The wagon body style has become nearly extinct in the United States, but a recent resurgence has seen vehicles like the Audi A6 allroad emerge. Audi's second allroad model, the A6 allroad sits above the A4 offering a wagon body style with a slight suspension lift to appeal to crossover-loving American shoppers. Like the A6 sedan, the allroad comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 coupled to a mild hybrid system, producing 335 horsepower. And with a taller ride height, it can travel on dirt paths that might leave the sedan stuck.
Audi doesn't have the lifted luxury wagon market to itself though. Volvo continues to compete in this space with the V90 Cross Country and Mercedes-Benz has just introduced a new E-Class All-Terrain model. And, although it doesn't wear a luxury badge, the Subaru Outback dominates the wagon segment with more than 85% of all US sales. We tested a 2021 Audi A6 allroad Prestige to find out if it can carve out a significant sliver of this niche, but growing segment.
The A6 allroad wagon receives a few minor updates for 2021, including a new available Black optic package, which adds blacked-out exterior accents, roof rails, and contrast paint in Manhattan Gray. The Audi A6 allroad quattro now also offers adaptive cruise control and lane assist as part of the optional Executive Package on Premium Plus trim vehicles.
We love the A6 allroad for its wagon shape, which it combines with the hardcore off-road stylings of a traditional SUV. This is a really great alternative to the bulky SUV. Standard exterior features include 20-inch ten-spoke V-design wheels with 245/45 all-season tires, Matrix-design LED head- and taillights, DRLs, concealed exhaust outlets, and a power panoramic sunroof. Both trim levels are available with the Black optic package, which adds 20-inch dark silver diamond-cut wheels with all-season tires, black roof rails, blacked-out accents on the grille, window surrounds, and bumper inserts. If you were hoping for a high-riding SUV alternative though, the allroad may disappoint. It only sits 1.8 inches higher than a standard A6 in its tallest suspension setting.
The 2021 Audi A6 allroad is classified as a semi-offroad executive station wagon that is similar in size to the Volvo V90 Cross Country and rolls on a 115.2-inch wheelbase. The dimensions of the Audi A6 allroad wagon reads as follows: the total length is 194.9 inches (which is only 0.5 inches shorter than the Volvo), total height is 58.9 inches (almost two inches less than the V90 CC), and the overall width with mirrors included is 83.1 inches. Curb weight is a hefty 4,486 pounds, around 340 pounds heavier than the Volvo. With only 7.3 inches of ground clearance, the A6 allroad can't match the V90 Cross Country (8.3 inches), though it rides higher than the E-Class All-Terrain.
You won't find a rumbling V8 with a menacing exhaust note here: the 2021 A6 allroad is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine with a mild-hybrid system producing 335 horsepower and a solid 369 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission with quattro all-wheel drive. Despite being slightly slower than the standard A6 sedan, the allroad still manages to make the 0-60 sprint in only 5.1 seconds, which is quite quick for a humble family station wagon. It will continue on to a top speed of 130 mph.
In town, driving is a relaxed experience, but there's always enough low-down power to help you zip through traffic, and, on the highway, the car is a stealth bomber that easily overtakes slower moving vehicles. We did, however, find that the seven-speed transmission could get confused when asked to accelerate on a hill, and can roll back on occasion. A manual option would have been the cherry on the cake but the DCT still feels impressively smooth.
It is worth remembering that the A6 allroad is more akin to a sedan than an SUV, so you get precise steering that feels every bit as responsive as its sedan sibling, the A6. On the road, the A6 allroad feels planted and confident. It goes about taking corners, thanks to its AWD quattro system, and the road comfort is excellent with the standard air suspension. We drove the allroad over some seriously cracked pavement, and the air suspension just chuckled while it absorbed every impact.
When you head off the beaten path, the air suspension system can be raised to give you extra clearance. We wouldn't recommend the allroad for any serious off-road work, but it seems like the ideal vehicle for snowy roads or a dirt path leading to a cabin or campsite. The optional dynamic all-wheel-steering makes the A6 allroad even more adept at spirited driving, and in its Dynamic mode, the car feels every bit like a sports sedan with intuitive body control. As for the brakes, they feel progressive and offer good stopping power in a hurry. As an SUV alternative, we prefer the spirited driving dynamics afforded by the A6 allroad. But we can see why some buyers might still prefer the higher ride height of a traditional crossover.
