Audi has historically made beautiful sedans, even at the most affordable levels, without sacrificing quality to the competition. This is the view of critics and consumers alike. With today’s highly competitive market, more and more car manufacturers are looking to edge in on consumers, making purchasing decisions difficult. Still, if you judge by reputation, Audi is definitely the brand to beat.
If awards impress you, get ready to be impressed. The manufacturer climbed over all luxury and non-luxury brands to become number one on the 2016 JD Power Customer Service Index, and The Center for Automotive Management has named it the Most Innovative Premium Brand. The 2017 Audi A6 gets top billing with its A rating at Edmunds. Likewise, the 2017 Audi A4 demonstrated its value with the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award.
The looming controversy caused by the Volkswagen/Audi diesel scandal may influence your decision, as it has for some Audi customers. That’s why you won’t find any diesel cars in the line-up, and that may push you over to another European luxury maker where diesels are still available.
The Name Game
All Audi sedans are labeled A as opposed to the Q for SUVs. As the numbers increase in size, so does the sedan. That’s how you get the A3 compact, A4 small sedan, A6 mid-size, A7 hatchback-sedan, and flagship A8. Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige are the usual trim level designations. If an S or RS is substituted for the A, those are the faster Audis with high performance powertrains.
The q (always lower case) stands in for Quattro AWD, an option on select Audi models. While it is not offered on the A3 compact, Quattro AWD is available at a $2,000 price increase on the A4 and A6. It’s standard on A7 and A8 editions.
2017 Audi A3
If you want a luxury compact car, this entry level sedan is a good pick. The MSRP is just $31,000. The engine cranks out 186 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. Best of all, you get Audi’s high quality interior with many excellent standard features:
- Dual-zone automatic climate control
- Leather seating surfaces
- Panoramic sunroof
- 10 speaker audio system
2017 Audi A4
At this level, you should be looking for a value package. So, it’s good to know that this handsome car will save you money over the Mercedes C-Class, coming in at an MSRP of $37,300. The cabin is just as nice, if not nicer. The new Ultra engine cranks out 190 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, making this small sedan feels more like a sports car. Best of all, the Audi beats all rivals with best-in-class fuel economy.
- 2017 Audi A4: 27 mpg city/37 mpg highway/31 mpg combined
- 2017 Volvo S60 T5 25/36/29
- 2017 Mercedes-Benz C300: 25/35/28
- 2017 BMW 320i: 23/35/28
2017 Audi A6
With its cushy interior and long list of standard features, the 2017 Audi A6 earns its keep. The biggest drawback for some will be the 14.1-cu.ft. trunk, being just a touch smaller than is expected from this class of vehicle. Other midsized sedans offer slightly more trunk space, but the A6’s features surely make up for it.
If you can step up to the Premium Plus level, you’ll be happier with your purchase, as it includes all the entertainment technology that you could want. There are now four performance varieties with the new Competition edition. The MSRP is set at $47,600 at the time of publication.
- Horsepower: 252 standard
- Torque: 273 lb.-ft. standard
- Top Fuel Economy 24 mpg/35 mpg/28 mpg
2017 Audi A7
Handsome and unique, the 2017 Audi A7 is labelled as a sedan, but it is secretly a hatchback. The sloping rear roof is a tell-tale sign that the A7 has a cargo hold. Bigger than any sedan trunk, it offers the best of both worlds. This is one of Audi’s finest, which is saying a lot because at this level, every Audi looks and feel high class.
The A7 just adds a few other unique aspects that help it earn a place in the lineup. There’s no rear bench, just two large individual seats. As you weigh the pros and cons, keep in mind the biggest criticism consumers have of the A7: poor rear headroom. The sloping roof is the culprit. If you are considering both the A6 and the A7, the A6 wins this category hands-down. Furthermore, the A6 costs significantly less than the A7, which asks $68,800 at the entry level. Here’s what you need to know about this car’s exciting performance:
- Standard: 333 horsepower, 325 lb-ft. of torque
- Competition (new trim): 340 horsepower, 325 lb-ft.
- S7: 450 horsepower, 406 lb-ft.
- RS7: 560 horsepower, 516 lb-ft.
2017 Audi A8
If you considered the other models on this list elegant, the A8 pulls out all the stops. For families, it has incredible backseat room. It’ll just as likely impress executives, however, and there are packages that add everything you need if you enjoy being chauffeured. You can get massaging/heated/ventilated chairs with sunshades and other goodies to further the pampering.
The biggest drawback is the expectation that a big update is needed. A totally revised A8 is expected for 2018, if you are willing to wait. The A8 offers the A7 and S7 engines as its standards, but you can get the S8 with 605 horsepower and 517 lb.-ft. of torque.
Dash Tech Pros and Cons
Standard on some but available for all, the Audi virtual cockpit includes a remarkable 12-inch color display. For speed, it has NVIDIA quad-core processing power. To keep things easy, you can also upgrade to the MMI touch system. This includes handwriting recognition technology and a special pad on the console in easy reach of your right hand. The major downside to these technologies is the way Audi tacks on the additional costs if you aren’t buying the top editions. Otherwise, this is a great way to get information and entertainment:
- Audi smartphone interface
- Apple CarPlay
- Google Android Auto
- Google Map images supported with 4G LTE
- HD radio
- SD memory card slot
While many luxury vehicles don’t get tested, three Audis have been, and the results are good. The A3, A4, and A6 all earned five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If five stars isn’t convincing enough and you want Audi’s best crash avoidance features, you will have to pay a little extra. Basic Audi Pre Sense recognizes a crash situation, rolls up the windows if necessary, and tensions the seatbelts. It also includes flashing braking lights to warn traffic behind you. Pre Sense Plus features automatic braking in forward collision situations for an additional layer of protection. Other systems include:
- Rear side airbags (A6 and higher editions)
- Night-vision camera for pedestrian/animal detection
- Top-view cameras
- Lane keeping assist
- Blind spot monitor
- Adaptive LED Headlights
As you investigate what Audi has to offer, keep in mind that the base editions do not include the most advanced safety or dash technologies. You’ll want to consider the second-tier editions for the most accurate entry level pricing.