2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack: AutoGuide.com Car of the Year Contender

AutoGuide.com gathered six of the most significant new cars for the 2017 model year for our annual Car of the Year evaluations. This year, our contenders are the Hyundai Elantra, BMW M2, 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, Kia Optima, Ford Focus RS and Chevrolet Cruze. There was no hard price cap on this year’s entrants, but we tried to make sure none of them were extravagantly priced. We will release a new video on each contender every day leading up to Dec. 13, when we announce our winner. Stay tuned for our Crossover/SUV of the Year and Truck of the Year series, which is also coming soon!

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack might be a difficult car to categorize (is it a crossover, wagon or compact?) but that’s one of the reasons it is such a good contender for the 2017 Car of the Year. It is the only vehicle of the bunch we also considered also running in our 2017 Utility Vehicle of the Year evaluations and it is that type of versatility that makes it so impressive.

Here’s a bit of background on why this is such an interesting/confusing car: It’s essentially the same thing as the Golf SportWagen, except with a bit of a lift, some body cladding, underbody shielding, and all-wheel drive. To confuse matters even more, the SportWagen could also come with AWD, but to simplify things, the Alltrack is basically optimized for light off-roading.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Review

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack’s standout feature is an off-road mode that changes the throttle mapping and enables hill-descent control for creeping down steep grades. Besides that, the powertrain is also a gem: the tallish wagon is powered by Volkswagen’s refined 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. Combined with the six-speed DSG transmission, it’s so smooth and responsive that it feels like it could have been taken right out of a luxury car.

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On a light trail, the Golf Alltrack was impressive and its AWD system worked really well to reroute traction where it was needed most, helping the wagon get out of a deep rut with only three wheels on the dirt. On the road, the Golf Alltrack feels like a regular Golf to drive, which is remarkable, considering how much bigger it is.

Being a German car, the interior is also well built and very functional, although not very flashy. The infotainment system could definitely use an upgrade as well, but the main reason anyone would buy this car is the massive 67 cubic feet of cargo space.

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is an exceedingly practical vehicle with no gimmicks. It is an all-around excellent product.