2013 Audi Allroad first drive review: It’s not a wagon, it’s not a wagon, it’s not…

2013 Audi Allroad

2013 Audi Allroad

The 2013 Audi Allroad is coming simply because Americans won’t buy station wagons. The Audi A4 Avant—“Avant” is Audi-speak for station wagon—drops from Audi’s North American lineup for the coming year. Instead there’s the new Allroad, Audi’s entry into the B-segment crossover battles.

To Americans, the 2013 Audi Allroad is the revival of the same-named vehicle offered in the U.S. from 2001 to 2005, going on a seven year hiatus. That period of absence was just here, however, the Allroad continuing in other markets.  Meanwhile, Audi of America soldiered on with the B-segment Audi A4 Avant, trying to sell Bach to a Sousa appreciation society.

That’s all changed now. While the A4 Avant comes back for another round in Europe, the Allroad will be Audi’s sole wagon-type vehicle left in Audi’s U.S.-available B-segment lineup, which includes the Allroad, as well as A4 and S4 sedans, and A5 and S5 coupes.

2013 Audi Allroad steering wheel and dash

The base “Premium” 2013 Audi Allroad has quality and style for which the brand is known.

The new Allroad, however, does everything that a B-segment wagon would do and more. Consider, the 2013 Audi Allroad has the typical layout of a four-door wagon, with four doors and a rear hatch, and generous cargo capacity, with 27 cubic feet with the rear seatback raised, and with the rear seat folded, a healthy 50.5 cubic feet of stuffable space. That’s a whole ten cubic feet more than the old A4 Avant with the rear seat raised, though exactly equal to the previous model with the rear seat lowered.

The 2013 Audi Allroad, however, has a ground clearance of 7.1 inches, 1.5 inches more than the Audi A4 Avant it replaces. So the Allroad can do just what it suggests, travels over all roads…with no pretense of going offroad. Audi has the Q5 and Q7 for those truly wanting to leave behind the road, however minimal. But that cabin at the end of a muddy two-track with rocks and a shallow ford? The A4—and other sedans—want you to walk in. The Allroad is game.

2013 Audi Allroad grille

The 2013 Audi Allroad grille differs from the other Audi B-segment offerings with vertical stlats.

Most other crossovers have a higher ride height than their automobile platform mates. But not all crossover vehicles, however, have all-wheel drive. On the 2013 Audi Allroad, all-wheel drive is included in the starting price.

The only engine offered with the Allroad is Audi’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with direct injection. So much good has been said about this engine’s smooth operation and refinement, it’s almost futile to try to say more, but we will just repeat that its performance is more than the 211 horsepower rating would suggest because it makes 258 lb-ft of torque at an incredibly low 1500 rpm. This is an engine that doesn’t have to be spun at the upper reaches of its rev range to deliver a solid wallop. The low rpm torque delivery also means casual oomph around town for getting away from traffic lights or merging into traffic…or just playing.

Performance exceeds adequate. Audi claims 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, and it feels even more responsive than that number suggests, thanks to the punchy low-range torque. However, it’s remarkable, really, for a two-liter engine, even turbocharged, to move a B-segment car approaching two tons that quickly.