A6

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2021 Audi A6 Overview

Just two years out from a redesign, the Audi A6 returns for 2021 with a host of upgrades that aim to keep the midsize sedan competitive with iconic rivals like the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E Class. While BMW and Mercedes have always held on tight to the sporty and cushy ends of the luxury sedan spectrum respectively, Audi found fertile fields in between those two extremes, offering a bit of both without much compromise on either end. The A6 is perhaps the best example of this, with an attractive, inoffensive design, standard Quattro all-wheel drive (AWD), and ride characteristics that were made for commuting.

For 2021 things have only gotten better, with standard 19-inch wheels, keyless entry, and Audi’s integrated toll-payment system on the base Premium trim. With this system, drivers can ditch the cash on many of the toll roads throughout the US and Canada, allowing them to fly through the fast lane rather than stopping to fumble for change. Additionally, if you decide to add the Convenience package to your Premium trim, you’ll now be treated to a 360-degree camera and in-dash navigation, shown on a new, 10.1-inch display. Premium Plus trims got some attention as well, with newly-standard adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, while the top-tier Prestige trim gets rear-window sunshades as its 2021 gift. Want to up the sport factor a bit? A new Black Optics Sport appearance package will get you unique 20-inch rims, a sport-tuned suspension upgrade that’ll drop your A6 by nearly an inch, and black trim outside.

Those are some distinctive additions to an already impressive package. Choose the A6 45 trim and you’ll start with a turbo 2.0-liter engine with a 12-volt integrated starter/alternator for a mild-mild-hybrid setup. With 248 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, this is anything but a “base” engine. Although, if you’re looking for an upgrade, the twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V6 will deliver. While the 2.0 can push the A6 to 60 miles per hour in around 6 seconds, the 3.0 does the job in just 5, thanks to 335 hp, 369 lb-ft of torque, and a 48-volt integrated starter/alternator. And despite the big power jump, there’s not much of a penalty at the pump for the V6. While the 2020 Audi A6's 2.0 managed 24 mpg city, 32 highway, and 27 combined, the 2021 V6 is barely falling behind at 22/29/24. That’s thanks in part to the standard 7-speed automatic transmission that handles cog-swapping duties for every A6.

The interior of the A6 offers more room for rear passengers than the 5 Series or E Class, with 37.4 inches of legroom, but the 13.7 cubic feet in the trunk fall short of those rivals. But with standard leather heated seats with the opportunity to add cooling and even massage, there’s plenty of comfort to go around.

Safety is a point of pride for the A6, and the 2021 model has been given top scores by both the government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which named the A6 a Top Safety Pick+. Still, those perfect records hide some small blemishes, namely an Acceptable rating from the IIHS for the base headlights.

While it has always held the middle ground in the mid-size luxury category—never as sporty as a BMW and never as comfortable as a Mercedes—the A6 has the capability to deliver in either of those categories. You just need to set it up accordingly. And if you’re looking for a midsize luxury sedan, the A6 should definitely not be overlooked.

Updated

A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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