Full 2011 Audi A6 Review
What's New for 2011
For 2011, every Audi A6 gets the previously optional S Line exterior package, adding bumpers with a sportier appearance, different door sills and headlight washers. All A6 models also get the most recent Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) and standard navigation. Rear parking sensors are now standard on the Premium Plus, while a rearview camera is standard on the Prestige.
It can be hard to get noticed sometimes. You can work hard, do well and still spend your career overshadowed and riding the bench on the sidelines. Just ask any utility infielder or the 2011 Audi A6. This midsize luxury sedan and wagon gets just about everything right, including attractive styling, a classy interior and competitive engines. But the A6 just so happens to compete against heavy hitters from BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes (just to name a few) that overshadow the A6 and stand in the way of its being considered an all-star.
The A6 is a veteran among brand-new talent, which is part of its problem. Introduced six years ago, the 2011 A6 is hardly a fresh face any more, even if it's a fairly attractive one. Plugging in flashy LED running lights and adding a spoiler on the trunk has been hardly enough to draw eyes away from the newer BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF. Still, it's hard to argue with the A6's interior, which has held up over the years thanks to top-notch quality, technology updates and one of the better iterations of Audi's driver-centered dash design. The A6 Avant also achieves a nice balance between utility and style that most wagons do not.
The A6's engines offer competitive performance for the most part. Even though it's not available with Audi's ubiquitous all-wheel drive, the 3.2-liter V6 in the base model A6 not only produces power on par with the Mercedes-Benz E350's V6 but also returns significantly better fuel mileage. The deceptively named 3.0T model (it's supercharged, not turbocharged) is the peach of the group, displaying strong acceleration that actually outpaces the 4.2-liter V8 model. Regardless of the engine, every A6 model delivers the careful balance between a comfortable ride and responsive handling for which German cars are known.
Unfortunately, the 2011 Audi A6 sedan is outdone by its competition despite its many virtues. The 2011 BMW 5 Series remains the driver's choice, the 2011 Jaguar XF bests the A6 in the sleek-styling category and the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the most well-rounded entry in this group. There's also the impressive 2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan, a budget-friendly choice. Yet even if the A6 isn't bound for Cooperstown (or whatever idyllic little town houses the Luxury Car Hall of Fame), this appealing sedan and wagon deserve a spot in your test-drive batting order.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Audi A6 is available in two body styles: a four-door sedan and a wagon known as the Avant. There are three trim levels -- Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige -- and their availability depends on engine choice.
The Premium (3.2 and 3.0T) comes standard with 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, heated mirrors, a sunroof, automatic climate control, eight-way power seats (includes lumbar adjustment), partial leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth, a voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic, Audi's MMI and a 10-speaker stereo with six-disc CD changer, satellite radio and an iPod interface. The 3.0T Premium adds heated front seats and, on the Avant, a power liftgate.
Opting for the Premium Plus (3.2 and 3.0T) gets you 18-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, self-leveling xenon headlights, LED running lights, auto-dimming exterior and interior mirrors, and driver memory functions.
The Prestige trim (3.0T and 4.2) brings with it adaptive headlights, keyless ignition/entry, a rearview camera, power-adjustable steering wheel, shift paddles and a Bose sound system with DVD-audio capability.
The Cold Weather package adds heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and, on the 3.2, heated front seats. A Sport package adds a sport-tuned suspension, a sport steering wheel, shift paddles and either 18-inch wheels with all-season tires or 19-inch wheels with summer tires. Rear side airbags are optional on all trims, while a blind-spot warning system is optional on all but the 3.2.
Powertrains and Performance
The Audi A6 3.2 is the base model configuration, available only in the sedan; it features a 3.2-liter V6 good for 265 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) are standard; all-wheel drive is not available. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined.
The Audi A6 3.0T configuration is available in the sedan or Avant; it gets a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are standard. In Edmunds performance testing, the 3.0T sedan went from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds -- this is quicker than the time logged by the A6 4.2 (6.5 seconds) and just a tick slower than that of the last V10-powered S6 (5.7 seconds) we tested. Fuel economy stands at an estimated 18/26/21.
The Audi A6 4.2 is available only as a sedan and comes with a 4.2-liter V8 producing 350 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and Quattro are standard. Fuel economy is an estimated 16/24/19.
Standard safety equipment on the 2011 Audi A6 includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Rear side airbags, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors and a blind-spot warning system are either optional or included with the upper trims.
In Edmunds brake testing, the all-wheel-drive 3.0T came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet -- an average performance. A 4.2 with 19-inch wheels and summer tires stopped in a more impressive 114 feet.
In crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Audi A6 scored the highest possible rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests, but the second-best rating of "Average" in the roof strength test.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2011 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), which controls entertainment, communication and standard navigation functions via the dash-mounted LCD screen and a knob and buttons on the center console. All A6 models have Audi's most recent MMI system, which has more logical menus, crisper graphics and a joystick-like control on top of the system's control knob to increase functionality.
The A6 sedan offers a trunk with a capacity of 16 cubic feet. Because of its sleek roof line, the Avant wagon offers only 34 cubic feet behind its rear seats and just 59 cubes with them folded -- a far cry from the 71 cubic feet that the Volvo V70 will carry.
The 2011 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, but we'd give the 19-inch-wheel version a pass since its ride is likely to prove too harsh for the typical luxury sedan buyer.
The base V6's performance is adequate, 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 all-wheel-drive system gives the A6's driver some added peace of mind in foul weather.