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:

City

Floor: 20 MPG, Ceiling: 30 MPG

Highway

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

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.

45.3 MPG Golf Alltrack
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.

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.

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.



After 3 Months: My JB4 Review

JB4 logged data - 2017 Alltrack manual transmission WOT

This is a non-scientific review. I don’t have drag strip run data, it’s only about my thoughts and impressions.

I removed the JB4 last night. I’ve driven just 20 miles without it today, and here is my review of the Burger Tuning JB4.

I think getting a read on the JB4 is made easy by removing it, just as much as it is installing it. The absence of the unit — after using it for 3.5 months — makes a difference felt just as strongly as adding it.

Without the JB4…

  • The midrange kick is gone – 2500 to 3500 RPM, of course
  • But the kick made the throttle touchy right where I set higher-than-stock boost levels (2k-3k RPM)
  • You know what? The stock VW 1.8 is pretty good the way it is!

I ran the JB4 with its stock settings for a month before increasing the boost at certain RPM levels… custom map.

JB4 logged data - 2017 Alltrack manual transmission WOT
JB4 logged data – 2017 Alltrack manual transmission WOT

See my brief comment about life with the JB4 here.

I’m going to leave it off for a few weeks to get even more of a gauge on how much power is missing and how fuel economy is affected. While I had the JB4 installed, I didn’t notice a significant loss or gain in my Alltrack’s fuel economy.

After a few runs to Castle Rock to get some data on MPG, I’ll make another JB4 post, this one specifically MPG apples – apples with actual numbers.

My Alltrack Got 41.3 MPG Highway

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.
  • 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

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.