The 2018 Audi A4 Allroad is the nearest thing a buyer in the United States can get to a regular A4 wagon. What makes this car distinct is that it has a mild crossover character. It rides higher than usual on a suspension that provides extra travel, while sporting stainless steel skid plates, flared fenders and side cladding. All-wheel drive comes as standard.
Audi doesn’t import its smart-looking wagons (known as Avants) to the United States, because the dominant demand seems to be for crossovers and more crossovers. However, there’s a niche that offers some of the practicality and styling of an SUV while keeping the more composed handling of a vehicle with a lower center of gravity. For this niche, Volvo brings its Cross Country models. Audi brings the A4 Allroad. If there are frequent trips over dirt roads throughout the course of the year, but the driver still wants some handling talent, technology and luxury, then the Allroad could be ideal.
What’s New for 2018?
Heated seats become standard throughout. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and vehicle-exit assist becomes standard from the Premium Plus trim upward. This trim also becomes eligible for the Warm Weather package. The topmost Prestige trim gains automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, and traffic-sign recognition as standard. There’s also been a reshuffle of equipment.
What We Like
Styling; adult-friendly space in both rows; technology
What We Don’t
Rear-side airbags are optional
Propulsion comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual (Audi calls this S-tronic). It’s operated like a regular automatic; the dual-clutch aspect is the hardware we don’t see. There are also steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles if the driver wants to be more involved. All-wheel drive (Audi calls this Quattro) is standard.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 22 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving.
Standard Features And Options
The 2018 Audi A4 Allroad comes in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels.
The Premium ($45,475) has an adaptive suspension (which is an option in the A4 sedan), plus 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon plus headlights, LED daytime running lights/taillights, heated side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, fog lights, skid plates, aluminum roof rails, a panoramic sunroof, heated windshield washer nozzles, push-button start/stop, drive-mode selection (including an "off-road" setting), a power tailgate, leather seating surfaces, 8-way power-adjustable/heated front seats with driver lumbar adjustment, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, a self-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, ambient LED cabin lighting, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, Multi Media Interface (MMI) system with a 7-in display and a 10-speaker audio system with an auxiliary audio input, HD Radio, two SD card slots and two USB ports.
A Convenience package includes keyless entry/ignition, heated/power-folding side mirrors, memory settings for the driver’s-side seat and side mirrors, plus satellite radio.
The Premium Plus ($48,175) has the contents of the Convenience package as standard, along with all-LED exterior lighting, hands-free tailgate release, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, vehicle-exit assist, rear-collision mitigation, parking sensors front and rear and a Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker/755-watt "3D" sound system.
Premium Plus is eligible for the Navigation and Telematics package, bringing the Virtual Cockpit (see our Behind the Wheel section below), navigation, an 8.3-in infotainment screen, Wi-Fi and Audi Connect, which includes various services such as a vehicle-status report, remote lock/unlock, roadside assistance, maintenance-interval notification, automatic crash alert, emergency calling and stolen vehicle location.
The Prestige ($53,975) comes with everything mentioned so far, plus voice control and handwriting recognition for the infotainment system, a head-up display, a 360-degree/top-view camera system, traffic-sign recognition, adaptive cruise control with stop/go and Traffic Jam Assist, active-lane assistance, automatic high beams and sound-insulating dual-pane front windows.
A Cold Weather package brings a heated steering wheel, heated seats front and rear and all-weather mats. A Warm Weather package consists of rear-window sunshades and ventilated front sport seats with power lumbar adjustment.
Cargo space behind the rear seats is 24.2 cu ft. and 58.5 cu ft. with the rear seats folded down. That’s much better than the rather stingy 43.8 cu ft. in the Volvo V60 Cross Country.
A basic version of forward-collision mitigation is standard throughout, and the A4 Allroad comes with stability control, antilock disc brakes and a comprehensive set of airbags. Rear-side airbags, however, are optional for every trim level.
The A4 Allroad is a Top Safety Pick Plus of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). The Allroad has not been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the A4 sedan (on which this car is based) has been awarded the full five stars overall.
Behind the Wheel
Being a variant of the A4 can only ever be a positive thing. It entails superb handling, a handsome and user-friendly interior with plenty of space and high-quality materials and reassuring safety equipment, plus some cool technology.
For example, the Virtual Cockpit is a configurable high-resolution screen taking the place of the traditional driver’s gauges. It displays all the usual information, but can also put the navigation information right where the driver needs it. If this sounds complicated to use, don’t worry, it only takes a short time for it to become second nature.
The A4 Allroad has an extra 1.3 inches of ground clearance over the sedan, which enables it to take rutted roads and foul weather in its stride.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 BMW 330i xDrive Sports Wagon — The 3 Series wagon has fine road manners. Thanks in part to keeping its ride height the same as the sedan’s. A new generation is due for 2019; let’s hope it retains the wagon version.
2018 BMW 330i xDrive Gran Turismo — Slightly larger than a regular 3 Series, but with an elevated ride height and a hatchback.
2018 BMW X4 xDrive28i — The fact that there are three BMW alternatives shows how finely spliced and diced automotive niches are nowadays. The X4 is more SUVlike, but with a sloping roof.
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe — Assuming a potential Allroad buyer is looking for an alternative to a run-of-the-mill crossover SUV, then this increasingly trendy "4-door coupe" body style might work.
2018 Volvo V60 Cross Country — Another crossover/wagon, derived from the excellent S60 sedan. Pretty good, with some decent off-road abilities, but interior space is limited. A stylish new generation is due for 2019.
Used BMW X6 — Bigger and brasher, with the option of a ballsy V8.
There’s not such a difference in price between the Premium and the Premium Plus as there is between Premium Plus and Prestige. So try and afford that middle trim, if possible, for the extra equipment it brings.