The Volkswagen Passat has occupied VW’s mid-sized sedan segment since 1973. In the 42 years since, the Passat has become one of the company’s go-to models, evolving through eight design generations and a handful of other names in various markets — Dasher, Santana, Quantum, Magotan, Corsar and Carat — to retain its place in the Volkswagen hierarchy. Until recently, the Passat was built exclusively as a sedan, but recent trends in the industry gave VW the opportunity to shed the Passat’s sedan skin to build other body types. One such model that was born out of this transformation is the Passat Alltrack, a high-riding, four-wheel-drive wagon that bridges the gap between the standard Passat Estate and an SUV like the 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan.

The Passat Alltrack is in its second generation, and while it may look the part of a wagon, it functions like a true off-roader, thanks in large part to a raised ride height, permanent 4Motion all-wheel drive, and electronic differential lock. It also has a total of four engines: a turbocharged gas mill and three turbodiesels, all of which carry enough power to handle road conditions that standard wagons would have a hard time dealing with.

The Passat Alltrack is an interesting car that might command a following if Volkswagen makes it available in the U.S. Unfortunately, there are no plans for that, which is a shame considering that a vehicle like this could be a hit among American customers looking to hit two birds, or in this case, car types, with one stone.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack.

Exterior

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2016 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack High Resolution Exterior
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Based on the eight-generation Passat Estate, the Passat Alltrack bears a lot of design similarities to its less adventurous brother. The narrow LED headlamps and grille configuration is present on the Alltrack, as is the revised lower apron and the sharp character line that extends from the front fenders all the way to the taillights, giving the vehicle a pronounced look.

The Passat Alltrack does differentiate itself from its standard wagon sibling through a assortment of off-road components. The modified bumpers with heavy-duty underbody guards are giveaways to its off-road character, as are the reinforced wheel arches, the side moldings with extended sills, the roof rails, and the 1.08-inch higher ground clearance. Integrated foglights are also available on higher-end versions of the Passat Alltrack and on the aesthetic front, the off-road sedan carries Alltrack badges on the grille and front wings for identification purposes, and silver and and black mirror housings for a nice touch of sophistication.

Interior

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Just like the exterior, the interior of the Passat Alltrack is a mirror image of the standard Passat Estate. The trim work is the same and details like the upholstered Vienna leather appointed seats, the analog clock between the two center A/C vents, and the digital display are all there.

The whole setup gives the cabin a premium feel. Interior space is also impressive as the cabin has enough room to seat as many as five adults comfortably and still having 22.6 cubic feet of luggage space just under the cargo blind. Volkswagen also indicated that the Passat Alltrack can have up to 62.5 cubic feet of luggage space without the cargo blind and with the rear seats folded down.

Several tech features are also available on the Passat Alltrack, including online connectivity courtesy of App-Connect, tablet integration through Media Control, and online services like Car-Net and Guide & Inform.

Drivetrain

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The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack will come with four different engine options, all of which were built to meet Euro 6 emissions standards. The 2.0-liter turbo TSI gas engine produces 217 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque while the 2.0-liter TDI engine produces three different output numbers: 148 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque, 187 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque and 237 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. According to Volkswagen, the 2.0 TDI engine with 369 pound-feet of torque is the highest-torque engine ever offered in a Passat.

All versions of the Passat Alltrack receive the 4MOTION all-wheel drive system, although the 148-horsepower TDI engine is the only one that comes with a six-speed manual transmission. The rest of the lineup comes equipped with the automatic DSG transmission.

Prices

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The Passat Alltrack won’t make the trip to the U.S., but Volkswagen is scheduled to deliver the off-road sedan to dealerships in Europe beginning in October 2015. Pricing starts at €38,550 ($42,880) for the 148-horsepower TDI trim while the 2.0-liter TSI-powered Passat Alltrack retails for €42,575 ($47,420). Those figures shoot up to €43,200 ($48,110) for the 187-horsepower TDI before topping out at €47,000 ($52,360) for the 237-horsepower TDI.

Competition

2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek

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The Subaru XV Crosstrek is the closest direct competitor of the Volkswagen Passat Alltrak. The similarities between the two are uncanny. In much the same way that the Passat Alltrack traces its lineage to the Passat, the XV Crosstek traces its to the Impreza. Both have been tweaked to be legitimate off-road vehicles, complete with the higher ground clearance and the four-wheel-drive system.

