For 2014, the Audi A6 adds a fuel-efficient diesel V6 engine to its already excellent lineup of engines. The base 2.0-liter four-cylinder is a bit more powerful this year as well. Finally, the 3.0T trim now starts at the Premium Plus trim level (the new TDI trim starts at this level as well).
For many years, the midsize luxury sedan kingdom has been ruled by a model made by a certain Bavarian automaker known for crafting ultimate driving machines. But no monarch reigns forever, and with its successful redesign a couple of years ago, the Audi A6 made it clear major shifts in the power structure were afoot. Undeniably gorgeous and arguably more enjoyable to drive than any other model in its class, the 2014 Audi A6 has what it takes to upset the hierarchy and claim the crown.
The A6's long list of assets begins with its finely crafted interior. Sumptuous in its luxury, this is one cabin that is a joy both to experience and behold. The A6 will also woo you with ample technology features such as optional in-car WiFi, a head-up display and night vision with pedestrian detection. And when it comes time to actually drive, this year's A6 boasts three appealing engine choices -- a frugal four-cylinder, a potent V6 and a new-for-2014 torque-rich 3.0-liter diesel V6 -- plus handling capabilities that are among the best in the segment.
Of course, there's no shortage of qualified candidates in the midsize luxury sedan class. The BMW 5 Series has long ruled the roost, but it's no longer the automatic pick in this class, though it's still a very good luxury sedan and you'll definitely want to test-drive it. The Lexus GS 350 F Sport is another solid choice, especially if you want a sedan with some athleticism. If your tastes lean more toward the luxury side of the spectrum, you'll want to sample the opulent Jaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Cadillac's redesigned 2014 CTS is another candidate to consider.
All these midsize luxury sedans have something special to offer. But if you're looking for a peerless combination of luxury, technology and fuel economy, along with an engaging driving experience, the outstanding 2014 Audi A6 is our top recommendation.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Audi A6 is a midsize luxury sedan available in six trim levels -- 2.0T Premium, 2.0T Premium Plus, 3.0T Premium Plus, 3.0T Prestige, TDI Premium Plus and TDI Prestige. The numbers and letters denote the engine fitted (a 2.0-liter turbocharged four, a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 or a 3.0-liter six-cylinder diesel).
Standard equipment for the 2.0T Premium includes 17-inch wheels, Audi Drive Select (adjustable modes for steering, throttle and transmission), automatic headlights and wipers, heated mirrors, a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, triple-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats with eight-way power (includes four-way lumbar adjustments), leather upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connectivity, Audi's MMI electronics interface, a 6.5-inch display and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and an iPod interface.
The 2.0T Premium Plus adds 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED running lights, front and rear parking sensors, auto-dimming outside mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, a voice-activated navigation system, a rearview camera, HD radio, an enhanced MMI controller, Bluetooth audio connectivity and Audi Connect (enhanced Web-based navigation, information and WiFi access).
The 3.0T Premium Plus is equipped similarly to the 2.0T Premium Plus but adds a fuel-saving stop-start engine system and Audi Pre-Sense Basic, which tightens the seatbelts and closes the sunroof and side windows if it detects a potential collision situation. The 3.0T Prestige adds adaptive headlights, special exterior styling accents, ambient LED cabin lighting, four-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, a blind spot warning system, a rear collision warning system, a power-adjustable steering wheel and a Bose audio system.
The TDI Premium Plus is equipped similarly to the 3.0T Premium Plus, while the TDI Prestige has the same equipment as the 3.0T Prestige.
The availability of option packages depends on the trim level you select. The list includes the Style package (xenon headlights and 18-inch wheels), the Innovation package (includes head-up display and night vision assistant), the Cold Weather package (heated front and rear seats and heated steering wheel), the Sport package (adds a sport-tuned suspension, a sport steering wheel, shift paddles and either 19-inch wheels with all-season tires or 20-inch wheels with summer tires), the Driver Assistance package (top-view camera system with front and rear corner views, adaptive cruise control, active lane assist and the Audi Pre-Sense Plus collision mitigation system) and the Black Optic package (available with the Sport package, and adds 20-inch wheels, summer tires and high-gloss black trim).
