Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 2.0L I4
Power:
208 HP / 258 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
6.6 Seconds
Top Speed:
130 MPH
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,803 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
17.3 / 50.5 CU-FT
MPG:
23 City / 32 HWY
Audi Gives Us Its Warrior Wagon For The Holidays



Despite recent sad decisions by Ingolstadt and the company's regional bosses in Herndon, Virginia not to include either the stunning new A6 Avant or the handsomely reworked A4 Avant in its U.S. lineup, Audi has crunched the numbers on another niche's business case and decided to throw us one hell of a bone. Arriving on our shores by July 2012 for the first time is this spanking refreshed A4 Allroad Quattro. As consolation presents go, it's a humdinger.

We've just had a shot at driving this latest A4 Allroad – a model originally created in early 2009 – in various European trims along the Portuguese shore north of Lisbon and over the mountain roads just inland of the same. We can say right off that the discreet slice of American premium car buyers who understand the Allroad legend have much to look forward to. They make up a sympathetic (though generally separate) fan club from those who buy the Subaru Outback. Allroads are for well-to-do drivers who share a passion for this rough-roading, do-it-all niche, and they won't be palmed off with traditional SUVs or their more upright crossover substitutes.

To inaugurate the second coming of the Allroad franchise to the States, Audi is holding the A4 Allroad's world premiere at January's Detroit Auto Show. Through thick and thin, Audi has always treated Motown's motor expo very seriously. Showing such a fondly admired model like the Allroad here first means a lot. There has been a lingering sense of unwilling withdrawal ever since Audi creased importing the A6-based Allroad back in 2005, and confirmation of this new model figures to be a homecoming of sorts.
2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro side view2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro front view2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro rear view

In Portugal, Audi had the A4 Allroad available for us to test in two configurations: one with the 208-horsepower 2.0-liter TFSI gasoline engine mated to the Euro standard six-speed manual transmission and another with the 241-hp (and 369 pound-feet of torque) 3.0-liter TDI diesel using the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch gearbox. The only trim confirmed for the U.S. and Canada is the 2.0 TFSI with the ever-present eight-speed single-clutch Tiptronic, which is too bad, since the S tronic is just a better fit for this sporting softroader.

Why did Audi go this route? The basic message we got whenever we asked is that executives believe buyers in these bread-and-butter segments prefer a more casual relationship with their transmissions. Well, that and the fuel efficiencies implied in a transmission with two overdrive gears should also help keep the California Air Resource Board greenies at bay. We can only imagine what a joy it would be to have the torquey 3.0 TDI together with Audi's sweet six-speed manual. It'd be an ideal sled for devouring the American countryside, particularly in areas that get four proper seasons.

2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro headlight2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro wheel2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro roof rails2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro taillight

The tried-and-true 208-hp turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter TFSI seen here has so far proven to be both indestructible and lively in its years of service in the Audi empire. The A4 Allroad Quattro with its automatic gearbox puts this reputation to its severest test, weighing some 3,803 pounds at the curb with a driver and one small travel bag aboard. The 258 pound-feet of torque on hand between 1,500 and 4,200 rpm certainly helps matters. Normally, in a lighter TT or A3/A4 sedan on uphill climbs or coming out of certain curves, we might leave the manual or S tronic (or the U.S.' Tiptronic) in third or fourth gear with minimal lugging, but given the few hundred additional pounds aboard the Allroad, it was occasionally necessary to downshift into second or third. However, keeping in mind why we people buy an Allroad, this compensating to grab revs and oomph doesn't strike us as a critical issue. We actually enjoyed it, in fact. Top speed for Euro Allroads is limited to 143 miles per hour, but Yankee top ends will be snipped at 130 mph. Acceleration to 60 mph with the Tiptronic is estimated at a more than decent 6.6 seconds.

Whether you want the optional steering wheel with paddles or not is a personal choice, though in this case, your author prefers to shift manually fore and aft with the console lever. (It is at this point how we feel compelled to repeat how much we long for the big six and a manual gearbox).

2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro engine

One of the happier outcomes of needing to rely on the 2.0-liter TFSI is that the whole engine range for the A4 family is now more frugal. While power and torque figures remain unchanged on this particular engine, thermal management for heating and cooling of the engine and gearbox fluids has been optimized to act more quickly right from the first cold start. In addition, all A4 models now get an electromechanical steering system with 2.9 smooth turns from lock-to-lock, a setup that lowers overall fuel consumption in part by decoupling when not in use, such as during long interstate travel. The third major advancement is a significant reduction in mechanical friction between all moving parts, an additional benefit of which is smoother throttle response and during transitions up or down through the gears. EPA highway mileage should increase from 29 mpg to a solid 32 mpg, while city mileage ought to be announced as 23 mpg versus the current Tiptronic model's 21 mpg.

Along with the Tip automatic, owners of the A4 Allroad Quattro will benefit from opting for the newly available Audi Drive Select system with its five modes: Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. Furthermore, the individual settings for the A4 Allroad has been simplified to better calibrate engine response and steering feel between Comfort, Auto and Dynamic modes. With the Allroad's slight weight penalty in play, the system's various modes provide subtle differences between the various settings, but they are appreciable.

