2009 Audi A4 Long Term Road Test

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Audi A4 Avant: Bundle Up, Old Friend

March 03, 2011

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As I write this the 2009 Audi A4 Avant is somewhere between Los Angeles and Calgary, Canada. Part of me is happy that it will finally be used for the purpose it was designed, namely driving surefootedly in snow and cold. But the Southern Californian in me shudders at the thought of this handsome car caked with cruddy, frozen slush. I grew up in New England and I know what winter does to cars.

Our buyer, Alex Roudinski, had wired us the $28,000 purchase price and flew in Tuesday night. I picked up him and his buddy, Doug, at the airport. The backseat and trunk were filled with the performance tires that had been removed and replaced with winter tires for the long drive north. Turned out these two Canadians-on-the-loose weren't exactly in a hurry to get back home. In fact they were detouring through Las Vegas for a stay of uncertain length. Road trip!

Roudinski had contacted me after finding the A4 on Autotrader and reviewing our blog carefully. On the drive from the airport to my house he commented that it was handy to be able to read everything about a car before he bought it. If you could read my mind at that moment, I was thinking, "Well… Not absolutely everything…" Still, Roudinski had done more due diligence than any other buyer I've dealt with. While we made the deal nearly three weeks ago, barely a day passed without an e-mail from him beginning, "Just one more question…"

Prior to Roudinski's arrival, I ran the A4 through the car wash and parked by the water for one last photo. As the sun began to dip below the horizon I noticed that the quartz gray paint reflected a palate of colors from the sky. And, as I said, I cringed to think of what lay ahead for this guy.

Roudinski had said he will check in with a blog or two as he heads north. But he was back pedaling a bit saying he'd see what he could do once he got back home. But with stop offs in Las Vegas, and a lot of ground to cover, I wouldn't hold your breath.

Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @35,457 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: "Where Are You From, Eh?"

February 21, 2011

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I've learned a lot by selling the vehicles in the Edmunds.com long term fleet. For example, I learned that people from Canada don't always look like they are from the Great White North. These three women are not from Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills, but Calgary, Canada. In case you don't know, that's about four hours drive north of the U.S. border in Montana.

I've been communicating with a buyer from Calgary, Canada, for the 2009 Audi A4 Avant and he asked if he could send a friend over to inspect it. No problem, I said, picturing perhaps some screaming cliche of a Canadian of a hockey player with missing teeth. Instead, I looked out my window to see a black Porsche Cayenne pull to the curb with low profile tires. Out popped these three "Canadians."

On the test drive I asked them where their accents were? "Oh, should we end every sentence with, 'eh?'" I said yes, that would make me feel a little more comfortable. Otherwise, I felt they might be ready to pull off some diabolical online fraud, posing as Calgaryians and then driving off in the A4. But then they referred to the temperature in Canada in Celsius and I knew they must be for real. We don’t do metric here.

Meanwhile, I'm working out the details with the buyer who will be wiring the money soon and then flying down to pick up the car. We have negotiated a price of $28,000, which is $5,000 more than we were offered by CarMax. I could have probably gotten more for it since, after the fateful call from Canada, I've had many other calls from interested parties who are much closer. But our Canadian buyer jumped on the car because, with the exchange rate, it’s a deal for him.

By the way, the buyer, who will be driving it all the way back to Calgary, had the foresight to ask what kind of tires are on it. When he learned that we had recently bought performance tires for it, he decided to buy some winter tires online and have them shipped to a local installer. Good move.

We'll let you know when this deal finally goes through, eh?

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Interest from North of the Border

February 07, 2011

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The 2009 Audi A4 Avant has been up for sale for a week and we've been contacted by some scammers and some real people. One call, which I almost didn't return, was from Canada. I checked the number and it looked like it came from a real person so I called back. Turned out there is a guy from Calgary who travels to Los Angeles. He figured he could buy an all-wheel-drive car here for less than in Canada since no one really needs it here, at least on a regular basis.

The Calgary guy asked for more pictures of the interior so, rather than bog down an e-mail, I decided to put the pictures up on the web in a Picassa Album. This is a good tool for people selling their cars since Craigslist limits the number of photos to four and AutoTrader makes you pay for extra pictures.

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Our Favorite Caption

February 04, 2011

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Thanks to rayray633 for this week's favorite caption. Here are the others that pulled our leg:

Avant to move this trailer. This Audi do it. (technetium99)
Avant to tow! They Audi let me try! (ergsum)
Pullitt (ergsum)
...And the box it came in. (technetium99)
Riswick is getting hitched! (technetium99)
Dude, I think it's supposed to be on a truck. (vt8919)
You're doing it wrong. (seth111976)
Before it starting pulling the trailer, it was an A4 sedan. (ergsum)
Home sweet home. (teampenske3)
An idiot Avant. (ergsum)
STEELER CARAVAN - SUPER BOWL OR BUST!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (blackngold1000)
Transmission Impossible (ergsum)
These aren't the loads you're rated for. (ergsum)
The Avant Gets an A 4 Effort!!! (bluepunk82)
The Load of the Rings (ergsum)

What was your favorite?

To the winner:
You can select one of these three prizes:

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- Crazy Heart Soundtrack
- GM Design Paperweight
- Flat Stig key ring

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: For Sale Pricing

February 04, 2011

2009 Audi A4 Avant

When we offer one of our long term cars for sale, it's always tough to set the right price. Sometimes, we schlep it down to CarMax and see what they offer us. If they offer "strong money" (as a car salesman might say) we cash out. If it's a lukewarm price we might put it up on Craigslist for a few grand more and see if we can get a quick sale.

The 2009 Audi A4 Avant falls into a different category. First of all, it didn't seem like a CarMax kind of vehicle and their offer of $23,000, confirmed that. We looked at our True Market Value, and similar cars for sale in our area (not many of them) and decided to list it for $29,500. We knew that listing it at $30,000 or above would likely bring a lot of silence. At $29,500, we would get calls. Or, in this new era of used car buying and selling, we might get e-mails or text messages.

Sure enough, after only two days on AutoTrader, we had two emails asking if it was still for sale. No test drives yet, but early interest is always a good sign.

Meanwhile, we created this simple YouTube video. We put the link in our Craigslist ad.

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: You Write the Caption

February 04, 2011

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Automotive Editor James Riswick sent me this photo of our Audi wagon from the Heavy Duty Truck Comparison Test. Get that trailer Audi here.

