- Wide span of performance
- Available wagons
- Great interior tech
- Impressive safety scorecard
- Very good fit and finish
- Conservative looks for some
- Pricey premium engines
- Stylish A7 is right next door
- Small-ish trunk
features & specs
The 2021 Audi A6 mid-size luxury sedan or wagon is reserved but flexible in its powertrain offerings and body styles.
The 2021 Audi A6 isn’t a crossover SUV. It’s a sedan, and that makes it a refreshing choice among mid-size luxury cars.
The A6 is available as a sedan or wagon; with 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder power; and can focus on practical luxury or wild power. It is mechanically related to the A7 Sportback, which may be considered to be yet another body style for the A6. We give the A6 a 7.0 TCC rating that’s based on the V-6-powered A6 sedan, which will be more popular among buyers. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year, Audi has added a few packages to some trim levels—including a tech package for base A6s that can add a bigger touchscreen—and the hot RS 6 Avant wagon is new for this year.
Audi offers the A6 in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trim levels that start at $55,895. The S6 sedan is available in Premium Plus and Prestige trims and costs at least $75,395. The A6 Allroad wagon is available in Premium Plus and Prestige trims as well and costs $66,895 to start. The RS 6 Avant high-performance wagon is order-only, monospec (fully loaded, that is) and costs at least $109,995.
The sedans trade on familiar shapes for Audi, including a large grille up front that is flanked by standard LED lights. Performance variants such as the S6 and RS 6 add visual flair and big intakes, the A6 Allroad adds 1.8 inches of ride height for more ground clearance. The sedans and wagons are conservatively styled but look good inside and out.
Base A6 sedans are powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 248 horsepower. It’s quiet, capable, and comfortable. The A6 and A6 Allroad rely on a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 335 hp and it’s our pick for drivability and comfort. The S6 uses a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 that makes 444 hp that’s huge fun. The RS 6 gets a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 that makes 591 hp and promises to be the fastest family wagon on the planet.
Every A6 (S6 and RS 6, for that matter) gets a four-wheel independent suspension, all-wheel drive, and automatic transmission.
The wagons are more practical, but the sedans are similarly comfortable for four adults. Only a small-ish 13.7 cubic-foot trunk dings its practicality in our view.
Safety officials gave the A6 top marks for crash safety and the IIHS called it a Top Safety Pick+, which is its highest award. Every A6 includes automatic emergency braking and most are equipped with adaptive cruise control and active lane control.
With more than $55,000 separating the base 2021 A6 sedan from a RS 6 Avant wagon, equipment can vary considerably. Every A6 gets twin touchscreens for infotainment and vehicle functions, at least 19-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, and Bluetooth and smartphone compatibility. Many A6 models will be equipped with a 10.1-inch touchscreen (compared to an 8.8-inch version on base models), a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and premium audio. Steer toward those Premium Plus and higher trims for the best A6s.
2021 Audi A6
The 2021 A6 hits most of the right notes for a luxury sedan or wagon.
Related to the 2021 A7 but without the sloping roofline, the 2021 A6 adopts a more traditional sedan or wagon shape.
It gets a 7 for looks based on the sedan’s good exterior and interior. We love the long roof of the A6 Allroad and RS 6, but those won’t be as popular as the sedan.
The 2021 A6 doesn’t stray far from Audi’s familiar playbook, it looks similar to many other cars they’ve produced. Audi’s familiar nose marks the front with a big, octagonal grille framed by LED headlights. The body sides are largely flat, but “blistered” around the wheel wells a more powerful look. The rear end is smart and sharp, but lacks the full-width LED taillights that appear on other Audi models.
The A6 Allroad mostly follows the A6’s look to the rear doors, where it adds a window and large cargo area and liftgate. The RS 6 Avant adds menace to the wagon’s profile with a low, wide stance; big intakes; and large 21-inch wheels with painted brake calipers.
Inside all models, the A6 uses a tech-first approach with multiple touchscreens and a large digital instrument cluster (on most models) that are tastefully integrated into the dash.
Compared to others, the A6 is more subdued in its interior, which may appeal to some shoppers.
2021 Audi A6
The 2021 A6’s performance ranges from sedate to spectacular.
