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2016 Audi A4: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2016

The 2016 Audi A4 compact executive sedan is with us for a short while longer, which is a good thing. This has been one of the major players in its class, remaining desirable and dignified before a new generation replaces it in the 2017 model year.

Just one engine is offered: a turbocharged 4-cylinder, which used to be fine. Other luxury brands have since jumped on the turbo 4-cylinder bandwagon and now the A4's engine doesn't look so desirable, trailing BMW, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz in horsepower as well as fuel economy.

Still, the A4 has a lot to offer. The optional quattro all-wheel-drive system makes the most out of its 220 hp, and Audi has worked wonders with the handling, which is close to best in class.

Moreover, with its beautifully trimmed interior and unusually spacious back seat, the A4 is a truly pleasant conveyance. On longer trips, the 12.4 cu ft. of trunk space seems bigger than the number suggests, providing ample room for luggage.

What's New for 2016?

What used to be the top trim level, Prestige, has been discontinued, so there's been some rearranging of equipment between the remaining Premium and Premium Plus trims.

What We Like

Athletic handling; upscale interior; rear passenger space

What We Don't

Mediocre engine; undesirable continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) in base model; no USB port; no option for adaptive cruise control

How Much?

$36,825-$38,925

Fuel Economy

The only engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder rated at 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT: basically an automatic) are standard. The optional all-wheel-drive system (called quattro) brings a choice of a 6-speed manual or a conventional 8-speed automatic transmission.

With the front-drive/CVT setup, fuel economy is 24 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg combined. All-wheel drive and a manual transmission means 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined, but you'll get 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with the automatic.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Audi A4 sedan comes in Premium and Premium Plus trim levels. Note that these base prices are for the front-drive/CVT powertrain; going for all-wheel drive will cost more.

The Premium ($36,825) has 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED running lights and taillights, fog lights, a sunroof, leather upholstery (unusual at this level), 12-way power front seats, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control (another unusual feature), Multi Media Interface (MMI) system with a dash-mounted control knob, plus a 10-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input, an SD-card reader, satellite radio and iPod integration.

The Premium Plus ($38,925) adds 18-in alloy wheels, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless entry with push-button ignition, a 3-spoke steering wheel, driver memory functions and heated front seats.

An option for Premium Plus is the Sport package, which adds a sport-tuned suspension, sport front seats, black cloth headliner and (for models with the automatic transmission) shift paddles. Also included is the drive select system, which allows the driver to adjust the settings for steering, transmission (automatic models only) and throttle response.

Audi connect is standard with MMI Plus. It employs a 3G data connection to integrate Google Maps into MMI Plus. Additional features include Google search with voice-command functionality, real-time weather and travel information, mobile Wi-Fi connectivity for up to eight devices and a high-end Bang & Olufsen audio system.

Safety

The 2015 Audi A4 comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes and six airbags (front, front-side, full-length and side-curtain). Rear-side airbags are optional.

In government crash tests, the A4 received a perfect five stars overall, including five stars for both frontal and side impacts. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the A4 its highest rating of Good in every category except the new small-overlap front test, which has been a struggle for many cars.

Behind the Wheel

The A4 has a sprightlier character than the rival 3 Series. The steering-wheel rims have thinner diameters, and the car generally feels lighter on its feet, even though the scales say otherwise. The base suspension is fairly conservative by sport-sedan standards, however. Enthusiastic drivers should step up to the Sport package, which elevates the handling to near class-leading status without compromising ride quality too much.

On the highway, the car is a joy, tracking straight and true without vibration at any speed. The A4 has emerged as one of the top driver's cars in this segment, although the power deficit to the competition holds it back.

The front-drive-only CVT is neither responsive nor particularly refined, seeming to sap some of the engine's power or at least not make good use of it. Although the quattro system costs extra, it's well worth the upgrade. Both the 6-speed manual transmission and the 8-speed automatic are satisfying bits of hardware.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 BMW 3 Series -- One reason why the 3 Series is an overall leader in the segment is because of its amazingly strong and efficient turbocharged engines -- both gasoline and diesel versions.

2016 Cadillac ATS -- The Cadillac is arguably the newest top athlete in this segment. As an all-around package, though, the A4 still gives the ATS a run for its money.

2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class -- A formidable competitor with its turbocharged engine lineup, sumptuous interior and baby S-Class styling.

Used Audi A6 -- The Audi A6 is larger and full of great tech. It's a newer generation than the 2016 A4, and it hits the high notes in virtually every respect.

Autotrader's Advice

If you really can't wait until spring of 2016, when the next-generation 2017 A4 becomes available, or you're thinking about negotiating a killer deal on a close-out model, we would still suggest avoiding the front-drive version with the CVT. The sweetest spot for luxury, performance and value would be the Premium Plus quattro with the Sport package.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Audi A4: New Car Review - Autotrader