2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

For 2017, Volkswagen has baked up a fresh new machine that uses an old recipe. It's called the Golf Alltrack.

About 20 years ago, Subaru had a great idea – add all-wheel drive and special trim to a good small wagon – and the Outback was born. It’s late to the party, but the new Volkswagen Golf Alltrack uses the same recipe: take the SportWagen, add 4motion all-wheel drive, raise the ride height, and install rugged-looking lower body trim.

This is the mid-equipped SE model. There’s no mistaking it’s an Alltrack because badges are everywhere.

Inside, it’s all Golf, which means basic German functionality. The vinyl buckets are heated and extra firm, which I like but some say are too hard. The only transmission offered is a dual-clutch automatic from VW’s other all-wheel drive machines.

Surprisingly, only the top trim level gets automatic climate and navigation, and there’s only one USB input in the SE.

The back seat is all fine and dandy until a tall guy sits up front and slides his seat back into your knees. Cargo space is excellent and loading is easy. You can store quite a bit under floor, too. Nice touches include both an AC outlet and 12-volt in the cargo bay, and levers to fold the spring-loaded row two seat backs.

The 1.8 liter turbo-four with 170 horsepower has appeared in countless VWs and it’s a good match here. As for handling, the Golf Alltrack feels pretty much like a regular Golf and that means good handling.

Power moves from front to rear wheels depending on traction. Even with increased ground clearance, the Alltrack is for light-duty off-roading only.

So for the 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack SE, I say thumbs up to all-wheel traction, good handling, and excellent cargo space; thumbs down to few standard electronic features and price. The as-tested sticker is $31,350.

I average about 26 miles per gallon.

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