If you haven’t been paying attention to my life story (discretely woven into my reviews), I’ll spell it out clearly: I live in what is considered to be a temperate rainforest on the California coast, the nearest asphalt or concrete surface is over a mile away, and I have a deep (some say questionable) love for station wagons. If you combine this with liberal political leanings, my DINK (Dual Income, No Kids) status and a passion for Costco runs, I am the target market for an off-road wagon. Enter the 2013 Audi allroad. (No, for some reason “allroad” doesn’t get a capital letter.) Audi invited Michael Karesh to a launch event, event a few months ago, but what’s the XC70’s only competition like to live with for a week? Let’s find out.
Americans are smart people. Avoid the word “wagon” in favor of “Avant,” and they still see a wagon. And don’t buy it. So for 2013 there are no more Avants for us. Instead, the “allroad” is back. Audi promises that it’s more than just a fancy name.
Though the original A6-based Audi Allroad was designed for the US market, it hit the market at the height of SUV mania, and as a result never sold more than 6,357 units per year (in 2001, its second year on the market). By the end of 2005, Audi pulled the “Avant Outback” from the US where it was replaced by the hulking Q7 SUV, but the brand did develop a new version for Europe, which debuted in 2006. In many ways, this evolution mirrors the Subaru Outback’s shift from jacked-up wagon to full-blown CUV, and reflects America’s growing preference for unique-bodied car-based crossovers. And with a Q5 already on sale in the US, and a Q3 on its way, it seems unlikely that Audi will bring this smaller, A4-based Allroad to the US. But fashion being what it is, doesn’t it seem likely that the pendulum will eventually swing back, and that air-suspension-equipped wagons will once again enjoy a moment of vogue? And if anything is going to bring about such a fad, isn’t it this freshly facelifted A4 Allroad?