Best Bet
  • (4.4) 24 reviews
  • Available Prices: $9,295–$22,255
  • Body Style: Sedan
  • Combined MPG: 25-26
  • Engine: 211-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 (premium)
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel Drive
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
2012 Audi A4

Our Take on the Latest Model 2012 Audi A4

What We Don't Like

  • Minimal steering feedback
  • Tight backseat for adults
  • Grabby brakes
  • Folding backseat not standard

Notable Features

  • Available eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Sedan or Avant wagon
  • FWD or AWD
  • Available LED daytime running lights

2012 Audi A4 Reviews

Cars.com Expert Reviews

Editor's note: This review was written in March 2011 about the 2011 Audi A4. Little of substance has changed with this year's model. To see what's new for 2012, click here, or check out a side-by-side comparison of the two model years.

With sales more than double any of its brand siblings, the Audi A4 entry-luxury sedan is effectively Audi's ambassador in the U.S. The R8 supercar might grab more publicity, but the A4 is the car that average customers are most likely to encounter.

After driving the sporty A4 with its refined interior, it's clear that it's not entry-level: it's near the top of its class.

I tested an A4 sedan with Quattro all-wheel drive and the new-for-2011 eight-speed automatic transmission. This version starts at $34,500, but with options our as-tested price reached $43,220. To see a side-by-side comparison of the A4 and some of its competitors, click here.

Turbocharged Power
Audi has wrung quite a bit of performance from its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which powers all versions of the A4. Whether accelerating from a stoplight or merging on the highway, the engine feels bigger than it is, bringing you up to speed more quickly than its specs suggest. There's even a little power in reserve on the highway when a burst is needed. All in all, it feels just as strong as the BMW 328i with its inline-six-cylinder engine. Credit the turbo four-cylinder's healthy 258 pounds-feet of torque at a low 1,500 rpm.

Our test car had the newly optional eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite the high gear count, the transmission doesn't seem overly busy, and that's partly because of its relatively seamless shifts. However, one editor noted that the transmission had a tendency to hesitate under light acceleration.

Downshifts come quickly enough with a jab of the gas pedal. If it needs to, the transmission will skip a few gears to get to the one it needs, rather than step down one at a time. A Sport mode holds the transmission in lower gears longer, and there's a clutchless-manual mode for driver-controlled shifts.

The A4 gets better gas mileage with the new transmission, which is especially welcome because the car requires premium gas. The all-wheel-drive A4 is rated at 21/29 mpg city/highway with the eight-speed automatic, which represents a 2 mpg improvement in highway fuel economy compared with the six-speed 2010 model. Meanwhile, the front-wheel-drive A4 with a continuously variable automatic transmission gets an EPA-estimated 22/30 mpg.

The A4's four-wheel disc brakes quickly shed speed, but the brake pedal doesn't offer the greatest feel. I thought the brakes were a little grabby, while another editor commented on the lack of pedal linearity when braking.

Ride & Handling
The A4's regular suspension (a Sport suspension is optional) is stiff, which keeps body roll in check, but the tuning isn't so firm that driving on rough pavement is jarring. There's no question the emphasis is on sporty driving, but Audi wisely realizes that a car like the A4 also has to keep its occupants comfortable during daily commutes. With the regular suspension, it does.

It's worth noting that our test car had winter tires. While appropriate for the conditions, they likely affected the car's character compared with the all-season tires it normally wears. Winter tires have softer rubber compounds for better grip in cold weather — along with more aggressive tread patterns — which affects handling, acceleration and road-noise levels, among other things.

While the firm suspension tuning is common among German luxury cars, the steering feels like it's been sourced from Lexus. At low and midrange speeds, the wheel turns easily and with little effort. Unfortunately, there's also little feedback. However, a pronounced change occurs when you reach highway speeds, where the steering firms up and feels sharper.

The A4's Quattro all-wheel-drive system features rear-biased torque distribution for improved dynamics. Even though it powers out of corners without feeling nose-heavy, it's still not as engaging as a rear-wheel-drive BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G37.

