The 2017 Audi A4 handily won our 2017 Best Buy luxury car award because...well, click the link and read for yourself, but the short version is that it's astonishingly good.

If you want all that astonishing goodness in a wagon, your only choice in the U.S. is the 2017 Audi Allroad. But don't worry: This slightly SUV-ified version of the Audi A4 wagon is a darn fine car in its own right, mainly because it does very little to disguise the fact that it's basically an A4 wagon. Changes from the sedan—besides the long roof—include increased ride height, skidplate-like lower trim on the front and rear bumpers, and a generally more rugged look all around. There's also an "Off Road" setting in the Drive Select to help modulate the throttle and all-wheel drive system for maximum bad-road traction.

We didn't test its off-road limits, but instead drove it where 99 percent of its drivers will: nicely paved roads, with some foul weather thrown in. And, like the sedan, the A4 Allroad is astonishingly good.

Distinctive drive modes

Like many modern luxury cars, the Allroad offers a range of driver-selectable modes for different circumstances. In the Allroad however, the differences were stark. In Comfort, the Audi cruises over potholes, speedbumps, and expansion joints, the elongated suspension soaking them up better than its sedan counterpart. Yet flip it to Dynamic mode, and the Allroad transforms into a sport wagon, ready to tackle a twisting mountain road at the kinds of speeds that would have an SUV's stability control shuddering with anxiety. The engine will have you rethinking 4-cylinders in both power and smoothness: the 252 horsepower launches the Allroad to 60 mph in about 6 seconds. Thank the engine, but also give hat tips to the feathery 3,800-pound curb weight and quick-acting dual-clutch 7-speed automatic.

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2017

My mostly freeway cruise let me explore the MMI infotainment system, specifically the way it seamlessly CarPlayed my iPhone's playlists. The touch-input for spelling out our destination in the MMI's navigation system worked like a charm. With the suspension in Comfort and the engine eagerly meeting my right foot's demands, I was able to cut through traffic or flow with it depending on my mood and what song happened to be playing. Constant rain gave the automatic wipers a serious workout, and the Quattro all-wheel drive added a layer of confidence that many of my roadmates lacked.

Flexible cargo area

The reason I needed a wagon was to help my mom get home from the airport, with the extra space swallowing a couple different large suitcases plus a walker. The cargo area is as nicely thought out as the rest of the car, with a cargo cover that slides up and out of the way when opening the hatch, and seatback releases in the cargo area itself. The rear seats themselves are fine, but like the A4 sedan we wish for more legroom. The only other real annoyance was the transmission, which is ever so slightly less refined when cold at low speeds.

Also: Class of 2018 – New Cars Ready to Roll

That's a pretty short gripe list, and you'll notice it doesn't include the price. Our A4 Allroad Premium Plus tester's as-tested price was $53,480, and included the $3,250 Technology package (a must-get with MMI, side assist, and the oh-so-cool virtual cockpit), a $500 cold weather package that added heated seats and steering wheel, and a few other niceties. Even a fully loaded Prestige model, available with Audi's extremely clever curve-anticipating GPS-linked adaptive cruise control, comes in at just a bit more than $56,000. That's not cheap, but for a sweet-driving, good looking, all-weather capable, off-road ready luxury sport wagon that will get you premium valet service, it feels like a bargain. 

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