The Audi A6 sedan is all about the driving. Sure, bring your kids along if you like, but that's not really the point. This car is about driving - fast or slow, relaxed or intense. The A6 doesn't really care why you drive or who you drive. Just drive it, and then wipe up the drool because no one likes soggy seats.
There was a lot of drooling going on during my time in the A6. My friends were totally jealous; their husbands were totally jealous. I wasn't always entirely in control of my salivary gland when I was driving, and I found myself grinning like an idiot whenever I got out of the A6. Oh, the growling power of the A6 3.0T, with its 300-horsepower V-6 engine. It's not crazy fast, like a sports car, but it pretty much beat the pants off of anything in the carpool lane. I love the suspension Audi gives its sedans. It's not as rock hard as BMW's and has a much better road feel than Lexus'. It's right in that perfect space between race and relax. It's just yummy, and now I'm drooling again with that idiotic smile on my face.
I sobered up a bit when I filled up the A6's gas tank. It, of course, requires premium gas and uses it up pretty darn quickly, with an EPA-estimated rating of 18/26 mpg city/highway. As usual, I didn't do nearly that well with my fuel economy numbers because of my nasty neighborhood hills and need to fully test out the power and handling in the name of thoroughness (I do all this for you, you know). Still, the A6 managed to do the impossible. It got me thinking of myself as a person, not just a mommy. The A6 isn't all about kids, and when I drove it, neither was I. You're drooling now, too, aren't you?
The Audi A6 is so pretty that when I first saw it I wanted to lick it. It's that yummy. It not only looks good on the road, it made me look good. I got all kinds of looks - approval and envy - while I drove the A6. It was like putting on a great dress and knowing that I looked good. It's elegant, sleek, sporty, a little mean and just yummy.
The A6's front is dominated by a large black grille with the linked circles of Audi's logo front and center. Optional angled LED daytime running lights flank the grille, and twin fog lights sit at the lower corners. My test car came with the 19" Sport Package ($1,500), which puts the A6 on 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels that expose the massive brakes behind them.
The profile is sleek and only slightly rounded; the A6 manages to convey movement even when it's parked. From the rear, the A6's width is really apparent. The tires sit far out at the edges of the A6, as do the taillights. A slight ridge along the edge of the trunk acts as a spoiler and gives definition to the end of the car.
Oddly, I always find getting into lower-sitting cars to be more difficult than higher-sitting vans and SUVs. I'm just not graceful at it and usually manage to flounder. Still, the A6 makes it easy to get in and out, with tons of legroom and doors that open wide. A textured threshold gives kids a place to step as they climb in.
The doors are heavy, which is reassuring, but can be a challenge when the A6 is parked on an incline. My 9-year-old never had a problem with them, but my 6-year-old found cause for complaint. Of course, he's a whiner anyway, so we can take that with a grain of salt. There's also plenty of headroom for tall people or kids who like to climb around in the car (while parked, of course). Either way, there were no bonked heads. The sunroof brings in some light, but it seems small when compared with today's massive panoramic roofs.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
The A6's interior isn't what I'd call welcoming. Maybe it was just the black-on-black tones of the test car, but the small touches of wood trim did little to lighten the mood. The seats are also firmer than I'd like. Although the seats adjust at the touch of a button in 12 ways, I never managed to find my perfect position. Sure, it's clean and sporty, but it lacks warmth.
It also lacks ready storage. The A6 would thank you not to clutter it up with the tools of daily living. Remember, this car is about driving - not drinking coffee, entertaining children or stashing emergency feminine protection. Hence, the complete lack of bottleholders and the grudging placement of the second cupholder beneath the center armrest. The armrest has a decent-sized bin for small sundries, and below it is another bin with a cupholder, a charging point and room for loose items. I couldn't use the second cupholder and the armrest at the same time, though, which considering there are only four cupholders in the car is on the stingy side.
There's additional storage in the rear armrest, which has a bin and cupholders. Sadly, my 6-year-old had a hard time getting buckled while the armrest was down since he's still in a booster seat. Frequently, there was a shuffle where I'd have to hold whatever had been in the rear cupholders while my 9-year-old lifted up the armrest so his brother could buckle up.
The A6 does come with a fabulous multimedia system. Audi's MMI puts the controls for everything - from Bluetooth connectivity to satellite radio to the USB iPod interface - all in one place. It's all displayed on a 7-inch color screen in the center of the dashboard; it takes a bit of getting used to, but it becomes pretty seamless fairly quickly. I managed to get my cell phone and iPod linked up and working in only a minute or two, and then it was all smooth sailing. I could scroll through my playlists right there on the navigation screen. The navigation system is also easy to set up and follow.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
The 2009 Audi A6 has been named a Top Safety Pick for 2009 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It received the top score of Good in front-, side-impact and rear crash tests, and it has standard electronic stability control, all of which are requirements for the safety award. For 2010, IIHS has added a tough, new roof-strength crash test that has lowered the number of Top Safety Pick award winners for this year.
The A6 has all those safety features that one would expect, but not some of the higher-end, super-technical features that have recently come onto the market. There are front- and side-impact airbags as well as side curtain airbags for the first and second rows.
Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system is great for handling all kinds of weather and road conditions, and the A6 comes with standard stability control, traction control and antilock brakes with brake assist. Daytime LED running lights mean that you are easily seen on the road.
It also has an optional blind spot warning system and a lane departure warning system that vibrates the steering wheel if the car strays from its lane.
In the backseat, the Latch connectors are hidden by the seat crevice. My son's booster seat sat nice and flat in the second row. There's plenty of legroom in the rear seat, so a rear-facing infant-safety seat should fit without any problems.
In Diapers: There's plenty of room for infant-safety seats, and the A6's smooth, quiet ride is soothing.
In School: Heavy doors are hard for little ones, and the center armrest makes buckling a challenge.
Teens: Pure swank delivers teens in the manner they think they should become accustomed.
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