Audi A4 with CVT: 38 mpg

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Okay, we didn’t average 38 miles per gallon, but we did average nearly 35 mpg in mixed driving with the air conditioning on full and a family onboard for a 180-mile trek. What can we say but amassing. And, we might add, this is all due to the continuously variable transmission (CVT). Don’t order an Audi without trying this option. It takes the perky, turbocharged 2.0 four-cylinder engine and calms it down, especially in traffic. Of course, it has its quirks as it does not really like to leave a stop under light acceleration, but that just might have been the test car. On the road acceleration is linear being that the transmission does not shift like a convention automatic. Add to that the optional paddle shifts that allow you to control the transmission when the need arises and you have a car for all seasons, albeit without all wheel drive. You can also order the six cylinder 3.2 engine with the CVT, too, but there was more than enough poke from the smaller motor for us with 200 horsepower continually on tap.

Mom’s view: We had the S handling package and it was okay for smooth highways, but too stiff for roughened roads. If you want to go around corners fast it might be fine, but you are going to pay the price in daily driving. The seats were above average in comfort and the interior was quite nice and the night lighting exceptional inside and out.

In the past I have been critical of Audis with the turbocharged four cylinder and automatic transmission as they were jerky in bumper to bumper traffic as the boost would come on suddenly and at the same time the car would downshift resulting in way too much go for moving slowly. The CVT makes this a mute case. Indeed, I wouldn’t buy an Audi without this transmission unless I wanted all wheel drive. As for the 3.2 liter V6 optional engine with its 255 horsepower, it simply provides more torque with little extra acceleration in real time driving situations. 

Cargo wise the Audi is a bit on the thin side, but provides useful room for four and adequate luggage room. There are ample storage areas, but the cupholders need to be deeper for a car so dedicated to sporty driving. Standard equipment includes dual-zone automatic climate control, power driver seat, and a six-CD changer. 

Safety wise this Audi has Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, BrakeAssist and stability control, front airbags and side curtain airbags. Crash scores are above average. 

Dad’s view: Priced right, this sedan offers you a little frolic as well as a heavy dose of frugality as it combines sporty aspects and common sense amenities as well as some controversial items such as a dent me front grill. Options extend from the S-line sport suspension to satellite radio to a cold weather package, HID headlights, auto-dimming mirrors and a navigation system.

Driving the Audi requires a little practice as the brakes have a soft feel until you get serious and after that it is all business from the ABS four-wheel discs. The turbo does have a bit of lag, but it really doesn’t make much difference as the CVT transmission smoothes it all over. It feels for all the world like a jet plane taking off, as the acceleration is linear and consistent for such a long period of time.  A good vehicle for family travel and commuting. Easily better than any BMW for mileage and ride quality.

College going male’s view: There are lots of little things to like about the Audi, which I seriously believe is going to replace the BMW as the car of choice for drivers. Although the Audi needed premium fuel the gas mileage was superior. The dash gauges were very easy to read and stylish. I didn’t like the position of the handbrake near the center armrest. It makes getting to it difficult with gloves on and if you are wearing a large ring. The climate control is overly complex and there isn’t a turbo boost gauge, which is strange. The cup holder placement needs a rethink, too. This Audi is the best Audi. It isn’t too small or too large, is easy to park, gets positive attention, and is less demanding than the competition. The price may be a little too dear for some and resale is not in the same category as BMW, but I expect that to change.

Family conference: The A4 comes as a sedan, convertible, and wagon and can even be ordered with hotted-up options.  It is not the handler of the BMW, but it is more comfortable and except for the stereo it has a first rate interior. Easy to live with and the best Audi 4 ever once the manufacture figures out why it stumbles at time when starting out.