Funnily enough, in light of dieselgate, Volkswagen is one of the few brands (along with Volvo and Subaru) to preserve the notion that you don't need a fuel-sucking SUV to meet your life-carrying needs. And, yes, VW's history of addressing off-road desires with all-wheel-drive dates to the mid-1980s with the Quantum Syncro (a.k.a. Passat) and Golf Country – the latter, sadly, never came stateside. The latest offering toward this effort is the 2017 Volkswagen Alltrack. What's an Alltrack? It's a slightly lifted, cladded, and butched-out version of the Golf Sportwagen (yes, formerly known as a Jetta). Not to steal Alltrack's thunder, but starting in 2017 you can also get the standard Sportwagen with 4Motion AWD, which is basically the same running gear for less money. The Alltrack starts at $26,950; the 4Motion Sportwagen starts at $24,930, both with the dual-clutch automatic available at launch. Any discussion of tall wagons brings Subaru immediately to mind, both with the Outback and the Impreza-based Crosstrek. The Volkswagen Alltrack sits between the two in size at 180.2 inches long – 5 more than the Crosstrek and 9.4 inches shorter than the Outback. The 2017 Subaru Outback starts at $25,645, and VW's comparisons focus on the Outback, which is understandable given the similar starting price. A bare-bones Crosstrek starts at $22,245, but quickly gets into Golf price overlap. The Alltrack and the 4Motion Golf Sportwagen are superior daily drivers to the Subaru, whether you're doing an emergency lane change or just trying to merge onto the interstate. Meanwhile, the Crosstrek doesn't have the refinement of the VW. Can we fault Subaru though? It's set a sales record every year in a row since 2010 and is looking at about triple the sales volume of VW's Golf for 2016. So we'll stick to telling you what we think of the Alltrack and let the dealers fight for your dollars. First thing's first. Yes, you can have the Golf Sportwagen and even the Alltrack with a manual six-speed gearbox. The seven-speed DSG automatic is very good, but it's worth noting that any manual gearbox is a rarity these days, especially when we're not talking about a two-seat sports car. You will have to wait until early 2017 for that option, but it also saves you $1,100 off both models. Second, the Alltrack and 4Motion Sportwagens get identical engines. Whether manual or DSG, VW's EA888 turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder is under the hood. Horsepower is a decent 170 at 4,500 rpm, but VW officials want you to eyeball the torque: 199 pound-feet at just 1,600 rpm. The Subie needs to wind the engine out to hit its torque peak: 174 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm. Plus the Alltrack is about 200 pounds lighter than the Outback. What they didn't say is that the Alltrack's 22 mpg city/30 highway fuel economy is bested by the Subaru's 25 city/32 highway, and that even the more potent, optional 3.6-liter for the Outback isn't terrible, at 20/27 mpg - and more muscular with 256 …
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|MPG||25 City / 35 Hwy|
|Transmission||5-spd man w/OD|
|Power||170 @ 4500 rpm|
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