What's New for 2013
After a full redesign last year, the 2013 Audi A6 returns with an all-wheel-drive option for the base 2.0T engine, along with start/stop engine functions and a top-view camera system.
In years past, buying a midsize luxury sedan typically came down to what you desired more: luxury or sport. Other than BMW, no automaker seemed to be able to truly provide harmonious levels of both. But with its 2013 A6, Audi has shown that it's finally got the secret recipe as well. And in some ways, it's even better than BMW's.
Last year, Audi subtly redesigned the A6. On the outside, the A6 gained the large trapezoidal grille and more angular headlights found on the latest A7 and A8 models. Outer dimensions shrunk slightly, but interior space grew, thanks in large part to a longer wheelbase. Yet Audi trimmed the car's overall weight with increased aluminum construction, helping the A6 feel lighter behind the wheel.
This year, the 2013 Audi A6 continues its charge by piling on even more new features. Most notably, the addition of an all-wheel-drive option for the A6's base 2.0T model effectively eliminated one of our chief complaints from the 2012 model. Also new is a fuel-saving start/stop engine function for the 3.0T and a top-view camera system with front and rear side cameras to peek around corners.
All the bells and whistles from last year are here as well. Features like a head-up display, an adaptive suspension, night vision with pedestrian detection and mobile Internet all keep the A6 on the cutting edge of technology. Besides all of this high-tech wizardry, the A6 also maintains Audi's reputation for high-quality interiors and a refined ride quality.
Taking all of this into account, it's easy to see why the A6 is a front-runner in the midsize luxury sedan game. Notably, the Audi knocked the venerable BMW 5 Series from its "Ultimate Driving Machine" perch when we pitted the two in a comparison test; it's simply the more engaging car to drive. The new Lexus GS is also pretty sporty, though perhaps not quite as dialed in as the A6. Of course, the stately Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Jaguar XF are also worthy of consideration, as both are biased more toward luxury rather than driver fulfillment.
Deciding among any of these fine choices won't yield any losers. It will simply come down to what you value as a driver. That said, you'd be remiss not to check out the 2013 Audi A6, regardless of your preferences.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Audi A6 is a midsize luxury sedan available in five trim levels -- 2.0T Premium, 2.0T Premium Plus, 3.0T Premium, 3.0T Premium Plus and 3.0T Prestige. The numbers denote the engine fitted (a 2.0-liter turbocharged four or a 3.0-liter supercharged V6).
Standard equipment for the 2.0T Premium includes 17-inch wheels, Audi Drive Select (adjustable modes for steering, throttle and transmission), automatic headlights and wipers, heated mirrors, a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, triple-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats (includes four-way lumbar adjustments), leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and an iPod interface. All-wheel-drive (Quattro) models receive heated front seats.
The 2.0T Premium Plus adds 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED running lights, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, auto-dimming outside mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, Audi's MMI electronics interface, a color driver information display, upgraded audio (with HD radio, a CD changer and a digital music server), a voice-activated navigation system (with real-time traffic and Google Earth) and Audi Connect (an in-car wireless Internet connection).
The 3.0T Premium is equipped similarly to the 2.0T Premium but adds a fuel-saving start/stop engine system and heated front seats. The 3.0T Premium Plus is equipped similarly to the 2.0T Premium Plus. The 3.0T Prestige adds different 18-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, S line exterior accents, cornering lights, ambient LED cabin lighting, quad-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel and a Bose audio system.
Bundled options are dependent on trim levels and include the Innovation package (includes adaptive cruise control, head-up display, a top-view camera system with front and rear corner views, night vision assist, a blind-spot warning system, active lane assist, Audi Pre-Sense Plus and power-folding auto-dimming sideview mirrors), the Cold Weather package (heated front/rear seats and heated steering wheel) and the Sport package (adds a sport-tuned suspension, a sport steering wheel, shift paddles and either 18-inch wheels with all-season tires or 19- or 20-inch wheels with summer tires).
Some but not all packaged option features are available as stand-alone options, along with LED headlights, a Bose sound system with a subwoofer, a premium 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system, a power rear sunshade, manual rear window sunshades and rear side airbags. There are also various interior trim options, including brushed aluminum and natural finish ash wood.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Audi A6 2.0T is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 good for 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) are standard; all-wheel drive with an eight-speed automatic is available as an option. Audi claims a 0-60-mph time of 7.5 seconds for the CVT models. EPA-estimated fuel economy is an impressive 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined for the CVT and 20/30/24 mpg for the eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.
The Audi A6 3.0T gets a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 310 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive and start/stop technology are all standard. In Edmunds performance testing, the 3.0T sedan went from zero to 60 mph in a very quick 5.2 seconds. Fuel economy stands at an estimated 18/27/22, which is also quite good.
If power in excess is your game, there's also the performance-focused 420-hp Audi S6. It's reviewed separately.
Standard safety equipment on the 2013 Audi A6 includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Rear side airbags, front and rear parking sensors and a blind-spot warning system are either optional or included with the upper trims. The optional Audi Pre-Sense Plus system can warn the driver and automatically activate the brakes and adjust the front seats for maximum protection if a crash is deemed imminent.
In Edmunds brake testing, an A6 3.0T with the Sport package and summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 111 feet, an average distance for this class of car and setup. Expect longer distances with all-season tires. In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the A6 received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2013 Audi A6 offers one of the finest cabins in its class, with an attractive dash layout, excellent materials quality and solid fit and finish. The MMI (Multi Media Interface) controls entertainment, communication and navigation functions via the dash-mounted pop-up screen and a knob and buttons on the center console. The system boasts logical menus, crisp graphics and a touchpad to increase functionality, although we still prefer Mercedes' COMAND for overall usefulness.
The A6 also offers the option of in-car Wi-Fi, which uses a 3G connection and adds Google Earth data to the navigation system while also providing simplified Google search for POIs. It sounds a bit over the top, but it's actually quite handy if you need to get some unexpected work done on the road and there's no Starbucks in sight. The Google Earth nav system is more a matter of form over function, though, and can actually make the map more difficult to comprehend at a glance.
All the seats are supportive and comfortable on long trips, while the backseat in particular offers more real-world legroom than most rivals. The A6's 14.1-cubic-foot trunk is on the small side, though the rear seat folds and features a pass-through when more space is needed.
Previous generations of the A6 sometimes felt clumsy when you pushed them hard on a winding road, but the 2013 Audi A6 feels lighter and changes directions more eagerly. There's plenty of grip, and the improved front/rear weight distribution and well-sorted suspension gives the A6 excellent balance and provides a more satisfying connection between car and driver. The A6's steering is still overly light at low speeds, but the effort level increases in a more linear fashion than in past A6s when you start pressing on back roads.
The supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine has sharp response off the line and continues to pull with authority throughout the range. In Sport mode, the 3.0T's automatic upshifts smoothly under full throttle and downshifts with authority, matching revs to keep things smooth. The 2.0T doesn't sound as refined as a six-cylinder, but it's hard to argue with the excellent fuel economy it returns. The CVT does an admirable job of feeling connected and predictably responsive to throttle inputs, something that can't be said of most CVTs.
In terms of ride quality, there's sometimes more impact harshness than we'd like, which is the price paid for the A6's more athletic handling. Forgoing the optional Sport suspension might help, but doing so makes the A6 less fun through corners.