2017 Golf Alltrack — One Year in the Books

2017 Golf Alltrack

Part One

I still love her as much as Alltrack Ownership Day 1. She looks and performs as good as the day I took her home.

I had the 12-month scheduled service done at 10 months after the Service Due message appeared.  As it so happens, it looks like that service is actually a 10-month interval, and not based on driving style or cycles.

Every 10,000 miles: Engine oil (change), engine oil filter (change), brake pads (check brake pad thickness and brake discs), windshield washers, headlight cleaning system, service interval display (if applicable).

Every 20,000 miles: Engine oil (change), engine oil filter (change), battery (check), brakes (inspect brake system and shock absorbers), tires (check tread depth, condition, wear patterns, etc.), and much more.

Every 30,000 miles: Engine oil, engine oil filter, brake fluid (change), Haldex clutch (change oil), and so on…

Every 40,000 miles: Engine oil, engine oil filter, battery, dust and pollen filter (replace), brakes, spark plugs (replace), windshield washers, headlight cleaning system, transmission (change fluid), tires, body (visual inspection for corrosion), coolant level and frost protection (check), CV joints (check for leaks and damage), engine and compartment components, exhaust system (check for damage and leaks), headlights (check and adjust, if necessary), interior lighting and glove box lights, cigarette lighter, panoramic sunroof (check, clean, etc.), power steering (check fluid level), ribbed v-belt (check condition), test drive (check braking, steering, etc.), tie rod ends, and underbody sealant (check).

Alltrack Interior

The Marrakesh (brown) leatherette interior is still near-perfect with little or no signs of aging. The interior is durable and relatively handsome, for a sub-$30k car. I’m not crazy about the carbon fiber trim accent pieces, and they seem out of place in a car that has few sporting intentions, but they’re there and I’m not going to change them out.

The seats, which I’ve spent some time mentioning as my least favorite part of the Alltrack, continue to be my only substantive complaint. I’ve learned to live with them, and use a homemade thigh support pad I made out of hard foam.

Trips to the Dealer

Trips to the dealer amounted to just two. The first was for a smelly AC system, which was covered under warranty, and the second was the first scheduled maintenance. Both were quick and polite.

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Golf Climate Control – Cool Air Without AC?

In a word: yes. But only if the outside temperature is below 55°F.

It may sound strange, but this is a big thing for me. I want to maximize efficiency and as everybody knows, air conditioning is a hit to fuel economy.

So to avoid this I’d keep AC off but turn on the cool air — temperature dial on full cool and blower on 2 or 3. If it’s say 70°F outside and you need some cold air, this should work. Right?

Sadly, my Golf Alltrack’s climate control system simply doesn’t let cool, outside air into the cabin… there’s some degree (get it? heh) of heating that happens to ambient air. Continue reading “Golf Climate Control – Cool Air Without AC?”

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Multifunction Display – Explanation and Use

2016 Volkswagen Golf cockpit

VW’s Multifunction Display (or “Driver Information Display“) is where you can see everything your VW has to tell you about its condition.

We aim to help you get an understanding of what Multifunction Display shows and how to navigate it.
This information applies to newer VW models, 2012-2018, including the fine new Golf Alltrack. (Shameless plug there because we have one!)
Multifunction Display top-level pages
Multifunction Display – top-level pages

Your VW Is Saying Something

Think of the Multifunction Display as a collection of messages about warnings (seldom) or information (always). It’s not where you adjust any settings, that’s for the Infotainment system, but rather where you can quickly see what’s going on in your VW.

You page through them using the controls on the steering wheel. See below:

Multifunction Display - how to use the steering wheel buttons to get to the page you want
Multifunction Display – how to use the steering wheel buttons to get to the page you want

Use the Left Page/Right Page button circled in blue above to cycle through the five Parent pages. Use the up/down button circled in orange above to move through the Child pages within any Parent page.

In some cases in Driving Data, the information available to display is more than the Parent/Child hierarchy can show, so Grandchild pages become available. Grandchild pages are cycled by pressing the OK button, circled in green in the illustration above.

