Luxury sedans don't often come to mind as truly practical family vehicles, but the 2012 Audi A6 fits the bill, so long as you opt for less expensive versions that still far exceed the pricing on more practical four-doors.
We're giving the A6 a rating of 7 here at FamilyCarGuide. It's a cozy fit for families of five, with a somewhat small trunk, but it has Audi's strong safety reputation behind it, as well as new features like in-car Internet that could make long road trips more peaceful.
The A6 is new this year, and to some degree, it's been undercut by Audi's own A7 hatchback. The two share running gear, but the A6 offers a four-cylinder drivetrain that's not yet available in the A7. The turbocharged four makes 211 horsepower, and it's coupled to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), like the one found in the Nissan Maxima or Murano. We're not fans of this type of transmission: CVTs tend to amplify drivetrain noise, and don't have the quick-shifting responses of a conventional automatic transmission. However, the CVT-equipped A6 is rated at up to 33 mpg on the EPA highway cycle--and it's fitted into the least expensive A6 offered by Audi. To move into the pricey 310-horsepower supercharged car, with all-wheel drive, you'll spend more than $50,000, even up to $70,000.
The A6 has another distinction from the similar A7 in its formal roofline. It's a sedan, for better or worse, and the taller interior space means more headroom for all passengers. The front seats are supportive and firm, and upholstered in leather, with power adjustments. With a sunroof installed, six-foot passengers will still have extra headroom for height adjustment, and the driver gets a tilt/telescope steering wheel for an ideal driving position. In back, the A6 has a bit less leg room than we'd expect for a mid-size sedan, but six-footers still will find an inch or two of space to spare for knees and heads. The rear doors are cut wide, which should make the installation of car seats and boosters a relatively easy chore. The A6 is rated as a five-seater, too, where the A7 is a four-seater. It's a borderline technical distinction, since the middle seat in back of the A6 forces a rider to straddle a driveline tunnel, and since shoulder room isn't that great--but three children will fit in reasonable comfort. The A6's trunk is a bit small for its size, at 14.1 cubic feet, and the trunk space is deep but shallow; the rear seats fold almost flat into the cabin for expanded cargo space.