2019 Audi A6 Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
December 6, 2018

The 2019 Audi A6 is a mid-size luxury sedan that skips flash and fast for a comfortable ride with an understated exterior.

The 2019 Audi A6 occupies the middle better than Joe DiMaggio on a sunny day. The Yankee Clipper and Audi mid-size skipper also have similar levels of public restraint, unfazed by stars among their ranks.

The Audi A6 is new this year and splits the difference in Audi’s sedan lineup—between the more popular A4 and more opulent A8. The A6 is also kin to the shaplier A7 that attracts more eyeballs, but not as many buyers with a stiff premium over the regular four-door.

Understatement is the A6’s birthright.

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The new A6 earns a 7.0 on our overall scale before safety is factored in, which reflects its good features and comfort. Our number is likely to rise when crash-test data arrives, the A6 historically has done well. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For the first year of its new shape, the 2019 A6 is available in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trims that are all powered by a turbocharged V-6 that is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and all-wheel drive. Like prior generations, the A6 likely will spawn performance and efficiency variants, but the A6 3.0 TSI goes on sale first.

The new A6 is an evolution of the old mid-sizer for Audi. The new sedan boasts a bigger grille and small flares over its wheels visible in the daylight, brighter headlights and sharper taillights when the sun sets. Premium Plus and Prestige sedans are equipped from the factory with brighter and safer headlights that can dim for oncoming cars without sacrificing visibility on the road ahead, although Audi won’t activate those features until federal rulemakers complete an overhaul of U.S. regulations.

Inside, the overhaul of the A6 is more apparent. A trio of high-tech screens is available in most models: a 12.3-inch digital dash is complemented by a 10.2-inch touchscreen for infotainment and an 8.6-inch touchscreen for vehicle functions. (Base, Premium versions get traditional dials and an 8.8-inch touchscreen for infotainment, instead.) All three are flanked by wood trim accents, leather and soft-touch materials on the dash and seats, and a serene and quiet cabin.

The A6 drops last year’s supercharged V-6 for a turbocharged V-6 that makes almost the same power, but adds a dollop of heavy torque that’s available earlier. The A6 sprints up to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, same as last year, but its turbos spin up just past idle for better use of its thrust. A 48-volt mild-hybrid system is a first for the new A6, although it’s reserved for powering accessories at a stop—not powering the car on electricity alone.

A 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is the only transmission available, and Audi’s latest all-wheel-drive system can declutch the rear wheels for better efficiency while cruising.

The new A6 is only a half-inch wider between the wheels than the last version, although interior room is unchanged from the outgoing model.

Every A6 gets leather upholstery and touchscreens inside, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as standard for about $60,000 to start.

Top trims can tempt $70,000 with 21-inch wheels; premium audio; contour seats that are heated, cooled, and can massage front-seat passengers; and a head-up display for the driver.

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2019 Audi A6

Styling

The 2019 A6 is more restrained than the related A7, which is how it should be.

The new 2019 Audi A6 is so subdued, it’s nearly invisible. That’s not faint praise—designers almost preferred it that way.

That’s because the A6 is best considered as a mid-size tag team with the A7 sportback, which features a racier roofline and look-at-me shape. The A6 is the less vocal of the two and gets a lower score, but not by much. We give the A6 a 7. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Shoppers will likely notice in the daylight that the new 2019 A6 has a wider, lower grille and pronounced bulges over the wheels for a slightly more macho look. The A6’s makeover is subtle, and follows more closely the A5 that received a sharper window line and subtle sculpting on the body lines.

With the lights off, the A6 shines. The front and rear lights are high-tech and on Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels, a cutting-edge Matrix display that can better illuminate the road ahead. (Matrix lights aren’t yet legal in the U.S., but Audi says that A6 versions sold this year will need only a small software upgrade to activate those displays once federal rulemakers approve proposed changes.)

Around back, the LED taillights on the A6 skip the wraparound look on the A7 for a cleaner, toned-down appearance.

Inside, the new A6’s changes are more pronounced and more welcome. The tech-heavy approach is well-integrated—the touchscreens on the dash and center console skip the bolt-on feel from the last version, and the standard wood trim is a warm touch. Unlike competitors, the A6 is more restrained in interior flair: no wild color combos or huge walls o’ screens.

That look can lull some into inattention, but contrast stitching throughout the dash and seats and changeable interior ambient lighting help the foreground from fading into the background too quickly.

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2019 Audi A6

Performance

More power across a wider band help the 2019 Audi A6 feel more confident on the highway.

On paper, the tale of the tape for the 2019 Audi A6 sounds identical to last year’s version: V-6, all-wheel drive, automatic transmission.

This year’s version paints the same broad strokes as the outgoing A6, but the new brush fills in more color where last year’s was lacking.