Here are the five top-level Multifunction Display items (Parents), in order:

Driving Data

Driving Data page in the VW Multifunction Display
Driving Data page in the VW Multifunction Display

Driving Data is the most complex but the most useful of the Multifunction Display pages. It holds information like fuel economy (MPG), average speed, distance travelled, driving time, oil temperature, current speed, and more.

It has 9 child pages, and 4 of those have grandchildren. Here’s a dedicated post on Driving Data’s children and grandchildren.

Navigation/Compass

Navigation/Compass page in the VW Multifunction Display
Navigation/Compass page in the VW Multifunction Display

Information displays for the navigation system (if equipped). When route guidance is active, turn arrows and proximity bars similar to the symbols shown in the navigation system are displayed.

If navigation is not equipped, it shows a 3D compass with the car image pointed in whatever direction it’s currently facing.

Audio

Audio page in the VW Multifunction Display
Audio page in the VW Multifunction Display

You guessed it! Audio page shows… what’s playing. How did you know?! Station display or station list in radio mode.

Telephone

Telephone page in the VW Multifunction Display
Telephone page in the VW Multifunction Display

Information about the connected telephone.

Vehicle Status

Vehicle Status page in the VW Multifunction Display
Vehicle Status page in the VW Multifunction Display

Current warning and information messages.

This menu item only appears when warning or information messages are available. We’ve never seen any messages in it in the 2017 Alltrack test-ship. Zero, none, nada.

And That’s How You Pick Up What Your VW’s Putting Down

That’s the Driving Information Display, from a “10,000 foot view”. Later this week we’ll post about the Driving Data parent and its children and grandchildren. The rest don’t need much explanation, but Driving Data has more information than all the others combined, so it deserves its own post.

Thanks for reading! Catch more on our Facebook page.

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2017 Golf Alltrack 1.8 – Tracking Engine Oil Color in Photos

Well, here’s the latest. It’s by far the worst change from month to month, as you can see.

Since August I’ve been going deeper into the revs… 6k RPM to 7k RPM, now that the 1.8 is broken in*. If that doesn’t explain the suddenly darker-than-expected engine oil color than I’m at a loss.

DARK -- Golf Alltrack Engine Oil - Tracking the changes

I’m going to look at the air filter. See if that offers any clues to the dark oil. Engine oil should not be this dark after 6 months and 5200 miles.

I don’t run the car in dirty conditions, off road, inside coal plants’ smokestacks, etc. I always run 91 octane, every time. Running premium fuel is one of the Three Things I Always Do for my Alltrack.

*There’s no power up there, at least no more than say 5k RPM offers. It’s flat from 5k-7.5k RPM.

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Alltrack Ownership at 5k Miles: What I’m Unhappy With

Alltrack Ownership: In for Service

My 2017 Alltrack has been in once for service of any kind, this one being of the unscheduled variety to treat a mildew AC smell. The dealer fixed a slow leak (nail) in the right rear tire for free. Tires are a separate warranty, between the owner and the tire manufacturer.

Alltrack Ownership: Fuel Economy

On the way back from a New Mexico roadtrip, my Alltrack averaged 33.6 MPG, which is not that great for highway travel, but at 77 MPH, which is nice and quick.

Historically, my Alltrack has achieved anywhere from 28 to 41 MPG highway.

33 MPG fuel economy in my Golf Alltrack
33 MPG fuel economy in my Golf Alltrack

Alltrack Ownership: She’s at 5k Miles

My Alltrack’s 5000 mile mark came right about at the 6 month mark… which is where I thought she would be. After all, I did buy the factory extended warranty at 10 years/100k miles. See what I paid for the 10/100 VW Alltrack factory warranty here.

See my one-month Alltrack ownership impressions.

And now, the Unhappiness

The oil color continues to worry me, and now it’s really dark. I don’t like this factory scheduled oil change stuff. If it was my old Volvo 850, I’d simply change the oil.