The A6’s performance tale varies wildly with four available engine choices that range in output from 248 hp to 591 hp.
Our rating of 7 applies to the A6 with a V-6, which earns points above average for its acceleration and handling. Predictably, the scores for other variants would rise with their increasing power outputs.
The lowest-cost A6 wears “45 TFSI badges” and is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that spins out 248 hp. It’s paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. According to Audi, the 2.0-liter turbo-4 A6 can spring to 60 mph from a standstill in 6.1 seconds, which is brisk but others are quicker.
The 2021 A6 55 TFSI is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 335 hp and propels the sedan to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. It’s our pick for the best combination of affordability, performance, and fuel economy. Like the 2.0-liter version, the V-6 pairs to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and all-wheel drive. It’s rated by the EPA at 25 mpg combined, which is compared to the 27 mpg combined rating of the 2.0-liter turbo-4, and adds $4,900 to the bottom line of comparably equipped models with smaller engines. (These versions use a fuel-efficient version of Audi’s all-wheel-drive system that can disconnect the rear wheels for better fuel efficiency.)
The S6 relies on a 444-hp 2.9-liter V-6 and 8-speed automatic for propulsion. It sprints from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds and uses a full-time all-wheel-drive system that’s thirstier. The EPA rates the S6 at 22 mpg combined.
The A6 Allroad uses the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 from the A6, but sits 1.8 inches higher for better capability off road. It also accelerates up to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds.
The top of the pile is the RS 6 Avant that uses a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 that makes 591 hp, an 8-speed automatic, and all-wheel drive. Audi says it accelerates to 60 mph from a standstill in 3.5 seconds all the way to an optional top speed of 190 mph. It’s the fastest wagon we’ve ever heard of, but we haven’t yet driven it. We’ll report back once we do.
The A6 can be equipped with different ride systems that range from comfortable to buttoned-down racer. The standard four-wheel independent suspension is soft and sedate and can be upgraded on 2.0- and 3.0-liter A6s to a sport-tuned setup that’s 0.8-inch lower compared to the regular suspension.
Adaptive dampers are available on A6s with a V-6 and toggle between firm and normal settings with predictable results. The S6 and A6 Allroad are fitted with an air suspension that smothers bumps or become firmer for sportier driving or can raise the A6 Allroad to tackle tougher terrain. A rear sport differential is available on the S6 for better cornering and we recommend it.
The RS 6 also rides on an air suspension, but it can be tuned for the track. A rear differential is standard on RS 6 Avant wagons for predictable, repeatable, and smoky slides.
Every A6 is comfortable on long hauls, even with available 20- or 21-inch wheels.
Rear-wheel steering is available on the V-6-powered A6s and S6s, and standard on RS 6 Avants. It draws a tighter line around corners but can be unnerving to new owners not yet used to the system.
2021 Audi A6
Comfort & Quality
Every 2021 A6 is comfortable for adults; wagons are the practical and fun pick.
With two body styles, the 2021 A6 varies in shape and cargo carrying capacity.
Both the A6 Allroad and RS 6 Avant wagons are spacious and capacious in the rear, but even the A6 and S6 sedan are comfortable for four adults. It’s a 7 for comfort based on the sedan, which comfortably carries four adults and with a good fit and finish.
The A6 is shod in standard leather upholstery that’s comfortable and good-looking. Front seat riders get a better view up front, and in all cars, power-adjustable seats that are heated.
Rear seat riders get 37.4 inches of leg room, which is more than competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but less than mainstream mid-size sedans such as the Honda Accord.
Behind the rear seats is how the A6, S6, A6 Allroad and RS 6 Avant separate.
The A6 Allroad and RS 6 Avant are wagons and offer up to 30 cubic feet of cargo space. (The RS 6 Avant is an automotive outlier and is coveted for its performance and wagon appearance, perhaps not its practicality.)
Sedans offer just 13.7 cubic feet of cargo space, which is small among sedans.
Up the trim ladder, the A6’s seats get better with more adjustability and added cooling and massaging (all seats are heated). The sport seats in S6 and RS 6 are snugger with better bolsters but skip massagers.
Regardless of body style or what’s under the hood, the A6 is well-appointed with high-quality materials and fit and finish.
