In your situation, I wouldn't get the VW Golf Alltrack. The VW Golf SportWagen is a better choice unless you need the added access height of the Alltrack or off-road capability. The SportWagen is basically an Alltrack, but the SportWagen performs and handles better and gets better MPGs. The Prius v is also an option. It is the most reliable wagon hands down and gets great gas mileage, but doesn't have the sportiness you are looking for.
Ignore NormT; he provides false info and only says good things about GM cars. He said the Equinox has 81 cu ft behind the front two seats. It actually has 63.5 cu ft. The SportWagen has 66 cu ft behind the front seats. Behind the rear seats, it is basically a draw in terms of space, with the VW edging out the Equinox. There are only about 3 Equinox Diesels for under $25k in the whole country. Going off Chevy's website configurator, a diesel Equinox starts at $31,000. Btw, no one buys a car based on braking distance or handling tests (which are just tire grip tests). Handling is tested from behind the wheel, while grip can be tested on a figure eight track.
If you are looking for reliability, you won't find it at BMW or even VW. Maybe the diesels are reliable from those companies, but I think the 2018 Chevy Equinox Diesel would be the most reliable diesel car on the market.
For wagons, I think you should go with a new fully loaded Golf SportWagen SEL with the Driver Assistance Package. It comes with a 6 year/72k mile basic warranty if you get the 2018 model. That means that everything is covered under this warranty, not just the powertrain. It has handling close to the BMW, but has less power and better MPGs comparing gas to gas engines.
The Equinox will not be as joyful to drive and isn't German, but if MPGs matter more, the Equinox is worth a look.
Another reliable wagon is the Subaru Outback, which is the most comfortable car on my list, but it comes standard with AWD, which you don't need in SF. MPGs are not as good and it doesn't really have any sportiness. It is still a good car, though.
If you can wait, the Mazda CX-5 Diesel will be available soon. It will handle almost as well as the VW and BMW, but be way more fuel efficient, probably more so than the Equinox. Plus, Mazda's styling is beautiful.
Don't forget to tell us what you buy!