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VW Alltrack S AWD vs Subaru Outback 2.5i: It’s Clear Who Makes the Better Wagon

A point by point comparison pits the Volkswagen Alltrack vs Subaru Outback. Who comes out on top?


When you compare the 2017 Volkswagen Alltrack S AWD to the 2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i, it’s clear by the point by point comparison which wagon is better. Or is it? VW Parts Vortex points out in a comparison between the two wagons that the Volkswagen S AWD has several clear advantages over the Outback 2.5i. Most are in the area of performance. Is that what American buyers are looking for in a wagon? Do they even want a wagon?

Volkswagen Alltrack has the performance advantage

The comparison, you can see here, shows the Alltrack is the clear winner when it comes to fuel economy (2 mpg city, 1mpg highway), better overall performance (It’s 1.4 sec faster 0-60), and it’s lighter (280 lbs).

When you compare seating capacity, suspension type and MSRP, the two are similar. The Outback comes out on top when it comes to cargo carrying capacity. Alltrack: 30.4 cu ft (66 cu. ft w/rear seat folded) vs Outback: 35.5 cu. ft (73.3 cu. ft w/rear seat folded).

The US is a different market

In Europe, the comparison would definitely be advantage VW Alltrack, where buyers like the smaller vehicle size and they also love their sports tourers. In the US, consumers prefer larger SUVs with more cargo room for the family. Americans don’t even like wagons. The Outback is more SUV-like and this is a big reason why the 2017 Outback outsells the Alltrack by a large margin.

We’ve driven both vehicles and would agree with VW Parts Vortex that the Alltrack is by far, higher on the fun-to-drive meter. Is that what American buyers are looking for in a wagon? The clear answer is no. Buyers are choosing the Outback because of it’s all-weather capability, superior safety record and because it’s not really a wagon. It’s an SUV-alternative recreation-purposed vehicle that offers superior utility and cargo/passenger room and even higher ground clearance (Outback 8.7-in), (Alltrack 6.9-in) for off-road adventures.

Who is the clear winner?

Consumers are deciding by purchasing more 2017 Outbacks 2.5i with standard all-wheel-drive (109,448 YTD sales), by far over the 2017 Volkswagen Alltrack S AWD (7,544 YTD sales), and this number even includes the Golf SportWagon. It’s clear who makes the better vehicle for US consumers.

Source: VW Parts Vortex

Photo: Spork Marketing


Scrotum (not verified)    September 21, 2016 - 9:58AM

I'll never buy another VW given their diesel fiasco. Subaru's are, from what I've been told, built like tanks.

matt (not verified)    September 30, 2016 - 1:52PM

In reply to by Scrotum (not verified)

while subaru's are built like tanks they also GULP gas like an M1A1 Abrams MBT which is to say they have terrible fuel economy. their mpg rating is based on ideal conditions rather than volkswagen's real-world ideal conditions mpg rating system. also if subaru's are built like tanks why does volkswagen have a consistently higher crash safety rating since the 1990's? Just food for thought.

John Goreham    September 30, 2016 - 4:16PM

In reply to by matt (not verified)

Subaru's Forester and Outback have excellent EPA fuel economy ratings. In our testing they match or exceed those ratings, just as VW's vehicles do. Every vehicle sold in America has the same test cycle (or cycles if you count the two that are averaged in EPA's formula). For real-world safety rankings there is not better source than HDLI and IIHS. Here is the link: As you can see the Jetta wagon and Subaru Outback are both excellent with a driver death rate per million miles of 6. However, the Legacy has the best rating ever recorded at "0" and the Jetta has a rating of 20.

Chris (not verified)    February 20, 2017 - 12:27PM

In reply to by John Goreham

I own a 2016 Subaru forester 2.5i premium. The advertised average fuel economy is 28mpg. My car NEVER gets above 20mpg average, it gets 17 around town and 22 on the highway cruising at what? This is the worst vehicle I have ever owned, cant wait to turn it back in.

