November 22, 2010
It's been a while since I've been in our Audi A4, but my adoration for it hasn't faded one bit. With its exceptional interior, tenacious handling and understated good looks, there's little to complain about. Among these criticisms, though, I found the steering and cargo cover on top of my list.
The steering is too light. I realize that most wagon drivers probably don't want sportscar-like effort and feedback, but the A4's feels like a video game controller. More importantly, the lack of effort means the steering wheel takes too long to return to center. I constantly found myself having to manually turn the wheel back rather than let it slide past my loose grip.
Then there's the cargo cover. It's been noted before that the tonneau will block a good portion or the rear hatch window if you leave it in place. Most covers are attached to the hatch and open and close with it, but not the A4's. More distressing to me, however, is that the cover doesn't anchor firmly to the back of the rear seats. After a few openings, the whole unit popped out of its bracket. I tried to re-attach it, but it just keeps releasing. It seems to me that there's a problem with the single-sided latch -- it refuses to catch, no matter how much force I use.
It's a minor annoyance, sure, but something to check out in the next service.
Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor
June 29, 2010
I just had a another great weekend in our long-term 2009 Audi A4 Avant. No surprise. The Audi is a favorite around the office and at the Oldham house because it's a great drive and it does it all so well short of hauling home that new refrigerator. Not to mention it's simply beautiful.
This weekend the A4 Avant got myself and a friend to Dodger Stadium in downtown L.A. for a ballgame (it's pictured above at the Walt Disney Concert Hall also in downtown Los Angeles), hualed boxes of my junk to a local swap meet and then it took my wife and her snooty friends to a fancy restaurant in swanky Manhattan Beach for a too expensive dinner.
We all love this thing so much we've kept it waaaaaaaay too long. It has been with us for more than a year and it's creeping up on 30,000 miles. Should we sell it? I think the time has come. But what should we replace it with? If you ask me we should always have a wagon in our long-term fleet.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 28,652 miles
April 27, 2010
Finally! I have my first real complaint against the 2009 Audi A4 Avant. Well, really more like a whiney, little grumble than an actual complaint.
I drove the A4 wagon to run some errands which caused me to open the rear cargo door several times in one day. Every single time I slammed the hatch closed and got behind the wheel the dash light warned me that the door wasn't completely latched.
It sounded like it was closed, it looked like it was closed, but it wasn't closed.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 25,494 miles
April 22, 2010
Many years ago I was derided for falling in love with an Audi Avant. I'm talking the B5 generation. I got brochures. I dreamed of taking my camping gear or a bike out for the weekend. People thought I was dumb for liking a station wagon.
"Why would a single late 20-something want a station wagon," they all wondered aloud. "You're weird."
I got older. I ran out of cash. I bought an old Honda Accord to get me around. I lovingly named the Accord the P.O.S.. I still longed for the Audi, but at that stage in my life I just couldn't afford one. Audi's aren't exactly cheap and I don't believe in leasing.
I bought a Mazda 3 hatchback when the deals got really sweet. I loved the 3 because it reminded me of an Audi, just cheaper. Nice interior, fun, practical and stylish. I bought a previous generation, I'd like to add. Not the freakish Steven Tyler grille generation.
Last night I drove our '09 Avant. Oh it brought me back many years. It's luxurious interior, great handling and Euro cache really put the spell on me. I only drove it the short distance home and back, but I'm ashamed to admit I looked at prices on the internet when I got into the office. My lady's car is getting old and she's thought about replacing it. This might be a nice step up from her Jetta?
The current Avant is about seven inches longer, has more cargo capacity and frankly looks better in my opinion. It's no race car, but it moves when you ask it and sounds great doing it. By any measure this car is an improvement over the previous generations. It's a nice car, I don't think there is any debate on that point. But I have to come back to the question of would I really need this car over wanting it? Temptation is rough.
I think I have to let go of the past and wait for something I need.
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
March 02, 2010
I've been without a television for a couple of months now. My friends think I'm nuts for not replacing my busted set right away. But it was very refreshing to not have a TV in the house. I highly recommend everyone try to go without any television viewing for a few weeks. It's very liberating and it clears your head of all that nasty news the box inundates us with every day.
Well, I finally broke down this weekend and went television shopping. Luckily, I was driving the Audi A4 Avant with 51 cubic feet of max cargo capacity. Folding down the rear seats was very easy as you can see in this video.