2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro interior2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro front seats2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro drive select display2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro rear cargo area

The Allroad rides some 1.5 inches higher than the A4 sedan and Avant bodystyles for a total ground clearance of 7.9 inches, and suspension travel becomes somewhat longer and more pliant. Tires are Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT (245/45 SR18 96Y all around) and they were a good enough match for the Allroad all day, transmitting the default 40:60 torque split of the onboard Quattro setup to Portugal's warm pavement with tremendous composure.

In addition to the raised height and plastic composite anti-scuff skirting, the stainless steel underbody skid plates are key to the Allroad's aesthetic and its enhanced off-road ability. While the front fog lights on ground-bound A4 sedans and wagons are now laid in flat within the new front air intakes, the Allroad gets more traditional circular units. The new-look A4 headlights are here, too, while the more rounded engine hood and half-inch greater overall width add substance to the Allroad's look.

2012 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro rear 3/4 view

Functional roof rails to support a 200-pound load are included with the Allroad, and we found the cargo area to be just as easily flexible as you might hope. Cubic feet ranges from a minimum of 17.3 to a suggested maximum of 50.5 with rear seatbacks flopped flat forward and the space filled to the roof. Stick to an eight percent uphill gradient max and your towing weight allowed is 4,190 pounds. If you anticipate up to a 12 percent tug angle, load only up to 3,750 pounds back there, okay?

We expect the A4 Allroad Quattro in Premium, Premium Plus or Prestige trims to add $2,000 over the outgoing – perhaps never to return to us – A4 Avant, starting at roughly $38,500. If our MSRP crystal ball is correct, that puts it in the thick of the hunt with more traditional entry-level crossovers, including Audi's own Q5, which starts at around $35k.

