The Thrill of the Grass - 2009 Audi A4 Avant Long-Term Road Test

2009 Audi A4 Long Term Road Test

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2009 Audi A4 Avant: The Thrill of the Grass

April 30, 2010

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It was the weekend of the Big Game. Well, maybe not the Big Game, since that's football, but still Stanford and Cal were playing baseball, so close enough to prepare for a cobbled-together tailgating exercise.

Klein Field, the classic Sunken Diamond at Stanford, started out in 1931 as just the big hole in the ground after the dirt had been used to prop up the grandstands of the old Stanford football stadium. It's always been the university's baseball field (we snuck on there as kids and played in front of the old wooden bleachers), but it was renovated in 1991, and now like so many new college ballparks, it's a showcase. It has all of the style, comfort and convenience of a modern big-league ballpark, only you can sit right up close to the field, where you can sense the thrill of the grass.

There's not a lot of the tailgating thing involved with baseball, but the 2009 Audi A4 Avant had the right amount of utility for it.

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It's not too big, and yet big enough for our purposes, which surprisingly filled up the Avant's fairly modest amount of cargo capacity. Our stuff included:

a) Three jackets (hey, it's still April)

b) One motorcycle helmet (well, he wanted to ride and meet us there)

c) One bag of stuff (three baseball caps, three pairs of sunglasses, sunscreen of assorted vintages, print-out of Stanford baseball media guide, Mercury News crossword, The New Yorker, assorted crap).

d) One medium-size woman's purse (contents undisclosed)

e) One briefcase.

In short, we had hardly anything at all, really. Of course, if we'd have been driving a sedan, it would have been piled up around us on the seats, as if we were living in a hamster burrow, or it might have been stashed in the trunk where we'd have a devil of a time finding anything -- plus there would be nowhere to put down your drink when we were standing around in the parking lot and eating our sandwiches.

It's true that a sedan really offers more cargo-toting capacity than a wagon. A wagon only offers you a sliver of room behind the second seat, and you have to erect some kind of barrier to let you stack stuff to the ceiling without worrying that it will spill into the back seat. The A4 Avant itself doesn't have much cargo capacity as wagons go, but no wagon is really good.

But as we looked at our stuff on the Audi's cargo floor that had suddenly exploded in size once lunch was unpacked and the end of the day had been reached, we finally figured out that what the wagon offers is convenience. We live lives that are full of stuff, and when it's in the car, you typically want to get at it easily. Putting stuff in the trunk of a car is like packing it away in a cabinet -- nicely organized, but inaccessible and quickly forgotten. But when you throw something in the back of a wagon, it's like putting it in a kitchen drawer -- always there, right when you need it.

Go take a look right now at all that crap in your kitchen drawer and you'll figure out that you'd probably be better off driving a wagon.

Not a titantic defensive battle at the Sunken Diamond, as both pitchers were gassed by the third inning, and since both teams are ranked in the NCAA's top 20, they can rip the ball. Some serious action, because most college teams have adopted the small ball popularized by CSU Fullerton, so there's no more of that boring, base-to-base baseball, where the manager is always hoping for the three-run homer. It's all signs, spaghetti pickoffs and going for the extra base. There's more baseball to this kind of baseball, if you get that. Stanford took the weekend series, though California had been ranked higher.

Stanford might be only a country club, but it's a really nice country club.

Michael Jordan @ 26,650 miles

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (5)
  • Comparison (1)
  • Long-Term

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