The Audi Allroad – or “allroad”, without a capital, as the company prefers – continues into 2005 virtually unchanged.

More than a station wagon, not quite an SUV, the Allroad seems a perfect candidate for the often over-used “crossover” designation. Based on the A6 sedan, which changed for 2005 but has not yet shared its new features with this cousin, the Allroad uses a 2.7-litre, 250 hp, twin-turbo V6 and comes with a six-speed manual transmission or optional automatic. A 300 hp V8 available to American buyers is not sold in Canada. All Allroads come with Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive system and an electronically-controlled suspension system that includes automatic load levelling, and four driver-controlled suspension heights, ranging from 142 mm for enhanced handling on smooth roads, to 208 mm for off-road conditions.

The Allroad comes in a single trim designation and includes anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped wheel, heated power mirrors, heated washer nozzles, roof rails, front and rear fog lights, headlight washers, puddle lights in all four doors, automatic climate control, power windows, cruise control, power locks, twelve-way power-adjustable heated front seats, cargo cover, six-CD player and rear wiper.

Available optional items include Xenon headlamps, memory seat, HomeLink transmitter, leather upholstery, auto-dimming and electrically-folding exterior mirrors, sunroof and multifunction steering wheel.

The Allroad is an exceptional blend of sport performance and handling with the practicality of a wagon, with the ability to handle more than just the odd jaunt along a gravel road. Most buyers will probably never need to go as far off the ground as “Level Four” on the suspension system, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

Inside, the Allroad is all luxury Audi, with comfortable, supportive seats and a high level of fit and finish. The available five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission allows for manual gear changes and comes with a “Sport Mode” that holds gears longer and downshifts sooner. Although it’s pricier than rivals such as the Acura MDX and BMW X3, its lower, car-like centre of gravity makes it much easier to enter and exit, and naturally helps with handling. Buyers should also consider the less expensive Volvo XC70 Cross Country, while five- and six-cylinder versions of the Volvo XC90 straddle the Allroad’s price tag and should be comparison-shopped as well.

The Allroad is built in Neckarsulm, Germany.

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