Truth in advertising: this comparison features the previous generations of Crosstrek and Alltrack, which is ideal if you're comparing used cars. See our selection of current comparisons.

Subaru Outback
Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Alltrack


Executive Summary
Comparably equipped, they're about the same price.  However, VW's Alltrack gives up almost ten inches in length and six inches in height to the Subaru Outback.   Size-wise, the VW slots between the Outback and the compact Subaru Crosstrek, so you may want to save $3,000 and compare the Alltrack with the Crosstrek.

This premium-priced little VW will sell in boutique quantities to those who like its upscale, Audi-like interior, and those who like a zingy turbo engine.  But Alltrack lags Outback in cargo capacity, ground clearance, off-road capability, reliability, resale, and overall value.  And we see many customers unwilling to forgive Volkswagen for its worldwide emissions cheating and resulting damage to air quality.  By contrast, Subaru is, and has been, a poster child for good corporate citizenship.

We feature many head-to-head comparisons on, and many manufacturers offer stiff competition for our Subaru models.  But Volkswagen just isn't in the same league, producing mediocre cars at premium prices. If you get to the end of this comparison wondering why anyone would buy one, you're not alone.  We're scratching our heads too.   


  VW Golf Alltrak S

 Outback Premium

All Weather Capability:
Both have standard all wheel drive but Outback was built from the ground up with all wheel drive whereas VW started with a front driver and bolted on some extra hardware later.  More sophisticated Subaru system responds more quickly to a loss of traction. 




Optional Driver-Assistive Technologies:
Both offer their own versions of pre-collision warning and braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection/lane change assist, and lane departure warning. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the Subaru system superior.   

VW Driver Assistance

Ground clearance
Outback is less likely to get caught in snow or slop.

6.9 inches

8.7 inches

Cargo Space
Outback is about ten inches longer so it's preferable for bigger loads, like a car full of Planet greeters:  from left...Mabel, Pabst, and Blue.  Meet them here.  The dogs prefer the Subaru waggin' over the VW Wagen. 

cubic feet

73 cubic feet

Passenger Volume
Outback is considerably roomier inside for people.

94 cubic feet

108 cubic feet

Towing Capacity

VW does not recommend
towing with Alltrack

2700 pounds (4 cylinder)
3000 pounds (6 cylinder)
StandarEngine and Fuel Economy
The Outback is larger, heavier, and more powerful, but still returns significantly better gas mileage.  And VW requires premium unleaded fuel.

Turbocharged 1.8 liter
four cylinder engine
170 horsepower

Six speed transmission

22 city, 30 hwy

2.5 liter four cylinder
Boxer engine

175 horsepower

Continuously variable transmission

25 city, 32 hwy

Need some extra go-go?

No six cylinder available

Optional 3.6 liter
six cylinder with 250 horsepower:

20 city, 27 highway

Outward Visibility
Tailgate glass in Outback is taller and wider, and roof support is narrower, reducing blind spots.    Alltrack's standard back-up camera helps you in parking lots, but not on the roads.  (Back up camera is also standard on Outback).  Outback is recognized for being among the cars with best visibility.


Roof Rails and Crossbars

Outback's ingenious integrated racking system includes rails and integrated swinging crossbars standard on all Outback models.  VW has standard rails, but you'll have to buy the crossbars and store them in your garage.

Articulating cross bars
are shown here partially

Purchase and Ownership Experience

You can buy a new Subaru at Planet, but not a new Volkswagen.

Typical dealership experience.

Both receive a "Top Safety Pick Plus" designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when equipped with optional driver assistance technologies. 

Outback test results

Search our inventory for your Outback:


...when we trade a Volkswagen in real nice shape, we offer it for sale:





Comparing the Subaru Outback with Volkswagen's Golf Alltrack?  Planet Subaru is your source for a review of the Subaru and the VW for everyone in the Boston and South Shore areas.