2016 Audi A4

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor
June 9, 2016

Buying tip

MMI's pretty Google Earth maps and mobile hotspot functionality require a monthly subscription after an initial trial period, which runs $25 to $30.

features & specs

Automatic quattro 2.0T Premium
Automatic quattro 2.0T Premium Plus
CVT FrontTrak 2.0T Premium
MPG
21 city / 30 hwy
MPG
21 city / 30 hwy
MPG
24 city / 31 hwy
MSRP
$38,000
MSRP
$38,000
MSRP
$35,900

The 2016 Audi A4 is still a handsome, strong competitor with solid fuel economy and good power from its lone engine, even as the current generation comes to a close.

The 2016 A4 stands as a strong entry in its segment, and that's a testament to its trend-setting design that still looks fresh even as it approaches its sunset. It continues to offer good performance, high-tech features, and a tasteful palette of exterior and interior trims, even as it's being replaced by a brand-new model for 2017.

The A4 grabs a piece of the styling lead it shares with the Cadillac ATS. It's rakish and sleek, embossed with more details in 2013 that livened up its spare shape. It's still pretty toned, and toned down, though the grille and wide fog lamps give it a more muscular front end. Audi wraps the warm-looking cockpit in wood and leather, with aluminum trim, and it's reorganized some controls a bit.

The A4 family manages to encompass a good-sized swath of compact luxury, ranging from the efficient A4 models to the S4's supercharged V-6 and all-wheel drive to the Allroad wagon. (The S4 and Allroad are covered in separate entries.) But A4 sedans are definitely more limited than in the past, going by what's under the hood.

Review continues below

For several years, all A4 models have come with the 220-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4; the engine responds cuts through turbo lag and gets truly zesty Front-drive A4s have a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that delivers the best gas mileage, while all-wheel-drive cars have a choice between a 6-speed manual and an 8-speed auto.

The excellent 8-speed automatic has a sport mode, but doesn't have paddle shifters. All-wheel-drive models have strong acceleration and reasonable fuel economy, with the automatic rated at 31 mpg highway.

The A4's stock steering and suspension give it a composed feel on the road, with decent electric steering feel and a ride that's only slightly firm. More taut shocks and summer 18-inch tires come in the sport package. There's also a choice of dynamic steering and Drive Select, both of which use electronic controls to alter the A4's road manners. We think the sport setup is more predictable, and more pleasant.

All A4 cars have well-shaped seats, with excellent sport buckets available for a fee. Passenger space is fine, though the rear seat is lower than we'd like, and knee room can seem too snug for a car of its size. The trunk is small, too, when compared with cars like the 3-Series.

The A4 has scored well in past safety tests, but the IIHS no longer puts it on the top safety lists. A rearview camera still is an option; so are adaptive cruise control that can stop the car from speeds of up to 19 mph, and blind-spot monitors that can warn of unseen obstacles.

The Audi A4 offers some exotic features that can make it a complex, high-tech piece. Each version has power features, satellite radio, and leather, along with Bluetooth and a USB music interface.

Audi's infotainment system, dubbed MMI, runs navigation with richly detailed Google Earth maps. The system requires in-car data, which turns the A4 into a mobile hotspot. We think Audi's optional Bang & Olufsen audio system is one of the cleanest-sounding car stereos we've ever heard.

Changes for 2016 mostly deal with adding standard equipment for trim levels and packages. The base Premium model now comes with a standard three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, and it can be optioned with Advanced Key and Audi connect as part of the Navigation plus package. A Bang & Olufsen sound system is now included in the Technology package on Premium Plus models. Premium models with the S line competition plus package now include 19-inch multi-spoke wheels. The A4 is now also available in Misano Red pearl effect paint, like the S4.

The best gas mileage comes from the CVT-equipped, front-wheel-drive base model, which returns 24 mpg city, 31 highway, 27 combined. Upgrading to quattro all-wheel drive and the 8-speed automatic transmission, the A4 rates 21/30/25 mpg. With the manual, the A4 quattro scores slightly better gas mileage of 22/32/26 mpg.

8

2016 Audi A4

Styling

The A4 has been a design trendsetter for a generation of sedans, and it still sports some of the most cohesive styling.

