What is it: The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack wagon uses a 1.8-liter turbo-four for power and comes with VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive using a Haldex-5 coupling and an electro-hydraulic oil pump.

Key Competitors: Audi AllroadSubaru Outback/CrosstrekBMW 3-Series Sports Wagon

Base Price: $33,710 As Tested: $35,705

Highlights: VW's four-wheel-drive system powers the front wheels, saving fuel, until a loss of traction is detected, after which it can send 50 percent of the power rearward. The Alltrack gets an extra inch of ground clearance over the Golf SportWagen and looks more rugged, too.

Opinion: People are probably sick of me saying this, but I love Golfs. It’s their near-perfect ride/handling balance, exceptional body control, the interior quality and the logical way everything is arranged, the way the doors thunk shut, the excellent seats, the practicality (especially these wagons) … all good as far as I’m concerned. This car is no exception. It’s refined, has all of the above, plus excellent steering and brakes. The 4Motion grip makes me wish it snowed more.

The Allroad’s little turbo gas engine has dieselesque power and torque. There doesn’t seem to be any sluggishness anywhere in the rev range.

A few weeks ago I drove a ’17 Golf SportWagen with 4Motion, this same 1.8-liter turbo-four and a six-speed auto (not this car’s dual clutch). The SportWagen wore a $25,750 sticker price. So my main question is this: Other than a slight ride height difference, body cladding and DSG, why is VW asking almost 10 grand more for the Alltrack? (Actually, VW isn’t. Base price to base price, the difference is $5,370, but as tested to as tested it’s closer to $10K.)

It’s tempting to say this is an awesome crossover alternative, but at $35K is it really? Crossovers aplenty can be had for that money and so far the marketplace is clear on buyer preference …

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