Smaller than a crossover and bigger than a wagon, the Audi A4 Allroad plies the middle ground in hopes of attracting buyers from both segments. Direct competitors are few and include the BMW 3-Series wagon, Subaru Outback, Volkswagen Golf Alltrack and Volvo V60 Cross Country. The A4 Allroad is all-new for 2017. It comes only as a four-door wagon with seating for five and all-wheel drive. Changes include a more powerful engine, lighter chassis and fresh interior and exterior styling.
Trim levels include Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. All models get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Sole transmission is a seven-speed automatic. The all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range but does come with hill-descent control.
Key differentiators of the Allroad include an increased ride height compared to the A4 as well as bodyside cladding. Sport, cold and warm weather packages are available as well as a Drive Assistance Package that includes adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, and traffic sign recognition. Prices start at $44,500.
The A4 Allroad's new turbocharged engine has the potential to provide ample of performance and Audi quotes a 0 to 60 mph time of just 5.9 seconds. Unfortunately, power delivery is somewhat uneven. The seven-speed automatic struggles to pull away from the line smoothly and sometimes balks in stop-and-go traffic and the throttle acts more like an on-off switch. That said, there's plenty of power to be had at all speeds and passing response is outstanding.
The all-wheel-drive system is not intended for rock crawling but is more than up to the task for mild off-road driving and Chicago's snowy winters. In addition, there's hill-descent control and additional ride-height that gives the Allroad a leg up on many competitors.
EPA numbers of 23 city and 28 highway are consistent with other small luxury wagons and perhaps a touch better than compact luxury crossovers. Unfortunately, premium-grade gasoline is required. On a positive note, in routine suburban commuting it is easy to match the EPA highway estimate of 28 mpg -- assuming you throw in some gentle highway cruising.
Continuing on a positive note, the A4 Allroad provides a near-perfect balance of comfort and control in the ride and handling department. The suspension, though firm, has ample compliance on bumpy roads and enough composure to limit bounding and bobbing. Brakes, steering and suspension all work together to make the Allroad feel nimble and sure footed when the road gets twisty. Interior noise levels are also extremely low, making the A4 Allroad a great highway cruiser. Outward visibility is great thanks to a tall greenhouse and thin roof pillars.
Like the A4 sedan, the Allroad features an outstanding interior that incorporates quality materials, high-tech features and a pleasing design. Though the MMI infotainment system takes some familiarization, it is highly customizable and does a great job of limiting driver distraction. Especially nice is the all-digital instrument cluster that can also double as the navigation center.
Another Allroad advantage is a roomy and comfortable interior. The front seats offer great head and leg room and plenty of long-haul comfort. Rear seats are quite roomy for the class with more than enough room for two large adults. Entry-exit is a snap as well thanks to the additional ride height and tall and wide doors.
Cargo space is ample with more than 58 cubic feet overall. Even without folding the rear seats there is more than 24 cubic feet -- substantially more than a typical sedan or hatchback. Interior storage is sparse with just a few open and covered bins throughout.
Striking a delicate balance between wagon and crossover, the Audi A4 Allroad proves to be a joy to drive and quite the versatile cargo carrier. Minor powertrain quibbles aside, the Allroad excels in ways a typical luxury sedan cannot and nearly matches the capabilities of a light-duty SUV. At nearly $45K the point of entry is fairly steep, but even the base model is fairly well equipped. That said, it is hard to match the Allroad's jack-of-all-trades nature.