The A6 allroad isn't the most fuel-efficient wagon in the USA, but driven with a light foot, it will return adequate numbers. According to the EPA, the 2021 car will manage best figures of 20/26/22 mpg on the city/highway/combined circuit. We noted better fuel economy on the highway, averaging over 28 mpg during our week of testing. With a smaller capacity motor, the Volvo V90 Cross Country will manage a more impressive 20/30/24 mpg. Still, with a 19.3-gallon fuel tank on board, the A6 allroad will manage a maximum range of 425 miles.
There is space for five adults in the 2021 A6 allroad. Getting in and out of the vehicle is a pleasure, thanks to its accommodating ride height and wide-opening doors, and even six-footers won't have any problem getting in and out of the rear entrances. Once inside, the driving position is comfortable and there is more than enough legroom and headroom for taller drivers. In the rear, there's an accommodating 37.4 inches of legroom, which bests the E-Class All-Terrain and V90 Cross Country. There's even plenty of headroom, though we wish the seatbacks reclined further. Leather upholstery is standard, with heated front seats on the base model, and ventilation and massaging added to the top-spec trim.
The whole point of buying a station wagon is to gain access to more cargo space, and the allroad offers a decent amount of it. With the seats in the upright position, the A6 allroad offers a solid 30 cubic feet of space, which is a considerable 4.5 cubic feet more than you get in the V90 Cross Country. If you need more space, the Audi can fold down its 40/20/20 folding rear seats to open up 59.3 cubic feet of volume.
In terms of small-item storage space, this Audi offers a shallow center console storage bin, a glovebox, as well as some door pockets. We do wish Audi would have incorporated an open bin somewhere to store a phone or other small items. There are two cupholders in the front and two in the rear.
The interior of the A6 allroad is a pretty pleasant place to be and comes stuffed with features. Standard specs across the board include three-zone automatic climate control, a
heated, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, a frameless auto-dimming interior rearview mirror, ambient LED interior lighting, leather seating surfaces, as well as heated, eight-way power front seats with four-way power lumbar adjustment for driver and driver seat memory. Audi's virtual cockpit is also installed across the range. The Prestige adds contour LED interior lighting, dual-pane acoustic glass, power-adjustment for the front passenger seat, and ventilation on both front perches, as well as heated rear seats, four-zone climate control, and a head-up display. Active driver assistance features include Audi pre sense basic and pre sense front.
A glance at the dashboard of the A6 allroad reveals dual screens. The 8.6-inch screen mounted lower in the dash controls in-cabin functions such as temperature and seat heating, while the 10.1-inch unit at the top controls all infotainment related settings. There's also a massive 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. The infotainment system makes use of Audi's MMI touch response system, which feels intuitive to use. This system features HD Radio technology, wireless Apple CarPlay, and wired Android Auto, SiriusXM with a 90-day all-access trial subscription, Bluetooth streaming, and wireless phone charging and signal booster. Sound is channeled through a Bang & Olufsen 3D Premium sound system with 16 speakers and a 15-channel amplifier with 705 watts of power. An even stronger B&O system is available with a sub in the trunk in place of the spare tire.
The 2021 year model has not been subjected to any recalls, however, the 2020 model was recalled twice, once for the improper deployment of the passenger airbag, and for moisture potentially entering the starter generator leading to a short circuit. Audi will cover all A6 allroad models with a four-year/50,000-mile basic and drivetrain warranty, 12 years of corrosion cover, eight-years or 100,000-miles on hybrid parts, and a four-year roadside assistance plan.
Audi is renowned for building safe cars, and the A6 allroad is no different. Although not offering a comprehensive review of the A6 allroad for 2021, the NHTSA awarded four out of five stars for frontal crash tests and five full stars for rollover tests. The IIHS has not yet evaluated the new Audi A6 allroad, but its review awarded six top scores of Good for the 2020 iteration, as well as a Top Safety Pick + award for the same year model.
