- Handsome sheetmetal
- Gorgeous interior
- Carlike qualities
- Dated powertrain
- Fussy secondary controls
- Carlike qualities
Square pegs don’t fit into round holes. Yes, due to some sort of legalese, the Audi A6 Allroad is technically an SUV. But you know it’s not an SUV, we know it’s not an SUV, even dogs know it’s not an SUV, probably because they can jump in the cargo area without a ramp. The only people unsure as to what the current-generation A6 Allroad is—an ever so slightly lifted station wagon—are the fine folks at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The problem becomes, what do we do with a raised wagon at an SUV of the Year party?
Well, we let it in because we’re not heathens. “As the lines blur between SUVs and cars, the lifted wagon really does make the most sense here,” features editor Scott Evans said. “It’s refined and drives like a car, but it has ground clearance and all-wheel drive and a large cargo area. It does everything you need.”
View Other 2021 SUV of the Year Contenders and Finalists Here
Yes, that’s the truth. A lightly lifted wagon does it all, save for one tiny little thing: The driver doesn’t get to sit up high. But you don’t need to sit up high, you want to sit up high. Highchairs are for babies, rant over.
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So why not just name the Allroad our SUV of the Year, prove a philosophical point, enjoy the points-for-bravery accolades we’ll no doubt receive from our peers within the industry, and call it a day? I said we liked this Audi. We did not, however, love it. “Whether this is a wagon or an SUV, my luxury vehicle shouldn’t shudder to a stop,” Buyer’s Guide boss Zach Gale said, commenting on the out-of-place and out-of-character seven-speed dual clutch—the only transmission that’s available for the A6 Allroad. “Look me in the eye and tell me the average $70,000 luxury wagon buyer seeks the responsiveness of a dual clutch more than smoothness.”
We also weren’t superfans of the engine. “This car’s biggest weak spot—as far as being a luxury vehicle—is its engine,” features editor Christian Seabaugh said. Things get a bit coarse and grainy as the tachometer climbs. Now look, the 3.0-liter turbo V-6, which makes 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, is fine, until you realize the Land Rover Defender’s 3.0-liter turbo/e-supercharged I-6 makes 395 hp and 406 lb-ft.
We liked how the Allroad rode and drove, particularly how quiet it was at speed. Carlike, one might be overly tempted to say. “The steering feels lighter than the Mercedes-Benz E 450 wagon’s, and its ride quality is very settled,” MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina said. Many judges commented on how flat the Allroad stayed when going around corners—though that’s probably more due to all the actual SUVs leaning too much.
As always, we nod our heads in collective assent at how fine this Audi interior is. Noted Evans: “It feels like Audi went the extra mile inside this car.” Head of editorial Ed Loh said, “The electronics are stunning, especially the full-width screen in the instrument cluster.”
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However, there’s a lower screen—it looks great—that drew much ire. “As in almost every other Audi now, there is no easy way for me to lower the temperature or change the fan speed without looking down,” Gale said. “This shouldn’t be that difficult, and I shouldn’t have to stop my music (if there’s a voice control option).”
The other issue is that Audi chose to model this version after the current A4 Allroad, not the legendary C5-platform A6 Allroad introduced in 1999. The new A6 can rise to provide up to 7.3 inches of ground clearance, but only at speeds up to 22 mph. The one from two decades ago could rise to 8.0 inches, regardless of speed. We’re not saying the new A6 Allroad is a step backward, but this Audi’s not advancing to the finalist round, either.
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