As Audi continues its relentless march into the exalted German performance territory occupied by BMW and Mercedes-Benz, its A6 mid-size sedan faces off against the E-Class from Daimler and the BMW 5-Series--and acquits itself with credit.
The 2012 Audi A6 is a plainly styled sedan that can deliver good gas mileage, if it's properly specced out. But the price of the highest fuel economy ratings will be enduring Audi's continuously variable transmission (CVT).
We haven't driven the all-new 2012 A6 equipped with the CVT yet, but it's the same powertrain fitted to the previous generation, where its drone of engine noise couldn't disguise somewhat sluggish performance. We can only hope we're wrong, and that Audi has buffed up this powertrain the same way they've redesigned the rest of the A6 range.
The base 2012 Audi A6 is fitted with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and the CVT, along with front-wheel drive.
The EPA rates the 2012 Audi A6 at 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and a high 28 mpg combined when it's fitted with the 2.0-liter four. That applies to either transmission, the CVT or the more conventional automatic. And that's remarkably high, just a few numbers below far less expensive mid-size sedans like the Toyota Camry or Hyundai Sonata.
More exciting for green-car fans is that Audi has promised the A6 will get both clean-diesel and hybrid models for North America though, sadly, neither will be arriving this year
The other A6 engine option is a 310-horsepower direct-injected and supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, fitted to an eight-speed automatic transmission and the Quattro all-wheel drive system.
Order this larger engine (it's the only way to get all-wheel drive), and the gas mileage falls to 19 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 23 mpg. That's not bad, but the four is considerably better, if you can live without Quattro.
The styling is the usual crisp Audi shape, though with the sleeker, more distinctive A7 hatchback in the picture for not much more money--and sharing much of the same hardware and interior--the A6 comes off as the plainest and least noticeable Audi of all.
We wonder whether this will hurt its sales, or whether a conservative silver German sedan will be just what the doctor (or dentist, or broker, or banker, or lawyer) ordered in these uncertain times.
Inside, the "fifth" rear-seat position is really only a token; adults will not want to ride there for any length of time. But it does have the advantage of technology features brought down from the pricier A8 and A7, including Google Earth navigation maps.
There's also optional wireless Internet access (but you can get that on a Subaru), a rear-view camera and blind-spot detection, and of course Bluetooth connectivity. The best stereo, the Bang & Olufsen model with a full 15 speakers, only comes in the very top-end Prestige model.
For more details, see the full review of the 2012 Audi A6 on our sister site, TheCarConnection.
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