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2017 Audi A4: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader June 2017

The 2017 Audi A4 might just be the best premium compact sedan. Except that it's not so compact these days. This model year marks the introduction of a new generation that is more spacious than its predecessor, eliminating one of the few complaints that might have been leveled at the older A4.

So the rear seats will accommodate adults with ease. Yet Audi's design department has indulged in its taste for minimalist elegance once again. Nothing looks out of proportion or out of place. It's a subtle skill and deceptively difficult to pull off. That seems to be the A4's defining characteristic — undeniably classy without being ostentatious.

What's New for 2017?

This generation of A4 is all new for 2017.

What We Like

Precise styling; fresh technology; adult-friendly space in the back; ride quality; cabin

What We Don't

Not the sharpest handling of the class.

How Much?

$35,850-$46,850

Fuel Economy

The A4 Ultra has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 190 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. It's linked to a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual (think of it as an automatic) with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles and drives just the front wheels.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at a fairly impressive 27 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined.

The "regular" A4 has the same engine, with output boosted to 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. It also has the same automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is the default setup; all-wheel drive is optional, which comes with the choice of a 6-speed manual transmission.

The front-drive/automatic configuration achieves 25 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/28 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive, those numbers adjust to 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined. Swap in the manual transmission with the all-wheel drive system and the EPA puts fuel use at 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined.

Both versions of the engine have a stop/start function to save a little gas when idling.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Audi A4 2.0T comes in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels. The lower-powered A4 Ultra is available in Premium and Premium Plus trims only.

Premium ($35,850) starts out with 17-in alloy wheels, push-button start, sunroof, leather seating surfaces, tri-zone automatic climate control, 8-way power-adjustable front seats (plus 4-way lumbar adjustment in the driver's seat), tilt/telescope steering wheel, power windows, ambient LED cabin lighting, drive mode selection, automatic xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, rain-sensing wipers, self-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, 7-in display, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, two USB ports, two SD card slots, and a 10-speaker sound system.

This trim level is eligible for heated front seats and the optional Convenience package that bundles together memory settings for the driver's seat, satellite radio and self-dimming/power-folding side mirrors.

Premium Plus ($42,050) has all the above as standard, plus LED headlights, keyless entry/ignition with hands-free trunk lid release, Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker/755-watt "3D" sound system, parking sensors at both ends, and 18-in alloy wheels.

At this point in the pecking order, the Technology package may be selected, bringing the Virtual Cockpit -- a configurable 12.3-in display taking the place of the conventional dials, navigation, 8.3-inch upgraded center screen, voice control/handwriting recognition, Wi-Fi, blind spot monitoring and rear collision mitigation.

Prestige ($46,850) incorporates the Technology package's equipment then adds a 360-degree camera system, HD radio and a head-up display.

Other options include heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, rear side airbags, summer tires, adaptive air suspension and (naturally) all-wheel drive.

Trunk space is 13 cu ft. The A4's compatriots offer the same amount, which is good for about three sets of golf clubs.

Safety

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the new A4 the full five stars overall. And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has bestowed the accolade of Top Safety Pick+ after acing all major categories.

Standard safety equipment includes forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection as well as the usual mandatory features such as anti-lock brakes, traction control and an array of airbags.

Behind the Wheel

Although larger than the previous generation, this new A4 is lighter, feeling more neutral, responsive and sprightly. At least when it has 252 hp to play with.

The Virtual Cockpit can show usual information like road and engine speeds, but it can also bring the navigation feature right in front of the driver instead of keeping it over to one side. It's easy to use and is worth having if the budget allows.

This full-color feature is a major factor in Autotrader's decision to add the new A4 to our list of 10 Best Car Interiors Under $50,000 for 2017. We were also impressed by the quality of materials in all the trim levels, as well as the extra space.

If there's one gripe, it's that the steering -- although precise and substantial -- isn't as tactile as we'd like. But it's only apparent because the rest of the car is so good, especially in blending comfort with control.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 BMW 3 Series -- The archetypal premium sport sedan and the class benchmark. Comes with rear-wheel drive as standard and a well balanced chassis.

2017 Cadillac ATS -- Overshadowed by its established German rivals, yet still a top-tier machine.

2017 Jaguar XE -- Glorious ride quality, arguably handsome styling. But let down by an unremarkable cabin.

2017 Lexus IS -- Superb construction, calm ride, so-so interior, so-so handling abilities, and arguably odd styling.

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class -- A best-seller for Mercedes-Benz with plenty of luxury, equipment and performance available. The AMG C43 is especially tempting.

Used Audi A6 -- Not as tech-rich as a new A4, but comes with refined manners, a gorgeous and spacious interior, and an exterior design that's standing the test of time.

Autotrader's Advice

As worthy as the A4 Ultra might be in the fuel consumption department, this is a luxury car and ought to have an appropriate amount of muscle. The regular A4 in Premium Plus trim with all-wheel drive and the Technology package strikes a reasonable compromise between cost and kit.

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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.
2017 Audi A4: New Car Review - Autotrader