Engine variety favors the Passat Alltrack, because the XV Crosstek only has a 2.0-liter flat four-cylinder “Boxer” engine that produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. Those output numbers are similar to the least-powerful engine on the Passat Alltrack, so if customers are looking for more grunt out of their off-road wagons, the VW wins in that category.

Read our driven review here.

Conclusion

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The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack doesn’t really fall under one specific segment. It’s got the body of a wagon but has the off-road capabilities of an SUV, which in some ways actually makes it the perfect embodiment of a crossover. But Volkswagen hasn’t put that label on the Passat Alltrack because it already has the Tiguan occupying that spot.

That leaves the Passat Alltrack pretty much stuck between two segments. That’s not a bad thing because that distinctive identity is what makes it a really interesting car. It can attract a wide range of customers who would normally prefer either a standard wagon or a full-blown crossover/SUV. With the Passat Alltrack, they get both.

  • Leave it
    • Not available in the U.S.
    • Could use more power from the engines

Press Release

Volkswagen has developed the new Passat Alltrack for all frequent leisure and business drivers who do not only drive on paved roads. The progressively designed all-rounder might also pull boat or horse trailers, covers long distances with effortless superiority and offers maximum connectivity. The estate and SUV crossover puts himself on the scene with individualized bumpers and flared wheel arches and transports – with a luggage capacity of up to 1,769 litres – the things needed in life.

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The new Passat Alltrack is a car with features that keep what the design promises. These include modified bumpers with underbody protection, sill extensions (also fitted with underbody protection) and rugged flared wheel arches; all combine to make the body tougher while also lending the vehicle its own distinctive style. With a special off-road mode, that comprises a modified chassis (174 mm ground clearance) and permanent all-wheel drive, the Passat Alltrack effortlessly tackles terrain that is otherwise the preserve of SUVs. At the same time, the Passat Alltrack is a comfortable and fast long-distance cruiser.

A turbo petrol engine (TSI) and three turbodiesel engines (TDI) all comply with the Euro-6 emission standard. The TSI develops 162 kW / 220 PS and a powerful 350 Nm. The range of TDI engines starts at 110 kW / 150 PS and 340 Nm; two further engines in the next power ratings deliver 140 kW / 190 PS (400 Nm) and 176 kW / 240 PS (500 Nm). The 240 PS engine is the highest torque engine ever to be offered in a Passat. A stop/start system and energy recovery system are included in the standard specification of every Passat Alltrack. Volkswagen offers the 150 PS TDI engine with a manual 6-speed gearbox. All other versions come equipped with an automatic dual-clutch gearbox (DSG).

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At The 4MOTION all-wheel drive normally, only the front wheels are driven, saving fuel. But as soon as there is a risk of losing traction, the rear axle is smoothly engaged in a fraction of a second. Along with a Haldex coupling that acts as a longitudinal lock, the electronic differential locks (EDS) integrated in the electronic stability control system (ESC) act as transverse locks for all wheels. In addition, the Passat Alltrack TSI with 220 PS and TDI with 240 PS are equipped with the additional function XDS+ on both axles. This system that is available as an option for all other Passat Alltrack versions optimises the steering characteristic when accelerating out of bends.

The Passat Alltrack comes with driving mode selection as standard. In addition to the familiar "Eco", "Comfort", "Normal", "Sport" and "Individual" driving modes ("Comfort" and "Individual" in combination with adaptive chassis control DCC), the additional "Off-road" mode is an exclusive feature of the Alltrack model series. Activating this programme with a push of a button adapts all relevant driving and assistance systems, the suspension and the engine and gearbox control to off-road use. It is also an ideal towing vehicle: the Passat Alltrack can tow a permitted trailer load of 2,200 kg on an 8% and 12% incline (braked) via its electrically folding hook. In addition, new Trailer Assist facilitates manoeuvring with a trailer as the car steers automatically when reversing.

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Moreover, a pioneering range of comfort, infotainment and driver assistance systems is available for the Passat Alltrack. These technologies include the latest radio/navigation systems, a head-up display, "App-Connect" (Apple "CarPlay™", Google "Android Auto™" and "MirrorLink™"), "Media Control" (tablet integration), "Car-Net" with "Guide & Inform" (online services) as well as the ambient traffic monitoring system Front Assist including City Emergency Braking function with Pedestrian Detection that is a standard feature on board the Passat Alltrack.

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