Emma Jayne Williams

Audi’s A4 Allroad is a premium wagon with room for up to five and lots of gear

The Audi A4 Allroad is a five-passenger luxury wagon, practical for everyday use, yet extremely capable for light off-road adventure. A more expensive version of the A4 premium compact sedan, Allroad has a higher ground clearance, standard all-wheel drive, and more cargo capacity in return.

Allroad also has a more modern and luxurious cabin than found in the competition, along with capable handling, a comfortable ride, and a very quiet cabin.

After a complete redesign for 2017, the A4 Allroad has only minor changes for 2018 – mainly some trim and equipment upgrades. The Premium Plus trim gains Audi Side Assist and Pre-Sense rear safety features,; the Prestige trim adds lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, automatic high-beam headlights and traffic-sign-recognition; and the Warm Weather Package now includes ventilated front seats.

Three trims are available: Premium ($44,500), Premium Plus (the trim I tested, $47,200), and Prestige ($53,000).

All three are powered by a recently redesigned turbocharged 252-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles, for a dynamic, comfortable, sporty driving experience. The EPA rates Allroad at 22 mpg city/30 highway/27 combined.

Also standard is Audi’s latest version of Quattro all-wheel drive – Quattro Ultra, a predictive all-wheel-drive system that powers the front wheels when possible, and sends power to the rear wheels within milliseconds when extra traction is needed.

Also standard on all trims, Audi Drive Select offers Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Individual, and Offroad driving modes. Offroad adjusts the drivetrain and disables Pre- Sense systems to fit light off-road terrain. Pre-sense is a safety system designed to help prevent or mitigate the severity of collisions.

My Premium Plus added $2,700 to the base Premium price for a package with a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with 3-D sound; heated, auto-dimming, power-fold exterior mirrors with memory and LED turn signals; eight-way power front seats with driver memory; Audi Side Assist with Pre-Sense Rear; vehicle alarm with motion sensor; color driver-information system; SiriusXM All Access service with three-month trial; Audi advanced key; LED headlights; and Parking System Plus.

Side Assist with Pre-Sense Rear has blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and vehicle exit assist – LED lights on the door panels alert passengers if a vehicle or cycle approaches from the rear when doors are opened. Parking System Plus gives audio and visual warnings if an obstacle is detected in the path of the vehicle, increasing rapidly as the vehicle approaches. Illuminated segments on the display indicate the distance from the obstacle.

The Allroad outdoorsy exterior is differentiated by structured, unpainted gray contrast cladding, chrome door-handle trim, matte selenite silver (the color, not the mineral) under body protection plates, and stainless steel side-sill inserts.

A pronounced Singleframe grille surrounded by chrome, with chrome-edged vertical slats was flanked by distinct angular LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. Chrome “Allroad” badges marked the front quarter; polished aluminum surrounded the windows, and trimmed the roof rails and rocker panels below deeply creased lower door panels.

Chrome exhaust tips peeked out of the silver under body plate. The standard 18-inch five “V” spoke wheels were painted gray and partially polished. The spokes were chiseled and angular, complementing the muscular wheel arches.

Eleven exterior colors are available: Brilliant Black and Ibis White are standard; Glacier White (my Allroad), Gotland Green Metallic (very dark), Matador Red (dark), Moonlight Blue Metallic (very dark), Florett Silver Metallic, Manhattan Gray Metallic (dark), Monsoon Gray Metallic (medium), Mythos Black Metallic, and Scuba Blue Metallic (navy) add $575 each.

Interior colors include Granite Gray, Nougat Brown/Black, Rock Gray/Granite Gray/Titanium Gray (mine), and Atlas Beige/Granite Gray. Aluminum Ellipse trim (wicker basket look) is standard, while Dark Brown Walnut Wood and Gray Oak Natural Wood trim (mine) add $350. My Allroad also had Audi Guard black rubber all-weather floor mats with an A4 logo, part of a Cold Weather package with heated rear seats and steering wheel for $650.

Various shades of gray, even the wood trim on the dash, doors, and console, were calming and cool. The front seats were supportive, with just enough give to be comfortable for a long drive. The thigh cushion fit my short legs, but might be a little too short for taller drivers.

A telescoping steering wheel with a long reach, along with lots of vertical seat adjustment, made it easy to find a comfortable driving position.

Front passengers had 39.2 inches of headroom and 41.3 inches of legroom, while rear passengers had 38.2/35.7, with a flatter though still comfortable seating area. Rear passengers had their own climate control vents and temperature controls.

There were lots of cubbies for storing smaller items in the front, including a cell phone/fry cubby on the console in front of the large armrest cubby. With the 40/20/40 split rear seatback upright, cargo space is more than 24 cubic feet – enough for luggage for a long weekend or lots of camping or gardening supplies.

Folding the seats by pulling releases in the cargo area resulted in a more SUV-like 58.5 cubic feet of space – enough room for sheets of plywood, fencing materials, bags of concrete, and more. Liftover was low enough for easy loading. The raked rear window might make loading tall or bulky items challenging. There were multiple tie-down rings, and two side cubbies with nets for corralling small items.

A Navigation and Telematics package ($3,000) added Audi MMI Navigation Plus with MMI Touch (touchpad infotainment controller, handwriting and gesture recognition); Audi connect Prime and Plus (4G LTE connectivity and in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, six-month trial), Audi Connect Care (assistance and security services, limited- time subscription); Audi Virtual Cockpit; and an 8.3-inch central display screen sitting atop the dash.

With lots of functions built in – navigation, entertainment, interior functions, ride dynamics, and more – MMI has reasonably intuitive menus, although, as with most such systems, there is a learning curve – perhaps a few minutes with the owner’s manual in the driveway.

The infotainment system included two USB data/charging ports, two SD card slots, and Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto connectivity. No auxiliary jack was included.

The highly visible fully digital 12.3-inch virtual cockpit instrument display is customizable with navigation and audio, driving data, Google Earth, and either a classic display with large gauges or an infotainment mode with small gauges and large map/audio.

Several driver-assistance systems addressed safety, including adaptive cruise control with stop and go, coast, resume, and accelerate (also slows when approaching a turn); collision preparation, to tighten seat belts, close windows and sunroof, lock doors, apply brakes, and activate hazard lights in case of an imminent collision; Pre-Sense City to detect vehicles and pedestrians at speeds up to 52 mph, warn the driver, and initiate emergency braking (central locking unlocks doors after an air bag deploys to give first responders access); and eight advanced air bags including front thorax and knee, and full-length head-curtain air bags.

My Allroad also had a panoramic sunroof with sliding fabric shade, a power liftgate, rain and light sensors for lights and wipers (wipers had heated washer nozzles), LED interior lighting, LED taillights with dynamic turn signals, and an aerated glove box (with CD player).

Along with the plush ride, the B and O sound system with 3-D sound provided concert hall quality. Slim pillars allowed good forward visibility, and a rearview camera covered the back.

Acceleration from a standstill was hesitant, but there was plenty of power for overtaking and passing.

Driving mostly in the neighborhood, with a little dirt road fun, I averaged 28.8 mpg.

Overall, the Audi A4 Allroad is a pleasure to drive and very nice to look at.

With options totaling $7,275 plus $975 destination charges, my Allroad delivered for $52,750.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.

  Comments