IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:
The Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack build on the inherent goodness of the Volkswagen Golf hatchback by delivering substantially upgraded passenger- and cargo versatility and the availability of all-wheel drive.
Only one engine is available, and Volkswagen charges a significant premium for the Alltrack over the SportWagen.
Even in base S form, the Golf SportWagen and Alltrack interiors are among the classiest in the compact-car class.
WHAT IS IT?
The Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack are four-door station-wagon variants of Volkswagen’s Golf hatchback. The Alltrack takes the basic Golf SportWagen platform and adds all-wheel drive, a raised ride height, larger wheels, and SUV-esque lower body cladding; it’s also fortified with off-road ready features such as a front skid plate, hill-descent control, and an “Off-Road Mode” drive-control setting. The SportWagen and Alltrack share their turbocharged 170-hp, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine with the Golf. The front-drive SportWagen offers the choice of a 5-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic; the Alltrack and AWD SportWagen offer a 6-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission or a 6-speed manual. (The manual transmissions are available only on lower trim levels.) The SportWagen and Alltrack are around a foot longer overall than the Golf hatchback; this translates to significantly improved cargo capacity (30.4 cubic feet vs. 22.8 with all seats in place), and rear-seat headroom is improved as well. Like their hatchback siblings, the Alltrack and SportWagen model lineups ascend through S, SE, and SEL trim levels. Available safety features include forward collision warning and mitigation, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.
The Alltrack and SportWagen get updated infotainment systems and LED taillights and daytime running lights. Some previously optional features are now standard equipment.
EPA fuel-economy numbers for 2018 were unavailable as of this writing, but there shouldn’t be any significant changes. For 2017, SportWagens were rated at 25 mpg city/ 35 highway with the manual transmission and 25/34 with the automatic. Alltracks and all-wheel-drive SportWagens were rated at 22 city/30 highway with the automatic and 22/32 with the manual. In Consumer Guide® testing, a manual-transmission FWD SportWagen S averaged 28.2 mpg in 65-percent city driving, and an automatic Alltrack averaged 23.9 in the same driving mix.
VALUE IN CLASS
The Golf SportWagen takes an already appealing compact hatchback and makes it better by adding more interior room. The Alltrack model adds a bit of rough-terrain capability into the mix. With 66.5 cubic feet of space with the rear seat folded, these cars’ cargo capacity rivals that of many compact SUVs. A comfortable ride, an upscale cabin with a straightforward control layout, and very competitive SportWagen pricing are other highlights. The Alltrack is less of an outright bargain than the SportWagen, though its pricing is on par with similar AWD rivals, and its pitch-perfect mix of passenger-car and SUV attributes make it an especially versatile family car.