Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Audi allroad was all new for 2013. The Audi allroad comes with one powertrain: the brilliant and venerable 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, mated to a Tiptronic 8-speed automatic transmission with quattro all-wheel drive. For 2014, the engine gets a power hike, from 211 to 220 horsepower. Premium fuel is recommended. We found this engine solid, proven, versatile, and efficiently powerful.
Three trim levels are offered: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. For 2014, a convenience package is standard, including the Audi music interface, HomeLink, Bluetooth and a driver information system. Premium Plus and Prestige models get an advanced key as standard. Audi side assist is newly available as a standalone option for the Premium Plus model, while the Prestige model gains rear side window shades.
Direct competitors for the Audi allroad are slim, if you don't count crossover utility vehicles (CUVs). The Subaru Outback and Volkswagen Jetta TDI SportWagen are cars that might be cross-shopped, when considering a comfortable and capable all-wheel-drive wagon of this size. Both are priced far below Audi allroad, and with the Subaru you can get a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine that makes 36 more horsepower than the allroad. The Cadillac SRX AWD moves beyond the allroad in price, power and size (though its wheelbase is no longer), but it's an alternative that a potential allroad buyer might consider.
If you were to pick one CUV to compare, it might be the Ford Edge, with its 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine making 240 horsepower and using a 6-speed automatic transmission. It's about the same wheelbase, weight and fuel mileage. Audi's allroad is most comparable to the Edge Limited edition with panoramic sunroof and all-wheel drive; those items are standard equipment on the allroad.
The allroad is built on the same chassis as the A4 sedan. Size differences are insignificant, except for the height, as the allroad is 1.8 inches taller. It's got a slightly wider track because of its larger 18-inch wheels, and 3 more inches of ground clearance (7.1 inches total), which accounts for the height difference. An allroad weighs 300 pounds more, yet manages to accelerate from zero to 60 in a claimed 6.4 seconds, a time that's plenty quick when entering a freeway.
The engine is super smooth. In fact, for years it's arguably been the smoothest 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the world. Its 258 pound-feet of torque comes at a low 1500 rpm, so it pulls up to speed sharply.
Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 20/27 mpg City/Highway. It's heavier and less aerodynamic than the A4, with a not-too-slick 0.36 coefficient of drag. Premium gasoline is recommended, not required, but it's a recommendation to follow.
The allroad borrowed the face of the Audi sedans but looks even better. It's especially bold on the allroad, because of its black front fascia with no-nonsense small round foglamps and air intakes, wider track front tires, and lips on the fender flares. Roof rails add to the rugged utility, including stainless steel skidplates. Unfortunately, neither the standard 18-inch wheels nor optional 19s add to the car's good looks.
The interior is very appealing, with Nappa leather and a choice of walnut, ash, oak or aluminum trim. Controls are easy to reach. The Multi Media Interface (MMI) knob is used to control navigation and Google.
There's good cargo space, with 27.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 50.5 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded. As for rear seat legroom, the allroad has the same as the A4 sedan, 35.2 inches. The Subaru Outback offers 37.8 inches and the Ford Edge 39.6 inches.
Audi's allroad holds a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. Three trim levels are offered, but Premium Plus and Prestige are actually option packages.
Premium ($40,700) is the entry level and it comes standard with leather seating surfaces, single-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats with lumbar, audio system with XM radio and single CD, power doors, power locks, power windows, power sunroof, halogen headlamps, 18-inch wheels with all-season tires. Heated front seats ($450) are optional.
The Premium Plus package ($2600 additional) upgrades to three-zone climate control (third zone is rear), heated memory front seats, heated auto-dimming mirrors with power folding, power tailgate, and a Convenience Package including Audi music interface with iPod cable, Bluetooth, driver info system and garage door opener.
A Prestige package ($8500) adds adaptive headlamps, Audi side assist blind-spot monitoring, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, and Audi MMI with navigation and Audi Connect online services, including Google and Google Earth for the navigation.
Options include Sport front seats with a three-spoke steering wheel and paddle shifters ($500), as well as a Driver Assist package ($3250) that includes adaptive cruise control, dynamic steering, and drive select with modes that set the steering, transmission and throttle response, from Comfort to Dynamic.
Safety equipment that comes standard includes eight airbags, electronic stability control with anti-lock brakes and hydraulic brake assist, crash sensor activation, child door locks and LATCH seat system, tire pressure monitor, all-wheel drive.
After being away for seven years, you might expect the revived allroad to look totally different from its ancestor, but not quite. It follows the A4 face and lines, however, so it's not dated. In fact, the face looks especially bold on the allroad, because of its black front fascia with no-nonsense small round foglamps and air intakes, wider track from tires, and lips on the fender flares.
The Audi grille is chopped at the upper corners, adding elegance to the nose. The grille still looks massive on the allroad, with long chrome bars to complement a big, shiny Audi four-ring emblem. The headlamps are shaped sharply and flow inward perfectly, looking like the eyes of an eagle. It's the upscale Prestige Plus version that exhibits this whole look, including LED rings (daytime running lights) following the shape of the xenon headlamps.