2021 Audi A6
The 2021 Audi A6 has a stellar safety scorecard.
Federal and independent safety officials have good things to say about the 2021 Audi A6.
The NHTSA gave the sedan a five-star overall rating and the IIHS called the A6 a Top Safety Pick+, its highest award. The A6 Allroad is also an IIHS TSP+, but the RS 6 Avant hasn’t been tested and likely won’t be.
Starting from an average score, the A6 gets points above average for its official crash tests and awards, standard automatic emergency braking, good outward vision, and safety extras. It’s a 9 with an asterisk or a plus.
(That asterisk? A four-star front crash rating from federal testers that’s a minor footnote in a stellar safety scorecard.)
Every A6 has automatic emergency braking that the IIHS rated as “Superior” at preventing forward crashes with other cars and people at 12 mph and 25 mph. A6 Premium Plus versions add adaptive cruise control and active lane control. (Active lane control is optional on A6 Allroad wagons.)
The IIHS rated the A6 Premium’s headlights as “Acceptable.” The rest of the A6 range (including S6 and RS 6) is equipped with headlights that rate as “Good.”
2021 Audi A6
Every 2021 A6 is well-equipped, and many offer standout features that we recommend.
The 2021 Audi A6 is well-equipped among luxury sedans. Top trims are very fast, very luxurious, and also very expensive.
Audi offers the A6 in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trim levels and it costs $55,895 to start, including destination. The S6 performance sedan and A6 Allroad wagon is available only in Premium Plus and Prestige trims and they start at $75,395 and $66,895, respectively. The RS 6 Avant high-performance wagon is available by order only and costs $109,995.
For good base equipment, good options, and standout features such as dual touchscreens and advanced driver-assistance features, the A6 range gets an 8.
The 2021 A6 Premium is available with a turbo-4 or V-6 engine, and equipment is mostly identical between the two. Base sedans get leather upholstery, 19-inch wheels, navigation, active safety features (covered above), an 8.8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, and an 8.6-inch lower touchscreen for vehicle functions. Opting for the V-6 instead of the turbo-4 adds $4,900 to the bottom line in any trim. A new convenience package offers a 10.1-inch touchscreen and a surround-view camera system to base cars.
We’d pick the A6 Premium Plus that adds to the Premium version a 10.1-inch touchscreen, premium audio, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, driver-assistance features, and uprated headlights. The A6 Premium Plus costs $59,895 with a turbo-4; $64,695 with a V-6; $66,895 as an A6 Allroad; or $75,395 as an S6. (The S6 Premium Plus gets 21-inch wheels with summer tires and active lane control is standard on the A6 Allroad.)
The A6 Prestige goes all the way with heated and cooled front seats, a head-up display, four-zone climate control, matrix headlights, and available executive and accent packages. Those versions range in price from $65,895 to $82,095 and are very nice, but not especially good values.
The RS 6 Avant is monospec and includes 21- or 22-inch wheels, special high-performance exterior accents, and most of the same equipment on Prestige versions. It costs nearly $110,000 to start, which reflects its superlative performance.
Audi’s infotainment system is clean, attractive, and responsive and is one of our favorites among luxury automakers. The dual touchscreen setup may take time to learn, but it’s only a few days and pays off later in ease of use.
2021 Audi A6
The 2021 A6 manages middling fuel economy in the most popular versions.
With three body styles and four available powertrains, the 2021 Audi A6 has a wide spread for gas mileage. A sophisticated electronic system helps to power the car at stoplights, but doesn’t impact fuel economy.
Our rating of 5 applies to the V-6-powered A6, which is more popular with buyers. The EPA rates it at 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 24 combined.
Opting for the turbo-4 nets slightly better fuel economy. The EPA rates those versions at 24/32/27 mpg.
The A6 Allroad is powered exclusively by a V-6. The EPA rates that at 20/26/22 mpg. The S6 sedan asks for more fuel for better performance and the EPA rates that at 18/28/22 mpg.
The RS 6 Avant is the performance wagon of choice and it isn’t yet rated by the EPA. Its 4.0-liter V-8 is extremely powerful and will be thirsty.
All A6 variants are rated for premium fuel.