Long known for its blend of elegance and upscale practicality, Audi’s A4 ranks among the more affordable compact luxury sedans. Handsome and economical, with a strong four-cylinder engine, the A4 is tastefully trimmed both inside and out. The A4's design was trend-setting when it first appeared, and still looks fresh today. Buyers turning to a luxury car for the first time are especially likely to consider an A4.
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2016 Audi A4 Overview
What's New for 2016
Except for one new color choice, little has changed apart from several equipment revisions. A three-spoke multi-function steering wheel is now standard on the base Premium model. Premium options now include Advanced Key and Audi Connect, as part of a Navigation package. Bang & Olufsen sound is now included in the Technology package for Premium Plus models.
Choosing Your Audi A4
Every A4 holds a turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 220 horsepower. Front-drive models use a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Cars equipped with optional quattro all-wheel drive can get have either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. All three drivetrain possibilities are available on each trim level. The previous Prestige trim is no longer offered.
With front-drive and automatic, fuel economy is estimated at 24 mpg city/31 mpg highway (27 mpg combined). Quattro all-wheel drive drops the estimates to 22/32 mpg (26 combined) with manual shift, or 21/30 mpg (25 combined) with automatic.
We lean toward Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive, which doesn’t cost much more than a front-drive A4 and can have either manual shift or a conventional automatic transmission. Because A4 trim levels are independent of drivetrain choice, you can get all-wheel drive without having to pay for features you might not want. So, you may be fully satisfied with a Premium edition, perhaps simply upgrading it with quattro.
2016 Audi A4 Review
Audi's senior compact sedan, the A4 remains a model of understated luxury and ageless design. Perhaps that's why its popularity hasn't waned in the face of newer competitors.
Pricing and Equipment
The A4 follows Audi's familiar three-trim structure:
- Starting at $35,900, the Premium model comes standard with leather seating, a sunroof, and Audi's MMI infotainment system with satellite radio.
- The $38,000 Premium Plus tacks on extras that many buyers will consider essential, like heated front seats, tri-zone climate control, a universal garage door opener, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
- Priced at just over $43,00, the Prestige gets a navigation system, a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system, and blind spotting monitoring—all standard.
The Premium and Prestige are eligible for a $930 Sport package with sport seats and a firmer suspension setup. Exclusive to the Prestige is the $2,790 Driver Assist package, featuring adaptive cruise control and selectable driving modes. Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system is available across the board starting at $900.
Every A4 is powered by a turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder that develops 220 horsepower. We've come to know this engine well, and it's an excellent match to the A4's weight and available all-wheel drive system.
Performance highlights include:
- Transmissions: Front-drive models carry a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that's tuned for efficiency. Quattro versions come with a six-speed manual or optional ($1,100) eight-speed automatic with Sport mode.
- Steering/Handling: The A4's suspension is on the firm side of this class, resulting in sportier-than-average handling. Unlike some cars equipped with electric powering steering systems we've tested, the A4 feels connected to the road at all times.
- Fuel Efficiency The front-drive, CVT-equipped model achieves 27 mpg in combined driving, the best in the lineup. Expect about 25 mpg combined from the automatic quattro, or 26 mpg with the manual.
- The CVT can be slow to respond when your right foot asks for more power. We hands-down prefer the conventional eight-speed automatic, which requires you to spring for all-wheel drive whether you need it or not.
- The available Sport package delivers tauter handling as promised, but brings with it some unnecessary roughness. We actually prefer the well-rounded base suspension.
- No one can argue with the handsome layout and solid construction of the A4's interior. Generous aluminum or wood trim lets you know you're riding in a luxury car.
- There's nothing compact about front passenger room, and even the standard seats provide provide all the comfort and support most buyers will ask for.
- The rear bench is mounted so low that it looks more like a floor cushion than an actual seat.
- Speaking of the backseat, taller adults will find their knees pressed against the front seat unless they swing them to the side.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The sluggish CVT used on front-drive models is something to avoid. That dashes any hope of getting an A4 at -- or even near -- the reasonable base price.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
Although it's not the newest kid on the block, the A4 still feels fresh and competitive. We're duly impressed by its enduring appeal.
The Bottom Line
There's plenty of life left in this familiar player.
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