By Keith Griffin
In a parking lot full of Audi A4s, S4s, A5s and S5s, both hardtop and convertible, leave it to me to seek out the 2013 Audi Allroad. It’s back after seven years and to me is the epitome of what the Audi brand is.
Sorry if I just made a few of you spit out your coffee but Audi has always been about good, reliable transportation regardless of the weather. That’s what the Allroad is – good, reliable transportation.
Audi has flown me and scores of other automotive journalists out to Denver to embark on a lengthy drive to Avon Park, Colo. My choice will be the Allroad (which I capitalize even if Audi doesn’t) because I know it is going to be the most significant vehicle for New England in the Audi lineup.
Hopping behind the wheel, I am pleased by the interior, but what really leaves me with my mouth agape is Audi connect (why does Audi like everything in lower case) first-to-market Google Earth integration. I’m going to agree with the Audi hype that it ” redefines the navigation experience.”
Let me abdicate for a moment to the Audi PR machinery to describe it: The realistic panoramic views and high-resolution 3D satellite and aerial imagery provide drivers with a better navigation experience. Audi connect with Google Earth also improves visual orientation with a “camera zoom” feature that allows closer views of surroundings or destinations. Added to the high-resolution of Google Earth imagery is an overlay of street mapping data provided through Audi MMI Navigation plus and real-time traffic information available through a SiriusXM Traffic subscription (now includes four years of SiriusXM Traffic information).
I’ll admit that the first few miles of driving I found it a little bit of distraction. I really enjoyed it when I was a passenger. I didn’t try it in an urban setting, though, where I think it could make getting to destinations extremely easy, especially for those with strong visual memories.
The first thing I notice in my trek is the Allroad fairly laughs at Colorado. Rising elevations do nothing to diminish the power of the 2.0 TFSI turbocharged and direct-injected, four-cylinder engine that delivers 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Helping the fuel efficiency is an eight-speed automatic transmission that does a flawless job of holding the right gears under passing and on hilly roads.
My favorite thing about this engine? It has a 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds. That’s impressive for a station wagon with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive with a four-cylinder engine that can handle most anything a Costco trip throws its way.
So, some of you may wonder why you can’t just buy the Audi A4 Avant, or station wagon as the non-1 percent would call it. It’s somewhat a question of width (but being 0.5 inches wider not a big question) and has 1.5 inches more ground clearance than the A4 Avant. With a full 7.1 inches of ground clearance, the Allroad is designed to meet the outdoor lifestyle needs of its customers. That little bit of height also seemed to provide a better hip point, which made getting in and out a lot easier.
Handling was also good on the twisty mountain roads we encountered along our drive route. The Allroad uses a new electromechanical steering system that saves weight and improves fuel economy. (Lots of manufacturers are moving away from heavier steering pumps to improve fuel economy by shaving pounds off the overall weight of their vehicles).
It’s really the frosting on the cake, in terms of overall appeal, but I love what Audi is doing with LED lighting. Unless my memory is faulty, Audi pioneered the widespread use of LED in lighting design. LED is a perfect medium for lighting designers because it allows stunning designs to be created at a relatively low cost (as in whole new headlight assemblies using traditional bulbs don’t have to be used).
Like a good station wagon should, the Audi Allroad is a good cargo holder. The wagon provides 27 cubic feet of cargo space and an ample 50 cubic feet of carrying capacity with the rear seats folded down. An electric tailgate is available to ease entry when placing items into the rear cargo area. Call that one weakness. A luxury station wagon like the Allroad should have an electric tailgate as standard equipment.
The 2013 Audi Allroad has a starting price of $39,600 before a $895 delivery charge. Fully loaded the Audi Allroad is going to run $48,800 to get all the bells and whistles. It’s rare I recommend a car for its technology but be an early adapter of the Google Earth technology. It’s worth the additional investment.
(For the latest new car news, follow me on Twitter at aboutusedcars. You can also learn about buying and selling a used car at UsedCars.About.com.)
Wheelbase: 110.4 inches
Length: 185.9 inches
Width: 72.4 inches
Height: 58.0 inches
Curb weight: 3891 lbs.
Engine: 2.0 TFSI turbocharged and direct-injected, four-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 211 @ 4300 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft of torque @ 1500 rpm
EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 20 / 27 on premium fuel
Base price: $39,600
As-tested price: $48,800
Also consider: (a comparative vehicle) Mercedes E-class wagon, Audi A4, BMW 5-series wagon
Photos (c) Audi