2019 Audi A6 Review
Looking around the tony neighborhoods of Los Angeles, which serve as a bellwether for the luxury car market, it is obvious that in the past decade or so Audi has supplanted its German rivals, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, as the go-to brand for the young and well heeled. It’s simply cooler to pilot an Audi right now.
It’s not hard to see why. With artful design inside and out, cutting-edge technology, and ear-to-ear grin-inducing dynamics, Audi has earned its reputation for being just a little more youthful and desirable than the single-minded stalwarts.
The newest iteration of Audi’s luxurious midsize sedan, the eighth-generation 2019 A6, is no exception. For this review, J.D. Power evaluated an A6 Prestige equipped with Daytona Gray Pearl paint, 21-inch aluminum wheels, a Cold Weather Package, a Driver Assistance Package, and rear side airbags. The price came to $74,440, including the $995 destination charge.
What Owners Say
Before we discuss the results of our evaluation of the Audi A6, it is helpful to understand who bought the previous version of this midsize premium car, and what they liked most and least about their vehicles.
J.D. Power data shows that 79% of Audi A6 owners are male, a close match to the segment as a whole (78%). These men are younger, at a median age of 59 (vs. 62 for the segment), and they earn more money, at a median annual household income of $224,000 (vs. $212,099).
For the most part, Audi A6 owner psychographics align with the overall segment. More owners at the segment level characterize themselves as Practical Buyers (22% vs. 13% for the Audi), while more A6 owners characterize themselves as Performance Buyers (66% vs. 53% for the segment).
Audi A6 owners are less likely to agree that a first consideration when choosing a new vehicle is fuel economy (29% vs. 33%), less likely to agree that they’re willing to pay extra for a vehicle that is environmentally friendly (46% vs. 50%), and less likely to agree that they’re willing to pay extra for the latest safety features (84% vs. 90%). A6 owners are also less likely to agree that they like a vehicle that stands out from the crowd (82% vs. 86%).
Owners report that their favorite things about the previous A6 were (in descending order) the engine/transmission, driving dynamics, exterior styling, interior design, and seats. Owners indicate that their least favorite things about the previous A6 were (in descending order) the visibility and safety, climate control system, storage and space, infotainment system, and fuel economy.
What Our Expert Says
In the sections that follow, our expert provides her own perceptions about how the Audi A6 measures up in each of the 10 categories that comprise the 2018 APEAL Study.
Sedans are inherently better looking than crossover SUVs. It’s simply a fact. Sedans aren’t bound by strictures regarding a higher seating position and the economy of space; they can be as low-slung and unpractically sexy as they want to be.
While Audi doesn’t give the A6 the four-door coupe treatment, it’s still a classically appealing vehicle. With its standout lighting elements, subtle but expressive creasing, and well-formed proportions, the A6 is conservative but with a modern flair, while the 21-inch wheels on my test vehicle lent it an forceful stance.
It was a bit of a bummer to slip inside the test car’s cabin to find an all-black color scheme – I prefer lighter tones and more contrast – but there’s no denying the A6’s posh materials and careful fitment.
The previous Audi A6 stuck with a typical Teutonic minimalism, but this new version has a little more pizzazz, with aluminum brightwork across the dashboard and incorporated through the center console. The leather is supple, and the plastics are of high quality. Nearly everything is pleasing to the eye and pleasant to the touch.
The monotone interior isn’t a problem when the sun goes down, as the subtle but gorgeously rendered ambient lighting throughout the cabin can be customized to your preference.
Dominating the center stack are two large screens; the top one measures 10.1 inches across, and contains navigation and audio functions. The lower one is 8.6 inches wide and houses the climate controls and other comfort and convenience features.
Imagine leaving the office after a long day of dealing with carpal tunnel, a touch of sciatica, and headaches from the internecine office warfare. You can slip into the driver’s seat of your A6, and all of your concerns melt away as the available 18-way power adjustable seats meld to every curve, then start massaging your backside as the seat radiates warmth. My test vehicle didn’t have this feature, and while the standard seats were plenty comfortable with lots of adjustments, it would have been pretty sweet to be so coddled.
There was good head, shoulder, and leg room in the back, and each outboard seat had heated seats and its own sun shade. A third passenger might find accommodations a bit tight, though.
Climate Control System
Climate controls are integrated into the dashboard’s lower touchscreen, and changing the cabin temperature the old-fashioned way – by manually adjusting the number – isn’t the easiest thing to do. Instead, I found myself using the voice recognition technology to get the job done.
In terms of temperature management, the climate system proved quite effective, and the test car had both heated and ventilated seats. My children were delighted to find that they each had their own climate zone, thanks to the test car’s four-zone setup.
Not only does the voice recognition system change your temperature, it’ll find almost everything you need, without having to resort to the robot-speak that some voice assistants require you to perform. You can easily ask for directions or change almost any setting in the car, just by telling it what to do.
If you’d rather not pretend like you’re Michael Knight talking to a deadpan Trans Am, you can always go old school with physical inputs. But you’ll need to use the steering wheel controls or the dashboard touch screens.
Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of touchscreens that integrate primary functions because they require too much precision to easily perform tasks, making traditional knobs and buttons my preference. However, I must admit the ones in the A6 are beautifully illustrated and as intuitive as it gets. Either one quickly and accurately responds to pinches and swipes, provides haptic feedback to confirm a selection, and even provides a huge tablet-sized pad for the handwriting recognition system.
I’ve come to love and appreciate a good heads up display system, which projects your speed and other relevant information on the windshield, so your eyes remain on the road. The A6 had a great one, as long as you didn’t put polarized sunglasses on your face.
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to digital instrumentation, too. Audi offers various themed displays and its Google Maps satellite imagery for the navigation system awes everyone who comes into the car.
Storage and Space
Stand behind the A6’s trunk, kick your leg, and it’ll pop open the hands-free trunk lid. Inside, you’ll find a rather narrow space of about 13.7 cu.-ft. That’s on the smaller side for a midsize sedan, and mainly because the lithium ion battery that supports the engine is housed here. The rear seats are split 40/20/40, so you have some flexibility in carrying people and cargo.
In the cabin, Audi evidently thinks that you should have Marie Kondo-ed yourself before you entered the car. There is very little in the way of storage and bins. The one under the center armrest holds the wireless phone charger and not much else. The glove box is roomier, but you can barely reach it from the driver’s seat. Audi provides nowhere but the door panel bins or the cupholders to put even so much as a phone.
Storage and space landed mid-pack when owners of the previous A6 were asked to rank their favorite to least favorite aspects of the car. For the new A6, it might fall a few notches.
Visibility and Safety
Aside from the thick windshield pillars, which somewhat impede your view of cross traffic, visibility from the A6’s driver’s seat is terrific. Just in case you need a little help, the top-view camera system gives you all the information you need to maneuver this car.
Speaking of visibility, the Audi A6 Prestige gives you remarkably bright Matrix-design LED headlamps that illuminate a dark street like a Nightsun-equipped police chopper.
My test vehicle was also equipped with a comprehensive collection of safety systems, including adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Audi’s forward collision warning technology can detect both pedestrians and cyclists.
Get the optional Driver Assistance Package, and the A6 also offers useful features like traffic jam assist, intersection assist, turn assist, and active lane assist with emergency assist. That’s a bunch of assist designed to make life safer and less stressful, and if you suffer a medical issue the emergency assist features gets the A6 safely stopped with the hazard lights flashing.
At the time of this writing, neither the federal government nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) had performed crash tests on the 2019 Audi A6.
Churning up a delightful, creamy treat of smooth acceleration, the A6’s turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 makes 335 horsepower. Audi says that it delivers zero-to-60-mph runs in 5.1 seconds, and by my unscientific seat-of-my-pants testing, this powerplant delivers.
A 7-speed automated manual transmission is charged with sending the ponies to the Quattro all-wheel-drive system. At slow speed driving around town, power delivery was a bit uneven, but when you get revs up this powertrain sings. Audi uses its Quattro Ultra AWD in the new A6, which operates in front-drive mode until the rear wheels are needed in order to conserve fuel.
The 2019 Audi A6 is also a mild hybrid car thanks to its standard 48-volt electrical system, powered by a 10Ah lithium-ion battery. It helps to recharge the A6’s regular battery, extends the operational range of the engine stop-start system, powers the car’s substantial number of electrical components, and helps to improve gas mileage.
Owners of the previous A6 cited the engine and transmission as their favorite feature, and this new drivetrain is likely to retain high favor.
Despite the hijinks involving heavy use of my right foot, the A6 averaged 23.9 mpg on my test loop of mixed driving conditions. While that’s a little below what the EPA says I should be getting – 25 mpg in combined driving (22 city/29 highway) – it’s still quite impressive that a car this spirited can return a number like that.
Fuel economy was the least favorite aspect of last year’s A6 ownership experience. Hopefully, this new A6 will be better at raising and meeting expectations.
Audis tend to exhibit overboosted steering. It’s not quite sharp or precise, but it’s predictably progressive and suits the slightly softer nature of the A6 over more performance-oriented sedans, which can be a little chatty over rough asphalt.
My test vehicle was equipped with a sport suspension and 21-inch wheels, but neither intruded harshness into the cabin thanks, no doubt, to the Prestige trim’s adaptive damping suspension. As a result, the car delivers a poised ride around town, and was a pleasure to pilot on the gritty streets of Los Angeles.
That’s not to say that it can’t dance around curves. Fling it into a sinuous corner and the A6 displays a lovely flatness and willingness to dig in with plenty of grip, clipping apexes and raring for more. Brakes are well modulated and dependable, making this Audi a graceful dance partner on the most tangled of canyon roads.
On a wet winter day in Southern California, the Quattro AWD lent an extra measure of traction over rain- and oil-slicked roads, and gave this driver a boost of confidence.
While the rest of the world may be shifting toward crossover utility vehicles, there are those who are perfectly content with the composure and elegance of a luxury sedan. The 2019 Audi A6 articulates the case for the sedan beautifully.