Nobody Backs Out The Outback: Volkswagen Golf Alltrack Sales Momentum Is Slowing Already, But Golf Wagon Totals Are Soaring

You didn’t seriously think there was a tall, be-cladded wagon that could sell like a Subaru Outback, did you?

And you didn’t think — if such a tall, be-cladded wagon did have the potential to sell as well as a Subaru Outback — that it would be a Volkswagen Golf Alltrack?

Of course you didn’t, not in this post-diesel scandal world. But as the all-conquering Subaru Outback continues to enjoy increased U.S. demand, the latest Outback alternative is already suffering a mild case of DTWS.

Not Dancing With The Stars. Don’t read so fast.

Decreased Tall Wagon Sales.

The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack’s May 2017 performance of only 1,312 sales represented a six-month low.

There’s no shortage of Mexico-built Golf Alltracks on U.S. dealer lots. Cars.com shows over 6,500 Alltracks in stock now.

But after steadily climbing to 1,823 sales in December of last year — which still stands as the best month for Alltrack sales to date — the Outbackified Golf averaged fewer than 1,600 monthly sales in the first-third of 2017 before sales dipped even lower in May.

Again, the expectation wasn’t for Subaru Outback-like sales success. Not in year one of generation one; not for an automaker struggling to restore confidence following 2015’s diesel emissions scandal; not for a car with less space and ground clearance than an Outback but a similar price tag.

Subaru has reported year-over-year Outback sales improvements in the U.S. in each of the last 16 months and in every year since the brand began breaking out the Outback from the Legacy. Outback volume in 2017 is on track to rise above 200,000 sales for the first time, double the total achieved as recently as 2011.

That’s not the Golf Alltrack’s league, no doubt. Since September’s U.S. launch, Volkswagen sold 11,020 copies of the Golf Alltrack.

But why is the Alltrack, so soon after its arrival, already tailing off? Some of the blame belongs to Volkswagen’s Golf SportWagen, the very car that spawned the Alltrack.

In May 2017, for example, Volkswagen of America reported 2,213 Golf SportWagen sales, more than twice the number sold in May 2016. Golf SportWagen sales more than doubled in April, as well, when the lower-riding wagon earned 33-percent more sales than the Alltrack.

The base trim Golf SportWagen 1.8T S with 4Motion all-wheel drive is priced at $24,650. The Alltrack 1.8T S, with 4Motion as standard equipment, costs $2,020 more. Besides operating on the losing side of the value ledger, Volkswagen’s Alltrack will more than likely enjoy its greater periods of demand in specific regions when winter weather looms.

The good news? Total SportWagen/Alltrack volume, meanwhile, has more than tripled to 13,689 units so far this year. More than four out of every ten Golfs sold is now a wagon of one sort or another, up from just one in five at this stage of 2016. Total Golf hatchback sales are up 8 percent in early 2017.

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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