For 2016, the A4 loses its top Prestige trim level, resulting in some reshuffled equipment for the remaining two trims. Heated mirrors and a three-spoke steering wheel are now standard on the base Premium trim, but adaptive cruise control is no longer available on any A4.
The 2016 Audi A4 is easily the elder statesman of the entry-level luxury sedan segment, as it’s still based on the A4’s last full redesign way back in the 2009 model year. If you look closely at the A4’s spec sheet, you’ll see some evidence that time has taken its toll. Bluetooth audio doesn’t come standard, for example, and you won’t find a USB port on any A4. Both features are routinely provided in economy cars these days, let alone luxury sedans. You might also notice that the A4 doesn’t offer a diesel engine for superior fuel economy, even though many of its Audistablemates do.
Thankfully, there are still plenty of appealing aspects about the A4 that have been around since it debuted all those years ago. To wit, the ride is quiet and compliant, yet the all-wheel-drive A4 models can be downright athletic in spirited driving. The MMI infotainment system has been updated over time and retains a contemporary edge, especially in upgraded form with the console-mounted controller. We like the A4’s spacious cabin, too, which has an airy feel up front and ample room for adults in back. Moreover, the car’s aesthetics are arguably timeless, from the restrained exterior styling to the understated, richly trimmed cabin.
As appealing as the A4 is, it’s impossible to ignore the excellence of its rivals. The usual suspects, of course, are the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, with both offering a greater variety of features and powertrains. The Acura TLX, Infiniti Q50 and Lexus IS are also strong entrants that merit close consideration. On the home front, the Cadillac ATS boasts sharp looks and handling to match, though it’s not as polished as the Audi. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the above, but you might be pleasantly surprised by how well the tenured 2016 Audi A4 stacks up.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2016 Audi A4 is a five-passenger sedan available in two trim levels: Premium and Premium Plus. Two additional A4 variants — the Audi Allroad wagon and the Audi S4 performance sedan — are reviewed separately.
Standard features on the A4 Premium include “S line” sport styling details, 17-inch wheels, automatic xenon headlights with LED accents, foglights, automatic wipers, LED taillights, heated mirrors, a sunroof, cruise control, tri-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats (with four-way driver lumbar adjustment), 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, leather upholstery, Audi’s MMI infotainment system with a 6.5-inch display and a dash-mounted controller, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, satellite radio and Audi’s proprietary digital audio interface with an iPod cable.
The Premium Plus adds the Convenience Plus package (18-inch wheels, heated front seats and keyless entry and ignition), auto-dimming mirrors and driver memory settings.
The Convenience Plus package is optional on Premium. Offered on Premium Plus is the Technology package, which adds a blind-spot monitor, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a color trip computer, a DVD player, mobile app integration, WiFi hotspot capability, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, Bluetooth audio connectivity, a navigation system, voice controls and an upgraded version of MMI with an enhanced display and a console-mounted controller. The Premium is eligible for a lesser version of this bundle that comes without the blind-spot monitor, parking sensors, rearview camera and Bang & Olufsen stereo.
A few options packages are exclusively available on Premium Plus. The Sport package adds a lowered sport suspension, steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles (automatic transmission only), front sport seats and adjustable drive settings (Audi Drive Select). The Sport Plus package requires the Sport package and adds 19-inch wheels with summer tires, gloss-black styling accents, a black cloth headliner and a flat-bottomed sport steering wheel. The S line Competition Plus package requires the Technology and Sport packages, adding 18-inch gloss-black wheels, front and rear parking sensors, the rearview camera, black mirror housings, a black rear diffuser, a body-color rear spoiler, sport bumpers, a black cloth headliner, piano black interior inlays, a sport shift knob (manual transmission only), leather and synthetic suede upholstery and the flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Optional on both trim levels are rear side airbags and 19-inch wheels with summer tires.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2016 Audi A4 employs a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are standard, while all-wheel drive is available with either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Audi estimates that the A4 will accelerate to 60 mph 6.6 seconds with the CVT, improving to 6.4 seconds with the manual transmission and 6.2 seconds with the eight-speed automatic.
EPA-estimated fuel economy is 27 mpg combined (24 city/32 highway) with the CVT. The manual transmission drops slightly to 26 mpg combined (22 city/32 highway), with the automatic checking in at 25 mpg combined (22 city/31 highway).
The 2016 Audi A4 comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. A blind spot warning system, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are optional on the Premium Plus via the Technology package, while the S line Competition package adds front parking sensors. Rear seat airbags are optional on every 2016 A4.
In Edmunds brake testing, an A4 with summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet. That’s an impressively short distance, though typical for a sedan of this type with summer tires.
In government crash tests, the A4 received the top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with five stars for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the A4 the best possible score of “Good” in the moderate-overlap frontal offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. The A4’s seat and head restraint design was also rated “Good” for whiplash protection in rear impacts. However, the Audi received the worst rating of “Poor” in the small-overlap frontal-offset crash test.
Interior Design and Special Features
Although the 2016 Audi A4’s cabin dates back a number of years, its understated dashboard design and high-quality materials have helped it age well. There’s an air of adult seriousness here, reinforced by the standard leather upholstery (many rivals start with vinyl) and crisp gauges adorned with Audi’s signature font. The red nighttime illumination adds to the sophisticated vibe.
Entertainment and information functions are controlled by Audi’s MMI, which employs a central display screen and a rotary controller that’s surrounded by related buttons. In standard form, the MMI controls are located on the dashboard, making for a relatively awkward reach from the driver seat. If you spring for the fancier version, the controls move to a more convenient location on the console between the front seats, while additional perks include an upgraded display, a navigation system and voice controls. Overall, we’re fans of MMI, though we’ve found BMW’s iDrive system to be more intuitive for uninitiated users.
The A4 has historically been considered a compact luxury sedan, but the current model’s generous interior space belies that classification. There’s plenty of room up front for larger adults to get comfortable (though the standard seats could use more lateral support), and the rear outboard seats provide sufficient head- and legroom for another pair of adult occupants. The 12.4-cubic-foot trunk, however, is only average in size.
The 2016 Audi A4’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine punches above its weight, providing responsive acceleration that should satisfy most shoppers. Still, rival engines from BMW and Mercedes offer even more pep along with better fuel economy. The A4’s standard suspension setup is controlled but fairly supple, striking a pleasant balance that’s not overly sporty. If you opt for the Sport package with its lowered suspension, you’ll enjoy some of the sharpest handling in the segment, though ride quality diminishes accordingly. The available 19-inch tires also take a bite out of the A4’s otherwise compliant character.