Luxury-car shoppers who love value have long cheered the Audi A6. And in true Audi fashion, the midsize A6 gives you a lot for a very competitive price. One of the A6's primary strengths is its deluxe cabin. Materials are first-rate, and the interior's build quality and design have stood out even against rivals such as Mercedes-Benz. Its winter-weather capability is another plus since most A6s you'll find for sale have all-wheel drive.
But the car's most compelling asset concerns value. In terms of overall quality and performance, the Audi A6 is typically equal to or even better than its luxury sedan rivals, yet it usually costs thousands less. The latest A6 benefits from enhanced performance and increased driver engagement, making it a top choice in the segment, but older A6s are still a smart pick for a luxury sedan or wagon.
Current Audi A6
The current Audi A6 is currently offered in four trims: Premium (2.0T only), Premium Plus (2.0T and 3.0T), Prestige (3.0T only) and Competition Prestige (3.0T only). You get the luxury sedan basics with the Premium, including leather upholstery, but stepping up to the Premium Plus adds features such as keyless ignition and entry, four-zone climate control, an 8-inch display screen, navigation and a Bose audio system. The Prestige further adds adaptive LED headlights, a power trunk and ventilated front seats. Look at the sport-themed 3.0T Competition Prestige to get a sport suspension, sport seats, upgraded leather and various styling flourishes, among its additions. Notable options include adaptive cruise control, a top-view camera system, massaging front seats and a 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system.
Powering the base Audi A6 is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (2.0T) rated at 252 horsepower. By default, it powers the front wheels through a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. However, the all-wheel-drive Quattro powertrain is more popular on dealer lots, and it couples the engine with an eight-speed automatic. 3.0T models use a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 333 hp (selecting the Competition Prestige bumps this to 340 hp); it is exclusively available with AWD and the eight-speed auto.
In reviews, we rank the current Audi A6 highly for its engaging driving character, well-crafted interior, long list of features, and impressive combination of performance and fuel efficiency. Drivers with a penchant for winding roads will certainly appreciate the A6's tenacious grip on the pavement and well-balanced weight distribution; others will likely enjoy the quiet and attractive cabin that is well stocked with intuitive high-tech wizardry. But though the A6's cabin design is aging like a fine wine, competitors are raising the bar with accoutrements lifted from their higher-priced counterparts.
Used Audi A6 Models
The current A6 represents the fourth-generation of the car, which debuted for 2012. Adopting the latest Audi design language, the A6 is distinctive for its large trapezoidal grille and more angular headlights. It is also notable for improvements in regard to performance, making it the go-to choice as a driver's car. Shorter overhangs and an aluminum-intensive diet upped its handling abilities, while a longer wheelbase increased passenger room. Previous A6 generations played second fiddle to their Mercedes and BMW rivals for technology, but this latest version has no problem challenging them for first chair.
The A6's powertrain offerings changed considerably over the course of its life. Originally, two engines were offered: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (2.0T) and a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 (3.0T). The 2.0T developed 211 horsepower when it was introduced. Audi upgraded it 2014 to 220 hp and boosted again in 2016 to 252 hp. It was only available with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive the first year, though the AWD system and its eight-speed auto came online the following year. The CVT was replaced by a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic in '16.
The V6 initially made 310 horsepower; it was bumped to 333 hp in '16. A turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6 debuted in 2014 with 240 hp and 428 lb-ft on tap. Offered in Premium Plus and Prestige trims, it was nearly as quick as the gasoline V6 in a 0-60-mph dash, but fuel economy was far superior. Unfortunately, it was dropped partway through the '16 model year as a result of Audi's mounting diesel emissions scandal.
Aside from powertrain massaging, the current A6 received several notable updates throughout its life cycle. Equipment trims shuffled around a little bit the first few years, with the biggest changes occurring in 2016. Audi refreshed the exterior styling and updated the infotainment system. This was also the year for the introduction of the Competition Prestige.
The previous, third-generation Audi A6 ran from the 2005 to the 2011 model year. Overall, the third-generation car represented an admirable mix of sophisticated style, entertaining driving dynamics and opulent furnishings. A wagon body style, known as the Avant, was offered alongside the sedan.
In the third generation's final year of production, three engines were offered: a 265-horsepower V6 (3.2), a 300-hp supercharged V6 (3.0T) and a 350-hp V8 (4.2). The 3.2 front-wheel-drive sedan had a CVT, while all other A6s came with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The A6 Avant was only available with the 3.0T engine, AWD and the automatic.
Throughout the production run, trim levels were generally structured around engine selections. For the most part, three trims were offered: base 3.2 Premium, midlevel 3.0T Premium Quattro and top-of-the-line 4.2 Prestige Quattro. Wagons were available only in the 3.0T Premium Quattro trim. Standard features were as generous as any luxury car for the time, with navigation standard for all and the upper trims coming with heated seats. Meanwhile, Audi's easy-to-use Multi Media Interface (MMI) system made controlling audio, navigation and Bluetooth functions easy with clear and logical menus.
Those considering third-gen models should keep in mind that the base V6 made only 255 hp from 2005 to 2009 (later increased to 265 hp). Also, the supercharged V6 (3.0T) wasn't available from 2005 to '08, while the car's V8 produced only 335 hp before 2007, when output was bumped to 350 hp. In terms of features, the A6 has stayed mostly unchanged, though trim packages and options were also simplified for '09, and the MMI electronics interface and navigation system were upgraded for 2010.
In reviews of the time, we found the engines to be smooth and refined. The base V6's acceleration was certainly passable, but our choice would be the 3.0T thanks to its broad range of torque and relative fuel efficiency. In fact, we found this engine provided quicker acceleration than the V8. The A6 rode comfortably on the highway, and while it wasn't the most athletic car in its class, our editors applauded its predictable, confident feel around corners.
The second-generation A6 sedan arrived on the market in 1998 and benefited from a ground-up redesign; an all-new version of the Avant wagon debuted the following year. This was the first Audi A6 to ride on a stretched version of the highly regarded A4 platform.
For the first two years, only a non-turbo V6 was available, but in 2000, Audi added a spirited twin-turbocharged V6 and a torque-rich V8 to the sedan lineup. Given that acceleration tended to be sluggish with the base V6, particularly on the hefty A6 Avant wagon, Audi began offering a more powerful 3.0-liter six-cylinder in 2002. Transmission choices included a five-speed automatic and a CVT (which was introduced in 2002). In reviews, we praised the heavenly cabin and all-wheel-drive utility offered by the second-generation A6, but we panned its somewhat nonlinear steering. Overall, it represents a solid choice for used-car shoppers.
The original Audi A6 came to market in 1995 as a lightly revised version of the old Audi 100 sedan and wagon. Although prices on used A6 models from this era are convincingly low, consumers should be aware that only one engine — a 172-hp V6 — is available on these cars. With the lightest A6 sedan weighing in at 3,400 pounds, acceleration is modest at best. However, much like newer Audis, this A6 was nicely appointed and offered a choice of front-wheel drive or Quattro all-wheel drive.