After a seven-year break, Audi has reintroduced its multi-terrain 2013 allroad wagon as a replacement for the A4 Avant. While past models of the allroad have essentially been tougher versions of their A6 siblings, the 2013 model takes a different approach. Its chassis is shared with the wider A5 model, giving the allroad better handling, more power and improved fuel economy.
The 2013 allroad may sit on the same platform as the A5, but there's no doubt that the A4 remains the inspiration for the design. The updated bumpers and headlights from the 2013 A4 is complemented by a few rugged additions to differentiate the allroad from the rest of the lineup. A unique grille, stainless steel skid plates and side sills and aluminum roof rails all make the allroad look a little more brawny than the standard A4. 18-inch wheels are standard, but the optional 19-inch wheels do a better job of filling the large wheel wells.
True to the allroad's outdoorsy intentions, its ground clearance is 1.5 inches higher than the last A4 Avant, giving the car just over 7 inches of clearance for driving in the woods, on the beach or even just to back out of a snow-covered driveway.
It's easy to call this cabin class leading when its only real competitor is the decidedly more utilitarian Subaru Outback. By comparison, The allroad is clearly a luxury car. The seats, buttons and steering wheel all feel on par with the A4, and that's a standard most luxury automakers should target. A panoramic sunroof is standard on the allroad, giving the interior a bright, well-lit feel during the day, and a clear view of the stars on evening drives. The optional Sport Interior Package includes a three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters and seats with extra side support to help keep you in place.
Performance and Technology
The allroad is powered by Audi's ubiquitous 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which delivers 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission available is the 8-speed automatic and the quattro all-wheel drive system is standard on all trims. Audi reports that the allroad can go from 0-60 mph in just 6.5 seconds, and it feels pretty quick considering its weight and all-wheel drive system. The EPA rates fuel economy at 20-mpg in the city and 27-mpg on the highway, for a combined 23 miles per gallon.
Audi's full suite of driver safety technologies is also available on the allroad. The optional Driver's Assistance package includes adaptive cruise control and a few other driving aides: dynamic steering allows the driver to tailor who sharp or relaxed the steering response is, and Audi's version of blind spot detection, called Audi Side Assist, is available as a stand-alone option. Perhaps the most interesting consumer technology inside the allroad is Audi Connect, which includes Google Earth-based navigation, as well as the ability to set up a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot using an integrated SIM card from T-Mobile. This service requires a monthly data plan, though.
On (and Off) the Road
On highways and back roads, the allroad doesn't feel vastly different from the A4 with quattro, and that's a good thing. Yes, the ride height is slightly taller and the suspension has a little more give, but the allroad's wider track compensates for any of these handling shortcomings. Cabin noise is minimal, and the panoramic sunroof gives the interior a bright and spacious feel.
But the real story is what it can do when you take it away from the pavement. At its core, the allroad is more of a crossover than a sport sedan, and it's capable of driving through the woods, down gravel roads and over lightly-packed sand and snow with relative ease. That puts the allroad in the same small but capable class as the Subaru Outback, but with the trimmings of a luxury car.
Alone in the Market
The Subaru Outback may be its closest competitor, but the allroad's base price of $39,600 means there probably won't be many people cross-shopping it against the $23,495 Subaru. Given that the allroad can be maxed out at just over $57,000, we think it's more likely that shoppers will consider it against true luxury crossovers. After all, that kind of money could also buy you a loaded Audi Q5, BMW X3 or Mercedes-Benz GLK.