Audi A4: Bigger and Better

By The Car Family

Audi’s best selling A4 offers owners a stunning interior, excellent fuel mileage, and superior safety scores while maintaining a pricing advantage over many of its rivals. This year the Audi is even a bigger bargain, literally, as the A4 has been enlarged to provide additional interior room and a more relaxed ride. Indeed, the additional cargo space in both the sedan and station wagon (Avant) versions makes this model even more attractive to young families while still providing sporty handling.

 

Audi has adopted an interesting pricing strategy for its best selling A4. It offers a well equipped base model for $33,000 to make it very competitive in the near luxury field, but offers a variety of unique option packages that can drive the price well over $40,000 especially with the popular all wheel drive or Quattro option.

We took our modestly equipped Audi to San Diego and were impressed by the quality interior and compliant ride. We had to remind ourselves that this wasn’t a BMW because the Audi’s precise handling certainly emulated this German competitor. The combination of front wheel drive, continuously variable transmission, and turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 enabled us to consistently push the 30 mpg figure at nearly legal speeds until we got to San Diego’s innards. Bogged down in harbor traffic and Little Italy’s moving parking lot we barely nudged 2 3 mpg. The slightly overboosted power steering made parking in the crowded downtown area easy, although vision to the rear is slightly restricted by the large rear pillar.

After finding some hidden gems, such as Just Desserts, which serves nothing but, ah, desserts, we took the Audi on a tour of the beach communities and never yearned for any options. However, Audi has made a plethora available starting with its Premium selection that offers a sunroof, power front seats with driver lumbar, leather upholstery, and cruise control as well as, a 10-speaker CD, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The Premium Plus package adds bi-xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights and taillights, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth phone connectivity, heated front seats and an iPod jack. The Prestige package is more expensive and provides larger wheels, keyless ignition, a navigation system, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and more. There is also a Sport option that firms up the suspension.

Mom’s view: Safety wise the Audi has antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags and must have optional rear-seat-mounted side airbags. You can’t go wrong when ordering safety options. A blind-spot warning system was very handy for us on the wide open Interstate 15 where fast moving traffic can easily move into your blind spot in a split second. There is also an “Active Braking Guard” that alerts the driver to an imminent collision and primes the brakes. The brakes were excellent and crash scores were all exceptional as well.

The A4’s interior is busy, but elegant. There are a zillion buttons plus a central control knob and ancillary controls on the steering wheel. I would spend a day with the well organized owner’s manual before setting out in this Audi since something as simple as adjusting the fan speed is not a simple task. The trunk space is impressive with nearly 17 cubic feet of space and it is easy to load. Overall, I would recommend considering the Avant for families. I quite enjoyed the Audi and didn’t even want more power as the turbocharger provided plenty of poke for those long hill climbs on the 15.

Dad’s view: A competent, if not exciting, sedan that is business like in its handling and acceleration. With just one engine choice Audi has staked it future on the ubiquitous turbocharged 2 liter powerplant and opted for fuel mileage and cost savings over speed. The result is that a ride to Big Bear or Mt. Baldy is mild, not wild. The Audi A4 is a best seller and a viable alternative to more expensive near luxury sedans. With an interior filled with enough gauges to satisfy a 747 pilot, the availability of all wheel drive and a station wagon version, Audi represents a family oriented daily driver with a playful nature.

Young working woman’s view: The exterior styling is a bit bland, except for the front grill that appears an easy target for large SUVs in parking lots. I loved the interior, although the numerous control buttons that are illuminated by small red lights make night driving a bit of a challenge as they tend to blend together. My friends were impressed with the Audi and it certainly appeals to those who enjoy driving something outside the norm.

Young working male’s view: The optional sound system must be admired. It is excellent and worth the money. The row of LED bulbs located in the headlight area gets the attention of distracted drivers and the night interior lighting and optional xenon headlights are exceptional. Quite a nice car, but the speedometer is difficult to read at speed, and there is the need for better cupholders. That’s about it. Nice car, great driver, and utilitarian.

Family conference: Audi has chosen that path of bigger is better. In the A4’s case Audi has succeeded. For a list of vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business.

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