Alltrack MPG Report 90% Highway

Alltrack MPG
  • 34 MPG over 50 miles
  • 60 MPH average speed
  • 90% highway
  • 95 MPH = 3000 RPM in 6th gear
  • 65 MPH = 2000 RPM in 6th gear
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Denver to Castle Rock

I took my 2017 Alltrack 6-speed Denver to Castle Rock this morning. Round trip was 50 miles in 50 minutes, for an average speed of 60 MPH.

For note: 95 MPH = 3000 RPM in 6th gear. 65 MPH = 2000 RPM in 6th gear. This drivetrain was made for highway cruising. If the seats were more comfortable, it would be a long distance Gift from Heaven.

See our many other Alltrack Fuel Economy reports.

Day Run up to Copper 2

Alltrack day trip MPG report

Like my Alltrack day run four weeks ago, no problems. Everything worked, nothing broke, failed, triggered a warning light or displayed flaky behavior.

Tires are 7-month-old Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06, and because they’re the only thing that holds the car to Earth, they’re the most important elective item on your car. They’re good in snow, but would never be mistaken for actual snow tires. They’re all seasons.

Round trip was 155 miles, average speed an excruciating 27 MPH. Fuel economy on the way up was 29.8 MPG, and on the way down was around 32 MPG… I failed to check this when we got home.

Out leg was 1:45, return leg was 2:50, again featuring the mind-numbing hourlong climb up from Dillon/Silverthorne to the Eisenhower Tunnel that kills elapsed time and fuel economy.

Note: for this and my prior Copper Mountain day trip report, my JB4 was not installed. I took it off a few months ago for a trip to the dealer for maintenance and have been evaluating the car’s character without it. It’s been on my Alltrack for the majority of my ownership, otherwise.

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Copper Mountain Village

Day Run up to Copper Mountain

Alltrack at Copper Mountain, Colorado

26.5 MPG on the way up, which is good because it’s a climb from 5280 ft to 12,313 ft. I’ll have the overall MPG later this morning. My 2017 Alltrack got 32 MPG round trip. No traffic (6am) going up, bad traffic on the return leg.

Car ran fine, nothing to report. The heated seats work wonders in 7° F (-14C) cold.

On the way home there was traffic, of course, and I’m proud to announce the world’s only MPG report for a 2017 Alltrack 5-degree uphill idling creep in 1st gear (manual transmission) yields a constant MPG of 11.

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Alltrack MPG: Best City & Best Highway

2017 Golf Alltrack - MPG talk

Here’s my Alltrack fuel economy findings after two years and 20k miles in my 2017 Golf Alltrack:


Floor: 20 MPG, Ceiling: 30 MPG


Floor: 30 MPG, Ceiling: 45 MPG

The Truth About Cold Engines

There’s a city MPG caveat. Anyone can get 10 MPG city if you just drive a mile. That’s because there’s a hole you have to dig out of every time you start your car, and that hole is the warmup period. When the engine is cold, like when you start it, it’s just going to give you crap MPG. Every ICE (internal combustion engine) car is like this. Just please, don’t idle your car to warm it up. This pollutes more than if you just drive.

When the warmup is complete, usually after 1-3 miles or around 5 minutes, you’ll get decent fuel economy. My figures include warmup time, but exclude trips of less than 3 miles.

Driving Style Affects Fuel Economy

The reason I have floors and ceilings on my MPG numbers is because driving styles vary… in my case they vary wildly. Sometimes I drive fast (but safely). Sometimes I accelerate very slowly and try to preserve momentum to reduce the frequency of using the gas pedal.

Golf Alltrack — 45.3 MPG on a Short Freeway Trip

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My Alltrack, now with 15k miles, has loosened up and gets even better economy than it did when new.

On a 32-mile route to Denver International Airport today I got 45.3 MPG. I measure it by selecting the Average MPG page in the Golf’s Multifunction Display, then pressing the OK button on the steering wheel after I’m on the freeway. It’s the best way to measure highway economy IMHO.

