What do you get when you combine a sport wagon and crossover SUV? Meet the new VW Golf AllTrack, a good looking, sporty alternative to an SUV that provides 170-hp, 6-speed dual-clutch auto, AWD performance…

2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack Road Test

Drumroll please… And the winner of the 2017 Auto Journalist Association of Canada's Canadian Car of the Year award is (ratatatat) the 2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack!

Well that one caught me by surprise, as did the selection of the 2017 Subaru Forester for the Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year. Not that these two compact crossovers aren't worthy, but the Subie was merely a mid-cycle refresh, and a mild one at that, and the COTY winner was (as just stated) more of a crossover SUV than a car, or at least that's how VW classifies it on their retail site.

Yes, I'm aware that it's actually a Golf SportWagen and therefore kind of qualifies for Car of the Year, but it's adequately raised and moderately pumped up on oxandrolone thanks to plenty of matte black body cladding including a quad of flared fenders, slick looking aluminized front and rear undertrays plus rocker moulding trim, a set of aluminum roof rails up top, as well as some trick aluminum-finish mirror caps Read Full Story
Volkswagen would love you to buy its recently refreshed Passat, but most midsize sedan shoppers are more interested in Honda’s new Accord and Toyota’s new Camry. In fact, few rivals sell less midsize…

2017 Volkswagen Passat Highline 3.6 VR6 Road Test

Volkswagen had big hopes for its American-sized Passat when it replaced the smaller Euro-spec B6 model back in 2011 for the 2012 model year. I tested and reviewed a TDI Trendline+ and a 3.6 VR6 Highline that year, and while impressed with the styling, performance and roominess, I was a bit put off by its downgraded interior refinement.

After a first foray with the car my review comments included, "The dash, door uppers and inserts remain high-quality soft touch synthetic, but that's about it for premium pliable composites as the rest of the cabin is less impressively finished in hard plastics, a disappointment when compared to most top-line models in the mid-size segment, and a downer considering just how well-made the old Passat's interior was."

To make matters worse, the replacement Euro-spec Passat B7 was a move up in every respect, and likely a model that would've worked very well here in Canada where we traditionally appreciate smaller cars. VW followed up this European-market Read Full Story
Automotive icons are ripe for special editions, from Ford’s Mustang and Mini’s Cooper to this very VW, the car in question being the unusual crossover SUV-style Beetle Dune. Today we bring it to you…

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Road Test

The unorthodox Dune hit the market last year and caused quite a stir amongst the VW Beetle faithful. I'm not talking about those who adhere to the wonderful little air-cooled rear-engine "Bug" that put Volkswagen on the global map more than half a century ago, but more so those weaned on the modern-day front-engine, front-drive version that wowed the world as the Concept One when it landed on VW's Detroit auto show stage in 1994 and eventually arrived as the New Beetle in 1997.

It was thoroughly and effectively redesigned in 2010 for the 2011 model year, the "New" internally named A4 version then old, resulting in the simpler "Beetle" nameplate getting the nod for this A5-based third-generation. It remains less frou-frou and therefore appeals to brawnier types, which has inevitably led to some very eye-catching special editions.

The best of these, in my opinion, is the Classic that arrived for 2015, which now seems to be a permanent fixture within the Beetle lineup, whereas Read Full Story
And the winner of the 2017 Auto Journalist Association of Canada’s (AJAC) Canadian Car of the Year award is (insert drumroll here)… the 2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack! Well that one caught me by surprise,…

