What's New for 2010
The 2010 Audi A6 receives a more powerful base engine, while the navigation system is upgraded to include real-time traffic and Audi's latest-generation MMI electronics control system. A pair of sport packages returns to the options list and a heated steering wheel is now included with the Cold Weather package.
Sometimes you can do well and still be forgotten. Just ask the crew of Apollo 16 or the 2010 Audi A6. As noted above, the A6 has a rather thin list of cons, indicative of a midsize luxury sedan that does most things right. Yet this Audi competes against some memorable heavy hitters from BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes (just to name a few) that make noticing anything else difficult. Perhaps it's because the A6's styling is too similar to the cheaper A4 or the fact that the A6 has always played second fiddle in this crowd. Whatever the reason, the 2010 Audi A6 deserves to be remembered.
Thanks to last year's addition of a 300-horsepower supercharged V6 and several other updates, the 2009 A6 was already better than ever, but the 2010 model sees even more improvements. The base engine gains an extra 10 hp thanks to Audi "valvelift" system, which improves fuel economy and acceleration. Other changes include a pair of sport packages and an updated MMI electronics controller that makes using the optional navigation system an easier experience.
Otherwise, the A6 carries on with a sleek exterior design that's a little derivative of Audi's cheaper A4, but certainly a unique shape in its class. The wagon ("Avant") body style in particular, is easily one of the best-looking around. The interior is a treat for the eyes and fingers, featuring attractive, high-quality materials in pleasing Earth tones. The amaretto and black two-tone interior in particular is a distinct departure from normally stoic German cabins and almost seems Italian.
Not all A6s are created equal, however. The base 3.2 model is reasonably priced and offers good gas mileage for the class, but several models from Japan and the Hyundai Genesis provide even better value. Audi's hallmark Quattro all-wheel-drive system is also not available with the 3.2. Even more disappointing is the top-of-the-line V8 model, which offers no discernible performance advantage over the supercharged V6, let alone other eight-cylinder luxury sedans. That leaves the 3.0T as the Goldilocks choice and it certainly is "just right" (it's also the only trim available on the Avant).
Still, competing against the best from Europe is a tall order. Even in its twilight years, the current-generation BMW 5 Series is a tremendous automobile, especially for driving enthusiasts. The Jaguar XF bests the A6 in the sleek styling category, grabbing impressed glances from the curb and approving comments from passengers. The all-new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is perhaps the most well-rounded entry, providing rock-solid construction, a comfortable ride and a pleasing driving demeanor. The 2010 Audi A6 -- especially the 3.0T -- falls somewhere in the midst of this stiff competition. It's hard to find fault with this Audi, but taking a long look around is definitely recommended.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Audi A6 is available in sedan and wagon (Avant) body styles. The sedan is available in three trim levels that correspond to engine specification: 3.2 Premium, 3.0T Premium and 4.2 Prestige. The Avant comes only in 3.0T Premium guise. There is also a high-performance version known as the S6, which is addressed in a separate model review.
The A6 3.2 Premium comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, front and rear foglights, automatic wipers, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats, power lumbar adjustment, the MMI electronics interface, Bluetooth and a 10-speaker stereo with six-CD changer, satellite radio and iPod interface. The 3.0T Premium adds a supercharged V6, all-wheel drive, heated front seats and, on the Avant, roof rails and a power tailgate.
Both of these trims are available with several packages. The Premium Plus package available on both 3.2 and 3.0T adds 18-inch wheels, automatic self-leveling xenon headlights, LED running lights, auto-dimming and heated exterior mirrors, driver memory functions, the upgraded third-generation MMI electronics interface and a hard-drive-based navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic updates. The 3.0T Prestige package adds different 18-inch wheels, automatic transmission paddle shifters, adaptive headlights, keyless ignition/entry, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a rearview camera and a 13-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo. The A6 4.2 Prestige takes the preceding equipment levels and adds a V8 engine, headlight washers and the S line exterior styling package.
The following options are available on all trims. The Cold Weather package includes heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and heated front seats on the 3.2. The 18-inch Sport package adds different 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and a three-spoke sport steering wheel. The 19-inch Sport package subs in 19-inch wheels and summer tires to the 18-inch package. Stand-alone options include rear side airbags and a blind-spot warning system.
Powertrains and Performance
The Audi A6 3.2 features a 3.2-liter V6 that produces 265 hp and 243 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are standard -- all-wheel drive is not available. Estimated fuel economy is 18 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.
The 3.0T sedan and Avant have a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 good for 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic and Quattro all-wheel drive are standard. In performance testing, the 3.0T went from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds -- this is quicker than the 4.2-liter V8 and just as quick as the last V10-powered S6 we tested. Fuel economy is estimated to be 18/26/21 regardless of body style.
The 4.2 Prestige features a 4.2-liter V8 that produces 350 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic and Quattro are standard. Audi estimates a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds, but the last 4.2 we clocked took 6.5 seconds to do the same sprint. Estimated fuel economy is 16/23/18.
All 2010 Audi A6 models come with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Rear-seat side airbags are optional. In brake testing, the 3.0T came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet -- an average performance. A 4.2 Prestige with 19-inch wheels and summer tires stopped in a more impressive 114 feet.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the A6 was awarded the highest possible score of "Good" for frontal-offset and side-impact protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2010 Audi A6 continues to offer one of the finest cabins in its class, with an attractive dash layout, excellent materials quality and impressive fit and finish. All A6 models come with the Multi Media Interface (MMI) vehicle management system, which controls entertainment, communication and optional navigation functions via the dash-mounted LCD screen and a large knob and buttons on the center console. Models with the navigation system have the updated MMI system, which has better-sorted menus, crisper graphics and a joystick-like control on top of the MMI knob to increase functionality.
The A6 sedan offers a perfectly adequate 16-cubic-foot trunk, though it's no bigger than the compact A4's. The Avant wagon offers a spacious 34 cubic feet behind its rear seats and 59 cubes with them folded.
The 2010 Audi A6's suspension tuning should prove satisfactory for most shoppers, offering a suitably Germanic balance between ride and handling. A sport suspension is available with one of two Sport packages reintroduced for 2010, but we'd give the 19-inch-wheel version a pass if it's anything like the A6's former sport suspension, which produced a tooth-rattling ride without much handling benefit.
The revised V6 should be enough for many luxury shoppers, but the zesty and reasonably priced 3.0T is the model to get. Every A6 cruises confidently on the highway, though some tire roar finds its way into the cabin at elevated speeds. The available Quattro all-wheel-drive system gives the A6's driver some added peace of mind in foul weather.