The tires have no curb-rash bead to protect the rims, and so I’ve curbed them twice, leaving small “curb rash” marks in the finish. This isn’t so much a gripe with the car, obviously, but I think VW cheaped out on the tire brand/model, which is Falken.

The track is a little wider than my old Volvo 850, so my curb proximity sense is a little off when I park.

The 2018 Golf models get a 6-year, 72k mile warranty, which is significantly better than the 2017s, which were covered by a 3-year, 36k mile warranty, which was too low for me so I forked out a few thousand dollars to get a 10/100k warranty.

The seat continues to bother me… lack of thigh support specifically.

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Three Things I Always Do For My Alltrack

I’m a careful Golf Alltrack owner. Maybe paranoid. Whatever the case, I take good care of her.

  1. I never go past 3k RPM until oil temp is > 180
  2. 4/5 times I fill her up with Shell premium — 5/5 times premium
  3. I never take it to car washes

I have to work to get under 23 MPG city, for trips over 8 miles or so. The engine has loosened up. This is an improvement since the first month of ownership, when my Alltrack was averaging 23 MPG.

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Alltrack Highway Manners, MPG, Crosswind Behavior – Alltrack Road Trip!

I’ve done about 350 miles on my Alltrack road trip, Denver to Santa Fe. Plus a few more dozens driving hither and yon to campgrounds, food trucks, and cafes.

Average speed is 66 mph, top speed was around 90 mph, and fuel economy is ranging from 38 mpg to 28 mpg, the lower number because of sometimes significant headwinds, perhaps reaching 30 mph. That’s my estimate based on getting out for a few rest stops and giving it my best guess. They were strong, pushing me as I stood.

My Alltrack is performing well. I can’t believe how good Apple Carplay is. Its maps aren’t as good as Google Maps with the odd destination request, like campgrounds. The routing for instance insisted I drive around the Santa Fe National Forest to get to the Black Canyon Campground, which was incorrect and circuitous.

Otherwise, CarPlay and its Apple Maps are great co-pilots. I don’t know how I did roadtrips before.

I use an app called Libby to listen to audio books (The Sea-Wolf currently), and of course it isn’t given an icon on the CarPlay desktop, but it is available under a generic catch-all icon called Now Playing. I can start, stop, FF and rewind with the steering wheel controls. Pretty cool.

Now, complaints

  1. seats — I’m just not happy with the base seats… they’re not as comfortable as those in my 20-year-old Volvo 850 that I traded in on the Alltrack
  2. slight crosswind drifting/buffeting

Alltrack Roadtrip Capability Summary

If the seat uncomfortability thing was solved (I’ll post at length about this coming up soon – OEM seat alternatives), the Alltrack would be a nice inexpensive highway cruiser. Maybe the nicest out there. As it is, if you want long legs capability, go up trim levels to the Alltrack SEL.

Going up to the SEL is a big dollar jump, and it wipes out much of the Alltrack’s fantastic value. It’s the classic car value proposition: buy the top trim of Car A, or the bottom trim of Car B, which in this case would be a base Audi A3 ($31,200 MSRP) or base BMW X1 ($33,750 MSRP), for example.

Golf Alltrack base, AKA “S” (from $26,950 MSRP)

  • Rearview camera
  • V-Tex leatherette seats
  • Touchscreen infotainment with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay
  • Heated front seats
  • 17-inch Valley wheels
  • Off-Road Mode

Golf Alltrack SE (from $30,530 MSRP)

  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Fender Premium Audio System
  • Keyless access with push-button start
  • Automatic headlight activation

Golf Alltrack SEL (from $32,890 MSRP)

  • 18-inch Canyon wheels
  • Discover Media touchscreen navigation
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Comfort sport seats/power-adjustable driver’s seat

Alltrack Value

I got my base Alltrack for $24,400, and considering its MSRP of $26,950, it’s a very, very good car. If the seats were great it would be the best deal in cars, ever.



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