Wagon style, crossover capability. How do you sell a wagon to Americans? Easy – jack it up and call it a crossover. Audi did just that with the original Allroad almost 20 years ago when they took their A6 wagon and gave it the Subaru Outback treatment. While not quite as successful as the mass-market Subaru, the Allroad is a uniquely capable wagon that straddled the old divide between wagon and SUV.
Crossovers have since bridged that divide, but the original's premise – the luxury of an Audi wagon with the capability of a high-clearance SUV – remains part and parcel of the 2019 Audi Allroad.
Techy and comfortable. The Audi A4 Allroad is – surprise – heavily based on the excellent A4 sedan. This means that the Allroad offers plenty of comfort and an interior that's appropriately genteel. The standard leather seats are firm and supportive, and there's plenty of room for passengers both front and rear. As is expected from Audi, the fit and finish is excellent throughout. The tactile feel of the switches and toggles come off as being pillaged from an A8.
Also like the A4, technology is seemingly stuffed into every nook of the Allroad. The base trim comes standard with a 7-inch screen and an infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The upmarket Premium Plus and Prestige trims bump up the screen to an 8.3-inch affair that includes navigation. Unfortunately, neither unit is of the touchscreen type, making interaction with the software less intuitive.
Those higher-tier cars also get wireless charging, LED lights, and a fully digital 12.3-inch digital cluster. That latter bit is just as impressive here as it is in some of Audi's more premium offerings, with vivid color, crisp detail, and legible readouts that don't sacrifice practicality for style.
Safety abounds. If you have to crash, the Allroad is a good car there is to crash in. In the five side-impact scenarios the government simulates, the Allroad came back with a perfect score. Though the NHTSA didn't test it for frontal crash or rollover performance, the A4 sedan earned four stars for the former and five stars for the latter.
Over at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), testers gave the the Allroad their top score of "Good" in all categories but headlights, where a mediocre "Marginal" was issued. Note that this is in reference to the standard headlights; the LEDs on higher trims were deemed "Acceptable."
It's a good thing the NHTSA and the IIHS both found the Allroad to perform admirably in an accident, because the Allroad's active-safety equipment is sparse on the lower-trim cars. If you want driver-assistance technology, like a head-up display, surround-view camera, lane keeping assist, or adaptive cruise control, you'll need to splurge on the uppermost Prestige trim. Otherwise, the list ends at automatic emergency braking and automatic high beams.
Spacious and efficient. The Allroad is just as practical as it is safe. With the rear seats upright, there's 24.2 cubic feet of space; fold those seats flat and space doubles to 58.5 cubes. In comparison, a Volvo V60 Cross Country – perhaps the Audi's closest competitor, as there's not too many lifted luxury wagons on the market – comes up short of the Allroad with 23.3 cubes with the seats up and just under 51 cubes with the seats down.
A more apt comparison, however, would be with Audi's own crossovers sitting across the showroom. The popular Q5 is about as spacious as the Allroad with a better 25.1 cubic feet with seats up, but only 53.1 cubes with the seats down.
Besides being a bit more practical than a Q5, the Allroad is also a bit more efficient. The Allroad achieves an EPA-estimated 22 miles per gallon city, 30 mpg highway, and 25 combined compared to the Q5's 22/27/24 mpg (city/highway/combined). Consider it another point for the longroof underdog.
Final thoughts. We're not going to call it a comeback yet, but wagons seem to slowly be coming full circle in regards to public acceptance, and it's vehicles like the 2019 Audi Allroad that have triggered this change of heart. In a world where crossovers are reigning supreme, the wagon is distinctive and unique – and usually more practical to boot.
The A4 Allroad does everything you would want a luxury Audi to do. There's the classy and conservative interior, technology in spades, and almost 60 cubic feet of space to play with. The extra ground clearance and decent gas mileage are cherries on top.
None of this means the Allroad will outsell the Q5. Not by a long shot, if current trends hold steady. But there's an elegant, old-money look to the Allroad – and all luxury wagons – that the Q5 and its ilk can't capture. For anyone wanting equal parts distinction and practicality, the Allroad is an enticing choice.