RMorgan (not verified)    May 17, 2017 - 8:52PM

In reply to by Chris (not verified)

We have the same 2016 Forester 2.5i Premium and typically average 25-26 mpg in daily, around-town driving. On trips to NYC or Boston, we've gone as high as 30 mpg driving at 65-70 mph on interstates

Peter Hugh (not verified)    June 10, 2018 - 5:59PM

In reply to by Chris (not verified)

It also depends on how you drive. My XT 2018 Forester highway is 27,.. however I can easily get 32-34 by driving conservatively. You drive it like an aggress sports car just to pick up some groceries. LMAO. Usually, it's the aggressive drivers with the poorest gas mileage. On another note, I had a 2015 CRV that was rate at 32 highway, and I was able to get the max to 39 highway. Just do the math, and drive keep in mind, your driving habits. I see idiots speeding up to get to a red stop light. LOL

JMF (not verified)    December 15, 2016 - 11:58PM

In reply to by matt (not verified)

Matt, funny you bring up real world MPG, I heard about a company found cheating with their numbers but I don't recall it being Subaru, oh yeah it was VW!!!! Also interesting 'fact' that VW have a higher safety ratings than Subarus....may be more than a little reach there also. Subaru has had every model they make in the IIHSA top safety pick for the last many years. Add to that Subaru is known for it's poor weather/off-road capabilities and you have a clear winner in safety and it isn't VW. Add to that the fact that Subarus retain a higher % of their value than VW shows which brand is more desirable over the long term.

Nathan (not verified)    December 17, 2016 - 10:33PM

In reply to by Scrotum (not verified)

I have two TDIs, including a wagon, that I'm replacing with two VWs, including the Alltrack. I guess my buying habits and tastes are more inline with European drivers than American (I'm an American). I strongly considered an Outback but in the end it wasn't about punishing VW over screwing me with two diesels, it was about getting the most car for the dollar and VW fell over themselves to keep me as a customer. I got a serious car upgrade and a pocket full of cash left over. I feel like I'm the winner of this particular exchange. Next time, who knows?

Jeff (not verified)    December 24, 2016 - 8:55PM

In reply to by Nathan (not verified)

Yep, I guess my tastes skew Euro as well. I've got a GTI now, but I'm looking for something a little more "rugged" to take on road trips to the mountains, desert, coast, wherever, and the Outback is just so dang big. I don't want bigger, I want maneuverable and fun to drive daily. It seems like the Alltrack is roughly the same size as the late 90s, early 00s Outback, which is perfect for us.

Joshua Destevens (not verified)    August 7, 2020 - 2:07PM

In reply to by Scrotum (not verified)

I’ve owned two and I can tell you it’s all hype. My cross trek was horrendous. Dangerous to drive it tram lined so bad. Multiple trips to the dealer for alignment, tires, and brakes and it was still all over the road. My Forrester XT was a little better, but the paint was so soft it scratched way too easy. Swirl marks everywhere from the car wash and so many electrical problems. I’ll never waste my money on another over priced, over hyped car.

CE Hughes (not verified)    September 22, 2016 - 12:25PM

In reply to by Mark (not verified)

I expect those are the sales figures for the Golf Sportwagen on which the Alltrack is based. Quoting the sales figure without explaining it is one of the glaring errors that make this a poorly researched and poorly written article.

matt (not verified)    September 30, 2016 - 1:56PM

In reply to by Mark (not verified)

europe is on a different autosales fiscal cycle than we are. they release 2017 stock in summer of 2016 whereas we release in fall 2016 for 2017 stock. and vp vortex got the price wrong on a base model outback it's $30K not $25.5K also the Alltrack being released in NA is not based off the Golf but rather the Passat and Tiguan chassis so it actually has higher clearance than an outback. feel free to check the vwNA website and the Subaru America website for fact checking.

JoeVWsalesman (not verified)    April 14, 2017 - 1:05PM

In reply to by matt (not verified)

Maybe I am being lazy and not reading far enough to see if someone already corrected this, BUT nevertheless, the VW Golf Alltrack, is indeed on the new MQB platform that the GOLF/GOLF gti/GOLF sportwagen/GOLFr all share. EVERY single VW that has a transverse engine layout will be on this platform by 2020.

Sandy Richardson (not verified)    September 21, 2016 - 10:38AM

Maybe I'm missing or don't understand something here, but the VW Alltrack has not even gone on sale in the USA as of September 21, 2016.

Leslie m (not verified)    September 21, 2016 - 1:02PM

As Sandy pointed out, those YTD sales are bull. The Alltrack hasn't even arrived at US dealers yet. Nice try, torque news. Guess we will see how things go once they're available!

CE Hughes (not verified)    September 21, 2016 - 1:15PM

The Alltrack has not yet been sold in the US. It is due to be in showrooms in October of this year. Sales figures must be for the Golf Sportwagen. It's too early to say that US market prefers the Subaru. Even if it becomes a wild hit, it will take years for it to approach the Subaru in sales.

