2013 Audi allroad Introduction

The 2013 Audi allroad is all new, after hiding for the past seven years under the skin of the A4 Avant wagon, which now goes away. The 2013 allroad comes with one powertrain, the brilliant and venerable 2.0-liter turbocharged engine mated to a Tiptronic 8-speed automatic transmission with quattro all-wheel drive. The powertrain is solid, proven, versatile and efficiently powerful enough at 211 horsepower. However, premium fuel is recommended.

Direct competitors for the Audi allroad are slim, if you don't count crossover utility vehicles (CUVs). The allroad has never crossed over from anywhere; it's always been a wagon. The Subaru Outback and Volkswagen Jetta TDI SportWagen are cars that might be cross-shopped, when considering a comfortable and capable all-wheel-drive wagon of this size. Although you couldn't get the price of either to match the allroad, and with the Subaru you'd get a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine that makes 45 more horsepower than the allroad. The Cadillac SRX AWD moves beyond the allroad in price, power and size (while being the same wheelbase as the allroad), but it's an option that a possible allroad buyer might consider.

If you were to pick one CUV to compare, it might be the Ford Edge, with its new 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine making 240 horsepower and using a new 6-speed automatic transmission. It's about the same wheelbase, weight and fuel mileage, and it's most comparable to the Edge Limited edition with panoramic sunroof and all-wheel drive, things that are standard equipment on the allroad.

Obviously the 2013 allroad can't be compared to the 2006 allroad, because everything is better, and a bit bigger, too. And when you compare the allroad to the 2012 A4 Avant wagon, it doesn't seem so all-new, just revised a bit.

The allroad is built on the same chassis as the A4 sedan, and the size differences are insignificant, except for the height, as the allroad is 1.8 inches taller. It's got a slightly wider track because of its larger 18-inch wheels, and 3.0 more inches of ground clearance, which accounts for the height. It weighs 300 pounds more. It still manages to accelerate from zero to 60 in 6.5 seconds, a time that's plenty quick for staying out of trouble on the freeway.

The engine is super smooth, and for years has been the smoothest 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the world. Ninety miles per hour remains silent and effortless. Its 258 pound-feet of torque comes at a low 1500 rpm, so it pulls up to speed sharply.

Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 20/27 mpg City/Highway. It's heavier and less aerodynamic than the A4, with a not-too-slim 0.36 coefficient of drag. And the range won't be as far, as the fuel tank holds .3 gallons less. Its need for premium fuel is one downside to the turbocharged engine that makes 211 strong horsepower. Premium is recommended, not required, but it's a recommendation to follow.

Audi sedans have a fresh look for 2013, and the allroad borrows the sedan face but looks even better. It's especially bold on the allroad, because of its black front fascia with no-nonsense small round foglamps and air intakes, wider track from tires, and lips on the fender flares. Roof rails add to the rugged utility, including stainless steel skidplates. Unfortunately neither the standard 18-inch wheels nor optional 19s add to the car's good looks.

The interior is very appealing, with Nappa leather and a choice of walnut, ash, oak or aluminum trim. Controls are easy to reach. The Multi Media Interface (MMI) knob is used to control navigation and Google.

There's good cargo space, with 27.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 50.5 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded. As for rear seat legroom, the allroad has the same as the A4 sedan, 35.2 inches. The Subaru Outback offers 37.8 inches and the Ford Edge 39.6 inches.

We drove the allroad at the launch in Colorado, and got good seat time on freeways and mountain two-lanes. The ride is pleasing and smooth, with no rough moments transmitted to the occupants over patchy pavement.

The little engine performs out of its league, with strong torque translating to effortless acceleration even on uphill two-lanes. The Tiptronic 8-speed automatic is fast-shifting and obedient with the paddle shifters, and has rev-matching downshifting. The brakes felt good when we used them on downhill curves. They're not quite bomb-proof, because we did hit the point of fade, but until then the pedal gave good feedback.

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