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Welcome Wagon

January 24, 2011

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I come from a small family, and have a small family, so wagons have never been on my automotive radar. But on Friday, after picking up the 2009 Audi A4 Avant from its 35,000 mile service, I had it for the weekend. A couple months ago, I was lucky enough to drive the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic Wagon for three days. Although these are both German luxury-brand wagons, the contrasts between them are stark.

The Audi A4 felt more agile and responsive than the Mercedes E350 4Matic. When I was driving the Audi, I was calling the shots. With the Mercedes, I felt like the captain of a stately ocean liner, calling down commands to the engine room ("Lane change right!" "Aye, lane change right!"). I was, to be honest, a little intimidated by the Mercedes. It was as though I was driving my rich aunt's car, and there would be hell to pay if anything went wrong. The Audi felt more like a friend had tossed me the key and said, "Have a fun weekend." And I did.

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More contrasts: Although the Audi is just 7 inches shorter and 2 inches narrower than the Mercedes, it feels like a much smaller car -- in a good way. The Mercedes is awash in luxury. The Audi is more tailored, practical and sporty. If the Mercedes is a country mansion dripping in lush appointments, the Audi is a sleek, spare city loft. (Audi is actively exploiting such contrasts in marketing the 2011 Audi A8. Check out its "Good Morning" commercial to see a swipe at Mercedes' version of luxury. Love the yawning mink stole.)

Although my colleague Dan Frio recently complained about the fussiness of the controls in the Audi, I got the hang of them relatively quickly, particularly in comparison to the Mercedes' split-layout Comand multifunction controller. Werner von Braun might understand Comand without an owner's manual -- I couldn't.

All this, you might say, is an unfair comparison: 2011 versus 2009; A $56,000 Mercedes versus an Audi whose 2011 model has an MSRP starting at $36,300. Bigger engine versus smaller, with, I might point out, the related differences in fuel efficiency: the Mercedes does 16 city/23 highway; the 2011 Audi comes in with 21/29.

It's all about personal taste, of course. But if I were in the market for a German luxury wagon and had a generous budget, I'd give both wagons a drive and serious consideration.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @34,500 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Want To See Something Boring?

December 17, 2010


Just because I'm sure you have nothing better to do with your day. Here's a video of my waiting for the lights of our 2009 Audi A4 Avant to go off. You don't really have to watch it as it's just to show that it takes about 30 seconds for the lights to go off after you lock the car. (You can see that I hit the lock button twice on the key fob as the taillights flash.) This may not bother you but for a worrywart like myself, it drives me crazy. Case in point, the other night when I locked the Audi in my garage and could still see the lights through the crack in the door. "Did I forget to turn off the lights?"

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Cars & Coffee

December 13, 2010

Saturday we had a Tweetup/Meet Up/Gathering whatever you want to call it at Cars & Coffee. We brought the new 2011 Ford Explorer and a few of our long-term cars.

I was driving the Audi A4 Avant, Dan brought the Raptor and you'll catch a glimpse of one of our new cars in this short video from the event.

It was great meeting some of our readers. Hopefully, we'll do this again soon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Squirt

December 06, 2010

The best feature on our Audi A4 Avant is the revenge squirters. The windshield sprayers shoot straight out sideways. Perfect for getting drivers back who do stupid things near you. Or to wake up texters who are next to you at a red light.

Seriously though, somehow these got misdirected and make cleaning the windshield difficult. I tried to readjust them by hand but I couldn't see into the well below the window. I'll let Mike know so we can get them looked at during its next service visit.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Itty, Bitty Paddle Shifters

November 16, 2010

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I nearly always fail to remember that our long-term 2009 Audi A4 wagon has paddle shifters. I forget because one normally wouldn't find paddle shifters in a wagon. But our A4 is quite sporty, so it has them. Another reason they're overlooked is that they are tiny. You can feel them behind the steering wheel, but don't see them unless you're looking (Euro spec car pictured.)

They work fine and shift quickly, although the transmission defaults too quickly back to Auto if there are no inputs.

And they are too plasticky. I would expect metal paddles in a car that costs $44K.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ ~32,800 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: 2nd Most Blogged About

November 15, 2010

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Our 2009 Audi A4 Avant is the second most blogged about car in our current long-term fleet with 179 posts. Of course the most blogged about of all time is the Ford Flex, coming in at 292 posts, but that shouldn't be a surprise. Both these cars have proven indispensable to our staff. We use them to transport everything from furniture to family. What are we going to do once they leave the fleet? Shudder! I don't want to even think about it.

The Audi is one of my favorite weekend cars as it fits all my needs whether I'm just running around doing errands, picking up furniture or going on a road trip. But enough gushing.

So what are the top 5 most blogged about long-term cars of all time (not counting the A4 and Flex) -- at least since the beginning of the Long-Term Blog? Sure you can just scan the sidebar to find out OR you can hit the jump.

1. 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS (203)

2. 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T (200) and 2009 Nissan GT-R (200) -- tied

3. 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 (162)

4. 2008 Pontiac G8 GT (159)

What's interesting is that the top five are enthusiast cars while the Flex and A4 are the more practical, everyday sort. And I'm really surprised that the Camaro has more posts than the GT-R, sure it was only 3 more but still. Thinking about the GT-R still brings a tear to my eye.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 32,758 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Beauty Is Fleeting

November 08, 2010

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This sunset lasted about 60 seconds, then poof, it was gone.

But the good looks of our Audi A4 Avant have held up after more than a year of being in our fleet. And you know we're not delicate with our vehicles. Inside and out, our Audi still looks fresh.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 32,000+ miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Now I Want One

November 03, 2010

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Last night I scored our 2009 Audi A4 Avant and drove it from Santa Monica to West Hollywood to East Hollywood to downtown LA. And I just fell in love with it. So comfortable, smooth and powerful. And its steering wheel feels so good to hold -- its size, material and the shape where I can rest the meat of my thumbs. Plus, like chief Scott said, it does feel like the right car for any occasion as well as any environment. In my case, whether that be valeting it at a swank restaurant in West Hollywood or negotiating the tight streets of East Hollywood and the congested freeways.

I can understand why Donna and photographer Scott really want one. In fact, I'd put it on my car wish list behind the Evo and Mini S. Oh no, does this make me a grownup?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 31,988 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Talk Me Out Of It

November 01, 2010

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I've been thinking a lot lately about selling my Acura Integra and getting something more adult.

Driving the Audi A4 doesn't help keep those feelings in check. I really don't drive my own car that often, so I can't justify the cost. But now that I'm ten years older (my Integra is a model year 2000) I enjoy the comfort and practicality of the Audi A4 Avant.

