Mountain Wheels: Reinvented Audi Allroad is the perfect car for Colorado (column)
2017 Audi A4 Allroad
Powertrain: 252-HP 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder; seven-speed automatic transmission
EPA figures (city/highway/combined): 23/28/25
Idyllic as we may believe the moose- and millionaire-laden lands of Teton County may be, compared to our own increasingly crowded and expensive paradise in the Colorado Rockies, there are certainly plenty of good and bad points about being in a beautiful setting where the nearest civilization requires a four-hour-plus drive to Salt Lake City.
But the very scenic byways, national parks and national forests of the Jackson area did indeed turn out to be a good reference point for some very lengthy driving evaluations of the new and improved Audi A4 Allroad, a vehicle which will certainly be at home on our mountain roads, as it was in Wyoming.
Following closely on the heels of the recent updates and makeovers to the standard A4 and big work on the larger Q7 SUV, the Allroad seeks to provide some pleasant middle ground.
Unlike earlier times, when it was based on the more mid-sized A6, the modern rendition of the Allroad is essentially a slightly lifted and definitely gussified version of the A4. And while a banging V-8 used to lurk under the hood in the good old days, this wretched modern world has foisted a 2.0-liter turbo as the new Allroad’s single engine of choice.
We spent quite a bit of time on both highway and extremely rutted and potholed forest roads and the happy news is that small-sounding engine seems just fine for the Allroad’s stated duties.
The setup generates 252 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque and a new seven-speed automatic transmission helps smoothly direct all of that energy; like all Audis, you will look down while cruising (or use the new head-up display) and notice that you are driving 90 mph, with no real sensation of doing so. Stop-to-60 also takes less than six seconds, so no worry on the power department, or what it will do as you hurtle up and down the passes.
Audi’s principal declaration of the Allroad’s prowess comes in a 34-millimeter lift from the standard A4, which sounds great until you do the conversion and see that that’s just 1.3 inches — not quite jacked-up Wrangler territory, though the new 6.5-inch overall total lift will indeed get you over goodly amounts of snow or some ominous potholes.
The car’s standard adaptive suspension also works to soften the blows when you do go into a dedicated offroad setting. Extra underbody protection has been added and there’s a bit of extra cladding around the wheels; the fearsome rippled grille up front helps differentiate the Allroad — almost as chunky and menacing as the old days.
There’s also great talk given to the new iteration of Quattro, the brand’s venerable all-wheel-drive system. For the Allroad, it’s now an electrically controlled multi-plate clutch and a decoupling rear differential, allowing power to go anywhere while being concentrated up front for fuel savings.
If you take a gander at the online fanboys, the complaints are the same: Why do the nontraditionalist wagon-fanciers in America — concentrated so heavily in mountain zones — have to buy an Allroad when the A4 Avant wagon in Europe does basically the same duty, but is not imported here?
Good question, but that’s the car biz. So if you’re looking for the most wagon-y and offroad-poised Audi automobile you can get — that is not the electrified A3 Sportback — this is what you get, minus looking at one of Audi’s real SUVs.
There are definitely advantages to the Allroad’s setup, not the least of which is now an Outback-worthy 58.5 cubic feet of storage, with the rear seats dropped (as well as 10 mm of extra legroom in the back). It does not drive like an Outback, which has become much, much larger and almost ungainly at times. The A4 heritage keeps you connected to the road, with a sporty driving feel and none of the bobbling largesse of a real SUV.
And being an Audi, the incremental tonnage of cool bits you can add is indeed quite onerous, though the standard Allroad — starting at $44,000 — does include some great stuff.
That laundry list also includes 18-inch wheels, the adaptive suspension, a panoramic sunroof, xenon headlamps, a full complement of leather seating and a three-zone climate control system. As options, the cool Virtual Cockpit — a full electronic-instrument panel that can become a huge Google Earth map as you drive — is a nice one, as are the head-up display and the pounding Bang and Olufsen 3D sound system, with 19 speakers and 755 watts of power.
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