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.
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 standard 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. For 2019, the front-wheel-drive SportWagen swaps out its turbocharged 170-hp, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine for a turbo 147-hp, 1.4-liter engine that is shared with the 2019 VW Jetta sedan; both the all-wheel-drive SportWagen and Alltrack retain the 1.8-liter engine. The front-drive SportWagen offers the choice of a 6-speed manual transmission or an 8-speed automatic, while the Alltrack and AWD SportWagen offer a 6-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission or a 6-speed manual. 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. The Alltrack is available in S, SE, and SEL trim levels, and the SportWagen comes in S, S 4Motion (AWD), and SE trim. Standard safety features include forward collision warning and mitigation, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert; lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control are available features.
In addition to the powertrain change mentioned above, the Golf SportWagen and Alltrack see a minor shuffling of trim levels and standard/available equipment.
EPA fuel-economy numbers for the front-wheel-drive SportWagen are 29 mpg city/37 mpg highway with the 6-speed manual transmission and 27/36 with the automatic. Alltracks and AWD SportWagens are rated at 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway with the automated manual and 22/32 with the manual. In Consumer Guide® testing, an automatic Alltrack SEL averaged 25.6 mpg in 60-percent city driving.
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.