The seats rest nice and flat and there is an adjustable cargo cover to hide the contents. Although the hatch opens manually, it is effortless. And closing it is light to the touch without feeling flimsy. I give it two thumbs up.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
December 24, 2009
We're all packed up and ready to head North to Avila Beach/Port San Luis for the Holidays. The A4 Avant proved quite a pack horse, holding a kiddie bike, extra booster seat, games, and luggage for a week away. Follow the jump to see photos from Hwy 101 along the coast and the A4's impressive fuel economy.
After getting out of the San Fernando Valley, Highway 101 is one of my favorite drives because it snakes in and out of the coastal route, past Santa Barbara, Solvang, Santa Maria, Nipomo, Arroyo Grande, and finally back to the coast in Pismo Beach. After a good rain, the rolling hills are green, the Oak trees are full, and the sunsets are spectacular.
and here's the payoff once we reached our destination...
That's old Port San Luis, next to Avila Beach.
After 218 miles at or about 75-mph, the A4 earned 27.8 mpg.
Happy Holidays from the Central Coast of California,
Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 20,747 miles
August 03, 2009
I took the A4 Avant down to San Diego for a three-day weekend, picking my parents up at the airport along the way. The Audi provided enough space for four people (my girlfriend included) and a weekend's worth of our luggage Tetrised under the clever cargo cover. Although the Avant is hardly the most utilitarian wagon, it certainly provided more room than the sedan would while being infinitely better looking. But that's an argument for a another post.
For both the highway and city portions of the journey, the A4 was a champ. The 2.0T engine sounds a little ratty, but it provides just enough power for this sort of car, while returning 25 mpg on the congested freeway drive home. Indeed, more luxury cars could stand to have a turbocharged four-cylinder base engine in their lineup. The six-speed auto delivered quick enough downshifts to avoid overriding its judgment with the shift paddles.
The A4's small dimensions and nimble handling were also a boon around town, while the firm European ride wasn't so firm that it grew tiresome or sore over the craptacular freeway surfaces of I-5, I-8, I-405, I-110 and I-10. Impact harshness was a little much in downtown San Diego, though you'd need a Rolls-Royce to make that minefield comfortable.
In total, the Audi A4 Avant is the sort of "just enough" car that I would buy. Just enough passenger space, just enough cargo space, just enough power, just enough fuel economy, just enough handling, just enough luxury and more than enough style.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 16,414 miles
July 23, 2009
As soon as I got into the Audi A4 Avant last night I thought, "I could own this car."
The night before I was in the Nissan GT-R. While I love the GT-R for its bad-boy sensibilities, the ride is so stiff that I'm afraid I will lose fillings by the time I get home.
The Audi A4's ride is comfortable and keeps the road bumps from shaking me silly. It manages to do this without flopping around in corners. It's a nice balance between comfort and sport.
It's a pretty car. Audi design is classic without being boring. There is nothing in-your-face about the way it looks. It quietly conveys luxury.
Having a wagon that offers a maximum cargo capacity of 51 cubic feet is convenient for all sorts of weekend errands.
For fun, the Audi offers plenty of entertainment features and niceties. I need a good air conditioner. I adore heated seats. I'm not a big fan of radio or even satellite radio, so I need an iPod connection. I've gotten so used to having a navigation system, that I would definitely want one. I need a certain amount of power. Fuel economy doesn't factor into my equation but the Audi A4 performs better than half the cars in our fleet. These are just my personal preferences.
If I were in the market, these are the things I'd be looking for in my car. And they all seem to be wrapped up in this Audi A4 Avant.
Tell us what features are a must for your next car purchase.
P.S. Everyone seemed so offended that Scott went to Del Taco, so I took a picture in front of an authentic Mexican restaurant. Maria's in Torrance is one of my favorites.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
July 14, 2009
After stripping out the contents of an entire section of my front yard, I realized I'd better get something back into the vacant dirt bowl soon, before my friendly next-door baking neighbor started leaving me nasty notes instead of carrot cake and chocolate-chunk cookies.
Only needing a few medium-sized plants and a bunch of smalls, I figured our long-term 2009 Audi A4 Avant would do the job. Plus, I just plain love to drive it.
Of course, I hadn't planned on my husband adding a garden hose reel and a hula-ho (he just likes to say hula-ho) to the load, but the sporty wagon handled it all in its 17.3-cubic feet cargo area without even folding the rear seats flat.
And here's the second trip back to the nursery. It had nothing to do with the Audi's inability to carry everything at once, and more to do with my sudden planting fervor.The A4 Avant would've swallowed all the items in one trip if I had made a better pre-shopping plan. Good thing the nursery is just around the corner.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 15,291 miles
July 06, 2009
I love well-integrated cargo covers. Our Audi A4 Avant's shade-style cargo cover is one of the good ones. It's easy to use and slides up a nifty diagonal track as it retracts to give you wide access to whatever you're storing in the wagon's 17.3-cubic-foot luggage area. But that nifty diagonal track will come back to bite you, if you don't make sure to return it to the closed position (seen above).
