If the 2014 Audi allroad (yes, Audi spells it with a lowercase "a") sounds familiar to you, well, you're right. We've been down this road before. The original allroad, based on the midsize A6 wagon, debuted over a decade ago with funky off-roader styling, Quattro all-wheel drive and an unusual twin-turbocharged V6.
This time around, the allroad is based on the A4 wagon and features a 4-cylinder engine with a single turbo. But it has enough of the old allroad's plucky character to satisfy long-time fans and win new ones, too.
While the 2014 allroad isn't a true off-road vehicle, it does offer meaningful upgrades. Stainless steel skid plates provide added underbody protection, and the allroad's extra 1.5 inches of ground clearance bring light-duty washboard roads into play. Also, the allroad just looks tough with its flared wheel arches and shiny door sills. The styling alone should be enough to win over some would-be crossover buyers.
The 2014 allroad may lack the twin-turbo punch of its predecessor, but in all other respects it's a worthy heir. Check it out if you like the idea of a premium wagon that doesn't mind getting dirty.
What's New for 2014?
The allroad's engine gets an extra 9 horsepower (for a total of 220), and all models get standard Bluetooth and iPod/USB connectivity.
What We Like
Engaging handling; more off-road capability than most wagons; fancy interior; excellent technology features
What We Don't
Mediocre power and fuel economy; modest cargo capacity
The allroad is powered by Audi's familiar turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder, which makes 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Quattro all-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic are standard.
Fuel economy stands at 20 miles per gallon city/27 mpg hwy, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Audi allroad wagon is offered in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige.
The Premium ($41,595) comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, headlight washers, fog lights, skid plates, a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, 8-way power front seats with driver lumbar adjustment, single-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth and iPod integration, the Multi-Media Interface system with a dash-mounted control knob, and an audio system with an auxiliary input, an SD card reader and satellite radio.
The Premium Plus ($44,195) adds auto-leveling xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights and LED taillights, a power tailgate, auto-dimming mirrors, heated and power-folding exterior mirrors, an upgraded trip computer, heated front seats and tri-zone automatic climate control (meaning the rear passengers get their own controls).
The Prestige ($50,095) goes all-out with adaptive xenon headlamps, a blind spot warning system, keyless entry with push-button ignition, a color driver information display, a rearview camera with rear parking sensors, MMI Plus with navigation and a console-mounted joystick knob, a Bang & Olufsen audio system and the Audi connect telematics suite with Google Maps, real-time weather and travel information, and even mobile Wi-Fi connectivity for up to eight devices.
Many of the higher trims' features are available on lower trims for a fee. Other options, depending on the trim level, include 19-in alloy wheels, a Sport Interior package (sport front seats and a 3-spoke steering wheel with shift paddles), adaptive cruise control and the Drive Select system, which allows the driver to adjust settings for steering, transmission and throttle response.
Although the A4-based 2014 allroad is technically one size smaller than the old A6-based allroad, the A4 platform has grown up since the late '90s. In other words, the new allroad is hardly a compact car, so four adults can ride together all day without issue, even if backseat space trails that of most crossovers.
Cargo capacity is unimpressive by crossover or wagon standards, however, checking in at 27.6 cu ft behind the rear seats and 50.5 cu ft with the rear seat backs flipped down.
The 2014 Audi allroad comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes and six airbags (front, front side, full-length side curtain). Rear side airbags are optional on all trims.
The allroad has not been crash-tested, but its A4 platform-mate received a perfect 5-star rating in government crash tests. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the A4 its highest rating of Good in all tests except the new small overlap front test, where the lowest rating of Poor was assessed (the A4 is hardly alone in finding this latest test a challenge).
Behind the Wheel
In our interior evaluation, we found that the allroad's standard front seats don't offer much support. The Sport Interior package rectifies this, though, so check that box if you can. In any case, most drivers will easily find a comfortable position thanks to the tilt-telescopic steering wheel and multiple power adjustments. However, drivers with long legs may find their left elbows hanging off the back of the stubby door armrest.
The allroad largely borrows its dashboard and control layout from the A4, so that means it sports exceptionally high-quality materials all around. It also means that ergonomics are spotty due to missteps such as a fan-speed control that requires two steps to adjust. But to Audi's credit, the MMI system has become vastly more intuitive.
Audi has tuned the 2.0T engine and 8-speed transmission to feel quick around town, but passing power at higher speeds is limited by the allroad's near 2-ton heft. This is still a fine motor on its own merits, but 220 hp isn't much for a turbocharged engine of this size.
The allroad sits 1.5 inches higher off the ground than a standard A4, and that should compromise handling significantly. But it doesn't. The allroad is a relatively wide vehicle with plenty of rubber, so it still handles like a proper European car. Naturally, the discontinued A4 Avant (wagon) felt more glued to the road, but the allroad's extra ground clearance and unique suspension tuning allow it to tackle gentle off-road routes that would have normal cars running for cover.
Other Cars to Consider
BMW 328i Touring -- The 3 Series can still be had as a wagon, and it's a good one, boasting fine road manners and a turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that beats Audi's in both power and fuel economy. There's also a diesel version.
Volkswagen Touareg -- Check the price on Touaregs before you go with the allroad, because there's a chance you may snag one of VW's finest for less. The Touareg uses the same platform as the Porsche Cayenne, so it can handle just about anything you throw its way.
Volvo XC70 -- Volvo actually beat Audi to the punch, as there hasn't been a regular V70 wagon since 2010. Its replacement, the XC70 wagon, is the same kind of vehicle as the allroad, though its SUV-like fuel consumption gives us pause.
We much prefer the allroad with the Sport Interior package and MMI Plus. You can specify both as options on the Premium Plus model, so that's where our money would go.