IMG 7031 - Golf Alltrack -- 45.3 MPG on a Short Freeway Trip
45.3 MPG Golf Alltrack

I drove at or above the speed limit, in 6th gear as much as possible, and not  at all aggressively. Voila,  45 MPG.

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

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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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My Alltrack Got 41.3 MPG Highway

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Measuring Alltrack Highway MPG – Background

This may be overdoing a simple Alltrack highway MPG report, but here it is anyway. This route I’ve driven well over a hundred times. The outbound (from Denver) leg is always worse on fuel economy than the inbound leg.

Summary: my new Golf Alltrack got 41.3 MPG on a 54-mile highway run.

It’s almost certainly the elevation change: Denver is 5280 feet above sea level, Castle Rock is 6224 feet above sea level. That’s a 147:1 ratio when computing the angle, given distance (28 miles on I-25) and height (1000 feet) = .34° incline.

There might be prevailing winds working on this also, I don’t know. It’s routine to get worse economy going to Castle Rock, whatever the case. In my Volvo 850 T5, I’d typically get 27 mpg going out, and 34 mpg coming back.

Golf Alltrack Highway MPG – Route and Distance

Here’s the Denver-Castle Rock route in Google Maps. It’s 57 miles round trip.

Alltrack Highway Economy – Methodology

  • I press the MPG reset button after my Alltrack has gotten up to speed on the highway, after the entrance ramp. This cuts out variables.
  • I don’t hypermile – no drafting, no turning the engine off (which to me has always seemed incredibly dangerous). Just normal driving. I kept the Alltrack in 6th gear the entire trip.
  • My average speed is a few ticks over the posted limit… which ranges from 60 to 75 MPH. I didn’t do a speed run, nor was I a right-lane squatter.img 3164 - My Alltrack Got 41.3 MPG Highway
  • The weather was mild. There was no precipitation or strong winds.
  • The load was just me, plus around 20 pounds of miscellaneous stuff in the car. Zero passengers.
  • Fuel octane was premium, 91 octane.

I’m very pleased! I thought I could flirt with 40 MPG before I bought my Alltrack. Then the first week brought fairly dismal fuel economy numbers, and my 40 MPG dream faded. But it turns out those early numbers were engine break-in numbers, and now that I’ve crossed 1000 miles, fuel economy is rising.

Alltrack Ownership Impressions & MPG – One Month Into It

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After exactly four weeks of 2017 Golf Alltrack ownership,  here are my fuel economy metrics and overall Alltrack ownership impressions

  • 23 MPG
  • 772 miles driven
  • 43 hours 13 minutes of driving
  • 18 MPH average speed

As you can see, it’s 99% city driving in my manual 6-speed Alltrack. Eighteen MPH average is painful, yes, but it is what it is. I drive often in rush hour city traffic to get my son to and from school, and to take him to various team sports practices and games.

Twenty-three miles per gallon is one MPG better than the EPA city rating, so there’s that. And it’s not off Fuelly’s broad, combined MPG 25.2 average for Alltracks. Therefore I suspect my highway fuel economy will be pretty damn good when I get to see it.

Alltrack Ownership, Alltrack Comfort, Alltrack Impressions

The driver’s seat comfort has improved, or rather, my body has adapted to the car. The first few days my right leg and ankle would feel uncomfortable — the angle of my foot vs. my leg using the gas pedal was greater than that of my prior car, so that initially was a problem. Now my muscles have adapted to the angle and nothing is fatigued any longer.

The seat is fine, and I’ve settled in to my driving position — medium seat bottom height, nearly all the way back on fore-aft track, upright-ish seatback angle.

I’ve washed her once and filled up on 87 octane (US measure) twice.

My Alltrack’s fuel economy is steadily improving.

I ordered a JB4 piggyback tune after declining the VW dealer APR tune at a wallet-crushing $2400.

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APR Tune at VW Dealer: $2400 – Wait How Much?!

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Aftermarket tunes available from several vendors are $500-$750, and this APR tune specifically is $599 “on the street” without the labor of installing it, so when my sales guy told me a dealer-approved/installed APR tune for the Golf Alltrack would be 4X as much, I almost fell out of my chair.