(A4's cargo cover in the open position)
Forget to put the cargo cover back where it belongs and this is the view you're greeted with in your rear-view mirror.
That's about half of what you should be able to see via the rearview mirror. I made this mistake at least 3 times over the holiday weekend as we loaded and unloaded gear from the cargo area.
If you owned this car and drove it every day, at least once you got used to resetting the cover in place, your stuff wouldn't ever be accidentally exposed to felonius passersby.
Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 14,973 miles
June 01, 2009
I'm often amazed by how many different cars can swallow a mountain bike. Seems like Jacquot can fit one inside just about anything larger than a Smart. Given my less advanced bike assembly skills, I prefer a vehicle that can swallow them whole.
As you can see, our A4 fits that bill. Often criticized for being too small for a wagon, it's still capable of carrying a decent amount of cargo, even if it's all awkward like this bike. Sure, I had to take the front wheel off and use the larger side of 60/40 split rear seat, but I wasn't going far.
I imagine there are plenty of people out there who think they need an SUV to do this kind of chore, but even the diminutive A4 is more than capable of taking care of the job. Gets way better mileage too.
Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 14,038 miles
May 20, 2009
Here at Edmunds, we make an effort to give back to the community in our home base, which is located in Santa Monica.
Today, we volunteered with Meals on Wheels. We have the wheels so we want to use them for good. We took along the Audi A4, the Ford Flex and the Honda Fit.
I was driving the A4 wagon. It had plenty of room for the multiple containers of food and a cover to protect them from the sun. Most of the meals were in temperature-safe bags. But we also had fruit and milk.
We realized the Audi A4 doesn't have the easiest hatch to operate. It opens very high above our heads and is heavy to close. Of course, you wouldn't normally open and close the back repeatedly in such a short amount of time. With normal use it wouldn't be a problem. After 10 houses, it gets a little tiring.
We were grateful for the navigation system, however. Finding our way around the streets of Santa Monica was a breeze. The nav lady always told us we were at our destination about a block away but the map itself was much more accurate.
The best part of the day, we met a lot of nice people. We encourage you to volunteer in your own community. It only takes a few hours to make a difference.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
March 09, 2009
I shuttled my family to visit my wife's parents this past weekend in the long-term 2009 Audi A4 Avant. It's a 500-mile roundtrip I've done in a variety of long-term cars. The A4 did fine, but it wasn't as cool of a companion as I thought it might have been. Further thoughts on this after the jump.
Here are a few things that disappointed:
Wagon body style didn't add anything. This is something Dan posted about before -- unless you are willing to pack up to the roof and block the view out the rearview mirror, the Avant doesn't really offer any extra luggage capacity over the sedan. As one of the commenters on Dan's blog post noted, the Avant can offer enhanced versatility (like if you want to carry a dog), but for this trip the amount of luggage I had could have just as easily fit in a sedan's trunk.
Sport package. This trip was almost all highway travel. And in this case, the stiffer ride quality and extra noise from the larger (18-inch) summer tires was unwelcome. There were a couple of times where my sleeping daughter was almost woken up when we hit some rougher/broken pavement in the A4. Nor did the A4 ever seem notably quiet in terms of wind/road/engine noise. Now, in the time I've spent with the car previously, I didn't ever find the sport package to be a detriment. And if I ever take our A4 Avant out for some aggressive driving, I'm sure I'll appreciate it. But for this trip and its substantial highway travel, the stock suspension (and, likely, the stock seats) would have been better.
Backseat . Yes, the A4's backseat is bigger than it ever was before with the latest redesign, but it's still not what I would call roomy. With our child safety seat in the middle, there just wasn't enough room for two adults to sit on the sides. Also, the A4 was one of the worst long-term cars I've encountered for securing my daughter's front-facing safety seat. I still got it installed, but 1) the car's LATCH anchor points weren't compatible with my seat; and 2) the rear head restraints couldn't be removed, making a snug fit against the seatback much more difficult.
On the positive side, the A4 was stylish and got decent overall fuel economy (26.6 mpg) even though I was riding the throttle pretty hard at times. The navigation system and iPod integration were also appreciated. But if I had to do this trip over again, and I could pick between our A4 Avant or a Toyota Venza, I'd chose a Venza. Even as a wagon, the A4 is just a little too small for long-distance family trip duty.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 8,156 miles
January 12, 2009
I like wagons. I like the 2009 Audi A4. But I'm not sure that I see the point of the 2009 Audi A4 Avant.