The Premium Plus derivative features driver assistance features like forward collision warning and lane departure warning, cruise control, a top-view camera system, and parking sensors. The Prestige adds Pre sense rear, side assist with rear cross-traffic and vehicle exit warning, adaptive cruise assist with traffic jam and turn assist, as well as a head-up display. No fewer than eight airbags are standard, including dual front knee bags and rear-seat side airbags.
The A6 allroad sits in a very niche corner of the market. With so many crossover SUVs flooding the market, a turbocharged AWD station wagon is a rare but welcome sight, and we have an unhealthy love affair with anything that comes close to that description. The 2021 car comes with more features than ever and is a true premium luxury vehicle. The exterior design is a handsome one, and the interior is a classy affair that feels worth every cent of the asking price.
On the road, this car performs beautifully and will surprise a lot of sports cars off the line. The best thing about the allroad's driving capability is the air suspension, which offers a cushy ride over rough pavement but keeps the car planted through corners. We must admit that its starting price of $65,900 is dear, but you get a lot for your money. The A6 allroad is an oddity that deserves more of the spotlight.
Having AWD, turbocharged power, and the extra space a station wagon affords does come at a cost: the price of the Audi A6 allroad starts at $65,900 for the Premium Plus trim level. That price goes up to $71,400 for the Prestige. It should be noted that these prices do not include tax, registration, and a delivery fee of $1,045. By comparison, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain starts at $67,600, and the Volvo V90 Cross Country goes for $54,900. You can find a low mileage used 2020 A6 allroad for sale at around $50k.
Since the allroad is only offered in two trim levels - Premium Plus and Prestige - it makes things a bit easier for the prospective buyer. The Premium Plus starts off at $65,900, with the Prestige adding another $5,500 on top of that. Both cars are powered by the same turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine and seven-speed DCT transmission. So which one should you go for? If we had the money, we would make the stretch for the Prestige, which adds a lot of features over and above the extensive list you get on the Premium Plus. We're talking about extras such as rear cross-traffic assist, traffic jam assist, traffic sign recognition, a head-up display, heated rear seats, and much more. We'd also opt for the $2,850 Luxury package with full Valcona/Milano leather, massaging seats, and a memory passenger seat, and the $1,000 Full Paint option, which deletes the alternate-colored fenders. As-described, the A6 allroad comes in at $76,890. Skip the $4,900 Bang & Olufsen 3D Audio System (the base system sounds good enough) and the $2,500 Night vision package.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain is one of the lesser-known Benz models, and we understand why: as with the Audi, this AWD turbocharged wagon occupies a very niche section of the car market, and with Mercedes-Benz's mass crusade in the form of crossover SUVs, this car can get lost in the storm. Powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine, the All-Terrain develops a healthy 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. That's more than you get in the allroad, but the zero to sixty times are precisely the same at 5.1 seconds. Gas mileage figures are slightly better at 22/28/24 mpg city/highway/combined. The All-Terrain has the advantage of being able to carry seven passengers, albeit in very cramped conditions, but in five-seater guise, it offers more or less the same space as the Audi. Its interior is a more lavish place to be, however, and is packed with the latest in Merc infotainment and driver assistance tech. On the road, it's more comfortable, but less dynamically capable. With a starting price of $67,600, it is more expensive, but we'd still consider it over the Audi.
Volvo has been a champion of the station wagon scene for as long as we can remember, and while others have been flogging the crossover SUV, Volvo has, to a certain degree, remained true to this awesome body style. The V90 Cross Country is the Swedish manufacturer's take on an off-road luxury station wagon, and we think they get it pretty right. Powering this wagon is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that has been turbo and supercharged to produce 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque; not as much as the Audi, but still plenty for the daily grind. The V90 will use less fuel at 20/30/24 mpg. The interior of the V90 Cross Country is elegant and luxurious, and we prefer its overall design. Overall space is good, but passengers in the rear get less legroom, and trunk space is significantly less than what you get in the A6 allroad at 25.5 cubic feet. The Audi also offers more in-car tech. The Volvo is the cheaper car, and it shows it. We would likely choose the Audi.