A tune is a product that re-writes some or all of the programming on a car’s engine management computer… or the part of the engine control software that controls air/fuel/boost/etc. The goal is more power.

Factory programming usually leaves a great deal of headroom for engine longevity, so getting more power — especially from a turbocharged engine — isn’t difficult. [Getting more power out of a non-turbo (“normally aspirated”) engine is very expensive compared to a turbocharged engine… but that’s beside the point…]

So why get the tune at the dealer in the first place? The upside of getting the tune at time of delivery is that it’s a dealer-approved modification that doesn’t void your warranty.

Hey I was expecting to pay more at the dealer. Keeping the VW warranty intact while enjoying the extra horsepower of a tune is a win-win. But the “lose” in all this is the price… 1/10th the cost of the car!?

$2400 is a steep price to pay for 35 HP.

At $2400 it wasn’t even close. At 1-2X, I’d have gone for it. But two-and-a-half grand is absurd.

Alltrack Tune Plan B

jb vw performance tuner - APR Tune at VW Dealer: $2400 - Wait How Much?!
Alltrack tune plan B isn’t actually a tune, it’s a “piggyback”.

I’ll probably pick up a $379 “JB1” piggyback module for my new Golf Alltrack [very lengthy forum discussion here]. It’s not a tune in the traditional sense, but runs alongside the factory tune on the car’s ECU.

The JB1 is a true user adjustable plug and play solution for all MQB based models in the VW Audi Group range. Power Gains: Starting at 35whp and 35ft lb with 91 octane with + 4.80psi boost over stock on the default setting. Engine estimates are 50bhp gained and 45ft lb.

It’s a configurable device that boosts boost. I might see more MPG if I can keep my foot out of it. And therein lies the paradox: it gives VW 1.8 and 2.0 liter EA888 engines a nice kick to the midrange power. So it’ll be difficult to keep my right foot light. Let’s be honest. I’m not getting this for fuel economy.

Lifetime MPG Improves to 22.9 MPG – Golf Alltrack

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… and by lifetime, I mean three weeks and 623 miles. After the first week of exploring the Alltrack’s power, I’ve moved to the Gentle Zone of Fuel Economy Zen, where I short shift to keep the RPMs down.

Dictating Notes via CarPlay Works

For the fun of it — not expecting much in terms of success  — I used CarPlay to create a note. Like most others out there, I think of things while I’m driving.

I didn’t know any keywords or how to go about it. I just said “Create new note” and Siri responded by asking what I want the note to say, and we went from there.

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Notes land in the iCloud section. As good a place as any… maybe better, because right off they’re available not only on my phone, but on my Mac laptop and iPad also. Plus, they’re backed up more reliably than my home backup system allows.

Not only did it work straight up, I found the notes pretty much where I’d expect them — in my iPhone 7’s Note app. Very cool.

After not having any trouble with the voice command “Create new note” and dictating my thought, I did another. This makes driving “productive” in that I can dictate thoughts as they come to me and save them in a format (Notes app) that makes it easy to share and edit. I’m happy.

For what it’s worth, I’ve found iOS to be near 100% at transcribing my voice. I can’t remember the last time I had to repeat something.

Don’t Lose Those Two Keyfobs You Get

The first note I made was because of a bit of a revelation. There are no keyholes on the Alltrack doors. There is nowhere to insert a key on the outside of the car. There’s the ignition, and that’s it.

If the keyfob doesn’t unlock the doors, you’re not getting in your Alltrack. Well, you’re not getting in that moment… there’s always Car-Net. See my Car-Net posts.  With Car-Net, you can (supposedly — haven’t tried) unlock your VW from the Car-Net app, or call them and they’ll do it remotely.

Infotainment/Carplay Sometimes Forgets What It’s Doing

The second note I made while driving was that the infotainment system sometimes has glitches. For instance today I did the usual CarPlay directions command (hold down the driver talk button on the steering wheel) to get the best route to my destination. Siri read back my command which was correct, then the system glitched and the Sirius XM station resumed playing. No route, no error message, no explanation.

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Press the talking head button on the steering wheel to trigger all this stuff. It’s how you begin any CarPlay interaction.