By Kris Hansen
April was a busy month for our allroad. We took a couple of road trips, warmer weather has helped the fuel economy significantly, and we tested the offroad worthiness of the allroad. Unfortunately, we also had visit to the dealer to fix a minor problem.
There is nothing like a good long road trip to really get to know your car. Even though we’ve been driving the allroad for a while, we came to appreciate it even more after making the drive to New York.
In all honesty, we aren’t the least bit surprised that the allroad is a magnificent long distance cruiser. It is wonderfully stable at speed, and thanks to the relatively long wheelbase and allroad specific suspension, it provides a smooth ride over even the worst broken pavement and lumpy expansion joints. The taller 17” snow tires helped a lot undoubtedly, but we’re certain that the 18” wheels and tires would be just fine as well.
The long distance comfort is enhanced by a nice cruising range. We were happy to find that we averaged 30mpg on our trip south from Vermont to NYC, and well over 350 miles per tank. Pulling maximum economy does require a very light touch on the throttle, but with care it is possible to get great mileage and still make good time. For sure, the ultra-long 8th gear helps a lot as well, keeping the revs well below 3000rpm at all reasonable speeds, and the engine’s generous torque (245lb/ft) make maintaining speed a piece of cake, without requiring downshifts and higher revs.
Our allroad’s optional bells and whistles help a lot on long drives as well. Audi connect allows passengers to check email or news and weather, or find destination addresses. With the MMI system’s various input methods, we are never at a loss for something to listen to. We even have used Audi Connect to stream our favorite internet radio shows, and play it via Bluetooth, which is about as cool as it gets. We have also come to really like and rely on the blind spot monitoring system on the allroad. It’s sensitive enough to detect motorcycles, and it is very effective at alerting you that there is something there. We found this system to be invaluable in New York traffic.
As much as we have come to love and trust the allroad’s handling in the wilds of Vermont, we found that it was absolutely incredible to drive on the winding and undulating parkways and highways of the greater New York City area. Here the allroad’s sporty nature bubbles to the top, with sure footed cornering and brisk acceleration. The allroad also proved to be more than willing and able to laugh off Manhattan’s roughest streets and avenues. A trip through Times Square bringing a colleague to his hotel after the Audi A3 reveal the night before the NYIAS made us really appreciate the allroad’s ground clearance and maneuverability as we dodged pot holes and taxis.
Our trip northward from New York was once again uneventful, even considering that we had picked up the allroad’s summer tires from the fleet management company. Thanks to the extra weight, our fuel economy took a slight hit (we averaged around 28 on the trip north) but the allroad remained balanced and comfortable the whole way. The beauty of the allroad is that we were able to fit the extra wheels in the car and still have use of most of the back seat, no mean feat considering the 245/45 18 wheels and tires aren’t tiny.
Once we got the car back to AudiWorld headquarters in Vermont, we were anxious to mount up the 18” 5 spoke wheels and 245/45 summer tires. Yes, the fleet company mounted up a set of full on summers instead of the standard all-season tires, which is fine with us honestly. The allroad feels fantastic with the extra grip, and looks great with the big 5 spoke wheels. As expected, the summer tires do seem to help the fuel mileage situation, but we’re kind of thinking that the real reason for our low mileage in the winter was actually caused by cold temperatures. We noticed the mileage increasing as the temps came up, even with the snow tires. We’ve been averaging 27mpg in normal driving this spring, where we were seeing around 23 during the winter.
We did have a slight hiccup in our allroad experience. Somewhere along the way, we discovered that the tiptronic lever wasn’t working in the manual mode. Comparing it to a functioning lever, ours wasn’t moving over as far to the right, and wouldn’t allow fore/aft movement at all. We took it to Audi of South Burlington (VT) to have them take a look at it, and it was determined that they had to replace the entire gear selector mechanism.
Because the dealer was prohibited from opening the assembly (by Audi, who wanted the parts back to look at them) we have no idea what actually broke or came apart. We can only assume that it’s a fluke, since we’ve never heard of such a problem in the long history of tiptronic shifters.
Once we got our allroad back, we decided to test the allroad’s “off road” abilities by taking it for a drive on the “roads” around the AudiWorld editorial offices. Normally we don’t venture on these roads in anything except for ATVs or SUVs (the last car we took around the roads was a Q5), but we were anxious to see if the allroad lived up to the name, and could hold its own “off road”.
As it turns out, we had no reason to doubt the allroad. On the lower flatter road network, the allroad had no problem navigating mud holes and bumps and tip toeing over some larger rocks. Ground clearance was never an issue, and we had re-mounted the snow tires for this exercise, so traction was no problem at all either, even on a muddy slope. As we pointed the allroad uphill, it just laughed off the incline, and kept on going. There is one point in the climb where there is a sharp transition from one trail to another. This spot once caused a Q7 to lift a wheel and completely lose drive, but the allroad had no such problem. Loose dirt, soft pine needle forest bed and grassy hills were no match for the allroad, and before we knew it, we were at the top of the hill, a place where we had never been in a car – only ATVs, tractors, SUVs etc. The ground clearance was more than adequate, and the traction was remarkable. The car reminded us of how steep an incline we were on when as we stopped to move a branch, a warning popped up on the dash advising us that the slope was steeper than the car felt it could hold, and the parking brake light was flashing. It did hold, but we’d never seen that message before, and we’ve been on some pretty steep inclines.
At just under 12,000 miles (nearly 6,000 since delivery) we simply love the allroad. We continue to marvel at the effortless power from the 2.0TFSI engine, the smooth and comfortable yet sporty handling, and the rugged good looks (especially with the 5 spoke wheels mounted!). We’re starting to see more allroads up here in our area, which comes as no surprise. The allroad is a great car, one which we’d dearly love to keep for our own! Coming up next month, we’ve got a few more trips planned, a couple of shows on the schedule, and lots of adventures waiting to happen. We are going to mount up our Thule Sidearm bike racks, and head to the mountains as well.
Stay tuned for more allroad updates!