The New Audi A6 Allroad Is a Station Wagon That Walks Like an SUV

It may look like a regular wagon cosplaying as a crossover, but a height-adjustable suspension gives this Audi soft-roader street cred.

2021 audi a6 allroad brooklyn ny front 3 4 allroad mode
Will Sabel Courtney

What is it?

Audi’s midsize car in station wagon form, albeit served up with a modicum of SUV-like trimmings to make it more palatable to modern buyers.

Is it new?

Yes indeed. The current A6 has been around since 2018, but the A6 Allroad has just arrived on our shores this summer. It’s the first time Audi has sold this model here since 2005, though it’s kept the slightly smaller A4 Allroad around for those who want a four-ring two-box that looks like those Audi wagons you grew up with.

The A6 Allroad may not be a Wrangler rival, but it can handle basic off-road tasks.
Will Sabel Courtney

What makes it special?

Well, it’s a brand-new station wagon, which in America in this day and age seems about as exotic as a pole-dancing Triceratops. But the Allroad adds to its uniqueness by not just talking the soft-roader talk with its Audi SUV grille and mostly tasteful body cladding, but by walking the walk with the help of an adaptive air suspension that raises and lowers the car at the click of a button.

Toggle the drive mode selector from “auto” past “comfort” to “allroad,” and the body lifts up to provide more ground clearance; take it one step further to “offroad,” and the air suspension pushes the cabin higher still. Lifted to the max, it serves up 7.3 inches of ground clearance — less than a Subaru Outback, but enough to traverse a good number of two-tracks and fire roads.

That trunk can hold more than 30 cubic feet of junk, if necessary.
Will Sabel Courtney

How does it drive?

Pleasantly and comfortably. The biggest advantage to buying the A6 Allroad over, say, a Q7 or Q8 is that you don’t need any physics-fighting trickery to try and make it drive more like a traditional car; it is a car, with the low-slung center of gravity to match. Darting through traffic or carving up corners is far more engaging than in almost any crossover bar one of those super-sporty examples — yet without much of the harshness that comes with the stiff suspension needed to make an SUV feel like a car.

The powertrain feels laggy and slow, however at least in its default settings. The seven-speed dual clutch gearbox is slow to kick down (and quick to upshift) in Drive, and the throttle mapping is designed to be very deliberate; it takes more pressure than you’d expect to get the power to show up. That’s great for off-roading, but hardly ideal for real-world traffic. Plus, the engine suffers from a mite of turbo lag; the twin-turbo 2.9 from the S6 would be more responsive and far more fun.

The best solution? Toggle the shift lever back to Sport early and often. It’s blessedly easy; just click the shifter back an inch whenever you need to drive with some vigor, like engaging a warp drive. When you’re ready to take it easy and cruise again, another click sends you right back to D. (There are paddles and a manual shift gate, if you’d rather handle things yourself.)

It’s not just pretty lighting that makes this A6 Allroad interior look nice.

What’s it like inside?

Extremely nice. Audi may no longer be the uncontested sub-$100,000 luxury car interior champion it once was, but that’s because its superiority forced BMW, Mercedes and the rest to raise their games to match. The natural, unvarnished dark brown walnut trim strewn across the interior comes not in tiny cobbled-together strips, but in whole, giant pieces, as pleasing to the eye as to the fingertip. The leather, plastic, rubber and metal all look and feel top-notch, as well. And the many screens — one for the instrument panel, two touchscreen ones for the infotainment, climate controls and so forth — are easy to read and easy to use, thanks in part to haptic feedback that lets you know when you’ve actually done something on the touchscreen.

Still, given how used we’ve become to the capacious interiors of SUVs at this price range — even luxury ones — the Allroad feels a little tight. It’s not lacking in cargo space, what with 30 cubic feet of room behind the second row, but a family with grown teenagers at or above might find space a bit cramped. SUVs aren’t bigger just for the sake of being bigger, after all; generally speaking, they feel roomier inside than wagons and sedans. For all its other advantages — and they are many — the Allroad just can’t compete with the likes of a Q7 when it comes to cabin airiness.

What’s it cost?

The base Premium Plus (which comes very well-equipped, for what it’s worth) starts at $65,900. Fully loaded, a Prestige model will run you about $85,000 before tax, title and destination.

Powertrain: 3.0-liter turbocharged V6; seven-speed dual-clutch transmission; all-wheel-drive

Horsepower: 336

Torque: 369 lb-ft

EPA Fuel Economy: 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway

Seats: 5

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