The inside of the Audi A4 Allroad is nice, but not as impressive as Audis of the past. The competition has most definitely caught up with Audi, and this new A4 Allroad feels no better than a premium-trim Volkswagen — and maybe a step below a Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It’s not a luxury interior so much as a premium interior, even with the upgraded High Gloss Burl Walnut trim.
You sit quite low in the Allroad — another reminder that this isn’t an SUV — but the driving position is comfortable, and visibility out the vehicle is good in all directions thanks to a lot of glass. Front-seat comfort is adequate, but the rear seats are cramped, with not much in the way of legroom. Headroom is plentiful in front and back, even with the big panoramic moonroof.
There are plenty of amenities available as options, however, such as heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel (available in the Cold Weather Package), plus eight-way power front seats and more.
Ergonomics & Electronics
What’s immediately disappointing upon entering the Allroad — or really any of the newest Audis — is the realization that one of the best and easiest-to-use multimedia systems on the market has been largely ruined. Gone is the super-intuitive four-corners Audi Multi Media Interface that was easy to learn and use without looking down at your fingers to find the right buttons. In its place is a less friendly amalgam of buttons, switches and knobs. The system works quickly, but it’s much more distracting to use than previous generations of MMI. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, but using them with controls like the Allroad’s, rather than a touchscreen, can be irritating.
The big digital screen that can replace the gauges isn’t any better. While it definitely brings the wow factor to the Allroad’s interior, the optional Virtual Cockpit display is a jumbled collection of graphics controlled by five-way switches on the steering wheel. It makes simple tasks like changing radio stations or finding presets an exercise in random button-pushing to find out what does what. Being able to turn the entire gauge cluster into a navigation map is interesting, but not really any more helpful than having it on a center console display for passengers to use, as well. Overall, Virtual Cockpit seems more gimmicky than truly useful.
Cargo & Storage
What the Audi Allroad does well, however, is carry stuff. Auto journalists tend to have an unnatural love for wagons, more than for SUVs, and there’s good reason for that: the driving dynamics of a sedan with the cargo capacity of utility vehicles. Cargo capacity in the Allroad is 24.2 cubic feet with the rear seats in place and 58.5 cubic feet with them folded. The seats don’t, however, fold flat, leaving you with a slightly angled cargo floor, which is less than ideal.
By comparison, the similarly sized Volvo V60 Cross Country has 28.0 cubic feet in the way back, expandable to a much lesser 43.8 cubic feet overall. For the same money (or less), you can get a lighter, larger Subaru Outback that offers up 35.5 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats in place and a cavernous 73.3 cubic feet of maximum space.
The new 2017 Audi A4 Allroad earned five-star ratings in side-impact and rollover crash tests but has not been tested for front impacts by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t rated the Allroad.
Audi has long been a leader in safety systems and, unlike some German automakers, it provides many of those fancy electronic systems as standard equipment. You get a lot of airbags standard, including front knee bags and side curtain airbags, as well as Audi’s basic Pre Sense system that tightens up the seat belts and prepares vehicle systems for a collision if it detects one is imminent. The standard Pre Sense City system detects pedestrians at speeds up to 52 mph and can apply the brakes to try to avoid or minimize a collision. Adaptive cruise control with stop and go and traffic-jam assist is optional. A backup camera is standard, but rear parking sensors, blind spot assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic park-in and park-out are optional.
Value in Its Class
If you’re looking for a real station wagon in the U.S., the Audi Allroad is the only choice available from Audi. It starts at $44,950, including destination fee, with the turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, bi-xenon headlights, a backup camera, a panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers and more. My test car included some extras, like the Technology Package, which includes navigation, remote concierge, the Virtual Cockpit gauges and blind spot warning. It also had Audi’s Premium Plus Package, which brings a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system, satellite radio, keyless start, LED headlights, an automated parking system, and heated, auto-dimming exterior mirrors. Some fancier wood trim, a Cold Weather Package and Gotland Green metallic paint brought the grand total of our test car to $52,625.
There are two big competitors for the Allroad so far (more may be coming soon). The closest alternative is the Volvo V60 Cross Country, a built-up version of the V60 wagon that features many of the same styling changes as the Allroad. Beefier fender flares and a higher ride height give it that quasi-SUV wagon look. It’s sized similarly to the A4 Allroad, has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and standard all-wheel drive, and starts at $42,695, including destination.
If you like the SUV-wagon look but want something less premium (and more spacious), the Subaru Outback is really what put this idea on the market. The Outback’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder isn’t as powerful as the Audi or Volvo engines, but the car itself is lighter and larger than either of them. It’s also less expensive, starting at $26,520, but can be optioned up — with a powerful six-cylinder engine and luxury appointments — to just less than $40,000. Compare the three here.
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