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Coloring Outside the Lines: 2003 Crossover Buyer's Guide
by Steve Siler

Audi allroad - Cross Dressy
2003 Audi allroad

The allroad (yes, with a lower-case "a"-Audi is daring to be different) is to the luxury utility segment what the Subaru Outback is to the mid-size wagon and SUV markets: a blend of wagon goodness and true-to-life off-road worthiness. However, the extra dough you'll shell out for an allroad over an Outback will buy you a lot, both in terms of luxury and capability.

The allroad is based on the beautifully designed and even more beautifully assembled Audi A6 Avant (Avant means "wagon" in Aud-ese). But the allroad adds several components to butch up the exterior a bit, including front and rear skid plates, articulated headlamp lenses, matte black bumper caps (full body painting is an option on the 4.2) and a sprinkling of brushed metal accents. Sexy dual exhaust tips poke out the back, in a shameless promise of abundant power.

And abundant power the allroad has. A 250-hp, twin-turbocharged V-6 is standard, mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. If that's not enough, the new allroad 4.2 model comes with Audi's robust, 300-hp V-8 under the hood (which comes only the Tiptronic), as well as a significant boost in price. All-wheel drive is standard, as is an adjustable pneumatic suspension that raises and lowers at the touch of a button.

No matter how good the rest of the car is, the most interface you'll ever have with it involves the atmospheres (that's "interiors" in Aud-ese), and certainly, no one does atmospheres like Audi. Quite simply, Audi's interiors are stunning to look at, and a pleasure to operate. The dashboard has a hint of buttonitis, but as with any car, once you get accustomed to it, it's yours.

And oh, how we wish an allroad could be ours….