Used 1999 Audi A6 Wagon
Edmunds' Expert Review
Remember Audi a decade ago? Of course not. Nobody does. Back then, Audi was changing numerical model names almost daily, and some half-assed reporting by 60 Minutes had almost killed the marque. Claiming to drive an Audi negatively branded you, and the old 80, 90, 100 and 200 model designations registered nothing on the social acceptability meter at the country club. Audi? Isn't that a fancy Volkswagen?
Audis are still fancy Volkswagens, but who cares? The A4 and A8 are simply superb examples of automotive engineering. This A6 is more of the same, adding new corporate styling themes from recent show cars to the mix.
Under the hood is a 2.8-liter V6 engine making 200 horsepower. The five-speed automatic transmission features Tiptronic shifting controls. This powertrain will get the A6 from rest to 60 mph in a somewhat leisurely 8.8 seconds. Opt for the $1,600 quattro all-wheel drive system, and it will take an extra half-second to get to freeway merging velocity. Not stellar, but the old A6 was no speed demon either. Want to go fast? Get the A4 2.8 or A8 4.2.
While a manual transmission is definitely missing from the equipment roster, plenty of other standard goodies are included for the $34,000 tariff. You've got your alloy wheels, heated windshield washer nozzles, headlight washers, puddle lamps on each door, dual-zone climate control system with air filter, heated exterior mirrors, retained accessory power, power front seats, real wood trim, trip computer, 140-watt sound system with 10 speakers and side airbags. You've also got quite a suspension holding it all in place.
A four-link front suspension lifted from the A4 virtually eliminates torque steer under hard acceleration. The new A6 provides a smooth, well-damped ride, without filtering out vital information from the underpinnings. Steering effort is light, maybe even a tad too much so, but communicates effectively what's happening with the front tires.
The new styling is unmistakably Audi, with a swept greenhouse and muscular fenders. However, this new A6 isn't a stunner like the A4. The rounded sheetmetal and sharply creased trim detail don't blend well to our eye, and the taillights on the sedan appear to have been lifted from Chevrolet's lowly S-10 pickup. From someangles, the car looks great. From others, it appears somewhat dumpy and jumbled. Front overhang can appear especially out of balance. Fortunately, the gracefully swept greenhouse on both the sedan and wagon lends a touch of class and elegance to an otherwise characterless profile.
Despite nitpicks, we believe the new A6 will prove enticing in the hotly contested entry-level luxury class. But there's plenty to choose from at this price point, and a heavy load of options can quickly boost the A6's MSRP higher than is reasonable. Select carefully.
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These days, everybody loves sport-utes. And why not? They offer a commanding view, fantastic cargo space and four-wheel drive. But what SUVs don't offer is precise handling, decent fuel economy and easy maneuverability. For those things, one must look a little closer to the pavementat vehicles like Audi's 1999 A6 Avant wagon, the perfect SUV alternative.
The Avant, which was redesigned for 1999 and is based on the A6 sedan that was introduced just last year, is set to compete with luxury wagons from Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Saab and BMW, as well as with ever-popular luxury sport-utility vehicles. Offering up to 73.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity and standard quattro all-wheel drive, this Audi has everything those luxo-sport-utes have except the skyscraper views and the mile-high fuel costs. With this in mind, we accepted Audi's test car outfitted with 16-inch alloy wheels, a cold-weather package and a convenience package, and set about evaluating the vehicle during a weeklong, mid-spring stint in Denver.
When we first laid eyes on the A6 Avant, we thought the car looked like something that had hovered right out of "The Phantom Menace"with its shiny silver sheetmetal, steeply raked rear window, creased edges and inflated stance. That's OK for futuristic space movies, we thought, but not for a suburban-dwelling family of five. As the week progressed, the car's styling grew on us, but we think it had more to do with how we felt from inside the cabin than out. The guts of a vehicle are what really count anyway, though. And this Audi has guts in places that Jabba the Hut can only imagine.
A 2.8-liter, DOHC V6 engine that makes 200 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque powers the A6 Avant. Though the engine of our A6 was smooth and quiet, we noticed a distinct lag between the time when we mashed the pedal to the floor and the A6 lurched forward with the purpose of a rottweiler after a T-bone. With the A6 wagon weighing in at 3,858 pounds, hot-rod types may desire a bit more punch at the get-go, but for families going to the country club, pee-wee soccer tournaments or on a camping trip, there won't be much to growl about.
