Wagons are all the rage in Europe but they never really took off in the U.S. They always had a stigma about them for being uncool but that was never the case. They were fantastic people movers but once the SUV was introduced, they fell on the back burner. The birth of the crossover has almost driven the wagon to extinction here in the U.S. With the varying sizes of people movers from cute ‘utes to minivans to body-on-frame SUVs, wagons lost some serious market share. In my humble opinion crossovers are the next evolution of wagons since their chassis are mostly based on cars, but some automakers still make wagons. The automaker in this review (Audi, if you weren’t paying attention) has the allroad.
The previous allroad was based off of the A6 and had a trick suspension to raise to car to tackle just about any terrain. It was a big heavy vehicle with what I thought to be a stiff ride based on the example that I drove. It was a unique vehicle back then when it was offered and if you were tired of the Outback and wanted something more luxurious with less plastic, Audi had your vehicle. Now, the allroad is based off of the A4 and doesn’t have the trick suspension and isn’t based on the big brother A6. So how does this car measure up, if at all, to the old allroad?
Off-road wise (or should I say allroad wise?) the car isn’t the terrain conquering vehicle that the old model was. In my honest opinion, it should not be. The number of people who actually took the old allroad off of paved roads can be counted on one hand (based on intensive research which consisted of forum browsing). Audi left out the adjustable suspension and basically just took an A4 Avant, raised the ride height, put some matte plastic fender cladding on it and called it a day. The hilarious part about all of that? I really like it! No trolling, I swear.
Typical Audi but the grille is a bit more pronounced and aggressive looking. The rest of the body is very clean and drama free. Typical LED treatment fore and aft provide a beautiful light show at night. Our test car came fitted with 18” alloy wheels wrapped in aggressive snow tires which are not standard on the Audi. Results may have been skewed because of it. The matte plastic cladding is useful for rock chips and help exude an off-road quality about the car.
The Audi allroad, A4, and A5 interiors are starting to get dated and should soon be replaced with something along the lines of the A6. Having said that, it is very well laid out and clutter free. Audi is one of the few cars that, with myself comfortably seated in the driver’s seat, can view the entire gauge cluster without interference from the steering wheel. The analog gauges are separated by a LCD information screen, all of which are clear and easy to read. Audi’s MMI is now second nature to me with the number of cars I’ve reviewed so I may not be the best person to give you a bias-free version about the infotainment unit.
For those of you who may not know, Audi’s MMI or Multimedia Interface, utilizes Google Maps and even has a 3D bird’s eye view. The graphics are very clear and directions are very spot on. Voice recognition is very accurate, more accurate than some infotainment systems I’ve tested and is quicker than most to respond. Every once in a while, I noticed a delay in the voice command recognition but it wasn’t anything to fuss over. The MMI dial takes a little getting used to as are the menus and sub menus when trying to figure out car functions such as automatic lights, interior light functions and the like.
The HVAC controls utilizes dials and buttons that are straight forward and easy to use. The automatic climate control is fantastic and simple to set. In order to lock the drivers and passengers HVAC temperatures and vents, they need to be locked via perusing through the menus but can be controlled individually by altering the temperature from the passenger side.
The cabin is quite roomy with ample head room front and rear (38.5” in the front, 38.2” in the rear) with enough legroom to fit just about anyone in the front (41.3”). The rear gets a little tighter with roughly 35.2” but with 4 full size adults right around the 6 foot area, there was enough space to go around. The rear bench seats five but really it is two full size adults with maybe a small child in the center. Perfect for a small family but not too much more.
Ingress is made rather easy with the car’s higher ride height. The seats are fairly flat and the side bolsters don’t squeeze you in but provide for plenty of lee-way for larger occupants. They’re not the type to hold you when you are corner carving, but that is not the mission of this car. Getting into the rear was just as easy in my experience. The flat bench makes sliding in and out of the car easy and opening looks large enough to finagle a car seat in if you need to.
Cargo volume is where the allroad shines. With the rear seats in their upright positions, there is 27.6 cubic feet of space which then turns into a colossal 50.5 cubic feet once they’re folded. I did not need to fold the seats down during my ownership of the car as I had plenty of space to put everything in the cargo hold. I would have liked to utilize the car more for its generous cargo volume but, maybe next time.
Visibility is fantastic and with the host of safety gizmos that cover you in every direction, you’d have to be a complete idiot to get into any sort of trouble. Even with the longer roof line, the rear view mirror wasn’t affected by the length and the car was just easy to drive.
I already said I liked the car and if you’ve read my reviews, you’d know that I like things that are quick and nimble with a huge dose of fun. This car is none of those. The steering is deader than Kristen Stewart’s acting, the 2.0T feels a little on the anemic side and compared to the recent Audi hotrods I’ve driven, the 8-speed transmission just doesn’t quite have that dual-clutch magic. Yet, all is well. Let’s start off with the powertrain…
The 2.0T is found in just about every Audi product as the base engine but it is the only engine available for the allroad. The S3 has the same engine but a considerable boost in power and a much better map. The allroad’s tune puts the 2.0T at a respectable 220 horsepower from 4,450 rpm to 6,000 rpm and torque at 258 lb.-ft. from 1,500 rpm to 4,300 rpm. The power band is rather broad and torque delivery is there when you need it but it fizzles as the engine races towards its limits. This is clearly not meant to be wringed out as much as possible. What it can’t promise in the high-end, it has low-end push in spades, especially around town.
