2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack SEL

Volkswagen’s Golf Alltrack is a welcome alternative to the crossover craze that has swept the auto industry. It’s a simple approach: take the VW Sportwagen, add 4motion all-wheel drive, raise the ride height, install some rugged-looking lower body trim, and add special wheels.

This is the premium equipped SEL model. There’s no mistaking it’s an Alltrack because badges are everywhere. Inside, it’s all Golf, which means solid German functionality. The vinyl-covered buckets are heated and extra firm, which I like. The transmission is a dual-clutch automatic, but a six-speed manual is available.

Surprisingly, only the top trim level gets automatic climate control and navigation. The touchscreen interface is improved for 2018 and now includes an off-road data screen that shows elevation, front wheel angle, and more. A full suite of electronic driver and safety aides is available. Four hundred watts of audio by Fender sounds great.

Row two legroom is tight if a tall person is up front. Cargo space is excellent. There are side pockets, and you can store quite a bit under floor beside the spare wheel. Both AC 12-volt outlets are in the cargo bay.

There’s only one engine choice in the Alltrack. It’s VW’s 1.8-liter turbo four with 170 horsepower. Power moves from front to rear wheels depending on traction, and just like other Golf models, handling and braking are quite good.

So for the 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack SEL, I say thumbs up to all-wheel traction, good handling, and excellent cargo space; thumbs down to tight row two legroom.

I averaged about 26 miles per gallon. The pre-production car had no sticker but should cost about $33,000.

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