We give the A6 a 7 for performance based on its smooth ride and competent performance. Hotter (and cooler) versions of the A6 are on their way, but our rating applies to the versions on sale now. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year’s V-6 makes 335 horsepower—nearly identical to the outgoing V-6—and 369 pound-feet of torque, which is up 44 lb-ft to last year and available over a bigger slice of the rev range. The 0-60 mph times are the same as last year, too: 5.1 seconds, but the increased thrust is noticeable during highway passes. Credit goes to the turbocharged V-6 (last year’s version was supercharged) and Audi’s engineering with their evolved all-wheel-drive system that can disconnect the rear wheels quickly for better efficiency or spin up all four for better performance.

Called “quattro ultra,” the system can mete out heapings of twist to the front or rear wheels—or all four—depending on need and drive mode. The system works seamlessly in the background and, despite its preference for better efficiency in front-wheel-drive mode, hardly misses a beat from previous generations of the signature system. Slide the A6 into a sportier drive mode and the all-wheel-drive system delivers power to all four wheels to carve a tighter line. Slip back into comfort mode and the system relaxes throttle sensitivity and steering weight for an easier track down the middle of its lane.

We expect that Audi will sell a front-wheel-drive version of the A6 sometime next year with a 2.0-liter turbo-4, but the automaker isn’t giving away many hints about that fuel-efficient and less expensive version.

A 48-volt mild hybrid system is new for 2019, although it won’t dump any supplemental power down the driveline for now. The system can power the car’s accessories at a stoplight for better fuel economy in stop-and-go traffic and can restart the engine almost imperceptibly for smoother takeoff, but won’t drive the car on electrons alone. In other parts of the world, the system can help the A6 “sail” to a stop by cutting the engine at speeds while the car slows, although that system isn’t available in the U.S.

The V-6 is teamed with a quick shifting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic that busily keeps the car in higher, more efficient gears. The 7-speed settles into the background nicely, steering-wheel shift paddles can bring it to life when the road gets twisty. A traditional 8-speed automatic is in the Audi stable but not here; we may see it on the upcoming S6 version.

The A6 is equipped with standard front and rear five-link suspension hardware that’s upgradeable on top trims to adaptive dampers. Those dampers are bundled into a package with rear-wheel steering that we weren’t able to drive. We’ll report back when we do.

The standard springs and struts soak in road imperfections better this year, thanks to a stiffer body and more aluminum that makes the A6 not only lighter, but also more rigid. The supple suspension can be spoiled somewhat with optional 21-inch wheels. The 19-inchers ride better.

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2019 Audi A6

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 Audi A6 impresses with its standard and optional luxury features.

Mid-size luxury sedans like the 2019 Audi A6 get the full boat for creature comforts: electronics, leather upholstery, proper wood trim. Despite their somewhat scaled-down dimensions, many offer the same amenities as full-size, flagship sedans.

The 2019 Audi A6 is no different. Even base versions are equipped with leather upholstery, power-adjustable seats, luscious trim, and a spacious back seat. Starting from an average score, the A6 gets an 8 out of 10 for comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

This year, the Audi A6 is new from the lugs up. While the 2019 A6 has more room between the wheels than last year’s version, one-half inch, the span from bumper to bumper is largely the same. That increased wheelbase length is almost all cosmetic, the A6 has identical dimensions for front and rear passengers as before.

We’d pick the front seats as our preferred place to be thanks to its roomy accommodations, standard leather upholstery, and eight-way power-adjustable and heated front seats. Those front seats, which can be 18-way adjustable with heating, cooling, and in-seat massage when optionally equipped, are snug and supportive and hugged us all the right ways for hours behind the wheel.

In back, tall torsos may brush the bottom of the headliner, but our 6-foot-3 editor managed to sit in the rear for long stretches without craning his neck or bouncing off the top.

The rear seats sport more than 37 inches of leg room, which was enough to sit behind someone of similar size, same as last year. The ride in back is just as composed as it is the front seat and a quiet cabin helps with polite conversation.

The rear seats can be optionally equipped with seat heaters and separate climate control zones, although no version is spartan.

The trunk holds 13.7 cubic feet of cargo and it’s deceptively small. Despite its wide opening and low load floor, the trunk space in the A6 is only on average with the rest of its class.

Not so for the interior fittings and finish. The Audi A6 is just as opulent as its near-$60,000 price tag would suggest, and top models with Audi’s virtual instrument cluster, top 10.2-inch touchscreen for infotainment and bottom screen for climate control are impressive among luxury cars.

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2019 Audi A6

Safety

Crash-test data on the 2019 Audi A6 isn’t complete.

The 2019 Audi A6 is too new to be rated by federal or independent safety agencies.

Until they ruin one—or many—in the name of science, we’ll withhold our score. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Like many other models from Audi, the A6 is equipped as standard with low-speed automatic emergency braking that can prevent forward crashes. A similar system used in the A4 was rated “Superior” by the IIHS and prevented a low-speed crash at 12 mph, and mitigated a 25-mph impact by 22 mph.

A spend-up system goes further, at faster speeds, but the IIHS hasn’t yet rated it. It’s part of a larger system that includes active lane control, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, a surround-view camera system, and a head-up display for $2,500. It’s a spendy system, but one that we recommend for peace of mind.

Beyond active safety features, the A6’s outward vision is good. The rear roof pillars predictably create typical blind spots over the driver’s shoulders, but front and rear vision are mostly clear.

