Automakers often go to great lengths to avoid the term "station wagon." Case in point: Audi's all-new Allroad, a crossover that combines luxury with a little off-road capability and replaces the A4 Avant wagon. Still it's a shame about the name: This is one fine wagon.
Appearance: The Allroad reminds us of the Subaru Outback. Both cars are about the same size, but the Allroad is more of a luxury car than SUV and has slightly lower ground clearance. The first thing drivers will notice is the Allroad's large single-frame grille, which Lyra initially found ugly, but it grew on her. The vertical-ribbed grille is flanked by stylish headlamps with Audi's sharp LED running lights. The Allroad has one of our least-favorite design features: plastic body cladding, which thankfully doesn't detract much from its sleek, modern appearance. (There's an option to replace it with select body paint colors — for a price.) The Allroad has aluminum roof rails and window trim that brighten it. The car rides on five-spoke 18-inch wheels with all-season tires.
Performance: The 2.0-liter 211-horsepower turbocharged inline-4 is peppy and smooth. We never felt like the 3,891-pound car was underpowered. Peter was surprised at how well the Allroad accelerates (0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds), helped by the 8-speed Tiptronic transmission that clicks off shifts flawlessly. Of course, the Allroad has Audi's standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system, as well as front and rear stainless-steel skid plates if you need to ditch the asphalt for gravel. The steering feel is light and responsive, and the ride is smooth and composed. The estimated mileage of 20 city and 27 highway is respectable for this class.
Interior: The cabin has a modern look. We were surprised at how quiet it is — little road noise intrudes. The panoramic sunroof gives passengers a sweeping view, perfect for a scenic drive for the family. The leather seats (12-way power for the driver and 8-way for the passenger) are plush and comfortable, if a bit too firm. Taller people might feel slightly cramped up front and definitely will in the rear. The rear seats fold easily for up to 50.5 cubic feet of cargo space, which seems adequate but not large or class-leading. In all, the interior is attractive, with great fit and finish. Still, we had some minor complaints: We both didn't like that the steering-column adjustment is placed almost at the dash and is a reach. Also, Peter felt the plastic hood over the dash gauges is a bit flimsy. As for the electronics, Audi's MMI system still needs to be simplified. For example, you have to hit the "Fan" button to bring up the dial to control the fan speed. Subscription Audi Connect system gives you Google Earth and Google Street to navigate, but the satellite view is too busy and difficult to read.
Our 3 favorites
Looks: This wagon is sleek and stylish.
Sunroof: The panoramic sunroof makes for an expansive view.
Performance: The turbo 4-cylinder pulls smoothly all the way to the redline.
Seats: Firm yet comfortable. 12-way adjustment for driver.
DRL: LED daylight running lights are wicked sharp.
Acceleration: Smooth, steady and strong with strong pull at low RPM.
The bottom line: We really liked the ride and performance of the Audi Allroad. It's a good option for those who want a luxury vehicle that has some cargo flexibility, yet handles more like a car than SUV.