Select a year
- Highs All-wheel drive and other desirable features are standard, richly styled inside and out, refined ride quality and deft handling.
- Lows Styling borders on too restrained, awkward ingress and egress for tall people, we miss the infotainment system's rotary controller.
- Verdict The Audi A4 doesn't shine as brightly as the best entry-luxury cars, but it's still largely a compelling sedan.
As a compact luxury sports sedan, the 2021 Audi A4 is easy to like and hard to fault: It's handsomely styled, well-built, and loaded with goodies. As if that's not enough, it handles like a sport sedan and delivers an agreeable ride. Technology takes center stage in the A4, with Audi's cool Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display, a new 12-volt hybrid system, and a host of driver-assistance features keeping it fresh and in the hunt with its entry-lux rivals—namely the BMW 3-series, the Genesis G70, and the Mercedes-Benz C-class. Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system is standard across the board, a feature its chief competitors charge extra for.
What's New for 2021?
While the A4 received a facelift for the 2020 model year, this year Audi is dropping a 12-volt hybrid system into both of the car's four-cylinder powertrains. The system adds an addition 13-hp to each engine. The front-wheel drive Ultra model has been dropped, so all-wheel drive is now standard across the lineup. Wireless Apple CarPlay capability is new for 2021 as is an integrated toll-road transponder; lane-departure warning is now standard. The base Premium trim's optional Convenience package is augmented with a heated steering wheel and front and rear parking sensors. The mid-range Premium Plus trim now comes with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and a 360-degree exterior camera system. The top-spec Prestige model gains heated rear seats as a standard feature.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The mid-range Premium Plus trim represents the best cost-benefit ratio in the A4 lineup as it adds a host of features that make the car an upscale ride. Among them are a reconfigurable digital gauge display, a wireless charging pad, memory settings for the driver's seat, blind-spot monitoring, and keyless entry with push-button start. We'd suggest the more powerful 45 powertrain—it makes 60 more horsepower than the 40—and it's a relatively inexpensive $1300 upgrade.
Find your perfect ride!
We're partnering with Carvana because we want to make it easy for you to find the exact vehicle you're looking for.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Audi offers the A4 in two strengths: 40 and 45. Both are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a 12-volt hybrid system and all-wheel drive; the 40 makes 201-hp while the 45 makes a juicy 261. Although we'd love a six-speed manual, a seven-speed automatic is the only transmission. The A4 45 we drove scooted to 60 mph in a speedy 4.8 seconds, and its automatic quickly and smoothly changed gears. Precise steering, well-controlled body motions, and strong roadholding combine to make the A4 a sharp handler. Usually, cars with such deft responses require sacrifices in ride quality, but the A4 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
The EPA estimates the 2021 A4 sedan will earn up to 25 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway. The model we ran on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, returned 33 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
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—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. 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.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The A4's infotainment system consists of a 10.1-inch center screen that's controlled by a rotary knob on the center console. Features are generous and include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, 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. A cool digital gauge display that Audi calls Virtual Cockpit is optional, and we recommend it highly.
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. Features such as blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control, however, are only available on the pricier Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with forward-collision warning
- Standard lane-departure warning
- Available adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Audi's warranty coverage is strictly average among luxury brands, and its doesn't offer complimentary scheduled maintenance coverage like BMW.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2021 Audi A4 45 TFSI Quattro
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED
$53,840 (base price: $41,945)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, direct fuel injection
121 in3, 1984 cm3
261 hp @ 6500 rpm
273 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 13.3-in vented disc/13.0-in vented disc
Tires: Continental SportContact 6, 245/35R-19 93Y RO2
Wheelbase: 111.0 in
Length: 187.5 in
Width: 72.7 in
Height: 56.2 in
Passenger volume: 92 ft3
Trunk volume: 12 ft3
Curb weight: 3705 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 4.8 sec
100 mph: 12.9 sec
120 mph: 20.7 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.6 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.8 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.7 sec
1/4 mile: 13.5 sec @ 102 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 126 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 149 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 304 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.97 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 26 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 33 mpg
Highway range: 500 miles
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 27/24/31 mpg