2013 Audi A4 Wagon More Outdoorsy Spin>

The 2013 Audi Allroad is back after a seven-year hiatus, putting a more outdoorsy spin on the carmaker’s A4 Avant wagon.

It’s an interesting strategy, as the Avant also could be paired with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive. But the Allroad is a half-inch wider, stands taller and raises ground clearance from 5.6 inches to 7.1. Audi’s press materials say: “The exterior dimensions demonstrate that the Allroad can handle serious demands from the weather and other unexpected circumstances.”

True, the Allroad isn’t a serious four-wheeler, but it fills the bill for snowy climes and mildly rough roads like Subaru Outback and Volvo’s XC70 wagon.

Powering the Allroad is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Audi pegs its zero-to-60 time at 6.5 seconds.

Unfortunately, today’s push for better mileage seems to be lost on the Allroad. Its ratings are only a couple of miles off the Avant, coming in at 20 mpg in city driving and 27 on the highway, compared with 20/28 for Audi’s similarly sized Q5.

Like Audi’s Q3, Q5 and Q7 sport utilities, the new wagon has a sporty feel, but with its high stance it doesn’t handle as well as the brand’s sedans or A3 hatchback.

The interior, however, matches Audi’s luxury image all the way, from the use of quality materials to its handy layout and techie features.

Leather seats are standard, as are a panoramic sunroof, heated mirrors, and an audio system with SD card reader and auxiliary input.

My tester was equipped with the Navigation Plus package, which includes HD radio, the latest in voice-activated navigation, parking aid and Bluetooth streaming audio. Audi Connect also is part of the package integrating Google Earth functions.

For example, you can find all nearby gas stations and sort by price. Plus, the system creates a Wi-Fi hot spot so passengers can connect laptops and other devices. The service is free for six months and runs $15 to $30 per month after that.

I have one major complaint, though: The iPod plug is located inside the glove box, so I had to get into the passenger seat to make a connection.

An interesting option is the $3,250 Driver Assist package, which is available only if you upgrade to the $9,200 Prestige trim. It goes beyond typical comfort, auto and dynamic settings for engine, transmission, steering, shock absorbers and differential calibrations. But you can go a step further to individualize these settings.

Although the 2013 Allroad is based on the smaller A4 rather than on the A6, like its predecessor, it’s roomy enough for a family of four or a weekend outing with friends.

Front seats have lots of legroom, and the backseat is OK on legroom and long on headroom. The cargo bag is roomy as well, with a standard pullover cover. But you’d better remember to pull it back when you close up; otherwise, it can cut into rear vision.

The A4 targets a small niche, but personally I like the option of a sporty, wagonlike crossover rather than an SUV. It wouldn’t be the right vehicle for me now, living in the Phoenix suburbs, but it would have been great when I lived in Wyoming and Colorado.

Cathy Luebke is a former editor at the Phoenix Business Journal learn more about Cathy on Facebook. She is a member of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association, www.phoenixautopress.org. This article was originally published in the BizJournal

Edits for HerHighway posting by Christina Selter.