I love the excellent 2.0T engine that keeps it from being a stuffy old wagon. I'm used to the gadgetry that controls all of the accessories. And I like the way it looks.

Somebody talk me out of it.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 31,885 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: How To Remove an Ignition Key Redux

October 28, 2010

It's been over a year since I first posted the above video on how to remove the seemingly stuck key from our 2009 Audi A4 Avant's ignition after editor Chris Walton and I blogged about our ordeals just trying to exit the vehicle. And I STILL get messages on YouTube asking me how I did it as, apparently, Googling an answer is no help and I couldn't find anything about it on our Edmunds forums. So just for the Audi A4 Avant owners who missed it the first time:

When you want to take the key out, push it in like a button. When you hear a clicking sound, pull the key out. Ta-da!

I also made sure to post this in the caption for the video on YouTube.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Uncanny

September 16, 2010

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With over 30,000 miles on its odometer, 164 blog posts, and still a perennial favorite of our staff, our 2009 Audi A4 Avant has proven itself a reliable and capable sports wagon as well as an awesome family or cargo hauler that achieves uncanny fuel economy (30 mpg best observed tank). I really had my doubts about how well this car would fare in our hands, but I am impressed and have already recommended it to several friends.

Of course that still doesn't keep the sun from sneaking around the visors. Uncanny how that happens so often. "Sorry, Hon. You're just going to have to slouch, or squint, or wait for the road to turn."

It joined our fleet officially in November 2008 (I know, I couldn't believe it's been that long either), so it won't be long when we post the Wrap Up story. Is there anything we've missed?

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 30,944 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Life's a Beach

August 31, 2010

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I've had worse Sundays. That's my daughters and our long-term 2009 Audi A4 Avant during our outing this past weekend to the beaches of Malibu, California. Obviously the weather was ideal for testing the Audi's legendary Quattro system. Yuck, yuck.

Seriously, the A4 remains one of my favorite long-term cars ever. I never turn down a chance to drive it. And I've never regretted grabbing its key. It's one of those car that does everything well. Plus, it remarkably feels like just the right vehicle for every occasion. Opening night at the opera? Lets take the A4 Avant. Surf safari? A4 Avant. Run to the recycle center? Well, you get the idea.

And it doesn't seem to age. After more than 30,000 miles our Audi still feels new and its just as beautiful to look at and to drive as the day we got it.

I think I'll take it home again tonight. Maybe I can get the kids to vacuum up the piles of sand they left in it.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Sedan or Wagon?

August 24, 2010

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Car lovers love wagons. Non car lovers hate wagons. I can understand wanting a comfortable ride over sports car handling or not wanting to slog through traffic with a clutch, but this disconnect between enthusiasts and regular folks keeps me baffled. I just don't get it. Are people actually confusing an A4 Avant for a Country Squire? Are people actually concerned that people will confuse their A4 Avant for a Country Squire? Because thus far, that's the only reason I'm getting.

I just don't get it, especially since I think the Avant looks better than the A4 sedan. That trunk lip that works so well on the wide A5 just looks contrived on the A4 and kinda like this guy's hair. More so, the Avant's tapering roofline better compliments the A4's arching, downward cutline. They're harmonious and the car is consequently quite elegant. Not all wagons are like this, mind, but many at least look pretty darn cool (Exhibit A, Exhibit B).

So what say you? A4 Sedan or A4 Avant? And does the latter just remind you too much of this?

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 30,362 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Avant, not Wagon

August 11, 2010

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Avant? I had to look it up. According to Merriam-Webster online:

Function: adjective
Etymology: French avant- fore-, front, from avant before, from Latin abante
Date: 1965
Definition: culturally or stylistically advanced

So there you go. Our long-term 2009 Audi A4 Avant is stylistically advanced, and is perhaps the best small wagon out there. However, it isn't called a wagon because vehicles marketed as such in the U.S disintegrate slowly on the sales floor.

I like our A4 Avant, but prefer the sedan version myself.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ ~30,100 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Our Favorite Caption

August 06, 2010

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Thanks to rayray633 for this week's winner.

And here are the other honorable mentions:

Relaxed In Sixty Seconds (ergsum)
A-Road-A-Therapy Massage with essential engine oils. (ergsum)
Pleasure Wagons. Take your pick. (stephen987)
Oh, sorry. I was looking for the Swedish Volvo (rayray633)
Additional charge for winding your turbo. (rayray633)
BMW Exec: "No, I said 'message'! Send a MESSAGE to Audi!" (sherief)
Pass. The Econoline has always rubbed me the wrong way. (actualsize)
You should see their Ford Escort. (actualsize)
Watch out for the Ford Probe (cello_one)
CalA4nication (festus67)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: You Write the Caption

August 06, 2010

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Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt sent met this photo of our Audi A4 parked next to an emergency services vehicle. If they use their siren, are we required to pull over and let them pass?

What's your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Chilling at LAX

July 22, 2010

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Sometimes test cars are left at the airport while staff members fly in and out to attend one- or two-day press events in distant locations.

Sure, we prefer to drive when possible, but a Los Angeles-to-Detroit round-trip is kinda difficult to squeeze into two days.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 29,771 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Behind the Scenes

July 21, 2010

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A month ago today we published Corvettemageddon, a generational comparison test of these beasts. But there were some key players behind the scenes that you didn't get to see. One of the more instrumental roles (camera car) was filled by our 2009 Audi A4 Avant. And yes, that is the A4 in the background.

Take the jump backstage.

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Our recently departed Audi S5 also participated. But the A4's rear hatch and smoother ride made it more practical from a photography standpoint.

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Strategically (and safely) wedging one's body into the A4's rear hatch area allows for shots like this.

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And this.

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Yep, our Viper was there too.

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Some days on the job are better than others. So now comes the hard part. Which one of these would you choose?

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Better Looking Than an Alfa 159?

July 08, 2010

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I was gassing up our long-term 2009 Audi A4 Avant at a low-rent, off-brand gas station on world famous Sunset Blvd. across from the legendary Whisky a Go Go night club (the red building in the background) when I had the moment of clarity.

Audi, I realized, makes the world's best looking station wagon sold in America. But the Alfa 159 is even prettier.

That is all.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Another Great Weekend...Is It Time to Sell?

June 29, 2010

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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

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Alignment

June 16, 2010

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No, I'm not talking about the Audi. The moon and Venus were lined up beautifully, so I snapped a shot.

