When the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack debuted, VW was quite clear the vehicle would never make its way into the United States. That explains our surprise when the Alltrack Concept made its way to the New York auto show floor, even with the automaker insisting it has "no plans to bring this vehicle to market."
The VW Alltrack Concept at the New York show packs the automaker's familiar 140-hp 2.0-liter turbodiesel I-4 with 236 lb-ft of torque under the hood, mated to its six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Power is put down to all four wheels through VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.
Unlike the 2013 Subaru Outback, the Alltrack Concept has a dedicated off-road mode that functions under 18 mph when activated. The system modifies the throttle mapping to give more pedal feel, the transmission shift points to allow it to hold gear, and the anti-lock braking system to allow the tires to lock up on loose surfaces like gravel or snow, allowing more effective stopping. The Alltrack's off-road mode also includes Hill Descent Assist.
All this extra off-road stuff is great, but we have to ask, "Why?" VW even noted at the end of its press release: "Currently there are no plans to bring this vehicle to market in the U.S., but the concept is set to gauge market reaction to a potential future model that is similarly sized and combines off-road ability with wagon versatility."
Our source at Volkswagen tells us the Alltrack Concept is testing the waters for a VW crossover that would slot size-wise between the current Jetta Sportwagen and U.S.-spec Passat sedan, likely on the new MQB architecture. The powertrain for this soft roader would probably be the same 2.0-liter TDI mill as seen in the Alltrack Concept. "If you look at the current [Jetta] Sportwagen the TDI rate is at about 80-85 percent," said our source, "So I think the potential is there to be all TDI." While there's no timeframe on a midsize VW crossover competitors will include the Subaru Outback and Volvo XC70.
What do you think: Should Volkswagen consider bringing an all-wheel-drive model like the Subaru Outback to the U.S.?