By Jeremy Cato
I’ll admit it. I’ve been surprised by the lack of service and quality issues with the Audi allroad Quattro introduced as a 2001 model.
How so? Well, This new-for-2001 model arrived as a complex, gizmo-loaded, high-style crossover wagon. Obviously, there was the potential for one issue or another to arise with an electrical part or a computer-controlled device of some sort. This car is just so complex.
As it turns out, no such thing has apparently happened. Safety recalls for 2001-2003 allroads number just one and the documented service issues are not what most people would consider particularly serious.
Not surprisingly, used car prices for the allroad have held up pretty well – even though Audi reduced the price after launching this vehicle.
What we have, then, is an interesting luxury vehicle that straddles the traditional station wagon and sport-utility markets – thus the term “crossover.” In a broad sense it has and continues to compete with such vehicle as the Acura MDX, the Mercedes-Benz ML320/ML430, Lexus RX300 (and now RX330), BMW X5 and the Volvo Cross Country and XC90.
Where the 2001-2003 allroad stands out from this group is in its very Euro-like, aggressive styling and the adjustable ride height suspension. Through the magic of computers, air compressors and other technical bits and pieces, the allroad’s ground clearance varies as much as 6.6 cm or 2.6 in. depending on what the driver demands and specific driving conditions. The ride height can be controlled manually or the system will engage automatically, depending on driver preference and driving conditions.
If you’re looking at a nearly-new allroad, you’re considering a car capable of handling high-speed driving AND modest off-roading. Thus, the name allroad quattro.
When you’re on the pavement trying to keep up with the autobahn traffic there is plenty of zip from the 250 horsepower, twin turbocharged engine under the hood. Transmission choices have included a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic with Tiptronic (clutchless manual shifting). The allroad will hit 100 km/hour in less than seven seconds.
For back-country rambling there is an all-wheel-drive system and, of course, the adjustable ride hide which can make the allroad tall enough to handle modest off-roading. That said, don’t confuse the allroad with a truly serious sport-ute. The allroad was never intended for tackling mud bogs, fat logs and sharp boulders.
Besides, you might scratch the shiny paint, ding the sheetmetal or crunch the aggressive fender flares and lower sill panels. Still, there are underbody aluminum skid plates to protect the mechanical pieces from rocks and the like if you do risk the outback.
Inside, the allroad is very luxurious – leather, wood trim and all the power-operated bells and whistles. There is no documented record of any of these features causing undue trouble for owners.
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.
Jeremy Cato is an award-winning print and broadcast journalist. He is a columnist and feature writer for the Globe & Mail newspaper and his articles are syndicated to a variety of other publications.