2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Review

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack - Refreshingly carlike with just a dash of crossover.


The Golf Alltrack was introduced in 2017 as Volkswagen's answer to vehicles like the Audi A4 allroad, Mitsubishi Outland Sport and Subaru Outback. The Alltrack is a 4-door wagon riding on the Golf platform that adds raised ground clearance, standard all-wheel drive, and black-plastic cladding around the wheel openings and on the lower body.

The Alltrack seats five and comes in three trim levels: S, SE and SEL. For 2019 forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert now standard. In addition, VW has made the manual transmission available on all trim levels.

Alltrack comes with a turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 168 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard with a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic optional. All-wheel drive is standard as well. Ride height is raised 1.4 inches compared to the standard Golf SportWagon.

The S model lists for $27,790 and includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers, foglights, LED daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, roof rails, leather-wrapped steering wheel, simulated-leather upholstery, heated front seats with manual adjustment and power recline, 60/40-split folding rear seats with a center pass-through, 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, USB port and a six-speaker sound system. New for 2019 are standard driver safety aids including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The SE starts at $31,390 and adds sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, 115-volt outlet in the cargo area and upgraded infotainment system with 8-inch touchscreen. An optional Driver Assistance package for the SE adds 18-inch wheels, adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, parking sensors, lane keeping assist, and an automatic parking system and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The SEL lists for $35,890 and adds the SE Driver Assistance package and adaptive cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable driver seat, navigation system, and Fender premium audio system.

The Alltrack's turbocharged 1.8-liter engine's 168 horsepower seems modest compared to the 200+ numbers found in some competitors. Still, it's more than up the challenge of motivating this 3300-pound wagon. Manual transmission models scamper from 0 to 60 MPH in about 6.8 seconds while automatic model take just 7.4 seconds. That's pretty quick given the price point and mission of the Alltrack. The engine provides ample low-range torque for around-town driving and only seems winded when passing at high-speeds on the highway. The four is smooth and doesn't growl in acceleration.

Volkswagen is one of the few automakers to still offer manual transmissions in the bulk of its model range. In the case of the Golf Alltrack, the manual is sweet and smooth shifting. The gears are well spaced and the clutch has a progressive take up and positive engagement point. That said, the automatic transmission provides relatively smooth shifts and prompt downshifts. It does shift up too quickly when you lift off the throttle and can sometimes stumble between gears when driving around town.

The Alltrack's all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range and is not intended for severe off-road use. It does have an available off-road mode that can assist when traction is at a premium. The added ground clearance is a plus as well. But make no mistake, the Alltrack is more of a off-road pretender than intender.

EPA estimates for the automatic-equipped Golf Alltrack are 22 MPG city and 30 MPG highway with a combined rating of 25 MPG overall. The large 14.5-gallon fuel tank gives the Alltrack an overall highway driving range of more than 400 miles. In routine suburban commuting it is easy to exceed the EPA ratings in both city and highway driving.

Though you might suspect Alltrack to be softly sprung given its crossover-inspired styling, that is not the case. The Alltrack has a firm suspension that's more akin to a sporty sedan, which, on occasion, can feel a bit stiff. That said, the ride is very composed with minimal secondary motions and very good body control. If you are looking for a more comfortable ride, you might want to consider a Subaru Outback.

The Alltrack handles impressively for a compact wagon. There is some body lean in corners, but overall the suspension and tires conspire to provide an athletic feeling that's confidence inspiring. The steering is well-weighted, responsive to quick movements and has great on-center feel. Braking performance is admirable for a small car. In addition, the brake pedal is firm and responds progressively.

There's an average amount of road noise on the highway - mostly due to a noticeable wind rush around the A-pillars. The engine and tires stay relatively quiet in almost all scenarios.

Alltrack's interior is pleasant and contemporary, if a bit bland. Materials are class and price appropriate and the build quality is excellent. The cabin has an airy feeling with excellent outward visibility, but the driving position is not substantially higher than a typical sedan. So, those looking for that commanding view of the road that is commonplace in crossovers need to shop elsewhere.

Drivers face a very conventional twin-dial gauge setup that's amazingly easy to read day or night (sarcasm intended). The infotainment touch screen sits up high in the center console and is reasonably close to both the driver and passenger, making it very easy to operate. Climate and audio controls are conventional dials. Ancillary controls are simple, clearly labeled and well-located. The Alltrack's cabin may not be as fancy as some rivals', but its simplicity and ease of use are refreshing.

The Alltrack's suite of active and passive safety features is more than class competitive and the addition of automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert to the standard equipment list is a big plus. VW's infotainment system is one of the simplest and most intuitive to operate. Android Auto and Apple Car Play are supported.

The front seats are firm and have pronounced side bolsters. For most they should be very comfortable but if your body type is outside the norm, perhaps something a with a bit more padding would be nice. Front-seat room is exceptional with ample head and leg room belying the car's compact dimensions. Rear seats are nicely trimmed and padded, but leg room is exceptionally tight unless the front seats are moved well forward. Door openings are a bit narrow, especially at the rear.

Seats up, Alltrack offers an impressive 30 cubic feet of cargo space. That's substantially better than a typical compact sedan. Fold the rear seats and that number grows to 66 cubic feet. Another plus are seatbacks that conveniently flip forward via handles on either side of the cargo area. Interior storage is better than average with several open and covered bins throughout, large map pockets and a nice storage drawer to the left of the steering wheel.

Bottom Line -- Dynamically, Alltrack is one of the most car-like crossovers you can drive, mostly because it is a car. It's impressive blend of features, convenience, utility and frugality make it an attractive choice despite the somewhat high price point.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.