2013 Audi AllroadPosted on September 4th, 2012
All-wheel drive wagon with athletic performance
By Nina RussinIf there’s a car on the market which can push Americans beyond their collective dislike of sport wagons, the 2013 Audi Allroad is it. The second-generation Allroad feels more like the Audi A4 Avant than it does the first Allroad, discontinued in 2005. It’s compact and nimble, combining the automaker’s lighter-than-air suspension feel with robust power.
The biggest difference between the new Allroad and the A4 Avant it replaces is in off-road performance. The Allroad has 1.5-inches more ground clearance and some under-body cladding to protect chassis components from rocks and errant tree roots. The additional ground clearance with standard quattro all-wheel drive makes the new Allroad a better snow car as well.
Power comes from a two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, which yield 23 mile-per-gallon average fuel economy, according to the EPA. Zero-to-sixty acceleration is 6.5 seconds.
A longer wheelbase as compared to the Avant adds legroom for second-row passengers, and also adds length to the cargo floor with second-row seats folded flat. Cyclists will have no problems putting a road bike inside the car. An optional power tailgate keeps both hands free for loading large cargo into the back.
Base price for the 2013 Allroad is $39,600, excluding the $895 delivery fee. The test car comes with three options: a premium package which adds three-zone climate control, Bluetooth and iPod interface, the power tailgate, heated front seats with driver position memory, digital information display and bi-xenon headlamps ($3300); navigation with rearview camera, Audi (internet) connect and Bluetooth streaming audio ($3050); keyless entry and start ($550). Final MSRP is $47,395.
Test drive in ArizonaI first drove the new Allroad at a media program in Colorado earlier this summer. At the time, I was impressed with the turbocharged engine’s acceleration on steep uphill grades, and its ability to maintain power at altitudes over 10,000 feet. This week, I drove the car around my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, which gave me a better feel of what it might be like to live with: commuting through traffic, wading through some monsoonal rain, and loading gear into the back.
The second test drive reconfirmed my initial impression: that the new Allroad is a great active lifestyle vehicle for those with the financial means to afford it. It’s versatile, reasonably fuel efficient, and as much fun to drive as Audi’s legendary sport sedans.
Its lower profile gives the new Allroad less interior space than Audi’s Q5 crossover or Q7 sport-utility vehicle. The flip side is that the lower profile and center of gravity enhance high-speed performance. The Allroad’s highway performance will be the biggest surprise for drivers who equate station wagons with Birkenstocks and granola.Although the Allroad is a heavy car with curb weight just under 4000 pounds, the car’s mass doesn’t affect performance. The engine reaches peak torque, 258 foot-pounds, as speeds as low as 1500 rpm. The exhaust-driven turbocharger gives the Allroad a fat power band, accessible with a slight tip of the throttle.
The engine maintains peak torque beyond the point where it reaches its peak 211 horsepower, preventing any dead spots. The eight-speed automatic transmission enhances gas mileage with large overdrive gears for highway cruising. The abundance of gears also eliminates shift shock, with the exception of wide-open throttle.
Having the car over a holiday weekend, I had the opportunity to test its performance in thick traffic: something I did not get to do in the mountains of Colorado. Over-the-shoulder visibility is excellent to both sides. I had no problems merging into congested highways, or monitoring vehicles in the adjacent lanes.
Quattro all-wheel drive automatically transfers engine power to the wheels with the best traction. This came in handy when a seasonal monsoon covered normally-dry roads with standing water.
The optional rearview camera is something I strongly recommend, not only because it enables the driver to see obstacles behind the car, but because it makes it much easier to monitor parking lot cross traffic when the car is parked between two high-profile vehicles. Lines superimposed over the camera image show the car’s trajectory according to steering inputs. Audible alarms warn the driver is he is approaching obstacles around the car’s perimeter.
Engineers utilized an electro-mechanical power steering system in place of a hydraulic unit to save weight under the hood. The electric power steering system also reduces internal pumping losses to save gas. I found the system well-tuned to the car, with plenty of assist at low speeds and good on-center response on the highway.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the Allroad in a firm, linear fashion.
Versatile interiorThe Allroad comfortably seats up to four adults, with ample hip and legroom in the second row. The car’s tall floor tunnel and center stack location eliminate any real legroom in the second-row center position.
Power adjustments for the driver’s seat include an adjustable lumbar. I found the seat very comfortable for my two-hour test drive. Audi’s multi-media interface uses a mouse device in the center console to access navigation, audio, vehicle settings and service alerts. It eliminates a bunch of unnecessary buttons, minimizing driver distraction.
A standard panoramic sunroof brightens up the Allroad interior by opening up over both rows of seating. A sunshade for the glass panels is also standard. At night, overhead lights over both rows of seating and cargo area lights illuminate the interior.
A locking glovebox provides secure storage up front. A standard cargo cover conceals items stored in back from prying eyes.
The optional Audi connect system on the test car turns the vehicle into a mobile hot spot with connections for up to eight devices. Google earth maps which come standard with the navigation system offer three-dimensional imaging. There are three 12-volt power points, in the center console, next to the rear temperature controls and in the cargo area for recharging cell phones.
All four doors have bottle holders, and both rows of passengers have access to cupholders. A fold-down armrest in the second row adds a writing surface and small storage bin.
Tie-down loops on the cargo floor make it easier to secure large items. Standard roof rails enable the owner to add a carrier up top. The Allroad’s low lift-over height makes it easy to load a bicycle into the back of the car. A temporary spare tire and jack are located under the cargo floor.
The Audi Allroad comes with front, side, and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes and traction control. Audi’s standard factory warranty includes free first scheduled maintenance and up to four years of roadside assistance. Audi builds the Allroad at its Ingolstadt, Germany assembly plant.
Like: The Allroad combines the interior versatility and all-weather/all-terrain capability buyers with active lifestyles need with sporty performance.
Dislike: Bluetooth interface is not standard equipment
Model: Allroad 2.0T quattro tiptronic
Base price: $39,600
As tested: $47,395
Horsepower: 211 Hp @ 4300 rpm
Torque: 258 lbs.-ft. @ 1500 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 6.5 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy*: 20/27 mpg city/highway
Comment: *The manufacturer recommends premium unleaded gasoline.
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