So, we will finally have an Allroad model back on U.S. soil, which is good... nay, great news. It would be excellent to get the mondo 3.0-liter TDI V6 with manual shifter, but we're overjoyed already with this unexpected holiday gift. Besides, if Well-Heeled America steps up (literally) to buy the Allroad, perhaps Audi will see fit to expand the range.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 84 Comments
      kopter28
      • 3 Years Ago
      I just want the regular A6 or A4 Avant for !@#$ sakes! Hey Audi of USA/Canada take this and shove it, if I wanted plastic cladding on my car I would go and buy a circa 2000 Pontiac.
        Snark
        • 3 Years Ago
        @kopter28
        So why didn't you buy one when you had the chance? The reason the Avants are being withdrawn is because people like you think they're great, but don't actually step up and buy them, new, in reasonable enough numbers to support a business case. Until you're willing to vote with your dollars, and not buy a used one five years from now, you got precisely zero right to bitch.
          lpattis
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Snark
          Pawel Cebo = "I did! :) I currently drive the A6 Avant." ...as do I. I found a lightly-owned '11 this past summer, but would have sprung for a new '12 if Audi had continued to import them.
          kopter28
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Snark
          I did! :) I currently drive the A6 Avant.
          jessesrq
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Snark
          I really wanted to vote with my dollars, but could not justify the A4 Avant cost compared with my TSX wagon. The Audi is clearly the better car, but the lease would have been an extra $300/month (74% more than the Acura!). Audi offers decent programs on the A4 sedan and the Q5, but nothing on the Avant.
          flanders2520
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Snark
          Well said. So tired of people complaining they can't get 6 sp. euro wagons. Until people step up and vote with their pocketbook there really isn't a business case at this point for them.
        ravenosa
        • 3 Years Ago
        @kopter28
        Or if you want plastic cladding on your car, buy a VW GTI?
      donnieorama
      • 3 Years Ago
      Beats the sh*t out of an SUV/XUV/CUV/crossover... And finally, Audi gave the 2.0L turbo more grunt.
      Kevin
      • 3 Years Ago
      Bring over the diesel! It's not like this is going to be a volume seller, may as well make it interesting. My friend's dad has a 2004 A6 Allroad 2.7T and still loves it. With that gone, Volvo pretty much is the only offering with its XC70. But an A4 allroad sounds fun, bring it on over!
      Wackford
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why oh why oh oh why can we not got the wonderful diesel versions of these cars?
      typhoon5000
      • 3 Years Ago
      "In addition, all A4 models now get an electromechanical steering system with 2.9 smooth turns from lock-to-lock, a setup that lowers overall fuel consumption in part by decoupling when not in use, such as during long interstate travel. " Did I read that right? A steering system that decouples?!? IDK about you, but I use my steering 100% of the time! I'm also pretty disappointed to hear the only currently planned engine for the US is the 2.0L TFSI. 208hp is nothing in today's market. That was competitive maybe 10-15 years ago. It's a nice option for fuel economy, but if we can't get the 3L TDI, then at least give us a boosted V6 (3.0T) or 4.2L V8 like the old AllRoad had and both with manual transmissions! I was really excited to see the AllRoad come back stateside, but it's powertrain options have simply let me down to where I wouldn't be interested in it.
        BG
        • 3 Years Ago
        @typhoon5000
        They mean the electric power assist is not used at high speed. As for steering decoupling, don't worry: texting, eating, applying makeup, whacking snotty kids, fooling around with the nav system provide all the decoupling needed
      Matt C
      • 3 Years Ago
      I find the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack much more attractive than this. And the VW looks like it has more ground clearance too. It looks as if this vehicle was an afterthought. VWoA already tried the Audi-branded 4x4 wagon in North America with the A6 allroad. It didn't succeed enough for them to keep it going. Meanwhile the Outback (when it was still a wagon) was a huge success. They ought to switch gears (no pun) and try the market with the VW Alltrack instead of this.
        BC
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Matt C
        The Outback *is* still a wagon in the Allroad vein, jacked up with added cladding and a different grill from the Legacy sedan. But the ordinary Legacy wagon was banned from the US during the previous generation, just like the Avant is now.
      James
      • 2 Years Ago
      I know its human nature to think we must have what our neighbor as, i.e. in this case the A6 allroad. While its true, I would have loved having a tdi, with a manual transmission, like our European counterparts, I did buy a 2013 all road (US version, now living in Colorado). I've read lots of comments from people commenting on whats wrong with it, but I have to tell you I love it. I know an outback is cheaper and considered it, but could not bring myself to buy the 21's century version of the Clark Griswold family truckster and had we had the A6 allroad, no matter how cool it is I probably could not bring myself to plunk another 15,000 large on it. That said, the allroad we get is super cool, its quiet and comfortable. It is not an SUV ie. go to moab on it, but how many people actually do that? Even if you do go to Moab, your Grand Cherokee will need some upgrades and your Land Rover probably will never see Moab. Most people never take their SUV offroad. That said what you do get is a vehicle you can live with everyday winter and summer. You can haul your crap in it and on it. I've been getting up to 35 miles to the gallon on it for highway driving. That was just last sunday. The stereo is awesome, and yes its the 4 turbo and it has more than enough power to motor to Vail, which I just did and did it economically. The only way Audi will give us more selection is if we start buying them.. I know people like the family trickster, aka outback, and aspire to the biggest SUV possible, which can't be parked in a city parking spot, but the allroad is an excellent alternative and beats the pants out of the really dweebish CUV's that everyone drives, mainly to the mall. Thanks Audi for bringing an Allroad back to us!
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      ummm slick but where is the TDI !?
      rjstanford
      • 3 Years Ago
      We had the old A6-based Allroad; it was a great car with the exception of the adjustable height suspension, which was a maintenance PITA. The new A4 is, I believe, almost as large internally as the old A6, so this is a pretty interesting proposition.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        • 3 Years Ago
        [blocked]
          • 3 Years Ago
          [blocked]
          skierpage
          • 3 Years Ago
          Sorry, no TSX wagon with SH-AWD. You can get SH-AWD in the much more expensive and spectacularly ugly ZDX.
      Durishin
      • 3 Years Ago
      Subaru North America, You.must.answer.this. We.need.a.Spec. B., lowered.Outback.wagon! Only.Obama.millionaires.can.afford.an.Audi.the.rest.of.us.cannot. Bring.us.a.sport-wagon!
        Lachmund
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Durishin
        what the **** is a obama millionaire?
          ravenosa
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Lachmund
          I was wondering the same thing.
        lpattis
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Durishin
        ...or just bring back the Legacy wagon with all the fixin's on the current Outback, powertrain-wise...and a good and proper diesel.
        Basil Exposition
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Durishin
        The space bar is the big one at the bottom.
        lpattis
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Durishin
        ...or how about bringing back the Legacy wagon, with all the powertrain options of the current Outback plus a diesel?
        Badfish941
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Durishin
        I don't think you have to be a 'Obama millionaire' (whatever the hell that is) to afford a $38k car.....
        Durishin
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Durishin
        An Obama millionaire is someone who makes over $20k per year. Those folks are rich, you know, and we should tax them to kingdom come.
        Durishin
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Durishin
        Sorry! $250k per year.
          P.Z. Dawkins
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Durishin
          Yes, people who make 250 thousand dollars per year do, in fact, often have a net worth in the millions or very close to that.
      desinerd1
      • 3 Years Ago
      2.0 L I4 with 208HP. All this for only $38000, not including the addons. For this price, I can buy two Jettas or a luxury car.
        Slartibartfast
        • 3 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        Yup, but it'll be closer to $50k by the time you add heated seats (which Audi packages with other basics in Plus and higher models.) At that price the Evoque looks like strong competition.
        desinerd1
        • 3 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        oh and it looks like a Subaru.
          lemonite
          • 3 Years Ago
          @desinerd1
          Are you blind in both eyes?
          • 3 Years Ago
          @desinerd1
          [blocked]
        • 3 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        [blocked]
        jtav2002
        • 3 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        Point? While a little more power wouldn't hurt, this is hardly meant to be a performance car. And Audi seems to sell plenty of standard A4's with the 2.0. If you'd rather own 2 slow Jettas with cheap interiors instead, go right ahead. VW is still selling a vehicle either way.
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