Don't get me wrong, the 2009 Audi A4 Avant is a well-executed wagon that's quite nice to spend time in. The way the security cover can be slid up in a recessed track to assist loading and the overall fit and finish of the cargo space are but two examples.
But I don't think it's wagon-y enough to bother with. Example: with the rear seats in use as shown in the above photo, our avant has 17.3 cubic feet of luggage space. An A4 sedan has 16.9 cubic feet in the trunk -- a virtual tie.
Here are some other numbers:
Cargo space, rear seats folded: sedan = 34.0 cu-ft, avant = 50.5 cu-ft
Front headroom: sedan = 40.0", avant = 40.4"
Rear Headroom: sedan = 37.5", avant = 38.2"
Base 2.0T Quattro price: sedan = $32.7k, avant = $34.5k
This detail shot shows that security cover track.
Yes, the Avant has more ultimate cubes and the broad hatch makes it easier to load. But that's not enough for me. I expect a cargo advantage with the rear seats in use, too.
Besides, I feel silly saying "avant" all the time.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 5,588 miles
January 05, 2009
Over the holiday weekend, I took our long term A4 to Lake Gregory, a small community in the mountains Northeast of Los Angeles. After spending about a week with the car here are a few observations:
I don't need shift paddles or 18 inch wheels - save $1,450 and skip the sport package. Acceleration is more than adequate even at 6,000 ft above sea level. The new A4 feels wider than before but rear seat leg room is lacking especially if you're using child seats that sort of force little kid's feet up and forward. Cargo space in the rear is generous - stuff for 2 adults and 2 kids fit with room to spare. The extended thigh support feature for the driver's seat is awesome - a must have on any car. Excellent wipers - mud, snow, pine needles and water are no match. The automatic smart key release is too finicky - if you don't press hard enough when shutting the car off, the key won't release. On one leg of the trip, I averaged 26 miles per gallon in combined highway and mountain driving. I love MMI - it does what I want without having to think too much; it's intuitive. Finally, this is probably the best looking wagon on the market - it's just a great looking car.
Brian Moody, Senior Automotive Editor @ 5,188 miles
December 23, 2008
You had to see the look on the guy's face when I asked him to tie that 10-foot tall Christmas tree to the roof of my brand-new 2009 Audi A4 Avant. He couldn't believe it. It was like I asked him to eat worms.
"You sure," he said to me, his eyes admiring the Audi's fresh gray paint.
"Sure guy," I replied. "Just throw it up there."
Sometimes driving somebody elses $44,000 sport wagon has its moments, but seriously, the little A4 handled this big-SUV-type job without a wimper.
And yes, I hosed off all the pine needles. I might be careless, but I'm not cruel.
Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief
December 19, 2008
You and I think a lot alike. Another Oregon holiday trip candidate I've had my eye on is our 2009 Audi A4 Avant. But I reluctantly had to dismiss this one even before the FX50's arrival. And the reasons are the same.
Rear cargo space with 4 aboard? Not good enough for 10-day, 2,000 mile trip with luggage and presents aboard. Only 17.3 cubic feet are available here -- less than the FX50 by a fair margin. Heck, the trunk of the Pontiac G8 GT sedan is fractionally larger at 17.5 cubic feet. This isn't a big wagon.
And like the FX50, our A4 wears summer tires in the form of the Bridgestone RE050A. They're damn good tires in the dry and wet, but they aren't intended for snow-covered roads. Even quattro can't save you if the tires don't have good snow traction.
It's a pity, I know. I really like wheeling this one around town and I'd like to stretch its legs on a road trip.
Just not this road trip.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 4,203 miles
November 21, 2008
I've always enjoyed wagons, but last night our 2009 Audi A4 Avant long termer proved pleasantly useful. The hatch lifts high and out of the way of my head, while the low lift-over height not only makes loading stuff easier than an SUV, but it's also pretty good for tying one's baseball shoes. The trunk itself is well lit with two lights on both sides along with a light in the hatch that shines downward providing plenty of illumination for changing out of one's baseball pants post game. The cargo cover that slides upwards is also a nice touch. Of the many vehicles I've driven to softball, the Avant made my pre- and post-game rituals the easiest. Plus, I think it looks pretty darn cool.
In a sorta related note, the Edmunds softball team clinched first place in our league and we're presently undefeated with two games left. We rule!
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 2,943 miles