The 2013 Audi A4 Allroad can’t be compared to the A6-Avant based model that departed our shores in 2005. That’s because Audi took their formula for the original Allroad and threw it out the window. What Audi has essentially done is let an A4 Avant grow a beard and put on a Carhartt jacket. The resulting Allroad is pretty much the same, albeit a bit more outdoorsy looking. What you won’t immediately notice is that the Allroad gets an additional 1.5 inches of ground clearance and a 0.8 inch wider track over the Avant. That’s some good news, but is this car good enough to wear the Allroad badge? We took our Allroad on a 700 mile trip in search of weather conditions that would test it. Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t find an unplowed road between New York and New Hampshire.
The outgoing A4 Avant was a good looking car. The new Allroad is even better looking thanks to its reshaped grille with vertical grille slats, LED lighting, and polished skid plates. The unpainted body panels and flared wheel arches pay homage to the previous Allroad, but that’s where the similarities end. The new model doesn’t get the same adjustable air suspension of its predecessor. What it does get is the same bulletproof 2.0T engine and 8 speed automatic transmission found in the A4 we tested last year. It’s a steady performer, hitting 60mph in 6.5 seconds, despite packing nearly 400lbs more than the sedan. All this performance and we still averaged 26mpg. That’s good, but not industry leading.
Inside, the Allroad feels nearly identical to the A4, because it mostly is. The driver gets one of the best non-sport steering wheels in the industry. Our Premium Plus test car was optioned with the MMI Navigation System. This added all sorts of features beyond standard navigation. Audi Connect utilizes Google Maps for navigation and live traffic information. The system can also search for news, weather, and popular attractions based on the car’s location. What’s best, the entire car can be turned into a wi-fi hotspot for passengers. All this tech is navigable through a series of buttons on the console and an amazingly crisp display in the dash. The driver also get’s vital information on a screen in the instrument cluster. There’s a bit of a steep learning curve, but after a few hours of experimenting, navigation becomes second nature. Another plus for the Allroad, as with any wagon, is the space. There’s over 27 cubic feet of space for cargo, which can grow to 50 cubic feet if you fold the rear seats down. We did not have a problem with luggage space on our trip. The power tailgate and optional Audi advanced key made loading that luggage a breeze. There’s no need to fumble around with a key or the tailgate. Our third passenger had ample head and leg room. She only wished for a rear heated seat, something that isn’t available on the Allroad.
Driving the Allroad is a quiet experience. There’s remarkably little noise in the cabin. The loudest thing we could discern at highway speed was a faint hum from the optional winter wheel package’s aggressive snow tire. This made it easy to shock yourself when glancing down at the instrument cluster. 80mph feels and sounds no different that 65mph. We headed for the Kangamangus Highway in hopes of some adverse winter conditions. Despite finding it perfectly dry, the road was completely deserted. This made for a smile-inducing drive. The steering was light and quick, but had the appropriate responsiveness and feedback. The suspension kept the car’s weight in check, neither rolling in the corners nor diving under braking. The Tiptronic transmission obeyed manual inputs without hesitation, even under hard acceleration. Its one of the better automatic units we’ve encountered. On the few dirt roads we scouted, the Allroad was always well composed. The electronic stability control stepped in and killed excess throttle inputs when the wheels lost traction. With the system in “off-road” mode however, it was pure quattro heaven. The system seamlessly routed power while allowing the driver to find additional excitement before it kicked in. Can this car truly be called an “Allroad”? Most definitely.
The Allroad is a family car that boasts both charm and class. It combines a rugged looking exterior with an austere German interior. But can it overcome the American migration to the crossover? The Allroad starts at $39,600; add Premium Plus trim ($3,300), the MMI Navigation package ($3,050), and the Audi advanced key ($550), and our test car rang in at $47,395. That’s slightly more expensive than a new Q5. Luckily, there are some enthusiasts that appreciate the balance of practicality and performance that comes with a wagon. Limited competition comes from the new 3 Series Sport Wagon and the Acura TSX Sport Wagon, but we’d pick the Audi over either of them. Our friends agree. The new Allroad may have converted some crossover drivers into wagon lovers. That’s testament enough of the Allroad’s abilities, even without air suspension.
Categories: Audi, Driven, Scott Villeneuve
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