For the 2021 Audi A6 Allroad Quattro Prestige, is it love at first drive?
• Price: $74,940 as tested. Prestige Package added driver assistance, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, and more for $4,500; gray paint, $595. More below.
• Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver likes the "handy wagon body style, chic exterior, silky-smooth V-6 power train," but not that it's "expensive from the start, dual-screen infotainment takes getting used to, occasional gearbox clumsiness."
• Marketer's pitch: "Trailblazing possibilities."
• Reality: The special kind of love that lasts — at least for a week, or longer, for the right price.
• Long-distance love: It's more than two years since I've sat in an Audi, so hopping into the A6 Allroad Quattro made me worry that I was simply feeling the fondness from a long separation.
But when I'd last sat in an Audi at Philly Auto Show 2020 (speaking of lost loves), I found the vehicles too firm in the seat and a little too space age for my tastes. So although I was eager to try an Audi again, I didn't expect this.
• What's new: The A6 Allroad Quattro station wagon made its return to the United States for the 2020 model year. Americans tend not to be wagon fans, but the A6 Allroad should help.
• Driver's Seat: As the Goldilocks of the car review set, I can be trusted when I say when this seat is just right. The A6 Allroad's Valcona leather seat (part of the $2,950 Luxury Package, which also offered more leather and massage) was firm but not hard, easy to adjust, and with plenty of ways to go. And massage. Mmmm.
Controls are easy to find and operate, although the left-side cruise control stalk still seems a little too close to the turn signal.
The dashboard features attractive walnut and black coverings, and gauges are mostly easy to read, although the speedometer kind of hides behind the steering wheel. It's just as well.
• Play some tunes: Audi has done touch screens one better in the test model, offering a haptic unit that doesn't rely on a simple light touch. Press firmly enough to make the 12.3-inch screen move, and then your operation proceeds. It makes the bane of most touch screens — scrolling through lists of channels or songs — much easier, because you can't accidentally choose one instead of continuing to scroll. (I'm glaring at you, Volvo.)
Furthermore, the sound from the Bang & Olufsen system is ideal, an A+.
• Keeping warm and cool: The HVAC system uses the same principles in a separate screen. Even though I'm screen-averse — they look expensive to fix and prone to needing it — having its own unit makes the experience much better.
• Up to speed: I don't usually hurry all that information into the front of the column, so you're probably worried that the Audi is a disaster on the road. But this is my true love story, and so I get to tell it my way.
Fortunately, the performance from the 3.0-liter turbo V6 is all one could hope for, rocketing the sporty station wagon around country roads and highways with little effort.
The 335 horsepower sends the vehicle to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds, according to Car and Driver. And the Audi is just a wagonful of fun the whole way.
• Shifty: The 7-speed shiftable automatic transmission is operated by an attractive and easy-to-hold silver T-bar electronic shifter. Push forward for Reverse and pull for Drive or Sport. Paddle shifters round out the options.
The transmission worked well, with a manual mode that easily stays so and an automatic mode that functions nicely.
• On the road: Dedicated readers know I could never fall in love with any vehicle less than athletic, and the A6 Allroad Quattro definitely fits the bill here. Country roads, winding creekside lanes, highways, the Allroad covers them all with great delight — tight steering, not much roll, and a feeling of zip as the G forces move occupants around. But it never feels as if you're going this fast. No, really, Officer.
• In the snow: The Quattro system allowed nary a slip or slide in some increasingly bold maneuvers around the hilly township in about 5 inches of snow.
• Friends and stuff: The heated rear seat offers plenty of space in the corners, nice legroom, headroom and foot room. The middle seat is a place of suffering.
Audi notes a fairly cavernous-for-the-class 30 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seat, but no numbers for when the seat is folded.
• Fuel economy: The Audi let me know that for the previous 700 miles or so it was averaging about 24 mpg, which is pretty good. I took that average down a bit, with my acceleration tests and high-speed maneuvers. Premium fuel is recommended, of course.
• Where it's built: Neckarsulm, Germany
• How it's built: Consumer Reports predicts the reliability to be 5 out of 5.
• In the end: Can you put a price tag on love? The Allroad is worth it.