Just six years ago, any potential buyer for a family-friendly Audi station wagon could choose between the: A4 Avant (wagon in German), A6 Avant, or the A6-based Allroad. The Allroad was slightly higher than the A4 and A6 Avant’s, and was more fun to drive (but notoriously unreliable).
Determined NOT to let Volvo get out of sight, Audi has re-introduced the Allroad. This time, it is based on the very reliable A4 platform. Even though the A4 is a smaller car than the A6, the Allroad is actually a bit bigger than the older model. It’s engine is much less powerful than the mighty 250 horsepower, 258 lb-ft of torque twin-turbo, 2.7-liter V6. The 300 horsepower, 280 lb-ft of torque V8 is still much more powerful than the much more fuel-efficient 2.0 liter turbo four cylinder that pumps out 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.
Also, the ride-height-adjustable air suspension isn’t available on the new model. But, Audi has raised the A4-based Allroad 1.5 inches, compared with the normal A4 Avant. Plus, it borrows the A5 coupe/convertible’s one-inch wider track, front and rear. To keep the new Allroad competitive, Audi changed the tire size from a 245/40/18 to a 245/45/18. You can still get the 245/40/18’s on optional 19-inch wheels. Audi predicts most buyers will stick with the 245/45/18’s. Audi has also changed the final driv ratio to compensate for the tall tires.
Even though those various mechanical bits are very exciting, Audi has to protect them. So, stainless-steel skidplates come standard on the Allroad. There’s also enough plastic cladding around both the bumpers to make a Tupperware jealous. For those who don’t want to look like their car belongs to yet another Bear Grylls fan, Audi will paint all that plastic cladding body color for just $1,000 (it’s worth it to look rugged on the Allroad…)!
Inside the Allroad, the interior is pretty much the same as the outgoing A4. But, some materials have been upgraded. The electronics are state-of-the-art. The MMI navigation and infotainment system can be had with a T-Mobile SIM card that wirelessly connects to Google Maps. This will add $15 to $30 to your monthly payment, but the graphics and navigation are on par with the high-end private jets. This little SIM card also allows for weather information, points of interest, and a few other features. It’s well worth that extra money.
The Audi Allroad really doesn’t have much competition. It’s only real competition is the Volvo XC70, which Motor Trend last tested way back in 2008. The 235-horsepower, inline-six cylinder powered Volvo may look WAY cheaper on paper, but it doesn’t come with: all-wheel-drive, navigation, leather interior, sunroof, and power seats (all of which are standard on the $40,900 Audi), you’ve added almost SEVEN THOUSAND dollars to the Volvo’s $33,825 base price. Now, the Audi seems like a pretty good deal…
Even though the Allroad is bigger than the old model, it doesn’t feel like it inside. Audi has always been in the top five for safety, and the Allroad is no exception. All of its safety equipment seems to take away a lot of interior space. While there isn’t much room in the back seat, you can go for a few hundred miles sitting on very comfortable seats, knowing that all the airbags in the back will protect you from death. In comparison, the Volvo is bigger, being about five inches longer and wider. But, the Volvo has about 350 pounds on the Audi (which isn’t a lightweight either).
At Motor Trend‘s test track, the whole test crew was impressed at how fast the chunky (ish) Audi is. The Quattro all-wheel-drive system puts down all of those 258 lb-ft of torque with a lot of ease. Since the Allroad is more focused towards touring, it doesn’t have the rear-wheel biased feel as the A4 Avant. Instead, the center differential of the Quattro all-wheel-drive system has a 50/50% torque distribution. Surprisingly, there is very little brake dive and body role in the Allroad. The electro-mechanical steering may be a bit light feeling, but responds to a command almost instantly. Michael Febbo of Motor Trend would like to see Audi Drive Select become an option on the Allroad someday. Also, an Allroad S with the supercharged 3.0 liter V6 from the S4 would be nice.
But, the Allroad is still a pretty quick station wagon. 0-60 in 6.5 seconds may not seem like a lot, but it is for a station wagon. The Volvo XC70 hits 60 in a leisurely 8.9 seconds. In the quarter mile, the chunky Swede falls far behind, with a run of 16.7 seconds at 87.9 miles per hour. The Audi will do the quarter mile in 15 seconds flat at 92.4 miles per hour. That’s pretty fast for a station wagon.
The Allroad will go just about 90% of the places a CUV (compact utility vehicle) will go. That’s pretty good for a station wagon. It also handles like a station wagon (still pretty fu n to drive), looks like a CUV, and is a good car. Overall, the Allroad is a good car for a family of four who is outdoorsy and needs some four-wheel-drive capability, without having to sacrifice the fuel economy and sport touring gains of a station wagon. I’d recommend it to almost anybody in the market for a $40,000 station wagon. Also, it’s a good compromise for automotive journalists who will miss the two station wagons and one hatchback option. As I said before, it’s a great car. How about this as a replacement to the old family car?