There are a couple of things that stood out immediately as we navigated our test loop in the 1999 Audi A6 Avant: precision and privacy. Mom's old station wagon was never much fun to drive, but the luxury sport wagons hitting dealer showrooms these days work to provide plenty of thrills. Audi's A6 is no exception. Performing favorably in the twisties just south of Boulder, Colo., we were amazed that the A6 Avant cornered as easily at 90 mph as it did at 30. Steering is perfectnot too linear, but tight enough to manage with small, precise movements. The optional 205/55 HR16 all-season tires that surround 16-inch alloy wheels gripped the roads well, and we had confidence in the car's antilock brakes, even though they squealed randomly.
A five-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic shifter comes standard on the Avant. In automatic mode, the tranny smoothly found the right gear every time. Some of us are not big fans of automanual transmissions, but we tried out the Tiptronic for readers who might want to shift a little bit. We found that it was difficult to sense which gear we were in when using Tiptronic and, because it's not a true manual, it seemed a waste of energy and concentration.
Those who value their privacy will appreciate the A6. It didn't take us long to marvel at how quiet the car was; we felt like we were in a soundproof cocoon gliding through the bustling city. On the expressway, we passed big rigs in silence. Wind, engine and road noise seemed nonexistent and there was never a need to blast the radio in an effort to drown out traffic noiseat least not with the windows rolled up. The cabin was tightly constructed as well; not once did we detect a creak, rattle or shimmy from loose interior materials.
Inside the vehicle, we were greeted by a convoluted sea of red digital readouts amid a dizzying array of tiny stereo and climate-control buttons that made our heads swim. We must not have been the only ones with this reaction, because Audi installed a wood-grained panel cover that flips down to hide half of the console's readouts and make things easier on the eyes. Despite all of the gadgets to decipher, we were disappointed that our A6 did not come with an in-dash CD player; a trunk-mounted six-disc CD changer is available as a $1,300 option.
We had difficulty prying open the console ashtray and noticed that it didn't line up correctly when it was pushed back into place. We were baffled that Audi chose to install an analog clock when most of the other secondary readouts were digital (most instrument panel gauges were analog), and were annoyed that the clock was positioned on the instrument panel where only the driver could see it. We were disturbed that the red displays, which looked cool when lit up at night, tended to get washed out when driving in the sunshine. And, we were bummed to find that the rear hatch-release button on the key fob required between two and three presses to work properly.
Audi did a better job with its cupholders this year than it has done in the past. The one that pops out of the dash doesn't block anything and the one that pops out of the console is inconspicuous and well positioned, though neither is able to expand or contract enough to accommodate different-sized drinks. We appreciated the two climate zones for front-seat occupants, the convenient rear hatch and fuel door-release buttons located on the side of the driver's doorframe, and the heated rear seats and steering wheel.
A built-in ski bag passes through the middle of the rear armrest, keeping snow and ice off backseat occupants as well as the leather seats; the bag also clips into place to prevent ski tips from swinging into backseat occupants during hard cornering. Meanwhile, a rear console-mounted first-aid kit provides basic medical supplies in an emergency, door-mounted cubbies extend for added storage and two rear cupholders pop out of the front-seat cushions. For safety, all three backseat passengers receive three-point seatbelts and headrests.
To further enhance the utility aspect of this vehicle, Audi installed a floor net that prevents small parcels from spilling all over the cargo area, a vertical cargo net that keeps large pieces of luggage from toppling onto the heads and necks of backseat passengers, and a cargo cover that hides goods from inquisitive eyes. Additionally, a rear window sunshade makes for better visibility on sunny days, and the rear hatch opening is large enough to load just about anything one could imagine. If you ever need to add washer fluid or check the oil, you'll find it easy to open the spring-mounted hood because the release latch is on the outside of the hood rather than underneath it.
The A6 Avant starts at $37,100 (including destination fee), but that price can escalate quickly when optioning out the car. Our car, as tested, cost just a hair under 40 grand. Still, the BMW 528i sport wagon is priced only $300 less and it comes with a standard manual transmission and seven fewer horsepower than the Audi (though the Bimmer feels more powerful). Volvo's comparable V70 wagons also generate fewer horses, but can be equipped with turbochargers and can also cost several hundred dollars less at base. Many luxury sport-utility vehicles can be had for thousands more than the Avant, however. Audi's A6 is not a steal, by any means, but it is a fairly priced vehicle in a hot market. With its utility, all-wheel drive and creature comforts, you'd be wise to consider the A6 Avant as an SUV alternative.
Used 1999 Audi A6 Wagon Overview
The Used 1999 Audi A6 Wagon is offered in the following styles: 2.8 Avant quattro 4dr Wagon AWD.
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Should I lease or buy a 1999 Audi A6?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.