Zachary T Hendrix (not verified)    September 21, 2016 - 5:41PM

It's really funny honestly, because the alltrac slot perfectly between the crosstrek which gets better gas mileage, and the outback which has way more room, and I bet the vw is more fun to drive but subaru is time tested and proven, and is ridiculously reliable in real world and will hold value better, where the vw has a more complex powertrain, more moving parts, less reliablitity, and frankly VW just isn't in the best standing with consumers right now, maybe after awhile and the consumer will have forgotten about dieselgate and then they will bounce back

Fahr Sicher (not verified)    September 21, 2016 - 8:53PM

Tried & true? You think that just adding all wheel drive makes a car have to be re-proven? The same AWD system has been used by VW for years and the Golf Wagon, like the Golf and GTI are built on the super-solid MQB platform which has won car of the year awards from every corner of the globe. I can tell you that finding a better car for the money will be nigh on impossible. It is more solid and better built than a BMW, has loads of features and value. It holds as much as an SUV but handles liek a sports car. And if you think that you'll be punishing VW for a very sad and unfortunate circumstance - that just shows how simple minded and influenced you are by the mostly American press which lets GM off the hook for ignoring 10-years of knowingly bad ignition switches (and multiple deaths) but relentlessly skewers a company for emitting more NOX. Do you know where most of the world's naturally ocuring NOX comes from? From the floors of old growth riparian forests as the rotting foliage is converted by bacteria into cute little nitrogen farts. All sheep back to the barn!

Dave (not verified)    September 21, 2016 - 11:10PM

WHY WOULD THE VW HAVE MORE PARTS TO TGE DRIVETRAIN.? They are both 4wd & as far as I know almost identical unless the vw has the motor mounted n/s as in the Audi's which I take it it no doubt has. (I didn't read full article) so pretty much the same but when the 8sp dual clutch automatic trans in the vw sh*ts itself you will surely find that your up for a whole lot more than the guy with the subi who would be able to afford a new auto. New cvs & no doubt evven some more for the same money it costs to fix the vw. Their nice cars if your in Europe but for parts & maintenance the Subaru would be the better choice. Tried & tested with parts both new & reco'd available at a whim. Sometimes the Japanese just do it better if you don't care much for the extra 1.5sec 0-62mph & the savings on juice which you will no doubt make up quickly in service & parts pricing with the subi.

Rex Dietz (not verified)    November 2, 2016 - 4:54AM

Having had a Subaru Outback (2005) and a VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI (2012) I am in a quandry. I love my manual sportwagen, which is quick, fun to drive, and got excellent mileage (45 mpg highway, mid 30's overall). The Subaru has better resale, particularly here (Montana). Loved my Subaru too, but didn't look back after I traded it in. Drove the Alltrack the other day, and loved it (also drove the Mercedes GLA ... nice ornament). Drives just like my car. Worse gas mileage, though. Thinking of waiting for the Manual Alltrack, to arrive in January. Also considering the Sportwagen FWD, Mazda CX5, and Subaru Impreza sport premium. The diesel was great, and wish VW still had one. But I am going to take the trade in on the sportwagen from VW and get a new vehicle, almost certainly one of the above.. And I love the wagon configuration, it is so practical; who cares what anyone else thinks,

Mary Ann (not verified)    January 10, 2017 - 6:43PM

In reply to by Rex Dietz (not verified)

I'm w/u Rex !!! I still have my 99 pass wagon w/the original clutch and over 200000 miles !!! I love her, her fun, holding capacity and the fact I taught 2 sons how 2 drive stick. SHE'S a trooper. I LOVE my wagon and am waiting too 4 the manual wagon to come out. THanks 4 verbalizingmy feelings.

CE Hughes (not verified)    November 2, 2016 - 6:06PM

I finally decided on the Sportwagen SEL wither these considerations: 1) I have never gone camping or kayaking where FWD was not enough, 2) for the extra $ of AWD I could move from an SE to an SEL, and 3) dealers aren't going to want to discount the Alltrack until they see how it sells without discounts. I got a Sportwagen for $28K plus $820 delivery fee.

OB1 (not verified)    December 10, 2016 - 10:15PM

Own a 2010 Sportwagen TDI. Sorry to give it up but for the fraud. Opting for the 5k and repair is a mistake: 1. VW still hasn't announced a fix, 2. you'll be left holding that car*, and 3. you'll never get anywhere near the pre-fraud trade-in VW has to pay. I commend the US Gov for forbidding VW to ship these cars out of the US to pollute elsewhere. I'm a VW guy though, and have an AllTrack 6-speed manual on order. I get to keep the model I like, add AWD in a manual, and VW buys most of it for me.