Volkswagen Group of America may take aim at the Subaru Outback with a rugged, all-wheel-drive wagon based on the next-generation Golf, sources say.
VW has approved an awd version of the redesigned Golf-based Jetta SportWagen that is due in the United States in late 2014. Sources familiar with VW's product plans say the automaker is leaning toward turning the awd version into a spin-off model with higher ground clearance and body cladding, similar to the Alltrack concept shown at the New York auto show in 2012.
A VW spokesman declined to comment.
VW already sells an Outback rival in the actual Australian outback. That car is a modified Passat wagon called the Passat Alltrack, but VW discontinued the Passat wagon in the United States when it launched the Chattanooga-built Passat in 2011.
Targeting Outback buyers could be a marketing challenge for VW.
An awd Outback starts at $23,495 with a 2.5-liter engine and a six-speed manual, while a front-wheel-drive Jetta SportWagen starts at $21,390 with a 2.5-liter engine and a five-speed manual. All prices include shipping.
Yet the Outback, Subaru's best-seller in the United States, had nearly five times the sales of the SportWagen in 2012, with 117,553 units sold.