The 21st Century Beach Wagon? - 2009 Audi A4 Avant Long-Term Road Test

2009 Audi A4 Avant: The 21st Century Beach Wagon?

July 27, 2009

a4 avant beach cargo.JPG

When I was a kid, my parents called the family station wagon a "beach wagon". Whether this is a New England colloquialism, I'm not sure. But yesterday, the A4 Avant pulled beach wagon duty as the girlfriend and I went off in search of some ocean-side tranquility. We went about 40 miles up the PCH (the first half of which was horrid traffic), past Santa Monica and Malibu's popular beaches and pulled over at a small, uncrowded beach a few miles south of Point Mugu...

After enjoying the sun and surf, we decided to hit the Camarillo outlets and then take the 101 freeway south back to Santa Monica (Google traffic on the Blueberry still showed some nasty red lines going south through Malibu). The 101 sucked so we bailed at the Los Virgenes road exit, whereupon I subsequently enjoyed the Avant's adroit handling throughout the twists and turns of the canyon roads back to the PCH.

A few random observations:

-- The 2.0T is plenty of motor, even in a pudgy (3,900-pound) wagon. Off the line dig and passing power are both impressive and the tranny clicks off quick, lag-free down- (and up-)shifts in Sport mode.

-- We're averaging about 22 mpg thus far. I imagine those who don't live in the traffic capital of the U.S. and who don't drive as hard as automotive journalists will probably average 2 or 3 mpg better.

-- Great sport seats (well shaped and with 4-way power lumbar) and powerful A/C -- both key when you're in the saddle for hours on a hot, sunny day.

-- Sometimes annoying navigation system. Instead of P.O.I. (Points of Interest) it has "Special Destinations". So you select that, and then, for example, "Nearest to Position". But then the system goes to a "Category" screen, where you must scroll through a bunch of categories, select one (e.g. "restaurants") and either scroll through dozens of various restaurants or input the name of the one you want. That's okay if you don't have a particular place in mind. But when you do, why doesn't it allow the option of just inputting the name of the P.O.I straight away without requiring you to slog through the Category list first?

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 16,024 miles

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