What did I learn? It's really difficult to take a picture of the moon with a Nikon Coolpix.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant - Avant Junkie

May 03, 2010

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The first step is to admit you have a problem, right? Ok, I admit it. I'm an Avant Junkie. Recently I got a tour behind the wheel. When I was presented with the chance to drive it again, I greedily grabbed the keys. I'm hooked.

My lady rode around in it as we did the standard couple weekend stuff. She loved the car. "Scott," she said to me as we drove to buy lottery tickets, "you should have just bought this instead of your (Mazda) 3." Slightly deflated from the confirmation, I replied "I know."

Currently the California lottery is over $260 million. We pondered what we'd do with that kind of money of we won. In all honestly, the Avant would probably be the most car I'd want (with perhaps the exception of an S6 Avant, or a nice Mercedes-Benz E63 Wagon). I feel, for me, this car is just that nice.

There are three things I love about this car: the versatility, the interior, and the engine. I drooled over the first two things the last time I drove this. This time I really enjoyed the engine and how growled when entering the freeway. The Avant's 2.0 Turbo has got plenty of power for my every day needs. It cranks out 211hp from it's smallish displacement with plenty of help from that turbo, making my Mazda's 2.3 I4 feel pretty anemic.

You might think I'm crazy for thinking this is my "it" car. I enjoy the Avant that much. If I hit the lottery, I would trade my 3 in for one of these in a heart beat. Then buy a truck, too.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer @ 26,972

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: The Thrill of the Grass

April 30, 2010

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It was the weekend of the Big Game. Well, maybe not the Big Game, since that's football, but still Stanford and Cal were playing baseball, so close enough to prepare for a cobbled-together tailgating exercise.

Klein Field, the classic Sunken Diamond at Stanford, started out in 1931 as just the big hole in the ground after the dirt had been used to prop up the grandstands of the old Stanford football stadium. It's always been the university's baseball field (we snuck on there as kids and played in front of the old wooden bleachers), but it was renovated in 1991, and now like so many new college ballparks, it's a showcase. It has all of the style, comfort and convenience of a modern big-league ballpark, only you can sit right up close to the field, where you can sense the thrill of the grass.

There's not a lot of the tailgating thing involved with baseball, but the 2009 Audi A4 Avant had the right amount of utility for it.

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It's not too big, and yet big enough for our purposes, which surprisingly filled up the Avant's fairly modest amount of cargo capacity. Our stuff included:

a) Three jackets (hey, it's still April)

b) One motorcycle helmet (well, he wanted to ride and meet us there)

c) One bag of stuff (three baseball caps, three pairs of sunglasses, sunscreen of assorted vintages, print-out of Stanford baseball media guide, Mercury News crossword, The New Yorker, assorted crap).

d) One medium-size woman's purse (contents undisclosed)

e) One briefcase.

In short, we had hardly anything at all, really. Of course, if we'd have been driving a sedan, it would have been piled up around us on the seats, as if we were living in a hamster burrow, or it might have been stashed in the trunk where we'd have a devil of a time finding anything -- plus there would be nowhere to put down your drink when we were standing around in the parking lot and eating our sandwiches.

It's true that a sedan really offers more cargo-toting capacity than a wagon. A wagon only offers you a sliver of room behind the second seat, and you have to erect some kind of barrier to let you stack stuff to the ceiling without worrying that it will spill into the back seat. The A4 Avant itself doesn't have much cargo capacity as wagons go, but no wagon is really good.

But as we looked at our stuff on the Audi's cargo floor that had suddenly exploded in size once lunch was unpacked and the end of the day had been reached, we finally figured out that what the wagon offers is convenience. We live lives that are full of stuff, and when it's in the car, you typically want to get at it easily. Putting stuff in the trunk of a car is like packing it away in a cabinet -- nicely organized, but inaccessible and quickly forgotten. But when you throw something in the back of a wagon, it's like putting it in a kitchen drawer -- always there, right when you need it.

Go take a look right now at all that crap in your kitchen drawer and you'll figure out that you'd probably be better off driving a wagon.

Not a titantic defensive battle at the Sunken Diamond, as both pitchers were gassed by the third inning, and since both teams are ranked in the NCAA's top 20, they can rip the ball. Some serious action, because most college teams have adopted the small ball popularized by CSU Fullerton, so there's no more of that boring, base-to-base baseball, where the manager is always hoping for the three-run homer. It's all signs, spaghetti pickoffs and going for the extra base. There's more baseball to this kind of baseball, if you get that. Stanford took the weekend series, though California had been ranked higher.

Stanford might be only a country club, but it's a really nice country club.

Michael Jordan @ 26,650 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Concert Limo

April 19, 2010

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Drove the Audi A4 Avant this weekend to a concert at the Staples Center.

Guess who we saw?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 25,548 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Happy 25,000 Miles

April 12, 2010

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It wasn't until I got home this weekend that I realized I had gone two weeks without driving a car.

Oh, I was driven around plenty, first by taxicabs during the New York auto show, and then by my mother's 2000 Oldsmobile Alero (don't ask) while I was vacationing in Detroit (again, best not to ask).

Imagine my delight when I returned to Southern California and found the Audi A4 Avant waiting for me.

Happy 25,000 miles, A4. I've missed you so.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 25,165 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: A Big Hit in Beverly Hills and KISS

December 14, 2009

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A rainy night in the heart of Beverly Hills. I park our long-term 2009 Audi A4 just west of Rodeo Drive, the world's richest street and pop into my favorite pizza joint for a slice.

This is where money comes to breed. In this neighborhood millionaire doesn't mean much. In this neighborhood the maids drive BMW 3 Series convertibles, high school kids cruise around in M5s and a Bentley Continental GT ain't nothing if it ain't a Speed. In this neighborhood a stock Ferrari is no big deal.

In this neighborhood our A4 Avant is a hit, proving once again that this is one of the world's best looking wagons.

On this night our little German wagon gets a thumbs up from a guy driving a Rolls Royce Phantom and an "I like your car" from a women driving a Aston Martin V8 Vantage convertible. Then, just when I thought it can't get any weider, I'm pretty sure I spot Gene Simmons from KISS driving by in a black Escalade on very large chrome wheels. He doesn't acknowledge our A4 Avant, but it's a cool celebrity sighting anyway. Kinda. Sorta. Maybe.