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2019 Audi A6

Features

New screens and new infotainment highlight the raft of tech upgrades in the 2019 Audi A6.

The pecking order among luxury automakers is often based on the strength of their sedans—even if shoppers prefer to buy crossovers at an overwhelming rate.

The 2019 Audi A6 spares little in its push to impress shoppers with a whirlwind of tech, high-quality materials, and luxury accommodations.

Starting at nearly $60,000, the 2019 Audi A6 costs thousands more than its direct rivals’ base models, although that gap narrows once the cars are comparably equipped.

The 2019 A6 is available in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trim levels. Base versions—if there’s such a thing for a $60,000 sedan—get twin touchscreens for infotainment and vehicle controls, 19-inch wheels, LED lights, leather upholstery, sunroof, heated eight-way power adjustable front seats, three-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, four USB charge ports, low-speed automatic emergency braking, and premium audio.

We give it an 8 for good standard features, a good base infotainment system, and excellent options including a slick instrument display. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Top-of-the-line Audi A6 Prestige models are very well equipped. Those sedans feature a 12.3-inch display for instruments, an uprated 10.2-inch touchscreen for infotainment, keyless ignition, surround-view camera system, heated and cooled front seats, soft-close doors, head-up display, blind-spot monitors, uprated 16-speaker audio by Bang & Olufsen, wireless smartphone charger with wireless compatibility, and HD Matrix headlights that may be upgradeable within a year. The Prestige trim costs more than $68,000 to start.

(Note: Federal rulemakers this year have begun changing rules that prohibited Audi’s Matrix headlight system in the past. Although it’s not clear when those new headlight rules may allow for the Audi system, the carmaker says it will unlock those headlights when rulemakers allow.)

There’s a lot to like about Prestige versions, but we see better value one rung down the ladder, at the Premium Plus trim level. For more than $63,000 to start, those versions get the whiz-bang three-screen system (instrument, infotainment, vehicle control) but lack cooled seats as standard equipment, soft-close doors, and HD Matrix headlights—they’re just regular ol’ Matrix that we still can’t have.

That’s a better deal, and it makes more palatable the $2,500 spend-up option for active driving assistants that are optional on Prestige trim levels too.

Audi MMI

For most shoppers, the A6’s updated infotainment and digital gauge cluster will be high among the reasons to consider Audi against its rival. The base 2019 A6 features traditional gauges and an 8.8-inch touchscreen for infotainment. We haven’t yet tried that version.

Premium Plus and higher trim levels get a 10.2-inch touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and 8.6-inch touchscreen for vehicle functions such as climate control and vehicle dynamic controls. All three screens are pixel-sharp and colorful, responsive to swipes and pinches, and the touchscreens have a haptic “click” that confirms a selection that’s satisfying (and feels like it’d be really expensive to replace).

The net effect is the A6’s ace; its interior tech is impressive and alluring. The hardware running the complicated layout was upgraded this year to handle the countless duties, including Google Maps, navigation, vehicle settings, and reminders, seamlessly.

This year, like the A7, A8, and Q8, Audi makes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility that works wirelessly in the A6. The baked-in software from Audi is good, but running the smartphone system has its perks too.

Apple CarPlay is rendered on the A6’s touchscreen in widescreen format with no “dead space” that other automakers are forced to create. Apple fans will notice that there’s one more more column of icons in the A6 than there are in other cars—that’s the secret sauce. Beyond the better screen utilization, the wireless smartphone system allows the phones to be tucked into the center console on a standard wireless charging mat that doubles as an antenna booster. The only bad news? CarPlay doesn’t use the same haptic click to confirm selections like the regular system.

It may seem like a fuss to extol such a small detail about a system with nearly 3 feet of high-resolution display, but for technophiles the complete system offers a comprehensive integration that others don’t offer yet.

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2019 Audi A6

Fuel Economy

The new 2019 A6 stacks up well for fuel economy against familiar foes from Germany.

The 2019 Audi A6’s simplified powertrain lineup means fuel economy ratings are similarly easy.

With a turbo V-6, all-wheel drive, and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the EPA rates the A6 at 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 25 combined. That’s average among new cars—just. We give it a 5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

We expect that the new A6 will spawn several variants in the near future, including a turbo-4 version, high-power S6 models, and more. Electrification figures heavily into Audi’s plans—in other words, stay tuned.

What’s available from Audi now competes well against rivals. The BMW 540i with all-wheel drive nets a 24 mpg combined rating from the EPA and the Mercedes-Benz E300 with all-wheel drive rates 23 mpg combined.

BMW offers a plug-in hybrid variant, called the 530e, and Mercedes is likely to bring over its hybrid version soon. We expect Audi to do the same.

The 2019 Audi A6 is rated for premium fuel.

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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7.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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2019 Audi A6 Pricing Insights

  • 2018 Audi A6 features new variants; redesigned 2019s can be ordered
  • Rebates: Unadvertised discounts + up to $2,000 loyalty
  • Lease: No promotions again this month, which is unusual
  • Finance: From 5.29% APR for 66 months
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