2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack: Family Adventure Awaits


Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

It was a thrilling experience and test drive last month with Volkswagen in Seattle, WA where outdoor activity is more of a major than an elective to the locals. The adventurous 2017 Golf Alltrack sports wagon is made for energetic families and thrill-seekers looking for increased utility, courageous mobility and a bit of elevated technology at value pricing. Offered with 4Motion AWD, the function focused Golf will start at $26,950 for the S model with the DSG automatic.

Like myself, the Alltrack is perfect for active lifestylers who camp, bike, kayak, hike, mountain bike, explore and more. I can already envision my German-built Ghost Kato 7 sitting atop the roof by way of the standard silver anodized roof rails in route to Schaffer Farms for a day on the trails. Or I can lay the second row seats flat and store the bike inside the wagon for quicker access and shielding from the outside elements. Either or, the new VW is suited for your diverse needs and will certainly get you back on track.


Replacing the Jetta SportWagen in name, the Alltrack will be devoid of a diesel model initially. We’re not sure when or if VW will actually offer a future TDI, but they have stated that their current goal is to regain consumer trust and rebuild the brand. Both models I drove – the S and SEL – featured the 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged 4-cylinder with a respectable 170-horsepower and 199 lb-ft. of torque. The direct-injected engine provides enough juice for daily commuting and necessary acceleration onto highways. The vehicles were paired with the 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission and the sporty, flat bottom steering wheel which housed a set of paddle shifters so drivers can take control of shift points. Later on (in 2017) VW will introduce the 6-speed manual model. The Alltrack is also empowered with Driving Mode Selection which includes an off-road mode when you need to slush through muddy trails to get to the camping site. Also assisting this task is Hill Descent Control and the 6.9″ ride height representing a .6″ increase over the Jetta SportWagen.

Offered in three trims (S, SE and SEL) the Alltrack receives a reinvigorated bumper, matte-aluminum lower radiator grille crossbar, tailgate spoiler, underbody guard, honeycomb grilles, Reflex Silver side mirrors (heated, power adjustable and foldable) chrome window trim and aggressive body cladding outlining the lower front fascia, wheel arches, bottom of doors and rear bumper. However, my S model was devoid of the larger power-sliding panoramic sunroof found on the SE and SEL. The Platinum Gray Metallic SEL also came with 18” Canyon rims and all-season rubber. It looks fun, feels fun and is certainly full of positive energy. Often times driving becomes a burden but the Alltrack kept a smile on my face and upbeat tempo during my time in Washington State.


Owners will also be pleased with the larger 14.5-gallon fuel tank that allows for an estimated 30 mpg highway and 22 mpg city. We all know gas stations are far and few between when you’re traversing the outback so stopping less for fill-ups becomes essential during active travel outings. In addition to its rugged demeanor the Alltrack is very intelligent and features a wide array of both standard and optional, advanced tech capabilities including the 6.5” touchscreen with a rearview camera, VW Car-Net Security & Services (yearly subscription), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist), front and rear Park Distance Control (ParkPilot), Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist), High Beam Control (Light Assist), Fender premium audio, Bluetooth mobile connectivity and much more. During the drive I was able to pair my iPhone 6 with the vehicle using Apple CarPlay (also has Android Auto) to view text messages, listen to podcasts or use my phone’s navigation.

Inside, black V-Tex leatherette dominated both models I spent time in. The cabin is pretty reminiscence of typical VW Golfs aside from a few custom adjustments to fit the Alltrack theme. The center stack is ergonomically clean with just enough operational tabs (four on each side of screen) to simplify the usage of the touchscreen infotainment system from the precise navigation to the audio settings. More importantly VW uses three circular knobs for the temperature controls and two for both volume and tuning. I am not a fan of swiping to adjust sound or turn a station. The Alltrack also gets down with a cooled glove box, metal pedals, a wide dead pedal for comfort and the sporty, multifunction steering wheel which provides light steering that can be a pro or con depending on the driver. The door pockets are deep for added storage but the second row seating is rather tight. The front seats on the S model are manual and heated but the SEL did give me power driver adjustments. In the rear cargo area you will find a 115V outlet and switches to conveniently release the second row seats.


As you can see the 2017 VW Golf Alltrack is ready for action whether it’s basketball practice with the kids or a daring bike riding date with your significant other at the National Park. Currently in dealers, the newest VW member is ready to restore consumer confidence while showing off its enterprising assets.