Merry KISSmas Gene. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 20,402 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Tire Wear Check

December 10, 2009

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We bought our long-term 2009 Audi A4 Avant 13 months ago. In that time it has been driven over 20,000 miles. I thought you might like to see how its 18-inch Bridgestone Potenza summer tires (Remember our car is equipped with the optional Sport Package.) are holding up. I think the answer is remarkable well.

In fact, I drove the car in the rain this week and it's as sure footed as you'd expect an all-wheel drive Audi with massive perfomance tires to be.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 20,309 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Can't Believe It's Been A Year

December 07, 2009

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Recently, our long-term Audi A4 Avant crossed the 20,000-mile mark. I was surprised to discover that it's already been here for more than a year (we introduced it back in November 2008). Maybe it's because I've only driven it a few times, but I still think of the A4 as one of the newer cars in the fleet.

Happy Birthday, Triple A.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 20,099 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Spare Key Overkill

October 27, 2009

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I was rummaging through our box of long-term car spares and found the set to our 2009 Audi A4 Avant. Not only is there a spare key fob (left) but also a plastic emergency key fob (right). Both plug into the dash and operate like the standard fob.

The emergency key separates into two pieces, a holster and key. Both must be fit together for it to work. There is a specialized sleeve in the glovebox to store the holster, and ideally, the key portion is stored elsewhere. It's fancy. But is this a good idea? Is it spare key overkill?

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Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 18,700 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Hangin' at the Wigwam

September 11, 2009

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Since so many of you participated in the caption contest yesterday I thought you might be interested where I took that photo of our long-term 2009 Audi A4 Avant sitting between two giant TeePees.

The Wigwam Motel is a landmark on old Route 66 in Rialto, California. It's been there since 1949 and was originally part of a chain of seven such establishments. Three survive today and remain open for business; this Riato location along with facilities in Cave City, Kentucky and Holbrook, Arizona.

I didn't actually go inside one of the TeePees, but I did peak inside one (the door was open for the maid) and was amazed at how large it was. It was also very clean, as was the motel's pool.

What a great piece of Americana. I hope it's there in another 50 years.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Our Favorite Caption

September 11, 2009

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Thanks to ergsum for this week's favorite caption. I scalped it a little for length.

This was not the most PC of weeks. But it's all in good fun.

Here are the honorables:

As we drive through Madonna Pass...(ergsum)
No, I said to park it between the *TT's*... (ahightower)
Tee-pee or not tee-pee, that is the question (creeper)
How a Native American kid Tee-Pees a car (gooney911)
Keeping up with the Sitting Bulls. (lowmilelude)
Save A Horse, Ride An Audi (ergsum)
Circle the Avants, there's engine trouble! (ergsum)
Dances with Quattro. (thejohnp)
The latest in A4-dable housing. (rick8365)
Retro Avant-garde! (ergsum)
Through the cones, you'll swear it was a much smaller car. (zc1)
Relax man, you're two tents! (sherief)
Chief Aging Bull failed to notice driving the last five miles home with his left Smoke Signal on.(ergsum)
You bought this because they killed Pontiac? (mnorm1)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: You Write the Caption

September 11, 2009

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Chief Scott took this photo of our 2009 Audi A4 Avant at his new home.

We suggest: Audi Partner

Or how about this joke from when I was a kid: What do Indians make for dinner? Reservations.

Heh.

What's your caption?

We'll post our favorite at 4:00 PM our time.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant Meets the 2010 Audi R8 V10

September 10, 2009

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"So what are you in for?"

"Full Test. You?"

"Long-term. They bought me."

"Really, I'm only here for a week. But two of those guys, Ed and Dan I think, just drove me all over the place. We ran over a rabbit. They even took me to a dragstrip on grudge night. The Ed guy can sure throw gears."

"Sounds fun. I don't get to have much fun. I'm a wagon. I drop the kids off at school. And that Scott guy keeps putting his messy kids and shedding dog in me."

"That sucks. They just track tested me. I'm not as quick as that white GT-R over there but I'm close. You ever been track tested?"

"Yeah, but you know, it's not really my thing. Then I had this problem with my steering. The same problem as the red S5. Have you guys met?"

"Yeah, I was parked next to him yesterday. Good guy. But he seemed a little conceited. Like he loves himself or something. Maybe it's just all that color."

"I know what you mean. We don't hang out much, but we did both get to go "to Pebble Beach this year. Kelly took me, but on the way home she hit a deer, which hurt. Have you been to Pebble?"

"No, but I did just do some lapping at Sears Point...I mean Infineon Raceway. I always do that."

"Me too. Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. Give me a break. It's Laguna Seca and it always will be."

"Have you done a photo shoot yet?"

"Tonight, but I did do video."

"Ah, those video shoots take forever."

"I know, and we started at 6 am. Anything I need to know about the photo shoot?"

"Who's doing it? Kurt? Or Jacobs?"

"Jacobs."

"He's good, but don't let him take you to GMR. He has shot all of us at GMR. You deserve something fresh. I mean you're the new R8 V10 for goodness sake."

"Thanks."

"Hell, here comes that Scott guy. His dog must have to go to the vet. Have fun tonight."

"See ya. Don't let that dog get to you. Keep your grille up."

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Laguna Seca Raceway, Turn 4

August 18, 2009

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No, our long-term Audi A4 Avant wasn't actually running on Laguna Seca Raceway. Instead, it was perched on the hill behind the Turn 4 grandstand with a few hundered other spectators overlooking last weekend's Monterey Historics.

Even as a wagon, the 211-horsepower Audi A4 2.0T quattro is so much fun to drive, a quick lap on the track would have been worth the price of admission.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 17,301 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Pebble Beach on the Cheap

August 17, 2009

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This weekend, I drove our 2009 Audi A4 Avant up north to catch some of the annual car events on the Monterey Peninsula.

From Carmel to Seaside, hotel rooms will cost you an arm and a leg, so I resigned myself to booking a pretty low-level motel.

Judging by the company that the Avant was keeping in the parking lot, I wasn't the only spectator who was just happy to find an available room with running water.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 17,255 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Panoramic Sunroof

August 05, 2009

Audi A4 Avant Sunroof

With most cars, the sunshade will automatically roll back when you open the sunroof. Not so with the A4 Avant's panoramic sunroof, which is actually open in the above photo. I guess this is to facilitate extra airflow through the A/C vents, more than would be accomplished by simply tilting the sunroof. Or perhaps it's to provide that open feeling without the sun being on your head. Or maybe because people like wind noise without the added bonus of wind.

Actually, I have no idea why it does this, but it can. Now here's a video.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Best-Looking Wagon Ever?