2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack

2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack
The new 2017 VW Golf AllTrack is a Golf SportWagen on mild steroids. We think it looks fabulous! (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
And the winner of the 2017 Auto Journalist Association of Canada’s (AJAC) Canadian Car of the Year award is (insert drumroll here)… the 2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack! Well that one caught me by surprise, as did the selection of the 2017 Subaru Forester for the Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year. Not that these two compact crossovers aren’t worthy, but the Subie was merely a mid-cycle refresh, and a mild one at that, and the COTY winner was (as just stated) more of a crossover SUV than a car (or at least that’s how VW classifies it on their retail site). Yes, I’m aware that it’s actually Golf SportWagen and therefore kind of qualifies, but it’s adequately raised and moderately pumped up on Var (Anavar or oxandrolone for those not familiar with one of the milder and therefore more popular anabolic steroids) thanks to plenty of matte black body cladding including a quad of flared fenders, slick looking aluminized front and rear undertrays and rocker moulding trim, a set of aluminum roof rails up top, plus some trick aluminum-finish mirror caps to each side, not that these have anything to do with SUVs. No matter how you slice it, VW was trying to turn its wagon into a compact crossover SUV and did such a good job they won AJAC’s Car of the Year title.
2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack
With all the practicality of a Golf wagon, the AllTrack adds ground clearance and a rugged looking body kit. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
This wasn’t the first time a Volkswagen Golf won AJAC’s Car of the Year, the GTI deservedly taking top honours in 2010, but it’s the first time sport utilities won both the COTY and the CUVOTY. The rugged looking VeeDub first won the “Best New Large Car” title last fall, which is certainly a big title for a compact wagon, but hey. As long as automakers are bending categories to suit their current lineup of rolling stock, why not bend a few rules about what actually constitutes a “large car”. Of course, I’m having a bit of fun with my esteemed auto journo colleagues (a number of which are highly intelligent, incredibly hard working, very dedicated, wholly professional, and damn nice… the others we won’t mention) and the results of what is no doubt a mind-numbingly complicated rating process that’s horribly challenging to organize and then vote upon, so I hope they don’t take offence. They were certainly right in choosing two great crossover SUVs as their topmost winners, this new 2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack combining almost everything I’ve always loved about the Golf SportWagen with a certain cool factor that non-wagon lovers might say was missing.
2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack
We’re missing the TDI, but the little gas-powered 1.8-litre four still puts out 170-hp and 200 lb-ft of twist. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Almost? Yah, it would’ve been better with if TDI were stamped on the back and the awesome 2.0-litre turbo-diesel still bolted into its engine bay. I know the dirty little devil isn’t exactly on good terms with the world right now, but those of us who love modern-day oil burners are lamenting their loss from VW’s lineup and most other Euro brands. As it is this beefy little five-door gets VW’s still impressive gasoline-powered 1.8-litre direct-injection four-cylinder that puts out 170 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque, which is plenty to propel its “large car” mass forward in lickety–split quickness no matter the slipperiness of tarmac or alternative road surface underneath, thanks in part to standard 4Motion all-wheel drive. The AllTrack’s increased ground clearance combines with an “Off Road” driving mode that is claimed to optimize “traction on uneven surfaces,” says VW, so this week we’ll just have to find out firsthand. I can’t say its all-season rubber or 18-inch Canyon alloys fill me with rock-crawling confidence, but a little summer beach sand might be a fun in the absence of any knee-deep powder.
2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack
There’s so much good about any Golf interior, and the AllTrack gets filled up further with loads of standard features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I think Volkswagen had the latter in mind when creating the Golf AllTrack, along with weekend jaunts to the cottage, weeklong road trips with a tiny Boler or Scamp in tow (I wonder if you can get one of those in Tornado Red?), or any other light duty use for strong torque and four-wheel traction. I don’t have either so I’ll likely keep my upcoming road test comments to driving sans camp trailer, not to mention the usual laurels I laud on any Golf’s superb interior, which in this case includes VW’s excellent 6.5-inch proximity sensing, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink infused touchscreen infotainment system. All Golf SportWagens benefit from an outrageously roomy interior, especially in the very back for cargo, not to mention a centre pass-through that makes the 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks more flexible, so being that this new AllTrack is no different from the wagon in this respect it should work well for the heavy hauling I’ve scheduled.
2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack
This is one very nice, extremely large panoramic glass sunroof, just one of the Golf AllTrack’s many standard features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I won’t go into too much detail about features, but suffice to say that exterior colours are your only options, with the base 2017 Golf AllTrack packed full of everything already mentioned as well as a six-speed automatic with manual mode, auto on/off headlamps with static cornering capability, fog lights, powered and heated side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, proximity keyless access with pushbutton ignition, ambient LED interior lighting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and handbrake lever, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, voice activation, two SD card slots, navigation, a rearview camera, satellite radio, dual-zone auto climate control, leather upholstery, a 12-way powered driver’s seat, heatable front seats, a really nice panoramic powered sunroof, variable cargo load floor, a 115-volt household-style power outlet in the cargo area, etcetera. I’ll come back and report on how all this stuff works very soon…
Volkswagen had big hopes for its American-sized Passat when it replaced the smaller Euro-spec B6 model back in 2011 for the 2012 model year. I tested and reviewed a TDI Trendline+ and a 3.6 Highline that…

