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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2017 AUDI A4 REVIEW


2017 AUDI A4 REVIEW (select to view enlarged photo)

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel


INTRO TO THE AUDI A4 VEHICLE
Would the Audi A4 be an auspicious choice for a more modest female? Or a capture a subtle nod for recognizing one’s own self-worth? If you’re anything like me, when trying on luxury-based sedans you want quality, but don’t always want all brand and unnecessary power that can come with it – or a car that proves to be so smart on the technology front you can’t even find the control buttons. With that being said, the Audi A4 (although far from perfect) could very well be your perfect traveling companion.

I drove a 2017 Audi A4 with the turbocharged 252-horsepower 2-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed automatic S tronic transmission and optional Quattro all-wheel drive. Available as the Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trims, every Audi A4 features the following: leather upholstery; eight-way power driver’s seat with four-way lumbar support; push-button start; sunroof; 10-speaker audio system; seven-inch MMI infotainment display; Bluetooth capability; Apple CarPlay and Android interface; backup camera; Xenon headlights; fog lights; and seventeen-inch wheels. Price as described without any options at base level is $34,900.

For the 2017 model year, the Audi A4 has been redesigned inside and out and improved on every level, from more powerful engines to plenty of new tech goodies. The vehicle competes with the BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS, and Volvo S90 – I’ll also throw the Lincoln MKZ for good measure.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The cabin design is understated but well crafted, full of ergonomic considerations from extra lumbar support to the angle of the display screen. I did miss not having a touchscreen, as commands are streamlined into a dial; intuitively, Audi’s multimedia system uses an uncommon layout and I often found myself back to square one when navigating commands. Roominess is another key feature, with generous door space for entering and exiting. My Premium Plus features brought me eighteen-inch wheels, an upgraded Bang & Olufsen audio system, heated front seats, a digital heads-up display, and navigation. While all the Audi trademarks are there, exterior-wise I don’t find the design necessarily any more attractive than the Lincoln MKZ – would daresay the Lexus IS series is a bit sportier.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2017 Audi A4 is a Top Safety Pick with The Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) with ratings of “Good” in all categories (that includes LATCH ease of use but not headlights which earned “Acceptable” even with optional headlight equipment). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it an overall rating of 5-Stars – it fared best in side crash and rollover testing with frontal earning an average of 4-Stars.

Cost Issues: Like most entry-level premium sedans, the Audi A4 has an appealing base number at $34,900, with my mid-level Premium Plus trim and a few extra packages (Warm Weather, safety tech, Adaptive Dampening Suspension, and –get this – traffic sign recognition) bringing the price to $54,275. A 2017 Volvo S90 Momentum starts at $46,950 with a fully loaded Volvo S90 Inscription at $66,105 with packages. A Lincoln MKZ base Premiere starts at $35,170 but isn’t nearly as appealing as the Reserve series with the Technology and Luxury packages that raises the price to roughly $46,390.

Activity & Performance Ability: Audi puts out a fine turbocharged 2-liter engine that adds bravado and refinement into everyday driving situations – just make sure during on your test drive you get the punch you seek when hitting those open roads. The heads-up display feature projects a readout of the vehicle’s speed and navigation right onto the windshield, which is a comforting help. The top-of-the-line Prestige gets a 12.3-inch digital display that replaces the instrumental cluster.

The Green Concern: EPA estimates the Audi A4’s 2-liter turbocharged engine retains 24-city and 31-highway for a combined 27 miles-per-gallon with all-wheel drive, which is very competitive for its class. The Lincoln MKZ’s 2-liter gets a combined 23 miles-per-gallon with all-wheel drive and the Volvo S90’s turbocharged 2-liter gets 25 miles-per-gallon combined.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Tell yourself the 2017 Audi A4 sedan is more than a luxurious indulgence – rather it’s a dependable instrument with turbocharged guts to get you where you need to be on less fuel.

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©2017 Katrina Ramser