2nd Annual “Fit Fathers Day” Whips DMV Dads & Families into Shape


Words & Photos by Adrian McQueen; Additional Photos by Henri Fisher & Leon Brittain

Group exercise routines, dancing, Double Dutch teams, fitness contests, smiles and laughter accurately depicts what took place at the 2nd Annual Fit Fathers Day (FFD) celebration. Typical Father’s Day ideas consist of brunches or cookouts so the Fit Fathers team decided to shake things up a bit. We brought the celebration back to Veterans Plaza in Downtown Silver Spring, MD from 10 am to Noon, still leaving time for families to go along with their regularly scheduled plans. Fit Fathers, DaddysCool.com and Powerful Beyond Measure came together to show fathers the importance of being health conscious and leading by example through positive, nutritional choices. The Fit Fathers Foundation believes health, fitness and nutrition can help fathers live longer and challenges all dads to eat clean, stay active and continuously energize their lives!

2nd_Annual_Fit_Fathers_Day...143An energetic Social Workout was led by Fit Fathers’ founder Kimatni Rawlins, celebrity trainer Michael Bance and 12-year-old fitness guru Jodi Evans, while DJ Blinks mixed sounds behind a stellar Bose audio system to keep everyone entertained. A special 80s and 90s mix was put together for our Terminator Genisys movie workout. Movie posters, premiere tickets and t-shirts were given to the FFD attendees. Fitness contests, family workouts and activities, an inflatable obstacle course, healthy snacks, health screenings, gift bags and demonstrations gave this Father’s Day event something for everyone. Another highlight was the timed fitness course that crowned James Swink Mr. Fit Father 2015. He won four Yokohama tires as the grand prize.

FFD is possible due to Mazda, Volkswagen, Children’s National, Wegmans, The Washington Auto Show, DC Capital Striders and City Sports. The event also highlighted the amazing work of our community and media partners including: African American Health Program, Street Wize Foundation,  National Black Child Development Institute, LoveLife Foundation, 14th Legislative District (Montgomery County), Action for Healthy Kids, Aspire Sports Drink, Automotive Rhythms, Bance Fitness, Creative Edge PR, African American Health Program, Embrace Kids, Fathers Incorporated, Fit For Life, Greenbelt S.I.T.Y. Stars, Healthyblackmen.org, Kids Being Fit, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (Dr. Neal Barnard), Men’s Health Network, Mocha Moms, Kids Being Fit, Shoe City, SOULCYCLE, Strive 2 Tri, The Boot Camp Girl, Throttle Life, Vegan Pro, Meatless Monday, Montgomery County, MD Dept. of Police, Center for Nutrition Studies and Washington Sports Club.

Also, NFL players Jason McCourty of the Tennessee Titans and Adrian Coxson of the Green Bay Packers, who attended the celebration, served as Fit Fathers’ National Ambassadors for the momentous occasion.

2nd_Annual_Fit_Fathers_Day...126We thanked attendees for supporting our cause with prizes and giveaways courtesy of Aspire Beverages Baltimore, City Sports, SOULCYCLE, Bose Audio, Under Armor, Shoe City and Mothers car care. Through social media and the use of the hashtag #FitFathersDay appearing across multiple newsfeeds, there is already an air of anticipation for Fit Fathers Day 2016. We greatly appreciate our sponsors and partners who recognized the vision and helped bring FFD to fruition. A very special thank you is in order for all the patrons and volunteers who attended and participated.

Although Fit Fathers Day is a special occasion to recognize Dads during their time of celebration, our mission is to also become active with, Moms, kids and families throughout the year. Stay tuned for more Fit Fathers events as we move forward to engage with different  communities around the country. Enjoy the photo gallery.

[g-gallery gid=”7744″ random=”0″ watermark=”0″]

2015 Volkswagen Golf R: Jackrabbit of All Trades


Experienced by Shawn Ciers

Automotive Rhythms arrived to the energetic vibe of San Diego, California for the 2015 Volkswagen (VW) Golf R media drive this past week with great anticipation. Given that the sportier and hipper edition of the recently crowned 2015 Car of the Year was launched on the West Coast, the redefined Golf R challenging the twists and turns of the popular region was an electrifying experience.

Based off the 7th generation Golf, which provided great insight into the upgrades the R would bring — such as its muscular stance — the hatchback is strong, bold and exudes confidence. VW utilized its experience in the World Rally Championship series to enhance the Golf R with the needed components for a successful performance package. Beginning with its profile, the R’s suspension has been lowered by .8 inches, adds quad exhaust tips, has a slightly extended rear and shares the same MQB platform as the Golf and Golf GTI. Impressive Bi-Xenon headlights with dual U-shaped LED DRLs continue to augment style and appeal to the German brand and literally shines light amongst their newfangled generation of sport editions.

