One of the most anticipated vehicles from Volkswagen in some time is the 2017 Golf Alltrack wagon that offers a more off-road flair to the already popular Golf Sportwagen.

Taking a set of cues from the Subaru Outback and perhaps more upmarket Audi Allroad wagons, the new Volkswagen Golf Alltrack gets a bump in ride height, generous body cladding that says adventure, and a robust 4Motion all-wheel drive system among other mods.

The styling is amped up with unique front fascias front and rear that feature a ruggedly styled combination of black plastic and metallic finish skid plate elements. They aren’t real skid plates but look the part.

Lower rocker trims have ribbed metallic finish inserts and the rear gets dual exhaust tips for its 1.8 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Our Alltrack SEL featured 18-inch alloy wheels but the lower rungs of S and SE come with 17-inch alloys standard.

The interior also gets a few treatments including aluminum pedal trims and a handsome metallic charcoal finish on the center stack and instrument cluster applique. Door panel and dash trims have a patterned aluminum look, all unique to the Alltrack.

Loaded with almost everything, the sport seats up front are heated but only upholstered with vinyl. Leather is not an option. They are comfortable however and offer power adjustments to get you sitting pretty.

17-vw-golf-alltrack-20Rear seat passengers will find decent space though you won’t forget you aren’t in an SUV when it comes to seating height. A panoramic sunroof standard in the SEL lights up the interior nicely and has an opening front panel.

Audio comes from the brand’s latest MIB II infotainment and navigation system with Fender Audio. It sounds positively awesome and the user interface is a joy to use with clear graphics and intuitive menus. You have several connectivity options including Apple CarPlay and Andoid Auto, along with auxiliary and USB plugs. The Navigation system is easy to program as well.

Setting the Alltrack apart from the Golf Sportwagen is its combination of a the brand’s 170 horsepower 1.8 liter turbocharged engine and a DSG 6-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four-wheels through a 4Motion all-wheel drive system.

17-vw-golf-alltrack-2Power is impressive and is delivered quite directly through its more GTI like DSG automatic transmission. Shifts are quick and firm, an experience particularly fun when shifting manually via the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

A console mounted switch allows for multiple drive modes Normal, Sport, Off-Road and Custom. The latter allows you to pick and choose your own metrics for steering feel, traction control and powertrain response.

In Off-Road mode we put the Alltrack to the mogul test where we get one front wheel and one rear wheel free of traction. The system worked well to divvy up torque to the wheels that could use it and arrest those that could not grab. Excellent.

17-vw-golf-alltrack-6Ground clearance at 6.9-inches is .6 higher than standard for extended capability off the tarmac. It’s not SUV clearance or even Subaru Outback clearance but it adds additional suspension travel needed out there over the river and through the woods.

Handling as a result of this mild add in height isn’t substantially affected, giving the Alltrack much the same road holding and cornering feel you might appreciate in the Sportwagen. It retains the refined character in and out of curves and remains stiff when it comes to body roll.

On the rougher roads here in Arizona the pavement tuned ride did become a bit harsh, much in part to its 18-inch wheels and low profile tires. Lower trim grades with taller tire side walls may ride a bit softer.

Fuel economy is about 3-4 mpg less than in the Golf Sportwagen at an EPA estimated 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. Our observed fuel economy however remained impressive at 29 mpg combined – over what was promised.

As tested our 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack SEL priced out at $33,710 with no added options. There are additional packages you could add including a lighting package and driver assistance that could push the price north of $36,000. Alternatively the base Alltrack S starts well below $30,000.

At this price it offers a well equipped, slightly smaller, more agile and fun to drive option for those who might look at the Subaru Outback. The Outback however can be equipped with far more power and features in addition to offering more space. It’s German driving experience and bulletproof build quality however won our hearts, making it our TestDrivenTV “Id Buy It” list.