Thursday, May 10, 2012

Car of the Week: VW Alltrack (and a rant on lame car companies)

Car shopping has to be one of the most frustrating things ever. You would expect that if you had a stack of cash containing over $30,000 you could get the car you wanted. There is not a single new car available to me that meets all of my requirements and so car shopping becomes an exercise in settling and trade-offs. I would buy a Subaru outback if they sold a diesel. I would buy a Jetta diesel wagon if they sold it in an all-wheel drive version with some ground clearance... What is that you say? They make that car? You are correct, VW is making a beautiful thing called the Alltrack.

Photo from the VW UK web site

The Alltrack is a Jetta wagon with a diesel engine and all-wheel drive and ground clearance. All of this from a company that has a reputation for making cars with great fit and finish as well as cars that are alive with nice handling and good driver feel. Sounds like the perfect car right? You can't get it.

It will not be sold in the US. Aaaaggggghhhh! Why is this so ridiculously backwards and lame. I have money and I am stupidly willing to strap myself with a car loan so that I can have a reliable car that does what I want... But the car companies don't want my money. The list of cars that I would buy if they were shipped to the US is long: Audi Allroad diesel, Subaru Outback diesel (near 48mpg), Toyota Rav4 with a 2.2 liter diesel (40mpg), Nissan X-Trail diesel, Honda CR-V Diesel and on and on.

The real insult to injury comes with US car companies that make diesel cars that are not available in the US! Though I loath most US cars as they are cheap unreliable and not very well engineered, I find myself willing to buy one if they would only offer what I want. I stooped so low the other day that I was on the Jeep site trying to see if I could get a wrangler in a diesel. It meets one or two of my needs but fails most, and I was still considering it. Why? Because I am so desperate for a diesel off road car. Cars that I would love to own are available but they are luxury cars way above my pay grade. Think BMW X-5, Audi Q7, VW Tourag or Mercedes-Benz suv's and crossovers which land in the $50,000 and above category. Even used ones are too much.

I cannot justify spending the $30,000 unless it is a car that will meet all my needs. The closest I get is the Jetta diesel wagon; room, over 40 mpg. The problem is that I will never take it up to my dad's house (rough dirt road) and so it becomes a $30,000 car I can't use. Instead I spend my days searching for used cars and weighing the trade-offs. I land on 1980's Mercedes diesel wagons. They offer good fuel mileage, have room, and they are cheap enough that I would be willing to drive them on dirt. Of course they are aging and while they are reliable, with so many parts that are now 30 years old it is only a mater of time... weather stripping is aging, I worry about the lack of safety features and where are all the creature comforts that society says I need?

So here is a message to all car makers (if only they would read it), What does it say about your car company if I would rather buy a 30 year old car than buy a new one of yours? Hint: it says that you have no clue about your market and your company makes cars they think the public will buy and not what the public wants. Let me give a few examples of how car companies are clueless. The Toyota Prius is a car that was not supposed to do that well... All the critics said it would not sell because no one would pay more for a car that was small and slow just to get better mileage. Shocker, lots of people bought them. By February 2012 over 2.5 million were sold world wide.

Example two: There are endless car journalist that can be sited as saying that Americans will not buy diesels. And yet, VW diesels account for 23% of VW sales in the US. I would also be willing to bet that this number is low as they do not offer a diesel engine in all their models in the US. If I wanted the minivan I would not even have the option to buy a diesel version. If we could I bet the numbers would increase. There is a Facebook page titled "Bring Subaru Diesel to the US!" where they tout sales figures and goad Subaru that they are missing out. And they are. I would buy one.

To close, I have chosen the VW Alltrack because it seems like the most likely of the diesels (that I want) to have a chance of making it state side. I like VW cars and have been impressed with the quality of their current models. I have driven the new VW Golf tdi and the Jetta tdi and I love the feel and handeling. I bet VW $30,000 that they don't bring the Alltrack to the US.


  1. I've been saying the same thing for 5 years. Guess what, Car companies won't listen to you. They want your money, but refuse to offer what you want. Ditto.

  2. Classic Volkswagen is my favorite one. I have a Classic Volkswagen and looks simply great.

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