The 2016 Audi A4's design is sleek, handsome, and understated. Buyers can make it align better with their taste by opting for Black Optic, S line, and S line Style exterior packages.

This generation of the A4 has been around since 2009; a few tasteful updates in 2013 have helped to keep it fresh, and it continues to look at home in the luxury sedan segment even as it rides out the end of the current design's life.

Audi's wide, deep grille takes up most of the real estate on the A4's front end. It's flanked with LED running lights and xenon headlights that are sleeker than in earlier model years. Reshaped fog lamps are mounted low across the front air dam, to give the A4 a muscular, solid feel. The A4 is attractive from almost any angle, sharp but relaxed, with athletic proportions.

Upper trim levels have cosmetic touches that include side and door sills, new badges, and 10-spoke wheels.

Audi fits the A4 with a cabin that's warmed slightly by wood and metal trim. Plastic is more present than in past Audi cockpits, though the A4 still is handsome and well-finished inside. =

In 2013, a larger LCD screen in the dash-mounted infotainment system brought more colorful renderings and quicker processors, giving the Audi A4 one of the sharpest screens in any luxury compact sedan. For 2016, the interior is now graced with a new three-spoke multi-function steering wheel.

Review continues below
8

2016 Audi A4

Performance

The base front-wheel-drive model and its CVT are to be avoided, but the uprated S4 is a driver's gem.

The 2016 Audi A4 is again unchanged mechanically. While still a strong powertrain, the sedan's inline-4 has started to feel a little underwhelming compared to its competitors.

The A4 is down to a single engine choice, but it's a good one. The 220-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-4 teams with either a 6-speed automatic or a CVT or a 6-speed manual. The A4 is rated to 130 mph, and 06-0 mph times are in the 7-second range.

We'd pass on the CVT. Its only advantage is in price; performance and responsiveness are off the charts, down and left. Other versions come standard with all-wheel drive and have the option for a sport suspension with 18-inch summer tires.

The A4's brakes aren't our favorite. They can be grabby at low speeds, though they're very good when the speedo wanders into its top half of travel.

The A4 is blessed with stable, predictable handling and a taut ride. Front-drive base cars feel more limited by tires, but sport models with all-wheel drive have excellent traction no matter what the surface. Audi fitted electronic power steering to the A4 last year, and it's not as natural-feeling as previous systems, but it can be fitted with a variable-ratio setup.

We think Drive Select is a system the A4 can live without. It's a driver-mode selector that toggles between sport, comfort, and automatic modes and fiddles with transmission shifts, throttle and suspension settings, and steering weight. It's too tough to find a mode where all the sub-systems cooperate well with each other--and it's expensive.

Review continues below
7

2016 Audi A4

Comfort & Quality

Those in front will love the accommodations in the 2016 Audi A4, although those in back won't be so long on comfort.

The A4 has enough space for four adults to get comfortable without getting intimate. It's an airy-feeling place with exceptional fit and finish and good front seats, though the back bench can get a little tiresome.

Supple front bucket seats in the A4 have leather and power adjustment; only the somewhat flat bottom cushion keeps us from unanimous consent. The Sport package's improved chairs do the trick nicely, and either seat gives the driver an excellent view of the controls and the road ahead.

Big adults can find better accommodations than the A4's rear seat. They don't make a great first impression, since the cushion is low but head room is still lacking, as is knee room.

The A4's trunk is on the small end, at 12.4 cubic feet, bigger than a Cadillac ATS but much smaller than the trunk in a BMW 3er. The back seat does flip down to hold bigger items, and Audi fits a pass-through so long objects can slide through the rear seat without stealing all the room.

There's more plastic inside this Audi than in previous A4s, but fit and finish are still its strong suit. You can pay for wood and leather and metal trim that makes the cockpit feel nearly as rich as older A4s, but that's not progress, that's product planning.

The A4 generally controls its noises, whether they be road-generated or wind-driven.

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8

2016 Audi A4

Safety

Crash-test ratings are mixed for the 2016 A4, and it doesn't do especially well in the latest tests.

When this generation of the A4 debuted, it was considered an excellent performer in all safety tests. Recent changes in crash-test methodology have seen its overall scores drop slightly.