A Classy Cabin
Audi cabin quality has long been among the best in the industry, and the A4's interior continues that trend. What distinguishes Audi interiors isn't just the use of high-quality materials, like real aluminum accents, but also the finish of the various trim pieces and the way they fit together well. Then you have the little touches, like a center armrest that not only slides forward and back, but also ratchets up and down.

In the past few years we've seen more attention to interior quality from brands like Cadillac (with its CTS) and Infiniti (with the G37), but the A4's cabin remains one of the nicest spaces in the class.

The front bucket seats are finished in standard leather upholstery. By comparison, many competitors like the 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and CTS make do with simulated leather upholstery in base models. The A4's firm seat cushions provide good support and comfort, and the front of the cabin is big enough for my 6-foot-1 frame.

The backseat, though, is a little cramped. Just getting into it is difficult for taller adults, because the door opening isn't very large. Once seated, I didn't have much room to spare with the driver's seat adjusted for me, though indentations in the backs of the front seats provide some extra knee clearance. Taller people sit with their knees elevated some, which doesn't bode well for long-drive comfort. Still, it's more comfortable than the backseat of a 3 Series sedan.

The A4's trunk measures 12 cubic feet, which is similar to what competitors offer. The trunk has a nice rectangular shape for fitting luggage, and the split-folding backseat — previously standard but now optional like it is on the 3 Series and C-Class — creates a sizable opening for carrying longer items. 

Safety
The A4 was recognized as a 2011 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It received the highest possible overall score from IIHS — Good — in frontal-offset, side-impact, roof-strength and rear-impact testing.

Standard safety features include antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags for both rows of seats, and an electronic stability system. Rear-seat side-impact airbags are optional.

For a full list of safety features, check out the Standard Equipment & Specs page.

A4 in the Market
One of the A4's biggest strengths is that it appeals to luxury shoppers in a number of ways. If you're concerned about gas mileage, it's comparatively thrifty. If you like fine furnishings, the cabin will feel like home. Plus, there are a number of available high-end features to interest technophiles. It may not offer the pure driving experience of a 3 Series, but in the areas that matter most in this part of the luxury segment, the entry-level A4 stands tall.

Send Mike an email  


Consumer Reviews

(4.4)

Average based on 24 reviews

Write a Review

Best Bang for The Buck

by AFMayr from Potomac, Maryland on October 16, 2017

This car has great performance (not overwhelming, but its 2.0l T 4 has a lot of low end torque), had it for 3 months so far and great reliability, great gas mileage (24 in city, 29-32 highway) , great... Read Full Review

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3 Trims Available

Photo of undefined
Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2012 Audi A4 trim comparison will help you decide.
 

Audi A4 Articles

2012 Audi A4 Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

IIHS Ratings

Based on Audi A4 2.0T Premium

Front
P
Head Restraints and Seats
G
Moderate overlap front
G
Roof Strength
G
Side
G

IIHS Ratings

Based on Audi A4 2.0T Premium

G Good
A Acceptable
M Marginal
P Poor

Front

Overall evaluation
P

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
G
Overall Rear
G
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
G

Moderate overlap front

Chest
G
Head/Neck
G
Left Leg/Foot
G
Overall Front
G
Restraints
G
Right Leg/Foot
G
Structure/safety cage
G

Other

Roof Strength
G

Side

Driver Head Protection
G
Driver Head and Neck
G
Driver Pelvis/Leg
G
Driver Torso
A
Overall Side
G
Rear Passenger Head Protection
G
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
G
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
G
Rear Passenger Torso
G
Structure/safety cage
G
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests. IIHS also evaluates seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Audi A4 2.0T Premium

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Audi A4 2.0T Premium

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating
Driver's
Passenger's
Side Barrier
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
Side Pole
Side Pole Barrier combined (Front)
Side Pole Barrier combined (Rear)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $3,000 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

Bumper-to-Bumper

48mo/50,000mi

Powertrain

48mo/50,000mi

Roadside Assistance Coverage

48mo/unlimited

Free Scheduled Maintenance

12mo/5,000mi

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained

Bumper-to-Bumper

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

Powertrain

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

Roadside Assistance

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

Other Years