Audi’s A4 is a handsome, sweet-driving sedan, but what we really love is the A4 Avant wagon— which the German automaker reserves for Europe and other global markets. Instead, we get the rugged-looking, lifted A4 Allroad, which is almost as cool. Its extra ground clearance isn’t enough for it to undertake legitimate off-roading alongside Jeeps and Toyota 4Runners. But it gives the A4 Allroad the same kind of advantage as the Subaru Outback or the Volvo V60 Cross Country when it comes to tackling rutted dirt roads and snowy byways. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides peppy power with decent fuel economy.
What’s New for 2021?
Fresh off a freshening for the 2020 model year, Audi moves the Allroad forward with a significant mechanical change for 2021: the addition of a 12-volt hybrid system to its turbocharged four-cylinder. Horsepower is also bumped up by 13, for a total output of 261. Elsewhere, lane-departure warning becomes standard, wireless Apple CarPlay is introduced, and a built-in toll-road transponder is added to the car’s rear-view mirror. The Convenience Package—available only on the base Premium trim—now includes front and rear parking sensors and a heated steering wheel, while the mid-range Premium Plus trim now comes standard with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and a 360-degree exterior camera system; Prestige trims add heated rear seats.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
There’s only one power train for the A4 Allroad, but it’s a good one: the gutsier, 261-hp version of the regular A4’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which now comes with a 12-volt hybrid system. A seven-speed automatic transmission and the latest version of Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system are standard. In our experience with older nonhybrid models, we noted that the gearbox modulates its attitude depending on the driver’s demands and can snap off quick, precise shifts under hard driving or more relaxed, unobtrusive shifts around town. We’ll have to wait to test the A4 Allroad with its new powertrain. From our previous experience with it, however, the A4 Allroad drives like a dream, balancing ride and handling extremely well. Its cornering grip is plenty adequate and puts it right in line with most competitors. It feels like a car rather than an SUV, something we think a lot of buyers will appreciate. We certainly do.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The A4 Allroad has an attractive, business-like interior, which we would like far better if we hadn’t seen the art piece that is the V90’s cabin. It may not be beautiful, but the A4 Allroad’s cabin is perfectly functional, handsome, nicely appointed, and comfortable. Despite being significantly shorter in exterior length than several of its competitors, the Allroad’s back seat has nearly as much legroom as both the Mercedes-Benz E-class wagon and the V90. As befits a luxury car, the Allroad comes standard with leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and three-zone automatic climate control. The A4 Allroad lost the carry-on-luggage test before we even got our suitcases out, however. It’s smaller inside and out than competitors such as the E-class wagon and the Outback. More perplexing is that it barely beat the sedan version of the A4 in seats-up cargo-carrying room, despite its supposed 11-cubic-foot advantage in cargo volume; it held just six carry-ons behind the rear seat, only one more than the A4 sedan.