July 30, 2009

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Whenever I look at our long-term 2009 Audi A4 Avant, I think, "Well, that's it, no one else should ever bother trying to build a wagon, because it will never look this good."

The styling of the A4 wagon pulls me in every time I get the key to it. I don't quite care for the driving experience, you see. Although I like the way the car grips through corners, the combination of the 2.0T engine and six-speed automatic is fairly uninspiring in normal traffic (acceleration is fine, but a tabletop torque band can only keep you interested for so long). So whatever excitement I'm feeling about the bodywork begins to dissipate as soon I'm in the Audi.

But as soon as I get out, I'm bubbling over with enthusiasm once again. Is there a better looking wagon out there? I think not.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Don't Take Over For Pontiac, Please

July 29, 2009

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I really do like our A4 wagon, I swear, so allow me to get picky for a moment. See all those various buttons and switches clustered around the door handle? There's quite a few of them. A few too many in my estimation, like a Pontiac Grand Am or something.

Obviously you can't do much about the window switches, but those memory buttons for the seat could be hidden away a little better. Easy for me to say though, I never use them.

And whatever happened to a simple rotary knob for the lights? I mean, I stick the thing on auto and never touch it again 99% of the time, does it really need all the extra stuff around it?

Could probably get rid of that door lock rocker switch too. Just make the doors unlock when you pull the lever no?

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 6,091 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Design Exercise

July 21, 2009

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Maybe you're not supposed to drive a station wagon to places where designers hang out, but over the last few days, the 2009 Audi A4 Avant has been to the Art Center College of Design's Car Classic (Burt Rutan was the celebrity guest this year), a tour of Ford's California design studio by Freeman Thomas, Director, Strategic Design (it's huge; seven surface plates!), and dinner with the jury for Michelin Challenge Design.

The Audi A4 Avant proved to be a hit everywhere. And the reason lies in its utility, not just its stylistic grace.

Stewart Reed, Chair of the Transportation Design Department at Art Center, reminded me that great design comes from expressing utility with style. Pure style is no more than a bubble on a mechanical device. It's only when there's a connection between an object's appearance and its potential use that a design really strikes us. Maybe it's no surprise that Reed drives an Audi S6 Avant himself.

Meanwhile Geza Loczi, Director of Design, Volvo Monitoring Concept Center, points out that the Audi A4 Avant incorporates some of the concave surfacing that designer Chris Bangle developed for BMW. Though this surfacing technique caused much controversy at the time, it's interesting to see elements incorporated into so many car designs from other companies these days. And it's even more interesting that we've come to accept them, not only for their aesthetic value but also for the way in which they can reduce weight and improve aerodynamics. For me, the final irony is Bangle's decision to leave BMW in the wake of the company's return to its former strategy of making one kind of stylistic sausage for the whole company, only cutting it into different lengths.

Who would have thought that a station wagon could teach us about great design?

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 15,691 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Am I Hungry?

July 14, 2009

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Everytime I step on the A4's gas pedal, my stomach growls with hunger. Wait - no, that's the engine. I don't recall the previous A4 being so noisy.

Brian Moody, Automotive Editor.

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: 15,000-Mile Club

July 13, 2009

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Late last week our long-term 2009 Audi A4 Avant quitely rolled past the 15,000-mile mark with little fanfare.

A 6-second 0-60 time makes this wagon one heavenly hauler.

Let the celebration begin.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 15,090 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: 10 Things You Should Know

May 26, 2009

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1) It has no power liftgate (but my wife's Passat wagon does).

2) It has no full-size spare (but my wife's Passat wagon does).

3) Its shift paddles work even when the transmission is not in manual mode.

4) Its seat heaters have six levels (the Passat's only have five).

5) The power steering assist has an odd synthetic quality I don't care for.

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6) Traction control is off with one quick push, but holding the button for three seconds turns off the ESP system.

7) It has two rear seat a/c vents, two rear cupholders (in the fold down armrest) and one power port back there (there's also one in the cargo area).

8) The LED daytime running lights can be turned off so you don't look like a sci fi character if you don't want to.

9) It sounds like a diesel at idle.

10) That vibration in the steering we've mentioned before is back, and it's bad enough that we're headed for the dealer.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 15,900 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Set the Speed Warning at 150 mph

May 25, 2009

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A speed warning chime is just dumb. A speed warning chime you can set at 150 mph? Well, that's just cool.

Thing is, I'm pretty sure our A4 Avant 2.0T couldn't reach a buck fifty if it were driven by Helio Castroneves off the top of the Empire State Building. I haven't driven the car faster than 110 mph, but I'd bet this is a 135 mph car, tops. And that's downhill with a tailwind. Yeah, I know it has a 180 mph speedometer, but that's just fantasy.

Anybody out there know what this car's top speed is? If not, I may just have to find out for myself the fun way.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 13,841 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: What Would Bernd Rosemeyer Think?

May 22, 2009

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Often when I drive a car my thoughts turn to its maker's history. They all have one you know. Each is unique and every single one of them from Honda to Hummer have had their ups and downs.

Some companies are literally crushed by the weight of their good old days. Their heritage is so rich and their good times so long ago that living up to that legacy is simply impossible. Everything done today seems to pale in comparison to the company's yesterday.

Others car companies, however, have an incredible ability to use the bright spots in their history to their advantage. As if by magic the public turns a blind eye to their dark days and seems to concentrate only on their successes, both past and present. Right now Audi is one of those car companies.

The German automaker is rich in heritage. Some spectacular. Some embarrassing. All worth remembering. This year Audi is 100 years old, and you can make the argument that it's building its best vehicles ever right now, both for the street and the racetrack.

Or is it?

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And so I ask you: What would Bernd Rosemeyer think or our long-term Audi A4 Avant. Would he marvel at its technology, efficiency, luxury and speed. Or would the pilot (along with Hans Stuck) of the above 1936 Auto Union C-Type V-16 (shown here in hill climb trim with its dual rear tires) be disappointed by the machine's lack of mechanical reach?

I mean, after driving the above beast around tracks like the Nurburgring, even the R8 would seem a bit tame. Don't you think?

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Crash Test Videos

May 13, 2009

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Conestoga Wagon?

May 07, 2009

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There's just something endlessly appealing about the wagon. It's that magical expression of utility, only in something that doesn't look like a box.

