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2011 Audi A6 Avant Overview
The 2011 Audi A6 Avant 3.0T Quattro returns this year as a clone of its 2010 version (which was, in turn, a carryover from a 2009 redesign). Audi again offers the full-size luxury wagon in three option packages: the Premium, Premium Plus, and high-end Prestige, all of which seat five and use the same engine.
The DOHC 3.0-liter V6 aluminum engine combines Fuel Stratified Injection (FSI) with a supercharger to generate 300 hp at 5,100 rpm and 310 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 – 5,100 rpm. The engine, which runs on premium unleaded, rates fuel estimates of 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, with Audi reporting a 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds for the wagon (only slightly slower than the A6 sedan). All three packages offer a Tiptronic automatic transmission and Audi’s longstanding Quattro permanent all-wheel drive—commended in the 2010 model for the performance it delivered in inclement weather and on curvy steep roads. Servotronic power steering also improves handling by varying the amount of assistance it offers based on speed. Last year’s A6 Avant earned praise for its revised suspension, which smoothed out the ride, and that gentle, quiet ride should continue this year as well.
The exterior of the wagon resembles its A6 sedan counterpart, sporting an S line-designed exterior with a single-frame grille and standard power-adjustable and heated side-view mirrors with integrated LED turn signals (power folding and auto-dimming side-view mirrors appear on the Premium Plus and Prestige Avant A6). The three packages include LED taillights and rear foglights, roof rails, and headlight washers, as well as a power sunroof. The 3.0T Premium provides standard halogen headlamps, while the Premium Plus and Prestige use xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights. The Prestige even adds adaptive headlight technology that turns the headlights in the direction of the steering wheel to give greater visibility when turning. All of the 2011 A6 Avant packages provide all-season tires, with the Premium including 17-inch wheels. In comparison, the Premium Plus offers 18-inch five-Y-spoke wheels, and the Prestige changes the look to a ten-spoke design.
The interior of the Avant wagon is designed with luxury in mind. Dark-brown, authentic wood walnut inlays decorate the dash, center console, and door panels. All three packages present heated front seats covered in Valcona leather, with heated rear seats available as part of an optional Cold Weather package. The front seats offer twelve-way power adjustment with lumbar support, while the Premium Plus and Prestige also provide driver memory for the seat and side-view mirror positions for up to two drivers. Seating in the 2010 A6 Avant was considered firm and supportive and spacious enough to be comfortable for four adults, although a fifth passenger may feel cramped in the rear center seat. Dual-zone automatic climate control adds comfort in all three package levels. While the Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige all offer a leather-wrapped, four-spoke steering wheel with integrated audio and Bluetooth phone controls, only the Prestige adds shift paddles for the Tiptronic automatic transmission, as well as a power tilt/telescoping steering column. The upper-level Premium Plus and Prestige lines also feature a standard auto-dimming rear-view mirror with compass.
Other technology featured in this year’s Avant includes a standard power tailgate that can be programmed to open to the driver’s preferred height. Standard cruise control, HomeLink universal remote (which operates up to three remote devices from a single overhead control), music interface with iPod integration (which allows an MP3 player to be connected through the glovebox and controlled on the MMI screen), and three months of Sirius Satellite radio appear in all package levels. The Premium and Premium Plus packages provide a Digital Signal Processing (DSP) extended sound system with ten speakers, a 6-CD changer in the glovebox (viewed by some as inaccessible in 2010), and AM/FM radio operated by MMI (Audi’s Multi-Media Interface) system. Past reviews have criticized the MMI’s ease-of-use, and the system has a learning curve. The Prestige package improves the stereo system with a 13-speaker Bose Surround Sound system with AudioPilot that adjusts the volume as needed to compensate for road noise. The Premium Plus and Prestige include rear parking sensors to warn drivers when they are about to connect with an object (supplemented in the Prestige with a rear-view camera feature in its parking system), as well as a navigation system controlled through the MMI on a 7-inch LCD screen. The Prestige also offers the advanced key system, which allows for automatic keyless entry as well as automatic engine start with the Engine Start button or by pressing the brake pedal.
Audi’s safety features are standard in all three packages, including driver's and front-passenger-seat-mounted side-thorax airbags, sideguard head curtain airbags for the front and rear seats, front-row dual-stage airbags, and front passenger occupant detection. Antilock brakes, with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, detect emergency braking situations and reduce the distance required to stop. The electronic stabilization program applies the brakes to the wheels as needed to help keep the car from swerving, and a tire pressure monitoring system alerts drivers to low tire inflation. Rear side airbags are an available option for all three package levels, and the Audi side assist (which monitors blind spots and fast-approaching vehicles, alerting the driver with an LED light in a side-view mirror) is available as an option in the high-end Prestige.
Last year, the Audi A6 Avant was described as quiet, powerful, stylish, sporty, and fun to drive, and offered serious competition to BMW and Lexus. Given that there are no significant changes this year, the luxury-wagon consumer would do well to take a spin in the 2011 Audi A6 Avant.
by Jessica McCombe
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