The IIHS has rated the A4 with mostly 'Good' scores in many of its crash tests, except for a lone 'Poor' score in the small-overlap crash test, which keeps the sedan from being a Top Safety Pick.

The NHTSA scores the A4 at five stars across the board, its highest set of ratings.

A4 models also include ample standard safety equipment, including dual front, side, and curtain airbags; stability and traction control; and active headrests (including three across the back).

Optional safety equipment can further enhance the safe-driving experience, with a rearview camera, blind-spot and lane-departure warning system, adaptive cruise control, and adaptive rear thorax air bags all available for purchase.

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10

2016 Audi A4

Features

From Google Earth maps to in-car wireless connectivity, the Audi A4 has kept ahead of its peer set.

The 2016 Audi A4 can be had with all sorts of comfort and technology options, but adding them quickly increases the car's price.

Leather upholstery is standard on the A4, as are power windows/locks/mirrors; a CD player; cruise control; a sunroof; Audi's Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system; and satellite radio.

For the best value in the A4 range, the Premium plus package adds three-zone climate control, Bluetooth, heated seats, a trip computer, a garage door opener, rain/light sensors, and an auto-dimming mirror among other extras. Navigation is optional, bundled in a package with the rearview camera, HD Radio, and Audi Connect (more on that below). An available Sport package brings bolstered sport seats with lumbar adjustment and a sport suspension.

The Prestige package upgrades the A4 further, including the MMI with navigation system, a Bang & Olufsen audio system, and blind-spot monitors. The Sport package is also available on Prestige models, as is the S line package, which includes a sport suspension, 19-inch wheels, upgraded exterior body elements, and Alcantara seats. The Prestige trim is the only A4 to offer the Driver Assist package and its adaptive cruise control system, with variable-ratio dynamic steering and Drive Select.

The Exclusive Line interior and split-folding rear seats are available with the Cold Weather package, a welcome option for those in snow belt states.

The MMI system uses a rotary controller to access audio, climate, and phone functions. Being a menu-driven system, there are many nested layers to delve through, but it has grown into a fairly user-friendly and logical system over the years-even more so than BMW's iDrive. iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, and garage door opener features are available as part of a package, while Xenon lighting can be added in another.

The navigation system and its display offer exceptionally crisp images on a large screen with access to Google Earth and Street View functions, easily making it a must-have add-on. The MMI with navigation also includes a 40 GB hard drive, a DVD player, and two SD card readers.

Audi Connect, the company's telematics system, requires a monthly subscription, giving access to a built-in 3G connection that can create a mobile wi-fi hotspot for up to eight users. Audi is gradually introducing 4G LTE connectivity, too. The Audi Connect system also enables Google local searches via the MMI console, real-time traffic and weather information, and more.

Changes for 2016 mostly deal with adding standard equipment for trim levels and packages. The base Premium model now comes with a standard three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, and it can be optioned with Advanced Key and Audi connect as part of the Navigation plus package. A Bang & Olufsen sound system is now included in the Technology package on Premium Plus models. Premium models with the S line competition plus package now include 19-inch multi-spoke wheels. The A4 is now also available in Misano Red pearl effect paint, like the S4.

Review continues below
7

2016 Audi A4

Fuel Economy

Base front-wheel-drive models of the A4 earn the highest EPA fuel-economy ratings.


The 2016 Audi A4 is still one of the more efficient vehicles in its class, at least among gas four-cylinder models.

The A4 sedan's turbocharged 2.0-liter four can be paired with three different transmissions.

The best gas mileage comes from the CVT-equipped, front-wheel-drive base model, which returns 24 mpg city, 31 highway, 27 combined.

Upgrading to quattro all-wheel drive and the 8-speed automatic transmission, the A4 rates 21/30/25 mpg. With the manual, the A4 quattro scores slightly better at 22/32/26 mpg, according to the EPA.

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March 4, 2016
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Fully equipped yet clean and powerful, this car demonstrates the pleasure potential of the modern automotive technology! A turbocharger further enhances performance, while also preserving fuel economy. Audi... + More »
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Styling 8
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 8
Features 10
Fuel Economy 7
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