Audi allroad, 2013: Smooth, versatile crossover returns to United States

James Raia

The German Audi allroad returns to the United States for the first time since 2005 as a roomy car-like crossover vehicle. Or call it an oversized station wagon, if you like.

Despite its German engineering, I found during a media preview of the allroad near Denver that this vehicle has a very American feel. For instance, while precise, the electromechanical steering almost feels a little too light.

Some may like that feel, but those looking for a firmer “German feel” may look elsewhere—although the nicely built allroad is plenty solid, in the best German tradition.

The allroad may look much like an off-road vehicle, but isn’t. Still, it easily tackles rough roads with its supple, all-independent suspension and Audi’s superior and standard all-wheel-drive system.

Three trim levels start with the base $39,600 Premium version. A $42,900 Premium Plus version is in the middle and the $48,800 Prestige trim level is at the top.

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All trims are well-equipped, but there are attractive options. They include keyless start, navigation system, upscale sound system and folding side mirrors. The power tailgate is handy. While 18-inch wheels are standard, 19-inch wheels are optional.

Available safety features include a rearview camera with an acoustic rear warning system and adaptive cruise control. 

The allroad has a distinctive, exclusive “waterfall” grille that looks better than some Audi grilles and there are also stainless steel skid plates and side sills. The dual exhaust tips look sexy.

The 2013 allroad is nearly an inch wider, 2.3 inches taller and has 1.5 inches of greater ground clearance than the previous allroad, which wasn’t successful in America. It’s almost as easy to get in and out as with a sedan. Outside door handles are large, and the allroad has a fairly low floor.

There is plenty of room up front in the quiet interior’s large supportive seats—and also good room for two tall adults in the rear. Bright sunlight doesn’t wash out the gauges, and conveniently placed dashboard controls can be quickly used, although some are on the small side.

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All doors have storage pockets and front/rear cupholders are nicely positioned. The rear pull-out plastic ones (from the center armrest) don’t feel flimsy, as they do on many vehicles.

The cargo compartment is spacious, with a low, wide opening. Split rear seatbacks easily flip forward and sit flat to expand the cargo area to 50.5 cubic feet.

The new allroad also has a longer (110.4-inch) wheelbase for ride comfort and is 185.9 inches long overall.

This Audi is no lightweight, at 3,891 pounds. But its turbocharged 2-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine generates 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Torque starts at only 1,500 rpm for good low-speed response.

Audi says the allroad’s 0-60 mph time is 6.5 seconds, although my test allroad didn’t feel quite that fast with two occupants and no cargo. Audi says it can hit 130 mph. I found the allroad is a “fooler” because it easily sneaks up to cruising speeds of 80-85 mph when you think you’re only doing 65-70 mph.

The smooth engine works with an effective eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that can be manually shifted.

Estimated fuel economy is average for this type of vehicle. It’s rated at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on highways. Fuel capacity is 16.9 gallons, and premium fuel is recommended.

Handling proved stable on winding roads, helped by an electronic stability control system. Braking was sure, with all-disc anti-lock brakes featuring electronic brake force distribution and hydraulic brake assist to allow surer emergency stops. The brake pedal has a linear action for consistently smooth stops.

The hood easily swings open via a hydraulic strut, but a few fluid filler areas must be reached from the side of the engine compartment, which is largely filled with a large engine cover. However, the engine oil filler area is put squarely in front of the engine, and that’s the one most persons will use.

Once largely ignored in America, Audi is coming up fast here as a prestigious, high-tech rival of top-line European vehicles. The new allroad should draw considerably more Americans to this brand.

Pros: Aggressive styling. Roomy. Decent performance. Upscale interior. All-wheel drive.

Cons: Rather light steering. Average fuel economy. Could use more power. Some may prefer a more "German" feel.

Bottom Line: New, user-friendly Allroad crossover promised to improve Audi image and sales.

Dan Jedlicka has been an automotive journalist for more than 40 years. To read more of his new and vintage car reviews, visit: www.danjedlicka.com

Article Last Updated: June 2, 2013.

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