Something magical happened to me and my family when we cruised about in the 2009 Audi A4. I can't quite put a finger on the exact element that made the magic happen - maybe it was the Cardamom Beige-colored interior, or the A4's stylized LED headlights - but there's no denying that this car did something no other car has been able to do: It made my husband and I agree!
Truth be told, the Audi A4 is the first car we've both adored. The kids were happy, too; they were able to buckle themselves in, store their snacks and reach the pop-out cupholders.
From the outside, the A4 has an incredible presence. It exudes style and sets the tone for the complete image of what and who an Audi driver is. I certainly wanted to be seen in the A4. For me, it was like wanting to be seen on that one day each month when I actually do my hair and makeup to pick the kids up from school. Darn it, I worked hard on my look and I want to reap the rewards of recognition! This same theory applies to owning an A4. However, since the whole getting made-up thing doesn't happen very often in my life, I used the A4 as my glam accessory and opted for deeply tinted windows so I could hide inside.
Driving the A4 proved it wasn't just another pretty face. It handled well and had surprising braking power. This works best when you're getting into your highway groove, then someone cuts you off. Good brakes - love 'em. The Quattro all-wheel drive, a standard feature on the trim level I tested, was as agile as I was expecting it to be and had me wishing for some challenging terrain. My test car earns an EPA-estimated 17/26 mpg city/highway.
My family believed the A4 to be truly magical, and maybe we're onto something. It's sporty and powerful for the performance driver, yet safe and practical for the day-to-day driver. By tapping your magic wand (or your finger), the A4 lets you choose your suspension to suit a variety of driving personalities. You can even store four memory settings for the driver's seat, steering wheel and side-mirror positions for the ultimate in customized comfort. The Audi A4 is the new Neapolitan ice cream - a little of everything for everyone.
Redesigned for 2009, the new A4 has added some spice to its appearance. The bland, practical exterior of the past has been replaced with a younger, bolder look that may even border on risqué, if you happen to be a German engineer. I thought the car was drop-dead gorgeous, and the Brilliant Red paint color of my test car was enough to get my kids excited. Even a few weeks after our A4 adventure, my youngest still spots other Audis on the road and remarks, "See Mom, dat car is like our wed one. The one dat had the rings." Aww, spoken in perfect toddler-ese!
While you might notice the A4's smoother, sleeker side-panels or its newly integrated spoiler, it's the A4's face that'll have you drooling like an infant. No makeup needed, the A4 is ready to go and lookin' hot at a moment's notice. Sharp-looking headlights are accented by the glowing "eyelash" LED daytime running lights, which are absolutely stunning. The A4's signature grille was large and sporty looking; it made me feel like the car had strength. Fog lights added to the amped-up ambience.
This car may carry carpool by day, but by night - look out! My husband and I enjoyed a night out on the town while I had the A4. Getting ready, we felt as if we had to dress to the car's level of class - definitely strappy heels with this one! As we hid the booster seats in the trunk, we glanced at each other with glee and said, "No kids!" In a snap, we were being carried away on the A4's available 18-inch wheels.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Trying to describe every feature inside the A4 is like tackling a monster cleaning project: Where should I start? Comfort, style and technology are everywhere in the A4. From the standard leather seating to the wood accents to the MMI control system in the center console, I was overwhelmed by the whole package.
Once securely nestled in the driver's seat, I found the ignition button near the gearshift. Then I started to wonder what the heck all the other buttons around the gearshift were for. My boys were getting curious, too, so I had to pull out the manual and study up. These buttons are part of the MMI system, which basically controls everything from navigation to audio to heating/cooling, and it lets you choose the suspension setting you want. There's also a knob controller for moving through menus on the screen. I enjoyed switching from the Dynamic suspension to the Comfortable from time to time just because I found it so amazing that you can change something like the suspension while still moving, and with the touch of a button! Although, I did wonder who got to name the suspensions because, of course, I felt more comfortable in Dynamic mode.
In addition to all the tech stuff, the A4 had all my other favorite features, including heated seats, great lumbar support, satellite radio and automatic headlights and wipers.
In the second row, the kids had lots of space, but I had a hard time installing my sons' booster seats because of the big head restraints in the backseat. There's enough room in the second row for a rear-facing infant-safety seat. The Latch connectors are covered by hard plastic covers, which were a pain because they added an extra step to installing a car seat. Once the covers were removed, it was easy to access the Latch connectors.
The backseat's armrest is fabulous; it features a storage space for snacks and a hard surface that my kids used as a table. The cupholders popped out of this armrest and were well within the kids' reach. Audi also threw in two seatback pockets.
The A4's trunk was spacious and came with a multitude of cargo nets and grocery-bag hooks to help keep things organized. You can also fold the second-row seats flat to expand your cargo space if needed.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove on): Groove on
The Audi A4 3.2 is the teacher's pet in a classroom full of safety-conscious sedans. It's been named a Top Safety Pick for 2009 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To receive this honor, a car must earn the highest rating - Good - in IIHS crash tests and offer electronic stability control. The A4 also earned five-star crash-test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These safety ratings are enough to make even the toughest critic nod with approval.
In addition to electronic stability control, the A4 has standard antilock brakes and traction control, as well as front, side-impact and side curtain airbags. Side-impact airbags for the backseat are available.
My visibility while driving was OK, until I needed to look out the rear window. The backseat's giant head restraints, which made it difficult for me to install my sons' booster seats, also blocked part of the back window and got in the way of a clear rear view. The optional blind spot warning system was great for alerting me when other cars were out of my view.
In Diapers: There's plenty of trunk space to hold all your baby gear.
In School: The backseat headrests made it difficult to install my sons' booster seats, but once in they were comfortable in the rear.
Teens: The A4 is an IIHS Top Safety Pick, which adds peace of mind for any parent when a teen driver gets behind the wheel.