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Thursday, March 8, 2018

2018 Audi A6 Review

2018 Audi A6 Review
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The 2018 Audi A6 is a conservatively styled, but handsome mid-size luxury sedan. It lacks the bells and whistles others now offers, but holds firm to its foundation as a competent performer.

The 2018 Audi A6 takes one last lap before a replacement shows up later this year. This A6 nails the proportions, space, and fuel-efficiency that luxury buyers expect. 

It’s a good all-rounder. Perhaps that’s why we’ve been known to take it for granted it at times?

Our overall rating of 7.0 is marginally lower than the competitors, but those cars are much newer. We wouldn’t begrudge buyers for considering the Audi A6 against similar offerings from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus—in fact, we’d encourage the comparison. The A6 excels in safety and features, which is how we arrive at its high score.


Not much has changed on the Audi A6 from last year, and the automaker has only shuffled packages to offer more features at a lower price. Navigation and keyless ignition are standard on all models. The A6 is available in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trims with varying levels of creature comforts. (We cover the S6 separately.)

Last year’s Competition trim was incorporated into the fold as a Competition package that is available on Premium Plus and Prestige trims equipped with the V-6 engine. As for the uprated turbo V-6 from last year’s Competition trim that made 340 horsepower? That’s now the only V-6 on offer for buyers looking to upgrade from the standard 2.0-liter turbo-4.

Most models will feature luxury touches that will add to the $50,675 starting price, which includes destination charges. Top models can reach well into the mid-$60,000s when equipped with excellent additions.

The A6’s small secret is that it’s mechanically related to the A7, which drastically improves on the A6’s conservative style. The good news is that stepping into an A7 requires more than $70,000, and that high price carves a better hole for entry A6 buyers who don’t want to look over their shoulders.

Styling
The Audi A6’s exterior is mild, not wild. Want more? Prepare to pay up for an A7.

If understated is a style, the 2018 Audi A6 has it in spades. The handsome sedan has aged, but has mostly avoided looking dated.

We give it a point over average for its agreeable interior, but that’s as far as we go. If exterior drama is your thing, we’d suggest looking at the related A7. 

The A6’s exterior hasn’t changed for a few years now, only adding LED headlights and lashings of chrome in a slow, steady march to today’s appearance. It’s handsome and subtle; the most expressive element perhaps is the corporate trapezoidal grille.
Compared to the newer Audi A4, the older A6 shows its age. When the A6 is taken alone, it’s perfectly fine.

Inside, the cockpit is busy, but precise. It’s smartly trimmed in a wide number of materials, but subtle hues keep the interior from looking too busy. A low, slim dash hides a pop-up screen and we actually prefer it to the newer Audis fitted with a fixed screen. The permanent fixture in newer models has a bolted-on look that we just can’t get behind.

Performance
Every A6 is a solid performer, but the V-6 has us hungry for more.

Audi’s mid-size sedan performs admirably and can hold our attention, even in base trim.

Most versions will get a turbocharged inline-4 that makes 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, an 8-speed automatic, and all-wheel drive, which Audi calls Quattro.

There’s a lot to like about that trio, which earns it two points above average. We nearly awarded another point for a good ride, but stopped short—the competition has caught up, or in some cases surpassed the A6.

Only front-drive models of the A6 get a 7-speed automatic that is admirable in its proficiency. It’s a dual-clutch automatic, so upshifts are rapid-fire fast, but it’s built for efficiency and wildly better than an old continuously variable automatic that was standard in prior years.

Most versions will be equipped with all-wheel drive that automatically adds an 8-speed automatic that we like for its ability to find, hold, and swap gears with ease.

An optional supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 is rated at 340 hp and features mostly the same running gear as turbo-4 versions. It's found in 3.0T versions of Premium Plus trims and standard on Prestige versions of the A6.

The A6 is adept in its handling in every model, but not necessarily inspired. In our drives of numerous versions of the A6, we’ve found it to be competent but also lacking direct feedback that we’d expect—especially with more power. That’s not hugely surprising considering sporty drives are the direct purview of the more powerful S6, but we would have appreciated a little trickle-down.
There’s a wildcard. The available Competition package adds a sport-oriented rear limited slip differential that we’ve enjoyed on other models. We haven’t sampled one on an A6 yet, so we can’t definitively determine how it would react.

Comfort & Quality
Hardly spartan, the Audi A6 is also comfortable, but not palatial.

The 2018 Audi A6 is a luxury mid-sizer with room for four, or five in a pinch, and a useable trunk. It’s closely related to the A7, which has similar dimensions, but a fastback shape that’s better looking.


