2017 Audi A4 Review: Form and Function At Its Best-Review By Larry Nutson
2017 Audi A4
Form and function at its best
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
For 2017 the Audi A4 is all-new with a refined exterior design and significantly changed interior. I had a brief drive in the new A4 earlier this year in May and was looking forward to a longer time with this top-selling Audi.
The stars aligned for me with the scheduling of the media-loan A4 and my need for a couple long drives. One trip would take me east from Chicago to Ann Arbor, Michigan. This 225 mile highway drive would provide a good chance to measure fuel consumption and experience the new driver assistance features Audi now provides.
The 4-door, 5-passenger 2017 A4 sedan continues to be offered in three trims, with one engine/transmission configuration and in the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. That said, there is one additional A4 model that was recently introduced, which I will get to in a bit.
On the outside the A4 is still very much recognizable as an Audi. It has a new grille design and is a bit less curvy. Audi xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and dynamic LED taillights with dynamic turn signals are standard. There are optional LED headlights for the first time on the A4.
The new A4 is bigger and roomier providing more front seat comfort and rear passenger legroom. Though larger, the A4 is also lighter through lightweight aluminum-hybrid construction that brings a weight savings of 99 lbs. on FWD models, and 66 lbs. on quattro models.
The dashboard is new with a “wing design”, in Audi’s words. Leather seating surfaces and a sunroof are standard. New are an available head-up display and also an available 12.3 inch virtual cockpit display.
There were a number of features on the A4 whose function I really liked:
-- The power-fold outside mirrors don’t unfold until you start the engine, making for easy vehicle access in tight parking conditions.
-- The yellow light for the blind spot warning is installed in the inboard edge of the outside mirrors making for easy visibility through the door glass.
-- On locking the car with the key fob, the alarm signal is a gentle chirp rather than a loud blast of the regular car horn.
-- A destination may be set in the navigation system while underway. I really dislike some vehicles were you inefficiently have to remain stopped to program in a destination.
The 2.0-L Turbo engine has been reworked and now produces 252HP. It’s mated to newly developed seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission for both the front-wheel drive and quattro all-wheel drive A4s. Audi’s drive select has four modes – comfort, auto, dynamic and individual – that allows the driver to change gear shift points for increased throttle response, steering assistance and damper control and adaptive cruise control adjustments.
I mentioned I was taking a road trip with the A4. Well…I was really surprised at the fuel economy it achieved. For my nearly 100% highway drive, in light traffic where I could maintain good constant cruising speed in the 70+mph range, the A4 got 34mpg. It was just my wife and me with some light luggage in the trunk.
I was driving the A4 Quattro which has an EPA test-cycle fuel economy rating of 31 mpg highway. There’s no complaint here with my highway run economy compared to the EPA estimate. The A4 Quattro is EPA rated at 24 city mpg for a combined rating of 27 mpg.
I mentioned earlier there was an additional new Audi A4 model, the A4 Ultra. Audi has tweaked the 2.0-L turbo engine for low fuel consumption making it more efficient with a higher compression ratio of 11.7:1. It achieves EPA test-cycle estimated ratings of 27 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. Audi says no other luxury sedan in its competitive segment offers higher EPA-estimated city or highway mileage.
The 2.0T engine, mated to a seven-speed S tronic dual clutch transmission, produces 190 HP and sprints from 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds. The A4 Ultra comes in front-wheel drive only and has a base price of $34,900. I surely would like to road trip this model and see what it does for fuel economy in real world driving.
The A4 trim levels, all with the 252HP engine, are Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige with prices starting at $37,300. Premium Plus is $3,800 more and gets you 18-inch wheels, Bang & Olufsen Surround Sound System, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors and a few other items. The Prestige model loads up everything including a head-up display for $4,800 more above the Premium Plus. More details, specs and pricing on the entire A4 line-up can be found at www.audiusa.com.
Audi also offers a frontal collision mitigation system with automatic braking, rear collision mitigation, a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring and surround-view parking camera. These driver-assistance safety features provide excellent technology for safer driving and the reduced risk of collision and injury.
All in all, the A4 is a very comfortable, very nice driving, not-too-big premium sedan. The engine and transmission deliver very good overall acceleration, highway merging and passing performance. Not to mention the low fuel consumption. The Quattro all-wheel-drive provides balanced handling and excellent bad-weather driving, be it rain or snow. My road trip drives were very comfortable with good seat support and quiet interior sound levels making for easy conversations and music listening.
The 2017 Audi A4 sedan is a contender for both the North American Car of the Year (NACTOY) as well as the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Family Vehicle of the Year awards. We’ll just have to wait and see how these awards play out.
2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy
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