The year of 2017 means big changes for the Audi A4: The all-new version is bigger, lighter, better to drive and brimming with engineering and technological improvements. Yet if you park it next to the outgoing A4, you might never notice the difference. Styling changes are subtle: Curves have given way to straight lines and angles, and the trapezoidal shape of the grille is more pronounced. But the family resemblance to other Audi models is its most distinguishing characteristic.
Inside, the updates are more noticeable. The cabin is innovatively designed and beautifully built, exactly what we expect from Audi, and the updated MMI infotainment system, which includes a revised controller and optional Visual Cockpit gauge package, is a big leap forward in terms of both usability and aesthetics.
The presence of a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine under the A4's hood may sound familiar, but this is a new iteration with 258 horsepower (32 more than the previous engine) delivered to either the front wheels or all four via Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission comes standard, and Quattro models can be had with a six-speed manual transmission. The EPA fuel economy estimate for the automatic Quattro version is 27 mpg combined (24 city/31 highway); front-wheel-drive variants are slightly more efficient. The A4 Ultra model pairs a less powerful version (190 hp) of the engine with front-wheel drive, and its EPA estimate rises to 31 mpg combined (27 city/37 highway).
The Quattro all-wheel-drive system gives the A4 impressive grip, and curvy-road handling is impressive. But the steering feels a little numb, which limits driver engagement, and though the transmission shifts quickly and precisely, there's some off-the-line hesitation that can be off-putting.
Like many luxury cars, the A4 takes safety seriously, and we are pleased to see that driver aids such as collision avoidance and pedestrian detection with automatic braking comes standard, as does a rearview camera. Features such as genuine leather upholstery, a sunroof, keyless ignition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are optional on many of the A4's luxury-branded competitors, are also standard equipment in the 2017 Audi A4.
With so much standard equipment, the base model A4 Premium is equipped as well as the midlevel models of many of its competitors. Audi also offers a Premium Plus trim line, with upgraded infotainment and more available driver aids, along with the top-of-the-line Prestige model, home to the sorts of advanced technology we're accustomed to seeing in bigger, higher-priced luxury vehicles. Which model is best? Let Edmunds help find the perfect 2017 Audi A4 for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.