Station wagons are a rare breed in North America helped in no part by the proliferation of the modern crossover utility. If you so happen to be in the market for such a vehicle, Audi might have the ticket in the form of the all-new A4 Allroad.
Riding on the same platform as the A4 sedan, the Allroad benefits from a lighter, stiffer structure, and the latest in chassis technology. Audi's new corporate grille looks right at home flanked by bright LED lights and framed by faux skid plates. Generous amounts of flared plastic cladding give it a rough 'n tumble look similar to that of the Subaru Outback or Volvo V60 Cross Country, while the elevated ride height offers upwards of 200 mm of ground clearance, more than most crossovers.
The A4 continues to use a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, but power is up. Its standard 252 hp is within the wheelhouse of what rivals from BMW and Volvo produce. Manual fans, look away - only an automatic is offered. And while BMW and Mercedes-Benz will offer diesel power, the Allroad will go without an oil-burner option.
An all-terrain all-weather model, the A4 Allroad naturally comes standard with quattro all-wheel drive, though it's a different system than what's used in the S4 Sedan. Dubbed Quattro Ultra, it features a unique Off-Road mode which optimizes traction and throttle response for when the going gets rough. But Quattro Ultra also has another card up its sleeve - efficiency. The Magna-developed system is a part-time setup, designed to disconnect in fair weather conditions. It's said to boost fuel economy by as much as 10 per cent.
The Allroad's cabin is among the finest in the compact luxury segment; it's jam-packed with dazzling technology and exemplary build quality that's fitting of a much pricier vehicle. As with the A4, the Allroad can be equipped with the stunning 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster that can be configured to display a whole-cluster view of the navigation system. The sleek main infotainment screen gets the latest MMI interface and controller, too. Together they make both the BMW 3 Series Touring and Volvo V60 look out of date. By virtue of its larger dimensions, the A4 Allroad is roomier than before. With fine leather upholstery and aluminum trim backlit with ambient interior lighting, the Allroad's interior is so nice, you just might not ever want to dirty it by taking it off road.
As with the previous generation, the new A4 Allroad is offered in three trims: base Komfort, mid-grade Progressiv, and high-tech Technik.
Available high-end features include head-up display, 360-degree parking camera, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, emergency autonomous braking, and lane-keeping assist.