The back end looks just as tough, with muscular taillamps (LED optional) and a black fascia with diffuser and twin tailpipes.
On the sides, a sharp crease runs from the corners of the headlamps to the corners of the taillamps, over stainless sills and body-colored door handles. Roof rails add to the rugged utility, and don't forget the stainless steel skidplates. Five-spoke 18-inch wheels are standard, with 5-spoke 19s optional. Some might like them, but we think Audi could do better.
The allroad interior is appealing, with stylish Nappa leather in black, brown, gray or beige. Trim on the dash and doors is walnut, ash, oak or aluminum. The console and center dash are angled toward the driver, and the center armrest top slides forward, making a comfortable elbow rest. There are storage spaces all over the place, from seatbacks to center armrests to a roomy glovebox.
The standard seats (unheated in Premium, although heat is available) are comfortable, while the optional $500 sports seats offer more back and thigh bolstering, without being tight. For that money you also get a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel with paddles for the Tiptronic, an option that we believe is well worth it. Especially since the shift knob isn't a great fit, for sporty manual shifting; in this case, the paddles feel better.
The cabin is fairly busy because there's much to control, and it's all easy to reach. That includes the MMI (Multi Media Interface) knob with Google and navigation on a 6.5-inch screen, in the Prestige Plus model.
The chrome-ringed speedometer and tachometer aren't cluttered by graphics, and the gauge lighting is easy on the eyes. There are controls on the tilt-telescoping steering wheel, thumb wheels that spin and click through what you need, particularly on the display located between the speedo and tach. It can show the transmission gear, radio info, fuel range and economy, temperature and more. On the Prestige model, trip computer data, cruise control distances, and navigation data are added.
The Audi music interface comes standard with iPod cable, Bluetooth, garage door opener, and driver info system. The optional Bang & Olufsen system offers 505 watts and 14 speakers. We've listened to both, and the 180-watt 10-speaker standard system sounds good, considering the cost of the Bang & Olufsen.
There's good cargo space, with 27.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 50.5 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded. But not that good; the Subaru Outback blows the allroad away, with 71.3 cubic feet. Same with rear seat legroom; the allroad has the same as the A4 sedan, 35.2 inches, while the Outback offers 37.8 inches. Meanwhile, the Ford Edge offers the same cargo space as the allroad, plus 39.6 inches of rear legroom, with an overall length that's actually 1.7 inches shorter.
The floor hump in the center will discourage an adult from riding back there, but kids can endure it. A nice touch is LED footwell lights. The rear headrests don't get in the way of the driver's rear visibility in the mirror.
We drove the allroad in Colorado, and challenged its powertrain, brakes and handling on freeways and mountain two-lanes. The ride is pleasing and smooth, with no rough moments transmitted to the occupants over patchy pavement.
The little engine performs out of its league, with strong torque translating to effortless acceleration even on uphill two-lanes. The Tiptronic 8-speed automatic is fast-shifting and obedient with the paddle shifters, and has rev-matching downshifting. It will take hard downshifts, and won't change gears unless you ask it to.
When we needed speed, that modest-size engine sucked on its turbocharger boost and delivered for us. It's not often that you can call a 2.0-liter engine long-legged, but that's how the allroad feels. The 8-speed transmission is a double overdrive, so 7th and 8th gears are for high speeds and fuel mileage, with lower rpm.
Meanwhile at the lower end, the torque is strong at 258 pound-feet, and its range is exceptionally broad, so acceleration awaits at any time. The allroad squirts from 0 to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, which is only a hair slower than the A4 sedan, despite the extra weight. Fuel economy, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is 20/27 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined.
The brakes felt good when we used them hard on downhill curves. They're not quite bomb-proof, because we did hit the point of fade, but until then the pedal gave good feedback. Discs are ventilated in front, where most braking occurs, but not in rear.
Quattro all-wheel drive is great, and has been for decades. It isn't just for traction in snow, ice and rain, it improves the handling on dry pavement too. However if you live in the dry flatlands, you could live without it.
Until a wheel starts slipping, 60 percent of the drive goes to the rear wheels, for ideal driving dynamics and balance. The differential locks, for best low-speed traction. Only Subaru has the all-wheel drive chops to match Audi quattro.
Most of the suspension pieces are forged aluminum, as are the front crossmember and the hood. The rear suspension is based on the larger A6 sedan, with trapezoidal links and separate spring and shock mounts that allow a lower floor but more suspension travel, a win-win situation.
The optional Drive Select system with dynamic steering and variable damping calculates shock rates 1000 times per second. We didn't get a chance to drive an allroad with Drive Select, but we can say from past experience that it's hard to go wrong with programmable modes because they present such a wide spectrum of ride, handling and power.
The all-wheel-drive Audi allroad combines an impeccable powertrain with a luxury interior, providing style, comfort and technology for a premium price. It's hard to find flaws, but might also be hard to justify value when comparing it to other vehicles that offer similar features for less money.
Sam Moses filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after his test drive of the Audi allroad in Colorado.
Audi allroad Premium ($40,700), Premium Plus ($43,300), Prestige ($49,200).
Options As Tested
Audi allroad Premium.
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