Though we make fun of a wagon's domesticity, it never really goes out of style, does it? Think of the enduring good taste expressed by the Volvo wagon through the decades. Even the 1955 Studebaker Conestoga Wagon that I saw on the streets of Santa Monica the other night still looks pretty interesting. (Yes, Studebaker was the original manufacturer of the Conestoga wagon back when horsepower was literal and not figurative.)

But let's not get too heated up by the practicality of a wagon. Plenty of people will tell you that a wagon can take the place of a crossover, yet I'm not too sure. And the dimensions of the 2009 Audi A4 Avant make the point.

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When you go looking for utility in a wagon, you look at the rear seat and the cargo area. After all, you're going to carry things, which is why you're thinking about the wagon configuration in the first place.

Audi makes it a little hard to sort through these parameters because it doesn't publish a number for rear seat legroom, a number that seems to perfectly express spaciousness to us. Apparently the car industry can't agree on a formula for determining a standard measurement, so Audi simply declines to participate in the charade. And the same goes for EPA interior volume, which is an equally tangled subject.

So let's use wheelbase as fundamental baseline of spaciousness, and we'll put the A4 Avant in context by comparing it to the Audi A3 5-door and the Audi Q5 crossover. The wheelbase of the A3 measures 101.5 inches, the A4 Avant's wheelbase measures 110.6 inches and the Audi Q5's wheelbase is rated at 110.5 inches.

When it comes to cargo capacity, the A3 affords 13.1 cubic feet with the second-row seat upright and 36.0 cubic feet when the second-row seat folded flat. The A4 Avant has 17.3 cubic feet with the second row upright and 50.5 cubic feet with the second seat flat. And the Q5 has 29.1 cubic feet with the second-row in place and 57.3 cubic feet when the second row folded flat.

The way I see it, the A4 Avant has a lot more rear-seat legroom than the A3, but not much more cargo room when the second seat is upright. The A4 Avant has much the same rear-seat room as a Q5, but significantly less cargo capacity when the second-row seat is upright. Once you fold the A4 Avant's seat, then its cargo capacity is surprisingly close to the Audi Q5.

So where does that leave us?

The Audi A4 is a spacious package for people, but it's not a miracle of Conestoga-style, cargo-toting wagon goodness when it comes to carrying things around every day. Truth to tell, an A4 sedan is a better deal, because the Avant's 17.3 cubic feet is calculated using a measurement that goes to the ceiling, and unless you buy the optional screen to keep stuff from falling into the rear seat, much of the space is no better than an illusion. In fact, the A4 sedan's carefully contained 16.9 cubic-feet in the trunk looks more useful in comparison. But when you've got some more serious cargo in mind, then the A4 Avant will carry a lot of it, some 50.4 cubic feet. This compares very well with the Q5's 57.3 cubic feet.

What we're talking about with the A4 Avant is more like usefulness rather than abstract utility. The wagon is a good compromise, but only a compromise. A crossover is a far better choice for families because it maximizes capacity on a daily basis, though at the price of a 4,178-pound package that negatively affects fuel economy. The A4 Avant is a little more useful than a sedan on a daily basis, but only because its cargo area offers a flat load floor and a large opening. And the 3,814-pound A4 Avant also drives more like the 3,461-pound A3 5-door than a crossover.

So let's agree that a wagon is usually more fun to drive than a crossover, but let's also recognize that it can't measure up to the crossover when it comes to, you know, Euclidean geometry. A wagon is a sedan with an extra dimension of usefulness; it's not a Conestoga wagon, no matter what the marketing message might be.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 13,440 miles.

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: I Did It! I Did It!

April 10, 2009

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I dreaded being saddled with Car of the Week, our 2009 Audi A4 Avant after my last tangle with its ignition. But thanks to you commenters I was finally able to master this secret art (OK, not-so-secret art) of taking the key out of the ignition.

As commenter quattro_baby suggested: "When leaving just push it like a button instead of pulling on it immediately after pushing it in. You'll hear a clicking sound when you push it like a button. Pull the key out and you're good to go." And it worked! So easy after all! OK, yes, I still struggled a bit in the video but like any skill, it takes practice. Heh.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 10,845 milles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: The Secret of Good Design

April 08, 2009

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What's the secret of the appeal of the Audi control layout?

Could it be a sound driving position, instruments that combine clarity with style, useful control stalks on the steering wheel, a comprehensive selection of readouts, soft-touch buttons, a proper interplay between analog controls and digital readouts, discrete adjustments for ventilation source, temperature and fan speed, a red night-vision light for every control touch point, and the best of the remote-control interfaces for the navigation and entertainment system?

Or could it be that the layout never really changes? Not from car to car, and not from year to year. As much as we like to talk about the human-factor goodness of the Audi control layout, much of the appeal comes from the fact that it rarely changes, so it's easy to use.

Sometimes the science of control placement can be just as simple as resisting the impulse to change the design just for the sake of newness. To experience the confusion of a BMW or Mercedes-Benz cabin is to appreciate once again the smart design strategy from Audi.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 10,778 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Open Thread

April 07, 2009

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Questions? Comments?

What do you want to know about the Audi A4 Avant?

Or do you have a review of your own? Post it here.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Winning Test Drive

April 06, 2009

Like some folks, I've been looking for a great deal on a new or used car lately. I've always coveted the Audi A4 Avant. I thought it'd be perfect for what I do in my free time, and a fun car to drive in between.

I never really liked the price, however.

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I got to drive it up to Sonoma for the GT500 test we recently posted. I loved driving this vehicle. Besides, it became my latest photo sherpa. It allowed me to take this shot out the back:

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Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Wagon Our Tales

April 05, 2009

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Station Wagons rule. They're so convenient. I don't know why more manufacturers don't make them.

I just asked my cubicle mate, Michael Jordan, why are wagons called "station" wagons? He says it's because back in the 1930s and 1940s, people used their wagons to pick up people from the train station.

So simple.

One of our Contributors, Ken Gross, restored an 1942 Ford Super DeLuxe Wagon back to its woodie glory. Click here to read his story.

Thankfully, our Audi A4 Avant has many more safety features than a WWII-era woodie. Being built of metal has its advantages. And gotta love those airbags. As Ken Gross wrote, "A woodie was fragile, as a fender-bender that would simply bang up a metal car body would reduce a hapless woodie to matchsticks."

All hail modern technology. Welcome to the car of the week, the 2009 Audi A4 Avant.

