The Audi Allroad is a wagon with stout styling, responsive performance, and all-season strength with its quattro all-wheel drive. There’s room for a small family without having to climb up to a tall crossover, or worse an SUV. It’s built on the platform of the A4 sedan, and the Allroad keeps those driving dynamics, and probably handles even better. Its competitors might be the Subaru Outback or Volvo Cross Country, but there’s nothing directly comparable.
The 2016 Audi Allroad benefits from some slight changes. A multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel is now standard. Equipment is shuffled in the higher models, for example the Premium Plus model with the Technology package gets the Bang & Olufsen stereo. Surprisingly, a rearview camera is not standard.
The Allroad gets a rugged look on the exterior and works for light trailblazing, but offroad it’s no Jeep or Land Rover, and isn’t likely to get much use on real outdoor trails.
The stability control grants for more wheelspin in mud or snow; inferior systems just shut down when they can’t pass the challenge. Ground clearance is 7.1 inches, less than the Outback, the same as taller crossovers. There’s modest underbody armor against the boonies.
The 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet torque, and is mated to a quick eight-speed automatic transmission with sport mode. Dynamic variable-ratio steering is available, along with Drive Select, which sets the electric power steering, throttle, transmission, and shock settings for comfort or sport.
The 2016 Allroad earned five stars overall in crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Options for the Allroad consists of adaptive cruise control that can stop the car from 19 mph, blind-spot monitors, rearview camera and airbags for the rear seat. Its EPA fuel mileage is 21/28/24 mpg City/Highway/Combined. During our extended test we averaged a spot-on 24 mpg, and often saw 30 mpg while cruising at the speed limit.
For a base price of a bit more than $40,000, you get leather, aluminum cabin trim, power front seats and tailgate, panoramic sunroof, satellite radio, garage-door opener, and last but not least MMI, Audi’s multi-media interface. Options include 19-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, shift paddles and sport seats, Bluetooth, iPod/USB connection, wood cabin trim, a 505-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system, and navigation.
Audi Connect is a 3G connection that turns the Allroad into a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 8 devices. The connection also feeds the navigation system with data from Google Street View and Google Earth in crisp detail. The system leaves us with some gripes, but the display features are excellent.
The Allroad is distinctive with its tallish ride height and bold lower styling, with aluminum-look exterior trim that complements the lines. The presence at front comes from the chrome grille of many chrome ribs, and the side stance is strong. The LED headlamps have a chamfered look at the top corners, adding some sophistication to the nose that the big grille steals with its aggression. Most models have black matte cladding at the rocker panels and fender flares, although a glossier and classier finish is available.
The dashboard and instrument panel feel like they came out of the A4 sedan. It’s reminiscent of a cockpit inside, with simple analog gauges and aluminum trim, although several woods are available. It looks high quality.
The front seats have just the right amount of bolstering, and provide great support for road trips. The rear seat is low and tight, with no place for the knees and feet of taller passengers, however it’s perhaps better contoured than most crossovers. There’s a good 27.6 cubic feet behind the rear seat that easily folds, making it great for extra cargo space. You can also get up to 50 cubic feet of space by flipping the back row forward.
Visibility is good thanks to tall glass, although for short drivers the corners of the front fenders can be obscured by the bulbous hood.
The 3900-pound Allroad has perky acceleration, 0 to 60 in 6.4 seconds. The transmission cleverly upshifts early when you don’t need the revs.
In tight esses or down back roads, the Allroad handles a bit better than the A4 sedan, maybe because of the 18-inch wheels and taller tires It rides 1.5 inches higher than the sedan, while the Allroad suspension loads up more predictably. The quattro system cruises with 60 percent of the torque to the rear wheels, and sends up to 85 percent there when traction is needed.
The powertrain and cabin are the best parts of the Allroad, and that’s no small thing. No flaws here, but it may be hard to justify from a value standpoint.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.