2017 VW Golf Alltrack Long-Term Update: Roadtrip II
Driving nearly 3,000 miles in one week will give you a pretty clear idea whether a car will fit your needs, lifestyle, and simply whether or not you like it. We gleaned all those things during a family trek from Orange County, California, to the Dallas area and back. My particular family consists of the amazing Missus and our beloved dog, Parbar, who was the main motivator for driving across multiple states vs. simply flying. I've already chronicled the VW Alltrack's excellent suitability as a pet-friendly car. Now we'll get into this all-wheel-drive station wagon's adaptability as a road-tripper.
Getting a grip
In addition to its cargo space, one of the primary reasons for choosing the 2017 VW Golf Alltrack for this venture was its standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. And one of the primary reasons for choosing an AWD car in general is its suitability for handling a variety of roads and whether conditions. It comes down to math: four wheels driving a vehicle are better than two in terms of traction.
Of course, these days cars also benefit from intelligent computers and software systems that can recognize wheel slippage and even help you descend steep slopes by applying the brakes and feathering the throttle. The Alltrack comes with a Haldex AWD standard, and even has an off-road setting in its selectable drive modes to better deal with rough terrain.
While we weren't planning to venture far beyond the asphalt, our trip took place when snow still clung to some mountain passes we'd be traveling through. These passes came and went without drama, and if not for the audible alert and dashboard message warning of sub-freezing conditions, we'd hardly be aware of the potentially slick road below.
More stressful were the downpours we experienced heading across the border from Texas into New Mexico, and then again heading into the Phoenix metro area. In both instances, the skies let loose something fierce. I half expected Noah to float by in the next lane. But here again, the Alltrack's traction never felt compromised, even as we hauled tail at highway speeds on the interstates.
Adaptive cruise control
In those instances of ascending and descending steep, twisty mountain passes and then fighting to see the lane markings amid torrential rain, the act of driving required the highest levels of hands-on attention. But thankfully those were the exceptions to the rule.
If you've ever driven across even half of Texas or from coastal California east to Arizona, you know the highways are long, straight and boring. This was the perfect setting to take advantage of the Alltrack's adaptive cruise control (ACC). The ACC is part of the Driver Assistance package available on all three trims of the 2017 Alltrack that also bundles forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking and parking sensors. At $845, it is money well spent.
On the open highway, the system's adaptive cruise control worked flawlessly. Through the use of radar, the system has the ability to judge the distance to the next car and adapt to its speed. For example, if you're cruising at 70 mph and a car doing 60 moves into your lane, the Alltrack slows down to that speed. When the car moves over, yours accelerates back to pre-determined speed.
These systems are hardly new, but for many years they were the domain of luxury cars. It's refreshing to see it available on a car like the Alltrack, and available even on its base trim. More importantly, it works really, really well. In some vehicles, the braking can be too aggressive, which can put you as the driver on edge. We utilized ACC for significant miles heading home and westward bound on Interstate 10, which is a major trucking route. With only two lanes, it's all but certain that you'll find yourself in the left lane and having to slow for a vehicle or truck in the right lane moving over to pass. This happened more times than we can count, but the Alltrack's system handled all occasions with aplomb.
This technology, combined with the Alltrack's supple yet comfortable ride quality and its confident, turbocharged powertrain that we've already written about, truly made the miles fly by. And after those miles, nearly 3,000 of them in few days' time, I found this car to not only be an ideal road-tripper, but an ideal companion for just about any road and situation.
See Past Reports for our Long-Term 2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack:
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