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The 2001 Audi Allroad Quattro

All the Respectability & Roadability You'll Ever Need!

By Denise McCluggage

Being independent can mean anything from owning a paid-for seaside condo to having an under-shelf jar opener in the kitchen so you don’t need help to get at the pickles. It can also mean looking out the office window into  an  unpredicted swirl of a snowstorm while knowing that your vehicle has four-wheel-drive, heated seats and - if its an Audi allroad awaiting you - a choice of ride heights so you can clear wind-packed drifts. (This  thanks to a  unique pneumatic  suspension system the driver controls from the cockpit.)

 Audi has chosen to send its handsome multi-use vehicle out into the world unprotected by a capital letter. Never mind. The allroad is capital in every other respect. It can cruise the highways (the most road-hugging ride-height is automatically activated at higher speeds) much like a sports sedan, cosseting all in comfort on the long stretches and delighting them in the twisty bits. It has the air and the interior space of an elegant wagon. And if it is faced with a really bad road or the rutted, overgrown path to backcountry recreation there’s that sure-footed full-time Quattro 4WD system. And to cope with washouts and mini-boulders the variable setting for road-clearance is right at hand.

The allroad comes closest to being the universal tool for any wheeled activity. Many SUVs like to brag of  “car-likeness,” but truth be told the ideal traits of a nimble, roadable car and those of a high-stance, off-roadable vehicle are close to being mutually exclusive. The allroad’s variable ride-height narrows that breach considerably.

But there’s an important “however.” However a vehicle varies its basic make-up, it can still wear only one set of tires at a time. Tires designed to produce the best cornering traction and quiet running on the highway are ill-suited for getting a grip in snow or withstanding sharp points on rocky roads. Like all vehicles, the allroad must compromise when it comes to the shoes it wears for multi-purpose use.

Audi’s design department probably leads the world in interiors. The allroad’s tone-on-tone interior with wrap-around wood trim and brushed aluminum accents reveals its kinship to the classy Audi A6. The two-tone seats (light and darker gray in the test car) are well bolstered for comfort in hard driving.

Leggy passengers will find ample room whichever seat they choose. Four can ride with ease and a fifth “step child” can occupy the center rear. Seats can be folded in many different ways to vary the people/cargo ratio. Long items, like skis, can fit inside though a roof rack is standard. Loading is user friendly and getting in and out is simple for even the tight-skirted.

The allroad price ranges from $41,900 to $46,000 with popular options. Standard is a six-speed manual transmission with $1,000 more buying a five-speed automatic with Tiptronic. The “Tip” allows some manual control of the gears with a second set of controls on the steering wheel for fingertip shifting. (Now that’s fun!)

Optional is an additional rear-facing bench seat for children. Several option packages will add things like high-intensity headlights, a sunroof with sun-powered cooling, folding exterior mirrors, a navigation system, and other great features.

When it comes to the Audi allroad, independence looks and feels good. For more information visit