Stand-alone options include LED headlights, a premium 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system, a power rear window sunshade (with manual rear door sunshades) and rear side airbags.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Audi A6 2.0T is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 good for 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are standard, and all-wheel drive with an eight-speed automatic is available as an option. Audi claims a 0-60-mph time of 7.4 seconds for CVT models and 6.6 seconds with the eight-speed automatic, which if true is a bit slow relative to others in the segment. You'll do well at the gas pump, though, as EPA-estimated fuel economy is 28 mpg combined (25 mpg city/33 mpg highway) and for the CVT and 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city/29 mpg highway) for the eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.
The Audi A6 3.0T gets a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 310 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive and stop-start technology are all standard. In Edmunds performance testing, the 3.0T sedan went from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, a quick time among midsize luxury sedans equipped with similarly powerful six-cylinder engines. Fuel economy stands at an estimated 22 mpg combined (18 mpg city/27 mpg highway), which is quite good.
With the A6 TDI, you get a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel-fueled V6 good for 240 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. The eight-speed auto and all-wheel drive are again standard. According to Audi, this engine gets the A6 from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. Fuel economy with the TDI is a stellar 29 mpg combined (24 mpg city/38 mpg highway).
If power in excess is your game, there's also the 420-hp Audi S6, which is reviewed separately.
Standard safety equipment on the 2014 Audi A6 includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Rear side airbags, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning/keeping assist and a blind-spot warning system are either optional or included with the upper trims.
The standard Audi Pre-Sense system can warn the driver, tension the seatbelts and close the windows if a potential collision is detected, while the optional Audi Pre-Sense Plus system can do all that, plus fully tighten the seatbelts and automatically apply the brakes full force to mitigate the severity of an imminent crash. The A6's Prestige trim also comes with Audi Pre-Sense Rear, which uses the brake light to warn traffic behind the vehicle in the event of a rear collision, employing additional preventive protective measures should the situation turn critical.
In Edmunds brake testing, an A6 3.0T with the Sport package and summer performance tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 111 feet, an average distance for a car in this class with summer tires. Expect longer distances on A6s with all-season tires. In government crash tests the 2014 Audi A6 received a perfect five-star rating in overall, front crash, side crash and rollover tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2014 A6 the highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 Audi A6 offers one of the finest cabins in its class, with an attractive dash layout, excellent materials quality and solid fit and finish. The MMI (Multi Media Interface) controls entertainment, communication and navigation functions via the dash-mounted pop-up screen and a knob and buttons on the center console. The system boasts logical menus, crisp graphics and a touchpad to increase functionality, although we still prefer BMW's iDrive or Mercedes' COMAND for overall ease of use.
The A6 also offers the option of in-car WiFi, which uses a 3G connection and adds Google Earth data to the navigation system while also providing simplified Google search for POIs. It sounds a bit over the top, but it's actually quite handy if you need to get some unexpected work done on the road and there's no Starbucks in sight. The Google Earth nav system is more a matter of form over function, though, and can actually make the map more difficult to comprehend at a glance.
All the seats are supportive and comfortable on long trips, while the backseat in particular offers more real-world legroom than most rivals. The A6's 14.1-cubic-foot trunk is on the small side, though the rear seat folds and features a pass-through when more space is needed.
The 2014 Audi A6 feels light and changes directions eagerly. There's plenty of grip, and overall, the A6 provides a satisfying connection between car and driver: not something we can say about every midsize luxury sedan. The A6's steering can feel overly light at low speeds, but the effort level increases in a reasonably linear fashion when driving through turns at higher speed.
The supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine provides sharp response off the line and continues to pull with authority throughout the range. The 2.0T doesn't sound as refined as a six-cylinder, but it's hard to argue with the excellent fuel economy it returns. The eight-speed automatic is excellent, with quick, imperceptible shifts in normal use and smooth downshifts for when you need quick acceleration. The front-drive 2.0T model's CVT isn't bad either, as it responds consistently to gas pedal inputs, something that can't be said of most CVTs.
Although the Audi A6 has a smooth ride, there's sometimes more harshness over bumps and ruts than we'd like, which is the price to be paid for the A6's more athletic handling. Forgoing the optional Sport suspension and 20-inch summer tires should help if this is an issue for you.