Don’t be misled by the styling cues and elevated ride height. The Alltrack is based on the Golf SportWagen and is more of a street machine than a rugged off-roader. This Subaru Outback rival shines on paved roads, feeling taut and nimble thanks to sharp steering and minimal body roll.

Standard all-wheel drive puts the power down precisely, and firm suspension keeps the car calm and composed as it effectively absorbs bumps.

A 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder delivers 170 hp in a linear fashion. Not only does this engine feel eager in everyday driving, its 8.5-second 0-60 mph time makes it considerably quicker than a four-cylinder Outback. The six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission delivers quick and timely shifts.

The commendably quiet interior is a bit more intimate than most small SUVs, but there’s a reasonable amount of room up front and the seats are firm and satisfying. Controls are simple and well-designed, the infotainment system is intuitive, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility come standard.

Forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control are in the Driver Assistance package. It’s odd that blind-spot monitoring isn’t offered.

Even though the Alltrack’s driving experience and finely crafted cabin help to justify its $27,770 base price, the much-worse-than-average predicted reliability severely hurts its Overall Score.

Read the complete Volkswagen Golf Alltrack road test.

2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Review

HIGHS: Handling, ride, braking, visibility, fuel economy, controls, solid and substantial feel
LOWS: Reliability, need top-line SEL to get desirable features, blind-spot monitoring not available
POWERTRAIN: 170-hp, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine; 6-speed automated manual transmission; all-wheel drive
FUEL: 25 mpg
PRICE AS TESTED: $32,515


Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the March 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.