Full 2014 Audi A4 Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the Audi A4 produces 220 horsepower, up from 211 a year ago. A few more features, including Bluetooth and an iPod interface, are now standard.
The Audi A4 has been so good for so long that it's easy to take this entry-level luxury sedan's excellence for granted. Its styling is familiar but still attractive, while its cabin is what we've come to expect from Audi in terms of elegant design and superior quality. The features list is generous, yet the A4 typically undercuts the prices on its German rivals. And while certain competitors are more memorable to drive, the A4 still finds a nice middle ground between the sport and comfort sides of the spectrum.
For 2014, the Audi A4 is even better. For starters, the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine has been given a 9-hp bump up to 220. People used to scoff at the idea of a luxury sedan with only four cylinders, but it's actually pretty commonplace now, as the fuel economy benefits of a four-cylinder generally outweigh whatever social stigma you might feel for not getting a six-cylinder. Plus, with 258 pound-feet of torque on tap, the A4 will never be seriously described as slow. And, if you want something quicker, the superb 2014 Audi S4 performance model is just a heftier car payment away.
While the 2014 A4's performance has been improved, the high-quality interior is still the car's main draw. While perhaps not as visually interesting as some of its competitors, the A4's typically German cabin nevertheless has a rich ambience. Add to it a decent-sized backseat and trunk and the Audi's cabin is suitably practical as well.
In case you can't tell, we're rather fond of the 2014 Audi A4, though it does compete against some awfully impressive small luxury sedans. The BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class are chief among them, offering similar refinement and driving experiences. The Cadillac ATS, Lexus IS and Volvo S60 are also solid choices, while the new Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class could be a more stylish, cost-effective alternative. Many of those competing models may be newer, better-looking or offer more value for your money, but only the BMW could claim to be as well-rounded as the 2014 Audi A4.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Audi A4 is offered only as a sedan, though the Audi Allroad is effectively the wagon version. There is also a higher-performance version of the sedan known as the S4. Both are reviewed separately.
Trim levels are broken into three tiers: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. Standard features for the Premium include 17-inch wheels; automatic headlights; front and rear foglights; automatic wipers; a sunroof; cruise control; automatic climate control; a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; eight-way power front seats with four-way driver lumbar adjustment; leather upholstery; a dash-mounted Multi Media Interface, or MMI; Bluetooth phone connectivity; and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod interface and satellite radio. Options include a navigation system (with voice controls and console-mounted MMI), a Cold Weather package (heated front seats and a 60/40-split folding rear seat) and an S line style package, which adds 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights and sportier exterior trim.
The Premium Plus comes standard with the Cold Weather and S line packages and further adds keyless ignition/entry, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control and driver seat memory functions. The MMI Navigation plus package has the Premium's navigation system, but further adds front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, Bluetooth audio connectivity and Audi connect (enhanced Web-based navigation, information and WiFi access). Also optional are a blind-spot monitoring system and a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The Prestige includes all of the above as standard plus adaptive xenon headlights. Exclusive to the Prestige is the optional Driver Select package, which adds adaptive cruise control, adaptive steering and adjustable vehicle settings known as Audi Drive Select. A power rear sunshade is also available.
Optional on both the Premium Plus and Prestige is the Sport package, which adds a sport-tuned suspension and front sport seats. Also available is the Audi Exclusive Line Interior package that adds upgraded leather upholstery and special interior trim. The Black Optic package features 19-inch wheels and gloss black exterior trim.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2014 Audi A4 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are standard, while all-wheel drive is available with either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. Audi estimates that any of these powertrain variations will bring the A4 from zero to 60 in 6.2-6.6 seconds, which would be an average time for this class.
EPA-estimated fuel economy is 24 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined with FWD and the CVT. It drops slightly to 22/32/26 with AWD and the manual transmission, and then further to 20/29/24 with AWD and the automatic.
The 2014 Audi A4 comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. A blind-spot warning system is optional on the Premium Plus and standard on the Prestige. Rear seat airbags are optional on all trims, while the Prestige can be equipped with an adaptive cruise control system that warns the driver and primes the brakes should it detect an impending collision. Front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are optional as well.
In Edmunds brake testing, an A4 with summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet. This is excellent, though typical of a premium-brand car with summer tires.
In government crash tests, the A4 received a perfect five stars in every category, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave last year's A4 the best possible score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal offset, side and roof-strength tests. It did receive the worst rating of "Poor" in the IIHS's new small-overlap frontal offset crash test, but few cars have been subjected to this test, and a majority received similarly low ratings.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 Audi A4 features one of the best cabins in its class. The interior's austere design lends an air of adult seriousness, while the top-notch materials send a message of sophisticated refinement. The use of real leather as standard equipment also gives the Audi an advantage over its competitors from BMW and Mercedes, which use premium vinyl.
Even though the A4 is considered a small entry-level luxury car, the interior space is more akin to a midsize sedan. Rear outboard seats provide enough head- and legroom to comfortably accommodate a typical adult. The 12.4-cubic-foot trunk is only average in size.
Infotainment functions are controlled by Audi's MMI. This consists of a small knob surrounded by buttons that together control menus on a central screen. Overall, it's an effective interface, though some audio functions are buried in menus and, in practice, we've found BMW's iDrive and Mercedes' COMAND systems a bit more intuitive to use. Also, A4s without navigation have the MMI controller located on the dash instead of the center console, which isn't as convenient to operate.
The 2014 Audi A4's turbocharged four-cylinder may not be the most thrilling or aurally pleasing engine in the world, but it can still pin you to your seat when you put the gas pedal to the floor. Ample torque allows for quick bursts of acceleration around town and stress-free merging onto highways. For the rare individual who desires more, the sport-focused S4 should more than suffice.
Around turns, the A4 demonstrates a balanced and secure feel, but with a slight edge of athleticism that puts it on equal footing with the BMW 3 Series sedan. Likewise, it also maintains a high level of comfort. Opting for all-wheel drive further enhances its capabilities and driver confidence. More performance-minded drivers may find the optional Sport package to their liking, though be prepared for a slightly harsher ride quality.