2015_VW_Golf_R...10But what would vivid design changes and renovations be without respective alterations under the hood? The increase of 36-horsepower and 37 lb.-ft. of torque over the previous generation offers more roar when the pedal hits the floor. Its power packed and turbocharged 2-liter, 4-cylinder TSI engine with direct-injection never hesitated in the delivery of increased acceleration out of tight turns or approaching highway ramps. I was amazed at its cornering acceleration capabilities and all-out speed on open straightaways. With a total of 292-horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,800 rpms, all-wheel-drive (AWD) and the availability of a DSG transmission (at launch), the 2015 Golf R is the fastest consumer VW in the company’s history. It runs from standstill to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds (DSG equipped). Specifically, the DSG is a dual-clutch automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and features launch control to allow your rabbit to jump out the gate far faster than the hounds in pursuit. A 6-speed manual will be added to the 2016 model year. But not only is the Golf R’s throttle happy, it knows how to conserve fuel with 23 mpg/city and 30 mpg/highway.

Handling is improved by way of the hatchback’s 4MOTION AWD with the technologically enhanced 5th generation Haldex coupling and the DCC adaptive damping system, a feature that significantly elevates the Golf R’s handling attributes. DCC adjusts each of the four wheels independently based on their road characteristics allowing optimal traction in almost all conditions and at any speeds. While many in this field establish the Golf R as strictly a rally car, the sporty hatch proves that it is moving in the direction of overall appeal to a broader audience. DCC selections consist of Normal, Race and slightly customizable Individual modes as part of the Driving Mode Selection. Race mode as you can imagine signifies high-speed performance and stiffens the dampers further, shortens shift times and alters engine behavior to respond to performance effectively. In a Golf, it’s always simple maneuvering around town, finding parking and loading items in the cargo area. Now imagine doing the same but you have less time to complete each task. The extra ponies and safety features certainly come in handy as I found out in California.

2015_VW_Golf_R...16The Golf R’s revised 4MOTION AWD as stated uses the latest Haldex system which spearheaded the major improvements in the vehicle’s responsiveness. Haldex as you know is globally recognized for advancements and innovative solutions that progress safety, dynamics and sustainability in consumer vehicles. Their AWD platforms are used in major brands such as Volvo and Volkswagen’s sister company Audi. Handling felt so precise because 4MOTION thinks before you can even blink. It actually monitors road mannerisms and anticipates when traction could be loss, engages itself and thus prevents as much wheel spin as possible. Moreover, it saves fuel by running only the front wheels when 4-wheel traction is not required. Supported on either Cadiz 18” or the upgraded 19’’ Cadiz aluminum-alloys tucked in performance rubber, the R feels perfectly at home on tracks or public roads. It’s the greatest asset of having a dual-themed vehicle. Also added, in conjunction with the included 13.4” front and 12.2” rear brakes, is the new Automatic Post-Collision Braking system which applies the brakes to stop secondary impacts in a collision. Thankfully, this is one feature I personally enjoyed not testing!

2015_VW_Golf_R...18With the power, handling and excitement that the Golf R will bring to eventual owners, internal intelligence simultaneously increases optimism to the owner experience. The cabin is larger, the vehicle is lighter, a sleek blue instrument gauge (unique to this R) energizes the cabin, heated front seats, a power driver’s seat, leather throughout the cabin and automatic climate control are just a few interior niceties. The racing oriented, flat bottom, leather wrapped steering wheel provides most of the needed functionally directly while the navigation offers parking assistance by way of front and rear Park Distance Control. Through the infotainment and Fender premium audio sound system, syncing mobile devices will deliver home-like entertainment from your streaming audio. Although some of the responsiveness was a bit slow.

Excluding the $895 destination charge, the Golf R starts at $36,595 and increases to $39,090 for the Golf R with DCC & Navigation, which also adds the 19” aluminum-alloy rims, DCC of course, Fender tunes, a touchscreen navigation system and Park Distance Control. Currently it battles directly with the Subaru WRX STI and bears secondary competition from the BMW M235i and Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG. Five distinctive hues are available for your bunny of choice, or should I say jackrabbit. But make sure to put an order in soon before the Golf Rs bounce out of site.

11th Annual “Active Lifestyle Vehicle” of the Year Competition

4-door-jeep-wrangler-black-front-alvThe Carspondent.com’s Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year  program is the only event to combine the input of nationally recognized automotive journalists, elite and area athletes to determine the best cars and trucks for buyers with active lifestyles. This year’s event at Local Motors in Chandler, Arizona on October 17-18 features 30 vehicles from two-dozen automotive manufacturers, competing for trophies in the following categories: Best Value On-Road, Best Value Off-Road, Urban, Best Value Family, Luxury Family, Luxury On-Road, Luxury Off-Road and Green ALV. [Read more…]