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.

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.



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.

The Fog Lights Setting is Proving… Difficult

I can’t turn the switch to turn the fog lights on.

When I go to turn on the fog lights using the headlight switch… it won’t go into the switch position detent. Of course it says “pull”, so I pull, but the switch feels like it’s going to pull off, so I back off. My instinct says I need to pull a bit and turn to the left a bit to get the dial to go to the fog light position. Whatever the case, I haven’t figured it out yet.

I’ll figure it out. Like with everything cars/electronics/software, I just need to noodle with it until I “get it”.

In other news, my Alltrack cracked 33 MPG today driving from Castle Rock, Colorado, to Denver. I drove mostly with a light right foot, keeping her in 6th gear. I’ve found rain or snow are good for a 1-2 MPG penalty on any highway driving. And today it’s been snowing, causing visibility and wet roads, but no snow accumulation on the roads.

I like the friendly temperature reminder/warning that appears on the instrument cluster screen about 2 minutes after starting the Alltrack. There’s an audible tone that accompanies this.

My 2017 Golf Alltrack after driving in light snow for an hour.
My 2017 Golf Alltrack after driving in light snow for an hour.

It looks like these happen under 40° fahrenheit. I got one that said 38° and the other said it was 33°. That’s good information presented simply. My 1997 Volvo 850 would illuminate a small orange light next to a snowflake graphic on the instrument cluster that stayed illuminated for the entire drive, as long as the temperature was roughly 28-38°, which was not quite annoying, but close.