2017 Audi A4 Review

$34,900

Approval Rating

Very positive rating based on 52 test drives.

$34,900 - $42,350

The average price paid for the 2017 Audi A4 is trending $1,845 below MSRP.

Popularity

Aggregated internet sentiment.

7,7,7,7,9,10,9,8,7,7

Everything You Need To Know


Spoiler alert: the Audi A4 sedan’s a very good car.

Audi may be most well known today for the mighty quattro performance coupe and the brand-synonymous all-wheel drive system of the same name, but they’re not the things that but Audi on the map in the first place. Look through its back catalogue of cars, and you’ll find that it’s actually modest sedans that had the biggest impact on how we see Audi today – with the Audi A4 perhaps being the most important four-door car the firm has ever made. Why, you may ask? Because it was the first Audi that could genuinely give BMW something to worry about. Indeed, over the 20+ years Audi has been building A4s, the mid-sized sedan has always been snapping at the heels of the indomitable BMW 3 Series; just missing out on overall glory. But had Audi done enough with its fifth-generation A4 to finally take class honours?

The best cabin you’ll find in a mid-sized executive sedan. Period


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The best cabin you’ll find in a mid-sized executive sedan. Period. Even though previous A4s were never quite good enough to be the best executive sedans you could buy, they always excelled in one area: interior build quality. Superb fit-and-finish and impressive ergonomics made these mid-sized four-door cars lovely places to spend long journeys in, and it’s not uncommon to see used models with steep mileages that are as well screwed together on the inside as they were when they rolled off the production line. It’s become a defining quirk of the Audi brand – so it’s no surprise that the new Audi A4 has a truly lovely cabin. Whilst it may not have the visual flair of, say, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class’ interior, the Audi A4 more than makes up for it for its use of high-quality materials (no matter how hard we searched, we couldn’t find a single piece of trim that could be described as “cheap-feeling”). Plus, it’s a very well designed interior, with clear controls and readouts that are easy to use, with the multimedia interface in particular being a worthy match for BMW’s latest iDrive system. You get lots of lovely ergonomic elements, too. The gear selector lever, for instance, is a perfect place to rest your wrist whilst using the multimedia system’s rotary dial peripheral, along with having the added benefit of looking like a throttle level on an airliner. Likewise, the layout of the multi-function controls on the steering wheel help make the optional Virtual Cockpit display really simple to navigate quickly, and thus much easier to recommend considering as an optional extra if you go for the mid-range ‘Premium Plus’ spec (the Virtual Cockpit is standard fit on the top-tier ‘Prestige’ trim, and not available at all on regular ‘Premium’ models).

Who Buys Audi A4?

Calculations are based on data from KKF, NHTSA and Department of Motor Vehicles using CarBuzz's proprietary algorithm.

Gender

58% men vs 42% women



Ethnicity

Audi A4 Owners vs. US Average

Caucasian +20%
70% Complete
African American -20%
30% Complete
Asian +5%
55% Complete
Hispanic -15%
35% Complete

The only downside we can come up with, in fact, is the rather broad transmission tunnel.

Practicality-wise, the Audi A4 fares pretty well against its main rivals. There aren’t any massive gains here in comparison with its main competitors (how can the Audi be vastly more spacious when, for reference, it’s only three-and-a-bit inches longer than a Jaguar XE?), but the A4 does offer good amounts of head and leg room all around that’s a little bit better than what you’ll find on cars like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The only downside we can come up with, in fact, is the rather broad transmission tunnel that eats into the foot space available for whoever ends up perched in the middle back seat – though, as all cars in this class suffer from this drawback, we won’t punish the Audi A4 sedan too harshly for it. The trunk space is fairly impressive, with Audi claiming a total capacity of 17 cubic feet for the A4 (in comparison, a Cadillac ATS only has 10.4 cubic feet on offer) – so, if you’re regularly filling your car trunks with suitcases or fairly sizeable weekly shops, there should be enough room for your needs. Such credentials are further enhanced by the broad trunk opening and the low load lip, which makes it that bit easier to load the A4 up with more cumbersome items, and that load bay can be made even larger by folding the rear seat backs down. Yes, it’s not a terribly exciting feature, but piece of standard equipment makes the Audi A4 a more versatile car than some of its like-for-like rivals – remember, split-folding seat backs are a $475 optional extra on the entry level BMW 3 Series.

Not the sharpest to drive, but certainly one of the most comfortable


But that doesn’t mean we’re unimpressed by the Audi A4.

For years, the Audi A4 has been on the backburner for compact executive cars buyers who desire a sportier drive from their new sedan – hence why so many people have owned a BMW 3 Series. However, we seem to be experiencing a change in the wind in the car industry: not only have the Cadillac ATS and Jaguar XE dethroned the BMW when it comes to a being dynamic yet comfortable, but the new Audi A4’s getting stuck in the mix as well. The Audi A4 doesn’t come across entirely unscathed from that scuffle, however. If you were to put a gun to our heads and ask us where we’d rank the A4 in terms of driving fun, we’d rate it behind the BMW, Cadillac and Jaguar. But that doesn’t mean we’re unimpressed by the Audi A4 – bar a bit of understeer when you’re carrying a bit too much speed into a corner, the car is remarkably planted and enjoyable to drive, with just enough info coming through the seat and steering for you to feel on top of what this bulky sedan is doing underneath you.