2017 Volkswagen Passat Highline 3.6 VR6

2017 Volkswagen Passat Highline 3.6 VR6
The 2017 Passat is a handsome car, yet does it stand out enough in its crowded mid-size class? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Volkswagen had big hopes for its American-sized Passat when it replaced the smaller Euro-spec B6 model back in 2011 for the 2012 model year. I tested and reviewed a TDI Trendline+ and a 3.6 Highline that year, and while impressed with the styling, performance and roominess, I was a bit put off by its downgraded interior refinement. After a first foray with the car my review comments included, “The dash, door uppers and inserts remain high-quality soft touch synthetic, but that’s about it for premium pliable composites as the rest of the cabin is less impressively finished in hard plastics, a disappointment when compared to most top-line models in the mid-size segment, and a downer considering just how well-made the old Passat’s interior was.”
2017 Volkswagen Passat Highline 3.6 VR6
Rear styling is classy in an understated Germanic way. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
To make matters worse, the replacement Euro-spec Passat B7 was a move up in every respect, and likely a model that would’ve worked very well here in Canada where we traditionally appreciate smaller cars. VW followed this European market sedan up with a unique five-door Passat Alltrack (similar to our Golf Alltrack, but larger), a model VW’s U.S. division must now be lusting after considering how well Subaru is doing with its Outback, while the entirely new Passat B8, introduced in 2014, is such a styling knockout and appears so upscale inside that any knowledgeable North American Volkswagen fan (the majority of which are quite well versed in the brand’s global affairs) will feel slighted.
2017 Volkswagen Passat Highline 3.6 VR6
This top-tier Highline model’s two-tone interior colour scheme is certainly eye-catching. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
After all, we had to wait until last year for a mid-cycle update to a Passat design that’s been in our market for seven years without much noticeable change. As you might expect, the car’s sales are considerably softer than its interior plastic these days, with the first half of 2017 resulting in just 1,793 units (including the CC that gets lumped into the Passat’s Canadian sales numbers). All of last year was slightly stronger at 4,023 deliveries, but the model’s steady fall from its initial 2012 calendar year high of 8,019 units is evident in the numbers in between, which included 7,909 units for 2013, 7,520 for 2014 and 5,838 for 2015. This loss of favour is shared with some other mid-size sedans that have been shoved aside for the current crossover SUV trend, VW’s own 2018 Atlas hoping to alleviate some of the brand’s mid-size four-door pain, but the Passat never owned as much market share as its rivals and continues to be a minor player in the lucrative mid-size sedan game. It currently sits ninth most popular in Canada, behind the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata, Chrysler 200 (that’s already been cancelled), and Kia Optima, only beating the Subaru Legacy and Mazda 6.
2017 Volkswagen Passat Highline 3.6 VR6
The Passat’s clean, uncluttered instrument panel mirrors the rest of the car’s minimalism. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
If you think it enjoys any more success in the U.S. market where it was purposely designed to compete you’re right, but its current eighth placement is only one better because Chrysler has stopped shipping 200s and its dealer stock is almost depleted. In other words, VW will want to rethink its approach to the mid-size market when it comes time to replace this aging model. For the time being it soldiers through the 2017 model year with a slightly refreshed uniform as of last year, plus some important updates inside, its completely revised infotainment system featuring proximity-sensing plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto especially notable, while specific to this year its base Trendline trim has been scrapped, as has its top-line Execline offering. This leaves the Passat Trendline + as the new base model, plus the Comfortline and the new top-tire Highline in the mix, the latter trim available with the base 1.8-litre turbo four as well as the 3.6-litre VR6 currently in our garage.
2017 Volkswagen Passat Highline 3.6 VR6
Faux woodgrain galore! The Passat pulls some traditional American car design cues. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
VW shipped this car in Deep Black Pearl with a gorgeous Titan Black and Golden Oak interior, the latter saddle brown colour referring to the second hue of its two-tone interior motif, which is used for the door panel inserts, the ribbed leather seat inserts, and the contrast stitching found on those seats. The cabin is further upgraded with glossy grey-stained faux hardwood in classic American sedan tradition, and yes I say this last part with tongue firmly in cheek—I’d rather be surrounded in the optional matte light oak woodgrain that looks and feels a bit more realistic. A generous dose of piano black lacquered plastics adorn key areas as does VW’s usual assortment of satin-finish and bright metallic accents, while a merely average colour multi-information display set within the Passat’s classic analogue gauge cluster is totally upstaged by that aforementioned infotainment touchscreen.
2017 Volkswagen Passat Highline 3.6 VR6
There’s nothing even remotely average about these front seats. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I’ll go into more detail in my upcoming review with respect to the usability and capability of this infotainment system including its standard navigation and backup camera, how well the Highline’s standard 400-watt Fender audio system pumps out tunes, the ease and simplicity of smartphone setup and audio streaming functions, the quality of interior furnishings and overall comfort and roominess of the cabin, its trunk size and ease of rear seatback cargo expansion, plus of course how well it drives with this more formidable 280 horsepower powerplant. Plus I’ll take a look at how well its new $1,350 Driver Assistance package measures up to other active safety suites in the class, this one including adaptive cruise control, lane assist, park assist, and park distance control, but no auto high beams, autonomous braking, etcetera. Is the Passat really a cheaper alternative to an Audi A4 or A6, or just a mid-size wannabe that’s not worthy of going head-to-head with our current bestselling Accord? Stay tuned…