By Mary Lowry
The Audi Allroad is back on the job after a seven-year sabbatical during which it was replaced by the A4 Avant. For 2013 the Avant has retired.
Though both vehicles are luxury wagons based on the A4 sedan, Audi isn’t just swapping names back and forth between the two cars. When the Avant took over in 2006, changes were made, and the new 2013 Allroad is different from the A4 Avant it supersedes. The Allroad is 0.6 inches wider, 2.3 inches taller, and has 1.5 inches more ground clearance. Wheelbase length has been stretched to 110.4 inches, creating a smoother ride. Headroom for the driver and front-seat passenger has also been increased.
The 2013 Allroad (Audi stylizes the name by using all lowercase letters: allroad) is more powerful and gets better fuel economy than the original version. Mechanically, it comes one-size-fits-all, with a terrific 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, coupled with an equally impressive Tiptronic eight-speed automatic transmission and topped off with Audi’s esteemed all-wheel drive system, Quattro (Audi lowercases that name, too: quattro).
Three trim levels are offered: Premium ($40,495), Premium Plus ($43,795), and Prestige ($49,695). These prices include a destination charge of $895.
Allroad’s zero to 60 mph acceleration time is 6.5 seconds. The fuel economy rating is 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, and premium fuel is recommended.
The earlier Allroad was built to handle off-road driving, and at the car’s press introduction Audi proved it by including a long and fairly rugged off-road segment in the all-day drive route. The new Allroad isn’t intended for off-road use, but with 7.1 inches of ground clearance and all-wheel drive, it can be taken off-pavement onto rough roads if they’re not seriously thrashed.
On pavement, Quattro provides a large dose of extra stability, especially welcome if the road is wet or white.
Audi’s status as a luxury brand is reflected in the Allroad interior’s impeccable workmanship and high comfort level. A 12-way power adjustable driver’s seat and 8-way power adjustable front passenger seat are standard equipment. Other standard features are a panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, halogen headlights with front and rear foglights, and a 10-speaker Audi premium sound system that includes Sirius satellite radio, CD player and MP3 playback capability.
Also standard is a Pacific Northwest driver’s dream: rain-sensing windshield wipers with a four-position adjustable sensor rate. I use windshield wipers as soon as there’s a molecule of water on the glass, but I have a friend who’s the opposite. She lets rain soak the windshield for so long before she does anything, you’d think her wipers weren’t working. With the Allroad’s adjustable sensor rate, both extremes, or close to it, can be accommodated.
The second-row split seat is foldable, creating 50 cubic feet of cargo space. With the seats upright, the rear cargo area measures 27 cubic feet and includes a retractable cover.
My tester was a Premium Plus model, whose $3,300 above the Premium model adds an auto-dimming interior mirror with compass, auto-dimming power-folding and heated outside mirrors, Audi music interface with iPod cable, Bluetooth preparation, driver information system with trip computer, heated front seats with driver-side memory, HomeLink garage door opener, Audi xenon plus lighting with LED daytime running lights, three-zone climate control, and a power tailgate.
On a base model whose price tag tops $40,000, it seems like these features should be standard. But the cachet of the Audi brand and the excellent driving dynamics of its German engineering come at a cost. For some buyers it’s worth it. For others, not so much.
Mary Lowry is a free-lance automotive writer who has been reviewing cars for more than 20 years. The cars are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.