The Audi A4 is the most refined compact executive sedan on sale today.

Where the Audi A4 really impresses, however, is in comfort and refinement. Even without the optional adaptive dampers that can only be fitted to top-spec models, the Audi A4 rides beautifully over bumps in the road, whilst still maintaining good body control so the car doesn’t bob up and down over uneven surfaces. Noise insulation is also pulled off exceptionally here, with barely a hint of wind or tire roar at highway speeds, and we’d go as far to say the Audi A4 is the most refined compact executive sedan on sale today. As with quite a few cars in this class, though, the Audi A4 is let down by quite a compromised view out of the back, with the slim rear window and chunky pillars giving you a rather restricted view out of the back. Having a standard spec reversing camera on all Audi A4 models is helpful, but it’s a shame that you’ll need to spend a bare minimum of $44,350 to get an Audi A4 with a blind spot monitoring system fitted.

One for speed freaks; the other for us normal folk


A 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 3.0-liter six-cylinder, with both being turbocharged gasoline units.

Technically, Audi offers two engine options in the A4 sedan range (even though we’re clutching at straws with that statement): a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 3.0-liter six-cylinder, with both being turbocharged gasoline units. However, for various reasons, we’ll be discussing the 2.0-liter engine. One of the main reasons why we’re going with the smaller motor first is that a vast majority of Audi A4 owners will end up with this engine. Going for the 2.0-liter will save you up to $11,900 off the MSRP for a start, and the smaller of the two turbocharged engines is comfortably the more fuel efficient of the two – the 2.0-liter is claimed to return a 25mpg city and 33mpg highway, whereas the 3.0-liter can only register 17mpg in the city and 26mpg on the highway. Most buyers will also find the 2.0-liter will offer more than enough power for their needs, thanks to the engine’s 252hp peak power output and the meaty 273lb/ft of torque that’s available through most of the engine’s mid-range. In conjunction with the slick-shifting seven-speed automatic transmission that offers some of the smoothest gear changes in this class, drivers of the Audi A4 should easily be able to get the most amount of pulling power – especially if they change gears themselves via the optional paddleshifters on the back of the steering wheel.

We’d love to tell you how both transmissions suit the larger of the two Audi A4 engines.

That same transmission can also be fitted to the 3.0-liter engine, albeit as a $1,000 optional extra that replaces the standard-fit six-speed manual. We’d love to tell you how both transmissions suit the larger of the two Audi A4 engines, but we can’t – Audi has yet to let any motoring journo publish a review on this model yet, and it likely won’t go on sale until sometime later this year. Fingers crossed the wait it worth it, though, for this is one cracker of an engine in terms of on paper statistics. With a claimed output of 354hp, it’s comfortably more powerful than the 2.0-liter, and the strong 369lb/ft of torque output that’s accessible from most of the rev band means you’ve still got plenty of pulling power in higher gears. Plus, having all-wheel drive as standard means you can have more control over that power in slippery road conditions than you would if the car was rear-wheel drive or, as with the regular Audi A4, front-wheel drive. Given the big power gains, you won’t be surprised that Audi’s christened this A4 the ‘S4 Sedan’, instead of the rather boring ‘A4 3.0T TFSI’ it would have been given instead. Hence why it’s quite cheeky of us to shoehorn in a sports model in an Audi A4 model...

Some curious omissions, here


You do get leather seats as standard across all models.

When it comes to Audis, things can be quite hit-and-miss when it comes to standard equipment levels. Some, like the Audi Q3 compact crossover, comes with a good amount of features, and others don’t. The Audi A4 sadly falls into the latter category. For instance, satellite radio (you know, that feature that’s been standard equipment on every Lincoln built since 2008) are only available on basic A4s via the $900 Convenience Package. Likewise, navigation is only standard fit on the top spec model – which costs a hundred bucks shy of $46,000 – and heated seats are a $500 option on all A4 models. Not that Audi’s scrimped and saved everywhere, though. You do get leather seats as standard across all models, along with climate control, 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats, a reversing camera, rain-sensing windshield wipers, an array of front, side and curtain airbags and a crisp 7inch MMI interface that’s marginally pipped by BMW’s iDrive multimedia system with regards to intuitiveness and ease of use.

Go too crazy with the options on the top-spec Audi A4 in Prestige trim, and you’re looking at a car that will comfortably set you back over $50,000.

With regards to trim levels, we advise you stick to the Premium trim, as it’s the only one that will stop you from spending ludicrous amounts of money on an Audi A4 (go too crazy with the options on the top-spec Audi A4 in Prestige trim, and you’re looking at a car that will comfortably set you back over $50,000). It’s also worth pointing out that, though Premium Plus looks enticing (especially as a fully loaded Audi A4 in Premium has a higher MSRP than the Premium Plus starting point), we advise you avoid that – especially if you want built-in navigation on your car. Premium Plus doesn’t have that feature as standard, and the only way to specify it is to spend a staggering $3,250 on the Technology Package it’s in. By that point, you’re into the pricing territory of Prestige-spec Audi A4s, which come with the feature as standard, so you might as well just upgrade to the top trim level and be done with it. Or you could, you know, choose a different car that comes with the same goodies or more for a far lower asking price...