s not fast revving, but it’s strong, flexible and fairly smooth from 2-5000 rpm and efficient at 28mpg with a 50/50 of highway and city (with hills). The infotainment system with Apple Car Play works well and the system is relatively intuitive, though it takes a bit of learning of the menus. It is MUCH better than the garbage Entune system in our Sienna SE. The ride and handling are really a great balance for this car class, though I think I will get 17″ wheels and some more aggressive rubber for it in spring.

    It’s just a well-executed car. Period. I’m at the end of my lease with my ’16 Cruze Limited and it has turned me off to any further GM products. But my Golf has renewed my love of VW’s, “Dieselgate” be damned.

    • 0 avatar
      Whatnext

      Out of curiosity what was the problem with the Cruze?

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        The Cruze just doesn’t have the feel of the VW yet it is direct competition for it. And my Cruze is the “Limited” end of the line 1st gen car . The new Cruze isn’t impressive either in either hatch or sedan to me either.

        The 1.4T isn’t as smooth as the 1.8 in the VW and not as powerful (even in the newer Cruze which I’ve driven). I get slightly better mileage with the VW and I doubt it’s all due to stick in the VW. The handling is OK in the Chevy, but it’s not fun to drive hard like the VW. Both are quiet, though I’d give the edge to the Chevy, but not so much that it’s a huge difference or give the Chevy an edge. More due to the open design of the hatchback Golf versus the Cruzes trunk.

        The main thing with the Chevy was the clunk that started in the rear end. They had the car for a week, put new shocks, a new axle and yet the clunk was there. GM engineering couldn’t figure it out and they had 3 more Cruze of a similar age on the lot. They all had the clunk, therefore it became “they all do that”. My car is under 9000 miles too.

        The VW is a much better package all around and I can’t believe both cars have nearly the exact sticker. Plus I have heated seats and a moonroof in the VW. I turn the Chevy in two weeks from now. I won’t miss it. I will miss the 110/mo lease payment. It served its purpose: As a third car, it was fine. I drove a brand new car for 2 years for about $5000 total (gas,insurance and payments) And for me to experiment with “new GM” versus old GM. No more GM for me.

    • 0 avatar
      JaredN

      I’m about 3 weeks into being a first time VW owner, and in my learnings, I’ve seen that if you get the OBDEleven (https://obdeleven.com/en/) you can tweak it to make the reverse lights brighter, amongst other things.

  • avatar
    RHD

    “Drivers Wanted” translated from marketingspeak to English is “Buyers Wanted”.
    When the autonomous VWs come out, the new slogan will be “Riders Wanted”.

  • avatar
    Peter Voyd

    “The additional body length also makes corning slightly less enjoyable.”

    Great review(s). I think the above sentence is missing an ‘er’.

  • avatar
    JackWatts

    I’m going to bet the psychological effect of seeing body cladding had the biggest impact on ride and handling characteristics…

    The Alltrack is 15mm higher than the standard Golf Sportwagan–and the dampers are about 10% bigger in diameter (no, unlike the article states, suspension and brakes are not the same). I’ve driven the wagon and own the Alltrack, and I’d noticed no perceptible difference. I’ve also rented an Escape and CX-5, and while I don’t hate either of them, the comparison seems ridiculous to me.

    At the end of the day, it’s a wagon, not crossover. 15mm of added spring height doesn’t change that fact–unless the look of plastic cladding gets in your head…


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • redapple: Who will buy Tesla? GGM?
  • forward_look: Once I bought a ’74 (?) Colt/Mitsubishi for $100 that had the strut towers rusted out. I welded...
  • thelaine: Tick tock
  • MiataReallyIsTheAnswer: So many states manage winter WITHOUT salt, proving it CAN be done, I would very much like to...
  • 28-Cars-Later: “because poor people pay almost no taxes” This really isn’t accurate. State/local...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States