By Matt Degen
The 2017 Audi A4 Allroad marks the second generation of this upscale, all-wheel-drive wagon. The Allroad is based on the Audi A4 sedan, but its wagon design gives it SUV-like cargo versatility, while its standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) system and bump in ground clearance make it suitable for tackling wintry conditions or light off-roading. Unlike a crossover SUV, though, the Allroad still sits low enough to offer athletic handling. The all-new Allroad has been improved with a more powerful engine, increased fuel economy and more technology, including CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Amid a sea of crossover SUVs, the 2017 Allroad appeals to those who want all-wheel drive, dynamic handling and a versatile interior all wrapped in a rugged yet stylish package.
The 2017 Audi A4 Allroad blends the best of several worlds. It has the all-wheel-drive capability and cargo-carrying practicality of an SUV, the dynamic and refined handing of a sports sedan, and the premium features and amenities expected of an Audi luxury car.
If you're looking to save money, the Volvo V60 Cross Country slightly undercuts the Allroad's roughly $45,000 starting price, while even a premium, 6-cylinder Subaru Outback is several grand less. If you have Champagne tastes and a beer budget, check out the Allroad's own cousin, the new VW Golf Alltrack.
The Audi Allroad is totally revamped for 2017 and marks the second generation of it in A4 form (previous models were based on the larger A6). The Allroad returns slightly larger, with more power, improved efficiency and a more robust suite of tech and safety features.
... This luxury wagon offers the best of several worlds. The revamped turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is a little reservoir of power, and the new 7-speed S tronic transmission is always eager to kick down when needed. Most of the time this powertrain works in fine harmony, but gear engagement can occasionally feel a little rough, especially at lower speeds, which isn't an uncommon characteristic for dual-clutch setups such as this. The standard adaptive-damping suspension and adjustable steering feel make a noticeable difference in the selectable drive modes. The Comfort setting, for example, makes the 2017 Allroad feel "soft," while the Dynamic setting stiffen things up for sporty driving. Most drivers will be satisfied leaving it in Auto mode and letting the Audi adjust itself.
Audi's latest, slickest interface has now made its way into the Allroad. This feature replaces the traditional instrument cluster with a 12.3-inch digital display that can be configured to show navigation, driving data, audio information and more, all without the need to look away.
THE SWEETEST SOUNDS
A fine audio system can make the miles fly by and create memories for a lifetime. With that in mind, we suggest immersing yourself in the sonic bliss of the 755-watt, 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. Better still, it's standard on mid-level Premium Plus and top-line Prestige trims.
The Allroad's 5-passenger cabin is one of its best assets. Behind the rear seats is over 24 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the 40/20/40-split rear seats, and there's an SUV-like 58.5 cubic feet of space. North of the transmission lever is the MMI interface, a dial and auxiliary controls for audio, navigation and other functions on the central display screen. We give bonus points to the volume control just to the right, redundant to the knurled one in the steering wheel. Harder to reach are the ignition button and drive-mode controls. Looking for the CD player? It's in the glove box.
If you don't think station wagons can look good, rest your eyes on the 2017 Allroad. In one svelte shape it's able to pull off rugged, athletic, practical and luxurious -- the very traits it embodies as a whole. Up front is Audi's pronounced Singleframe grille with vertical slats, while side sills, underbody protectors and roof rails give it an outdoorsy vibe. The new Allroad has 6.5 inches of ground clearance, which is slightly lower than its predecessor, moderately less than the Volvo V60 Cross Country's 7.9 inches, and quite a bit lower than the 8.7-inch figure of a Subaru Outback.
The 2017 A4 Allroad comes in three trims: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. Even the base model Premium is well equipped with leather seating, 8-way-power driver's seat with 4-way lumbar support, 7-inch color display with rearview camera, tri-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof and HomeLink garage-door opener. The basic audio system brings 10 speakers, AM/FM/CD player with two USB ports, and CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The mid-trim Premium Plus comes with its excellent 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, heated front seats, power tailgate and LED headlights. All Allroads get the Pre Sense safety system that automatically brakes to prevent a collision.
The top-line Allroad Prestige model adds a larger 8.3-inch color display with navigation, the slick Virtual Cockpit, an upgraded MMI system with handwriting-style input, head-up display, and the side-assist blind-spot monitoring system. With this trim you can add the Driver Assistance package with adaptive cruise control, traffic-sign recognition and lane-keep assist. This top trim also can be outfitted with ventilated front seats, while the other trims can be had with navigation and the Audi Connect Prime and Plus system with Wi-Fi connectivity and Google Earth mapping.
The 2017 Audi Allroad uses a redesigned turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that is now linked to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, a change from the former 8-speed traditional automatic. Though it has one less gear, the new transmission helps the new Allroad earn an extra 2-mpg rating in city driving. All Allroads have Audi's latest version of Quattro all-wheel drive, called Quattro Ultra, which also helps efficiency efforts. The system works by powering the front wheels when possible, with the ability to instantly send power to the rear wheels when extra grip is needed. In addition to Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Individual driving modes, the Allroad has an Offroad setting that adjusts the powertrain and disables the Pre Sense systems. Note that the Allroad drinks premium unleaded.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
252 horsepower @ 5,000-6,000 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Audi A4 Allroad has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $45,000. On the other end, a loaded top-line can reach nearly $58,000. At these prices, this Audi off-road wagon is slightly pricier than its closest-of-kind rival, the Volvo V60 Cross Country. As we've mentioned, you could save several thousand with a Subaru Outback, or spend nearly half as much for the far less prestigious yet still capable Volkswagen Alltrack. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. Given its niche status and Audi badge, the Allroad's resale value is expected to remain quite strong in the years ahead.