The front seats of the A6 are spacious and comfortable with plenty of head room for various body types. Leg room may be an issue for taller drivers because the center tunnel is wider than we were expecting.

The front seats also get a shout out: the headrests are comfortable without intruding on our space, a common problem with newer active headrests.

In back, 6-footers can fit behind other 6-footers, although rear-seat passengers may have their knees pitched against the seats.

The rear seats fold down, but not completely flat. That helps the somewhat skimpy trunk, which only holds 14.1 cubic feet of cargo with the seats up. More cargo area is available in the A7, although at a significantly higher price. Like other luxury sedans from Germany, the A6 doesn’t have an abundant supply of interior cubbies and cargo area—we’re thankful for cupholders, frankly.

Safety
The 2018 Audi A6 has good crash-safety scores and reasonably priced active safety systems.

This year’s A6 was received across-the-board five-star scores by federal testers, and top "Good" crash-test scores from the IIHS. Its headlights were rated "Marginal" by independent testers, and its automatic emergency braking systems aren't as advanced as other competitors at higher speeds.

A standard complement of front, side, and curtain airbags are included in the A6 alongside stability and traction control systems.

Outward vision in the A6 is particularly good, and standard Bluetooth connectivity helps keep eyes on the road. Advanced safety features such as blind-spot monitors are reserved as options on Premium and Premium Plus trims, or standard on A6 Prestige cars.

Other safety features are bundled in a Driver Assistance package that adds adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and Audi's Pre Sense Plus system, which tightens seatbelts and prepares the car when it detects an imminent collision that can completely slow down when it senses obstacles changing speeds in the lane ahead.

Features
The 2018 Audi A6 makes sportier looks available on more models and navigation is now standard. All good things we say.

New this year for the 2018 Audi A6 is better standard tech and more widely available sport packages.

That complements an already impressive set of standard equipment for every A6 model that includes a sunroof, power-adjustable front seats, tri-zone climate controls, 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a 7.0-inch LCD screen for infotainment, and heated front seats.

That’s good equipment, particularly the infotainment system, and there are good options that can make the A6 downright opulent.

This year, Prestige and Premium Plus trims can add Competition package accessories (when outfitted with the V-6) that throw in sportier buckets up front, 20-inch wheels, red brake calipers, and a sports rear differential that could improve the car’s performance. We haven’t yet driven an A6 fitted with the rear differential, but other models offer the feature and they can transform those cars’ abilities to corner confidently. Audi asks $3,000 for those upgrades, so we advise caution. For normal daily drivers, that may not be worth the coin, but for enthusiasts who are on the fence about springing for an S6, the Competition package could be a reasonable compromise.

Other options to consider: a cold-weather package adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel; upgraded leather hides with ventilation and massage; 19-inch wheels; and rear side airbags.

One of our favorite features appears to be taken off order sheets for 2018. An ultra-premium audio system with 15 speakers by Bang & Olufsen was previously available on the A6 for a whopping $4,900. Was it decadent? Sure. Completely necessary? Probably not. Vital equipment to hear every subtle, rich tone of “Space Oddity”? Yes. Oh, yes.

Other features such as a night-vision camera and decorative inlays are available, although marginally helpful.

Audi's Multi-Media Interface (MMI) infotainment system is also standard equipment. MMI's menus have been streamlined over the years and the shortcut buttons are a welcome relief, but the system can still be hard to learn and take hours for new purchasers to figure out.

While there’s no touchscreen, there's a touchpad called MMI Touch that allows some secondary input, including acting as preset buttons for the audio system, and as a Palm Pilot-style scratch pad, on which the driver can write out letters with their fingertip to enter destinations or choose contacts from the phone book.

Fuel Economy
The 2018 Audi A6 has competitive fuel economy, but not class-leading.

If you haven’t driven a luxury sedan in a while, you might be surprised at how efficient they’ve become. If you’ve driven plenty, you might find that the 2018 Audi A6 is mid-pack.

According to the EPA, the 2018 Audi A6 manages 25 mpg city, 34 highway, 28 combined in its most efficient form, which is a front-drive 2.0-liter model equipped with a 7-speed automatic.

Most A6s are rated at 22/31/26 mpg, which is for a 2.0-liter turbo-4, all-wheel drive, and 8-speed automatic. 
Opting for the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 doesn’t penalize owners much, they’re rated at 20/29/23 mpg.

It’s important to note that all versions require premium fuel.

Mercedes-Benz and BMW all post similar numbers in their mid-size offerings. BMW offers a plug-in hybrid version of its 5-Series, and Mercedes-Benz may offer an electrified version of the E-Class soon—it’s already available overseas. Audi likely won’t offer an alternative powertrain in this version of the A6.

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