Tick, tock. Not even the 2018 Audi A6, with all its capabilities, can arrest the march of time. It’s making a pretty good job of trying, though.
The A6 is an ideal midsize executive sedan. It blends luxury appointments with sporty accents, all wrapped up in a highly stylish package. With all-wheel drive available for maximum traction, the A6 can also be a driver’s machine.
However, this generation of A6 has been around for six years, while its main rivals, the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, have both recently launched new generations chock-full of fresh technology. In compensation, Audi has given the entry-level A6 more standard equipment and a small hike in power to the V6 engine.
A properly equipped A6 remains a great drive in its class and every version has a beautifully crafted interior.
A higher-performance S6 is reviewed separately.
What’s New for 2018?
Navigation is now standard throughout the range. This is part of an equipment reshuffle that sees the basic trim level (Premium) gain more kit. Full LED lighting comes in at the Premium Plus trim level. A top-view camera system is now part of the Prestige trim. The 7-horsepower boost to the V6 for the former Competition version is now standard in every V6, while the other equipment that came with that boost forms a Competition package. See the 2018 Audi A6 models for sale near you
What We Like
Gorgeous V6; top-notch interior materials and design; infotainment system interface; perfect crash-test scores
What We Don’t
Rear-seat comfort could be better
The entry-level engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. This comes with front-wheel drive and the 7-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automated manual transmission (think of it as an automatic), returning 25 miles per gallon in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in combined driving, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The same engine with all-wheel drive (Audi calls its system "Quattro") and an 8-speed conventional automatic transmission manages 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.
Despite the T suffix, the 3.0T has a 3.0-liter V6 that is supercharged to produce 340 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. It connects with the 8-speed automatic transmission and offers all-wheel drive as standard, while achieving 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined. This engine has a fuel-saving stop/start feature.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Audi A6 comes in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels.
The 2.0T engine is offered in Premium or Premium Plus, while the 3.0T V6 comes in Premium, Premium Plus or Prestige.
The 2.0T Premium ($50,675) starts with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights with LED accents, LED taillights, a sunroof, keyless entry with a push-button ignition, Audi’s Drive Select system (featuring electronic adjustment for steering, throttle and transmission responses), leather seating surfaces, tri-zone automatic climate control (including separate rear controls), heated/8-way power-adjustable front seats with 4-way driver lumbar adjustment and driver’s-side memory settings, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a self-dimming rearview mirror and side mirrors, heated windshield washer nozzles, front- and rear-parking sensors, a rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, Audi Connect online services (including mobile Wi-Fi), Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, a 10-speaker audio system and Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI), which includes a 7-in power-retracting TFT display, navigation with Google Earth compatibility, voice recognition software and an interface with a handwriting-recognition touchpad, a USB socket, a console-mounted control knob and twin SD card slots.
The 2.0T Premium Plus ($52,875) adds full LED lighting, power adjustment for the steering wheel, quad-zone climate control, blind spot monitoring, rear-end collision mitigation and a 14-speaker/630-watt Bose surround sound system.
Both 2.0T trims come standard with the 7-speed S-tronic transmission and front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is an option that also brings the 8-speed conventional automatic transmission.
Apart from the supercharged V6 engine, all-wheel drive and the 8-speed automatic transmission as standard, the 3.0T Premium ($57,475) and 3.0T Premium Plus ($59,675) largely share the inventory of the 2.0T Premium and Premium Plus respectively.
The 3.0T Prestige ($62,375) has cooled/heated front seats, a head-up display, a top-view camera system, sunshades (powered for the rear window, manual for the rear side windows), a power-operated trunk lid and power-adjustable lumbar for the front passenger.
Many standard features in the higher trims are available as options in the lower trims. Also offered are adaptive cruise control, a night vision system, a Black Optic appearance package, heated rear seats/a heated steering wheel and a Sport package that features a lowered suspension, a 3-spoke steering wheel with shift paddles and 19-in or 20-in wheels.
The Competition package has 20-in wheels bolted to a sportier suspension setup, along with a performance rear differential, red-painted brake calipers, sport seats covered in higher-quality leather, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, black and metal trim accents, various cosmetic exterior additions and a black fabric headliner.
Trunk space is 14.1 cu ft., and the rear seats fold down for some extra cargo flexibility.
The A6 comes with standard stability control and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. Ventilated rear brake discs are fitted to 3.0T models; the 2.0T has solid rear discs. Eight airbags are standard (front, front side, front knee and full-length side curtain), while rear-side airbags are optional.
An optional Driver Assistance package includes adaptive cruise control with forward-collision mitigation and active-lane assistance.
In government crash tests, the A6 received a top 5-star rating in every category. Likewise, the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the A6 its top rating of Good across the board, making it a Top Safety Pick when it has the Driver Assistance package.
Behind the Wheel
The A6’s cabin is a thing of beauty. Materials are exceptional, while practically every button, lever and knob emanates class. However, the rear seats are disappointing. The bottom cushion is rather low, so passengers with longer legs may notice a lack of under-thigh support. The rear section has separate climate controls, though.
The 2.0T returns solid fuel economy, while the optional 8-speed conventional automatic transmission, which comes with all-wheel drive, also has a crisp, sporty shift action.
If performance is a priority, skip the 2.0T and go straight to the 3.0T. It delivers exceptionally refined and authoritative acceleration. If we were being really picky, we might ask for smoother gearshifts — particularly while in manual mode and under forceful acceleration.
Although the A6 uses a front-drive platform, its weight distribution is well-balanced, and the all-wheel-drive system can send up to 60 percent of torque to the rear wheels. The result is a car that feels smaller and lighter than it really is, especially with one of the Sport packages. The steering is light but linear and there’s a composed fluidity to the suspension when attacking a series of turns. The ride isn’t quite as smooth as in some other luxury sedans, though, so resist the temptation to order those attractive 20-in wheels.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Acura RLX — Updated for 2018. A well-put-together premium sedan offering plenty of equipment for the money.
2018 BMW 5 Series — One of the great cars, regardless of segment. In its sophomore year, this generation holds the torch high.
2018 Genesis G80 — Genesis is now branded separately from Hyundai. The G80 scored extremely well in crash tests, has generous standard equipment, remains tranquil at speed and is quite reasonably priced.
2018 Lexus GS — The Lexus styling approach won’t be to everyone’s taste. But the GS is comfy, solid, reliable and classy.
2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class — Vibrating with fresh technology, the E-Class retains and underlines its status as a giant of the segment.
2018 Volvo S90 — Never let it be said that the premium midsize sedan segment is short on choice. Or rear legroom — the S90 has 4.5 in more of it for 2018. It’s stylish and spacious, but not up to the dynamic level of the A6.
Used Audi A7 — For the same price as a new A6, you could get a gently used A7, which is essentially a sleeker, sportier A6 with a hatchback body. Shop around for a certified pre-owned (CPO) model and enjoy the reassurance of a comprehensive warranty.
There’s nothing much wrong with the entry-level 2.0T Premium model. It now comes with plenty of equipment. But Premium Plus is eligible for the Driver Assistance package, and it’s always worth having more safety equipment.