Subaru Outback vs. Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

By

Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - March 31, 2017

Subaru practically invented the lifted, off-road-ready wagon segment when it introduced the Legacy Wagon-based Outback in the mid 1990s. Since then, a handful of competitors have tried to mimic the popularity and success of the Outback, now considered its own model, rather than a variant of the Legacy. And for 2017, Volkswagen is throwing its hat in the ring with the Golf Alltrack. How does this newcomer stand up to the segment's creator? Continue reading to find out.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Outback & Golf Alltrack »

What the Outback Gets Right

The Outback starts out with SUV-like off-road capabilities that even the rugged Alltrack can't meet. Not only does it have Subaru’s legendary asymmetrical all-wheel-drive system, but it also comes standard with hill-descent control, hill-holding assist, and a whopping 8.7 inches of ground clearance to the VW’s 6.9 inches.

While the Outback’s 2.5-liter base engine is nothing to write home about, its optional 256-horsepower, 3.6-liter flat-six is a different story when compared to the 170-hp Alltrack.

Inside, the Outback has an extra 2.5 inches of rear seat leg room and a 5.1-cubic-foot advantage in the cargo area when the rear seats in place. Dropping the rear seats raises the cargo room gap to 6.8 cubic feet.

For a higher-riding wagon, the Outback has a decent towing capacity of 2,700 pounds. While this won’t pull that yacht you’re dreaming of, it's enough for a small- to medium-size trailer. The Golf Alltrack, on the other hand, throws up a goose egg in this department.

What the Golf Alltrack Gets Right

The Golf brings in German styling, which may appeal to some buyers over the somewhat older-looking Outback. Additionally, its interior looks and feels more upscale, thanks to its additional standard features and refined fit and finish.

Under the hood, the Golf Alltrack's 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder can't compete with the Outback's optional six-cylinder engine, but it does well against the Subie's base 2.5-liter flat-four engine. The Golf's 170 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque deliver a more responsive feel, while its optional dual-clutch transmission delivers more fun when compared to the Outback's continuously variable transmission. It's also worth noting that the Alltrack's inline-four-cylinder engine will likely be much quieter and sound more refined than Subaru's traditional boxer engines.

With less of a focus on off-road than the Outback, the Golf Alltrack will also deliver slightly better manners in the corners.

Who would buy the Alltrack?

With less cargo space, rear leg room, and only a single engine option, the Golf Alltrack loses to the more established Outback, but it is not a total loss. There are plenty of buyers who would prefer the zippier turbo four-cylinder and dual-clutch transmission to the outback’s 2.5-liter and CVT. Also, its lower ride height offers a little more comfort in the corners while still allowing a little off-roading.

Verdict: Subaru Outback

The Outback invented this game, so beating its combination of space and ability is a tall order. And for now, the Golf Alltrack isn’t quite there.

Take a closer look at the Subaru Outback »

Take a closer look at the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website