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- Highs Contemporary cabin design, enjoyable driving experience, perfectly tuned powertrain.
- Lows Ho-hum exterior design, coolest tech features cost extra.
- Verdict Well-rounded and desirable—everything we expect of a modern Audi.
Audi's A4 has proven to be a wündercar that outperforms its rivals in nearly all of our testing metrics and remains one of the nicest-driving entry-luxury cars on sale today. Its powertrains are both efficient and eager, and the interior is as spacious as it is technologically advanced. Despite being a handling sweetheart, the 2019 A4's ride doesn't beat up passengers on bumpy roads. Pitch it into a corner at speed and the suspension quickly settles in and holds its line to see you out the other side feeling like a pro. Inside, Audi offers a trick digital gauge display, onboard Wi-Fi, and advanced driver-assistance features that make it a useful device for commuting as well as road-trip duty. Its appearance may be unassuming but make no mistake: in the entry-lux class, the A4 is a superhero in street clothes.
What's New for 2019?
The overachieving A4 receives a handful of updates for 2019: The exterior is dressed up with S-line bumpers and trapezoidal exhaust finishers, two USB charging ports are added for rear-seat occupants, and there's an optional wireless smartphone charging pad. The optional Convenience package now includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. A new Sport package joins the spec sheet and includes a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats, a black cloth headliner and aluminum interior trim. Sadly, the six-speed manual is no longer offered. The 2020 Audi A4 receives a refresh that includes updated front and rear styling as well as Audi's latest MMI infotainment system.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Springing for the mid-range Premium Plus model is a no-brainer as it adds most of the features that buyers will be most interested in, including the digital gauge cluster, navigation, keyless entry and push-button start, blind-spot monitoring, and full LED headlamps. We'd have preferred the six-speed manual that was offered last year but, alas, Audi has nixed that transmission for 2019. No matter: The seven-speed automatic changes gears briskly and elicits no complaints from us. We'd opt for Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive to avoid the detuned turbo four-cylinder and spec the Cold Weather package (heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and all-season floor mats).
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Likes: Surprisingly quick acceleration, sharp handling, responsive steering.
Dislikes: Not as beguiling as sportier rivals, all-wheel drive not available with more efficient engine.
While some competitors offer myriad engine choices, including hybrids and diesels, Audi keeps it simple: a 252-hp turbocharged four-cylinder and a less powerful, more fuel-efficient version of that engine called the Ultra, which makes 190 horsepower. A seven-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, and Audi's famous Quattro all-wheel-drive system is optional. In the A4 2.0T Quattro Prestige we tested, the powertrain worked splendidly, providing class-leading acceleration (5.2 seconds from zero to 60 mph) and smooth power delivery.
Precise steering, well-controlled body motions, and great roadholding ability combine to make the A4 a sharp handler. Usually, cars with such deft responses require sacrifices in ride quality, but the A4 still manages to soak up bumpy roads with aplomb. Steering feel, so important in a sedan with sporting overtones, is subdued at lower speeds and on the highway. However, almost as if by magic, the steering becomes pleasantly communicative when you push the car on twisty roads.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
For such a quick car, the A4 is also remarkably fuel efficient. It's bettered by the BMW 3-series in our real-world testing but still achieves nearly economy-car fuel efficiency. The EPA rates both the front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive A4s at 34 mpg highway; the front-wheel-drive model receives higher combined (30 mpg) and city ratings (27 mpg). On our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test, the A4 with all-wheel drive outperformed its EPA highway rating and delivered 37 mpg.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: Spacious front and back seats, high-tech gadgetry comes standard, nicely trimmed cabin.
Dislikes: Stingy cubby storage space, inconveniently located volume knob, small exterior mirrors.
The A4's modern-looking cabin does a good job of balancing form and function with high-quality materials and easily accessible technology features. As in most Audis, the dashboard design is clean and simplistic—almost like a piece of modern art. Most of the A4's buttons and switches are right where you want them to be and feel substantial when you use them. The rear seat is among the most spacious in its class and features nicely shaped cushions.
The A4's infotainment system consists of a 7.0-inch center screen that's controlled by a rotary knob on the center console. An 8.3-inch screen is optional, as is the aforementioned Virtual Cockpit that includes a 12.3-inch gauge cluster display. Features are generous and include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, two USB ports, and voice command. Navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio, and in-car Wi-Fi are included in various option packages, as is a more powerful Bang & Olufsen audio system with 19 speakers.
As with many of the sedans in the entry-luxury class, the A4 is accommodating but not capacious; choose the A4 Allroad wagon if you need more plentiful cargo space. The A4's back seat does fold in a useful 40/20/40 split, making it easy to accommodate longer items such as skis. We managed to cram five carry-on suitcases in the trunk but were disappointed by the A4's small storage bins and cubbies.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
The A4 achieves top-notch crash-test ratings—five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and Top Safety Pick accolades from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety—but many driver-assistance features are limited to costly upper trim levels. Other features such as blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control, however, are only available as options on the costly Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Standard forward-collision warning
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Audi's warranty coverage is strictly average among luxury brands, but its complimentary scheduled maintenance coverage doesn't last as long as BMW's.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for 1 year or 10,000 miles