The previous allroad was based on the larger A6 Avant (Audi speak for station wagon), which resided a bit further up the ladder in the near-luxury market. It came with one of my favorite Audi engines, the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6. Besides offering the V6 engine, the older allroad did have some off-road pretensions. For instance, it came with an adjustable height suspension to increase the vehicle’s ground clearance.

This allroad is more about adding the trappings of ruggedness to the already fine A4 wagon. The ride height is raised by one and a half inches. My favorite touch is the full silver grille accented by a stainless steel skidplate underneath. To my eye, this works much better with the A4 wagon’s shape than the line of gray cladding that encircles the car, with its emphasis on the non-flared fenders. The silver spear along the sill does little for me. However, the silver roof rails do look quite sporty. I guess it really comes down to the fact that I’m not a big fan of two-tone cars.

I have no such complaints about the allroad driving experience or interior. The car comes with Audi’s excellent direct injection 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. In this smaller car, this engine makes good sense. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive system is standard, but did you expect an eight-speed automatic transmission? The additional two speeds help the allroad to dash to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, and it plays a part in the 20-city/27 highway and 23-mpg combined EPA rating.

I wouldn’t say the allroad’s acceleration is quick, but it is peppy. Its five-spoke wheels are wrapped with 245/45x18 inch all-season tires that provide a more comfortable ride than the optional 19-inch wheels and tires, but aren’t quite as precise in transmitting steering inputs to the ground. The four-wheel disc brakes provide excellent stopping distances and have a good feel to them.

The allroad excels best at highway cruising. You can tell the engineers from Ingolstadt have done their homework to allow you to feel confident “running down the road” (to quote Tom Petty). There’s nothing but a low-rpm purr from the engine and the body slips through the air remarkably quietly.

The interior is a delight of leather, metal accents and fine-quality plastics. The design isn’t the most modern of the Audi line-up, but most of the controls have feel precise. As usual, the inside door handles deserve mention for the great way they feel and look.

Prices start at $39,600 for the Premium trim level. My moonlight blue metallic allroad had the $3,300 premium plus package, which included nice upgrades like a power tailgate, heated front seats and memory for the standard eight-way power seat settings. The drive information center, three zone climate control, auto dimming mirrors and HomeLink garage door openers added convenience. With the $475 additional cost paint, and the $895 destination charge, the total came to $44,270.

A higher trim level known as Prestige bumps the price all the way up to $48,800. This seems a bit steep to pay for a wagon that holds 27.6 cubic feet with the 60/40 split rear seat up, and 50.5 cubic feet when folded down. But the extra goodies do add some real value. Advance key means push-button starting, and Side Assist warns you of cars hiding in your blind spot. Previous Audi experience has exposed me to the pleasure of the 505-watt Bang and Olufsen sound system. The navigation system is among the better ones available today. Most of all, the Xenon headlights not only point your way around corners, but are also accented by Audi LED daytime running lights. This signature touch of Audi’s seems to be more common in cars today.

So if off-roading is your way of having fun, this isn’t your best choice. But if you like a fairly economical, smallish wagon that’s fun to drive, the allroad is a good choice.

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