What do you think of wagons?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Eight Years Later

February 23, 2009

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After driving our 2009 Audi A4 Avant a little, I thought back to the first Audi Avant I ever drove -- it was a 2001 S4 Avant, the first year for the wagon in the second-generation S4. I fondly remember that car, mostly because I loved its combination of performance and utility as well as our test vehicle's distinctive Nagaro Blue paint.

You might find these test numbers interesting:

A4_S4_spec2.JPG

What the numbers don't show is how our 2009 Avant's handling is more taunt and responsive than that old S4. Dynamically, our sport-package-equipped A4 is superior, even though it's not an "S" model. Of course, I've had eight years of memory loss since I drove that S4, but my lingering impressions seem to be backed up by comments in our 2001 road test. Our long-term A4 also has a nicer-looking interior, a better-sounding audio system, a panoramic sunroof, navigation and iPod integration. It's no doubt safer, too.

I will say I'm not as smitten with our A4 as I was with our S4, probably because the S4 was quite special back then, and our A4 is, well, just a four-cylinder A4 with an agricultural engine note. But this 2009 Avant of ours is still a great car.

Oh, and check out the blue suede and door inserts in the 2001!

2001_audi_s4.jpg   2001_audi_s4.jpg   2001_audi_s4.jpg

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 7,120 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Is that you, Optimus Prime?

January 20, 2009

2009 Audi A4 Avant

While driving our long-term A4 Avant home at dusk the other night, I passed another '09 A4 headed in the opposite direction. The new LED eyelids really stood out, and when combined with the HID nozzles, give the new A4 a Transformers-esque visage: Are the Autobots cached among us as Audis? The radio never tuned itself to scene appropriate stations (though thanks to satellite radio, this is a manual option), and no one even partially resembling Megan Fox needed a lift on my route.

On the A4, the LED brows work well, throwing a cool even spread of bright light, but our left HID cannon always seems to run a little hot and high. As wild as Audi could have gone with the styling of the new LED beamers, they get a little credit for keeping things in check with just a mild bit of curvy whimsy. Did the little LED string need to hook under the HID beams in an inverted and slightly arched brow? Probably not, but this is Audi, who's set the bar of late for classy and understated design. What happens when the rest of the automotive world gets a hold of this stuff?

Once these slick LED lights work their way into the regular automotive supply chain, how long before designers start stringing up their cars like Christmas trees? We're likely to see headlights formed into illuminated logos, grilles outlined marquee style, or perhaps an option to have your name spelled out in the taillights ("Whoa" on the left, "Trixie" on the right). As LED technology advances, how long before we've got Lite Brite on wheels, with each corner of the car customizable from an in-dash display (if a Toyota, you'll have to be stationary, with the car in Park of course).

LED lights are likely to only get smaller and brighter, opening up an entirely new palette for car designers, and of course, marketing input. Making cars safer and more visible would be a nice perk, but how do you see this lightshow evolving?

Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 6011 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Road Trip

December 22, 2008

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Don't expect many blog entries for the Audi A4 Avant this week. It's on a road trip to Las Vegas for the holidays. Check back when it returns next week.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 4,233 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: We won't get fooled again

December 18, 2008

2009 Audi A4 wagon door handle

A great President of the modern era once said, "Fool me once: Shame on you. Fool me twice: We won't get fooled again." And so it is with the Audi A4 wagon: I was fooled the first time (or three), but won't be fooled again. You see, when I first attempted to enter the A4, I saw the door handle with the smart key switch shown in the photo. All of these systems are similar, but with some you have to press the switch to unlock (with the key conveniently in your pocket); others you just pull the handle to open. I tried it both ways with the A4. Fool!!

Upon closer inspection, I saw that there is no button on the handle -- it's a switch blank. There is no smart key. These switch blanks are common inside many vehicles as placeholders for optional equipment that's not on that specific vehicle, but I've never seen such a thing on the door handle or anywhere on the exterior of a vehicle. Apparently, our A4 wagon shares its door handles with a fancier A4 or a high end Audi model. But for $44K, couldn't this vehicle have its own door handles without the switch blank? Audi rubs it in by putting these switch blanks on all four door handles.

Hopefully Audi will address this issue instead of ducking metaphorical shoes thrown by this crazed journalist.

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 4034 mi

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Better than a Passat Wagon?

December 15, 2008

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It's me. I'm the one you're mad at. I'm the reason for the lack of recent posts on our long-term 2009 Audi A4 Avant. You see I went on vacation, and I took the A4 with me. And I did this for two reasons:

1) It's a really nice car and it fits my kids and my dog and my wife and I like driving it, so what would you have done? Taken the Focus? Didn't think so.

2) I've owned (well leased) that blue VW Passat wagon for the last 2.5 years. It's my wife's daily driver, and I thought it would be cool to see how the new Audi stacks up against my old VW during 10 days of life at the Oldhams.

It's a good comparison, my wife's front-wheel drive wagon packs the old version of the 2.0T engine (200 hp) and 6-speed automatic transmission, while the Audi packs the new 2.0T (211 hp), the same 6-speed automatic and quattro all-wheel drive.

Turns out the cars aren't that different. Sure the Audi is so beautiful it makes the Passat look like the box it came in, but hop out of the much newer and more expensive A4 and the Passat holds up. Even with 25,000 miles on its odometer, the Passat still feels solid, and its combination of refinement and athleticism feels just right.

Don't get me wrong, with its firmer suspension, more aggressive Bridgestones and all-wheel drive the Audi will run circles around my Passat, and my wife says the A4 feels quicker off the line. But my conclusion is that the A4, although larger than before, is still too small for real family duty, and the Passat holds up nicely when it's put forehead to forehead against its swankier sibling.

Oh and get this; our Audi stickered for $44,150. My Passat cost just $30,030 and the only feature it seems to lack compared to the A4 are navigation, paddle shifters and Xenon headlights. Plus my car has a power lift and close tailgate, which the Audi does not.

I will admit that I wish my Passat looked better (I still prefer the look of the previous generation), but the Audi's additional $14,000 cost is looking pretty hard to justify.

Tune in tomorrow for a mileage report.

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 3,849 miles

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: Quick Start

November 13, 2008

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Took my first drive in long-term 2009 Audi A4 Avant last night and right away I was impressed by the ease of getting in and starting the drive. Our car doesn't have keyless start, but like the current-generation 3 Series, it has a fob without a metal key on it (probably has one within, though) that you stick into a slot to the right of the steering wheel.

But, you don't have to go through the awkward motion of also pressing an extraneous start button. As long as you have your foot on the brake pedal, the A4 starts right up when you put the fob in its slot. It's quick and satisfying.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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