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2016 Audi allroad: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader April 2016

The 2016 Audi allroad is a wagon version of the Audi A4, with a higher ride height, all-wheel drive as standard and a bit of SUVlike dressing up. In other parts of the world, the elegant A4 wagon -- called the Avant -- is popular, but Americans aren't considered wagon buyers and the crossover is king in their world, or so the conventional wisdom goes.

If a car company wants to offer some kind of wagon, then it's not a bad idea to put it into SUVlike territory. Volvo did it with the XC70 Cross Country, and Audi followed suit with the 1-size-up A6 allroad. For reasons known only to accountants and marketing types, we now have the A4-based version.

While the allroad isn't a true off-road vehicle, it does offer meaningful upgrades. Stainless-steel skid plates provide added underbody protection, and the extra 1.5 inches of ground clearance bring light-duty washboard roads into play. Also, the allroad looks tough with its flared wheel arches and shiny doorsills. The styling alone might be enough to win over some would-be crossover buyers.

What's New for 2016?

The Prestige trim, which was the top level, is no more, so there's been some reshuffling of equipment. The entry-level trim now gets keyless entry/ignition and Audi connect, which turns the car into a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot and includes various Google applications, such as Google Earth for navigation functions. The Technology package at the Premium Plus level now includes the Bang & Olufsen upgraded audio system.

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

How Much?

$43,625-$45,725

Fuel Economy

A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder propels the allroad with 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic transmission are standard.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, fuel consumption is estimated at 21 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Audi allroad comes in Premium and Premium Plus trim levels.

The Premium ($43,625) has 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights and taillights, headlight washers, fog lights, skid plates, a panoramic sunroof, heated mirrors, a power lift gate, leather upholstery, 8-way power front seats with driver lumbar adjustment, tri-zone automatic climate control (rear passengers get their own controls), Bluetooth phone connectivity, iPod integration, Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) system with a dash-mounted control knob and a 10-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input, an SD-card reader and satellite radio.

The Premium Plus ($45,725) adds keyless access with push-button ignition, auto-dimming mirrors (the rearview mirror includes a compass), heated and power-folding exterior mirrors, driver memory settings, heated front seats, a color trip computer, Bluetooth audio streaming, HD Radio and navigation.

Premium versions can be specced with heated front seats and keyless entry/ignition. Other options include 19-in alloy wheels, a Sport package (sport front seats and a 3-spoke steering wheel with shift paddles), adaptive cruise control and Audi's drive select system, which allows the driver to adjust settings for steering, transmission and throttle response.

The Premium Plus Technology package brings a blind spot monitoring system, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, MMI Navigation plus and the Bang & Olufsen audio system.

Although the current A4-based allroad is technically one size smaller than the old A6-based allroad, the A4 platform has since grown up. The current allroad is hardly a compact car: Four adults can ride together all day without an issue, even if rear passenger space technically trails that of most crossovers.

Cargo capacity is unimpressive by crossover or wagon standards, however, as it's only 27.6 cu ft. behind the rear seats or 50.5 cu ft. with the rear seats flipped down.

Safety

The allroad comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). Rear-side airbags are optional on all trims.

In government crash tests, the allroad received a perfect 5-star rating overall, with five stars for both front- and side-impact crash protection.

Behind the Wheel

The allroad's standard front seats don't offer much lateral support. The Sport package rectifies this, so check that box if you want seats that hug through the corners. 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 takes its dashboard and control layout from the A4, so it sports exceptionally high-quality materials. It also means ergonomics are spotty -- for example, a fan-speed control requires two steps to adjust. But to Audi's credit, the MMI system has become vastly more intuitive of late.

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 almost 2-ton mass. This is still a fine motor, 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. That should compromise handling significantly, but it doesn't. This 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 dedicated suspension tuning allow it to tackle gentle off-road routes that drivers of normal cars wouldn't entertain.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 BMW 328i Sports Wagon -- The 3 Series wagon is great with fine road manners and a turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that beats Audi's in both power and fuel economy. There's also a diesel 328d model.

2016 Volkswagen Touareg -- Check the price on Touaregs before going with the allroad; there's a chance you could snag one of VW's finest for less. This is a rugged crossover that uses the same platform as the Porsche Cayenne, so it can handle just about anything thrown its way.

2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country -- Volvo's latest crossover wagon is based on the satisfying S60 sedan, and it's a winner with some real off-road abilities, although interior space is limited.

Used Audi A4 Avant -- If you want a car with better handling while saving a bundle of cash in the process, a used Avant could be a good choice.

Autotrader's Advice

The next generation of Audi A4 is going on sale soon, and a new allroad variant will follow, perhaps in the fall of 2016 or in early 2017. Unless there's a pressing need for an allroad right now, it's probably best to wait -- or at least use this info to get a better deal.

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Used 2016 Audi allroad Premium Plus
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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 allroad: New Car Review - Autotrader