Luxury Wagon Showdown: Audi, BMW, Cadillac

2009 Audi A4 Avant

The Audi A4 Avant may not turn heads like a chiseled Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon and, at least in this test car's configuration, won't win any races against a grocery-toting BMW 3-series. But this is still a handsome, pleasant-to-drive vehicle.

From afar, the A4 might be best described as an extremely scaled down Q7. Stand a little closer, however, and there's no mistaking it for anything but a station wagon, with a large, perfectly rectangular storage area that can easily carry a weekend's worth of luggage. Not surprisingly, the car's true beauty is inside, where Audi's trademark teardrop-shaped gauges and engaging, finely assembled dash help the A4 Avant to clearly outshine the well-appointed but conventional interiors in the CTS and the 3-series.

Unlike Cadillac or BMW, Audi doesn't offer wagon buyers six-cylinder power. The familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder can't quite match the output or refinement of its larger-displacement competitors, but it's nonetheless smooth and potent and offers the fuel economy benefits one would expect of a smaller engine (better than the BMW by a combined 3 mpg, and better than the Cadillac by 2 mpg).

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