Anyway, the factory settings are inherently good in the A4 Avant, which nicely dances on the line between comfort and sport. The A4 is doing a decent job of establishing itself as a quattro alterna-BMW 3 Series, with the right compliance over rough roads and just a bit of roll in fast turns before settling into flat cornering. It won't beat you up and at the same time, it won't leave you the least bit bored. And the new A4 Avant drives like a smaller car -- say, the old A4. The longer, lower, wider stance results in a commodious cabin, with plenty of rear-seat leg- and headroom for average-size adults. Like the sedan, the A4 Avant's wheelbase is up 6.7 inches. The cargo area is supposed to be bigger, too, although "Avant" remains Audi-speak for "sportwagon," which means you can flip down the rear seat to load skiing gear for two, but two bikes would be better off on a roof rack. There's a reversible cargo floor, with an uncarpeted plastic underside for when you have to haul dirty, messy things, plus grocery-bag hooks in the interior D-pillars, an optional loading kit with rail systems, and optional automatic tailgate and 220-volt socket.

The new A4 styling nicely fits the Avant, its so-called "tornado line" beginning on the front fenders just above the headlamps and gently breaking downward just short of the taillamps. The rear end isn't as sporty and distinctive as past A4 Avants. Now it looks more grown-up, like an A6 Avant. But the two-box wagon body suits the Avant better than it does the sedan. If the six-speed automatic works well with the 2.0 TFSI, it will be the enthusiasts' A4 to have. And with fuel prices still heading upward, it might be the one to recommend to some of your friends and neighbors.


2009 Audi A4 Avant
Base Price $34,000 (MT est)
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door wagon
Engine 2.0L/211-hp/258-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmission 6-speed auto
Curb weight (dist f/r) 3700 lbs (MT est)
Wheelbase 110.5 in
Length x width x height 185.2 x 71.9 x 56.5 in.
0-60 mph 6.5 sec (MT est)
EPA city/hwy econ 21/31 mpg (MT est)
CO2 emmisions 0.79 lb/mile
On sale in U.S. Fall 2008