What is it about a station wagon that douses American automotive enthusiasm like a pitcher of ice water spilled into the lap of a paramour? From the 1950s to the 1980s, the station wagon was the family vehicle of choice, offering practicality, prodigious cargo space, and yes, plenty of wood siding to parody. Wagon Queen Family Truckster, anyone?
But that was then. This is now. It’s been 23 years since the Ford Explorer made people think they needed a taller-riding, less efficient conveyance in which to cart around their offspring, and yet automakers can’t seem to sell station wagons unless they’re dressed up in an SUV costume. The latest example is the new 2013 Audi allroad, which, as you may recall, was known as the A4 Avant before its transformation into a crossover.
This isn’t the first time Audi has sold a vehicle wearing the Allroad nameplate. Previously, Audi dipped the larger A6 Avant into the rugged-looking-parts bin, creating the original Allroad. That car had an adjustable suspension, providing a modicum of actual off-road capability. The new Allroad doesn’t have one of those, but it does supply 7.1 inches of ground clearance, 1.5 inches more than the A4 Avant it replaces but 1.6 inches fewer than a Subaru Outback, itself a jacked-up station wagon masquerading as something else.
With a base price starting almost $4,000 higher than a loaded Outback 3.6R Limited, the Audi doesn’t compete directly against the model it mimics in terms of approach and philosophy. Rather, Audi pitches the Allroad against entry-luxury crossover suvs, and is already positioned as an alternative to the upcoming 2014 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo well before the Bimmer goes on sale.