When you drive around Seattle, the most common sights are Seahawks bumperstickers and beat up old Subaru Outbacks. The cars are a sensible alternative to the typical SUV and they are perfect for active families with plenty of cargo room and space for passengers.
Volkswagen is releasing a competitor to the Outback, the 2017 Golf Alltrack, which I had an opportunity to test drive during a Seattle media day. It was surprisingly fun to cruise around Bainbridge Island in a wagon. The Golf Alltrack has more power than I expected and even performed well when I took it off the paved roads.
When it comes time to pick a family vehicle, your options are typically an SUV, a mini-van, or a station wagon. We had a wagon when I was a kid, but it wasn’t anything like the Golf Alltrack. The first thing I noticed about the Alltrack was the large, tilt and slide sunroof that comes with the SE and SL models. We had some great weather during the test drive and it was great to open up the sunroof and let all of that sunshine and fresh air come in.
We drove over to Port Gamble, which is a picturesque little town by the water. If you are into kayaking, you can rent one or bring your own for a little family adventure. The town’s restaurants and shops are fun to check out as well.
The Golf Alltrack is being released in three trims: S, SE, and SEL. The $27,770 Alltrack S with the DSG comes with more standard features than you might expect: leatherette seats, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, a backup camera, and a drive-mode selection feature.
The top-of-the-line SEL goes for $33,710 and brings full power front seats, navigation, the panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, and 18-inch wheels. An $845 Driver Assistance package is available on the S and SE models; it adds active cruise control, forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, park-distance control, and park assist. On the SEL, the package costs $1995 but also includes lane-departure warning, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic high-beams, and xenon headlights that turn with the wheels.
The Alltrack was fun to drive off the paved roads and handled much better than I had expected for this type of car. I gave the engine a little gas and it powered through those dirt corners without an issue, kicking up rocks and a dust storm in its wake.
I’m sure that these cars will spend most of their days shuttling children to school, but it is nice to know that you can go offroad if adventure calls. If you go skiing or camping frequently, having a vehicle with all-wheel drive will help you maintain better control when driving through challenging terrain.
As you would expect with a family vehicle, the Golf Alltrack is loaded with safety features like lane departure warning, backup camera, and things like “light assist” which automatically dims your high beams for oncoming traffic. I liked the parking steering assistant which takes the guesswork out of trying to parallel park.
Another feature worth mentioning is the intelligent crash response system. In the event of a collision, this turns off the fuel pump, unlocks your doors, and automatically sets the brake so your vehicle doesn’t roll into oncoming traffic. This is one feature that you hope to never use, but makes you feel much safer knowing it is there.
Before leaving Bainbridge Island, I had to stop by Frog Rock for a photo. This is admittedly a strange landmark, but the frog has become somewhat of an unofficial mascot for the island.
The VW Golf Alltrack takes the Golf sport wagon design and ruggedizes it with an all wheel drive system. It offers the drivability and economy of a small car, but is still powerful with its 1.8 TSI engine and DSG dual-clutch. If your family loves exploring the great outdoors, the Golf Alltrack is a great vehicle to get you there.