The car accelerates damn near effortlessly lugging around its 3,891 lb. curb weight. Why is this car so heavy? Well, the 2.0T is an iron block, and it is all-wheel drive, and it is an Audi. The 8-speed automatic is a great match for this engine in this state of tune because the shifts are effortless and provides for a fuss free experience. Shifts are imperceptible and the transmission will do its best to get into the highest gear to assist with fuel economy. The downside is that when this car is being hustled, you have to wait for the drop in gears as the computer tries to figure out just what the heck is going on. This powertrain allows the allroad to achieve a very respectable 28 mpg highway, 21 mpg city, for a combined rating of 24 mpg.
On my short commute to work and back, I averaged around 26.8 mpg maintaining reasonable speeds in town. A highway trip lowered the fuel economy to 24.2 mpg but it was mostly due to rapid acceleration and going faster than I should have. For some reason, I always tend to get better fuel economy with the Audi cars in a back-road/town driving environment than I do on the highway. The car takes Premium but in the week that I had it, I didn’t have to put fuel in it at all which is fantastic. The car’s fuel tank holds right around 16 gallons so you can figure out your cost to fill it up.
The power is delivered to the ground via Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system but unlike other most other run-of-the mill Audi products, the all-wheel drive system is split 40:60 front to rear and not the traditional 50:50 split. This tends to give cars a more rear-wheel driven feel but to be quite honest, with how I drove, you could have kept this information from me and I wouldn’t have known nor cared. The car does a great job putting the power down as you will read later on.
The ride is pretty comfortable. I expected it to be stiff but it is rather compliant. The bumps and pot holes don’t bother the chassis nor do they impact the occupants but they’re not entirely ironed out either. Our test car came fitted with some seriously aggressive winter tires so that could have had an impact on the ride quality so it is rather hard to judge that. The allroad has Audi’s Drive Select and in the preset Dynamic setting, the car is being unnecessarily stressed so I left it in comfort for my daily driving routes.
There is a bit of body roll for the car when being tossed around and as soon as I found how uncomfortable it felt being driven like the S3, I quickly went back to being as civilized as possible. Brakes feel great, with immediate bite at the top and nice modulation with pedal travel. Turn-in is precise but the steering effort is just lazy and like I said before, not an ounce of liveliness.
I took it on an ice-packed dirt road and while the car held up rather well over bumpy roads with loose gravel, it just didn’t feel like it belonged. It felt more at home on pavement than it did anywhere else which is why a lot of Audi die-hards find this car hard to appreciate. On the other hand, this car feels more civil than the old allroad with a much quieter cabin, more comfortable seats, and better manners. Also, I would have liked to have had the OEM tires on the car for a more accurate representation of the car’s actual abilities but I don’t think it would be too far off from what it is now.
It rained something fierce on the weekend I had it. Snow, ice, the whole enchilada. While nothing is good in ice, the allroad performed admirably. Going down my driveway the car slid when the brake was applied but I usually back out quick and slam on the brakes for fun in any car after it has snowed (c’mon, it’s fun!). Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to put the car in drive and floor it up my inclined driveway that was completely covered in snow and ice.
The results were as expected, the car had some slight wheel slip but all four hooked and the allroad dug in and climbed right back up without the slightest notion that it just slipped before. Even on the ice hardened dirt road, the Audi showcased its prowess in going forward showcasing quattro’s infallible system. However, when braking, like all cars in ice, it will slide and this is no fault of the Audi. If you drive like a moron, expect bad things to happen.
I guess this is where it all comes together. No it isn’t the most tossable car, nor is it the fastest. But it is a great daily driver and perfect for small suburban families who don’t want to blend in with the crossover crowd. Our allroad came fitted with a $2,900 Technology Package which has your HD Radio, Audi MMI, Information Display, Parking System, Audi Connect, allroad Premium Plus Model for $2,100 which has heated seats three-spoke steering wheel, Audi Advanced Key and a few other things. It also had a Sport interior package for $750 and the Tornado Gray Metallic was an extra $550. The total empties the wallet at $49,625.
Not a bad price for what you get. After driving it for a week I’ve come to really like the car and look past what Audi die-hards want it to be. Look at the trends and you’ll see why off-road capable vehicles aren’t exactly the norm. They’re more prone to seeing mall parking lots and kid drop offs at schools with their only off-roading time being parking on grass at a kid’s soccer game. I’m happy with what Audi has done with the 2015 Audi allroad and I’m glad that they make this car. If you have a family and are in need of a very capable people mover and want to be different from everyone else, give this Audi a serious look.
Photo Credit: Audi