Cheap Gas and the Audi A6 Quattro

August 1, 2008

Cheap gas. What could be better? Lots and lots of cheap gas. Unfortunately, that's not what you often find lately -- especially during the summer driving season. What's worse, you can't find cheap gas here in Utah at all --- in fact, Nevada has lower gas prices than Utah right now. In fact, most of the US has cheap gas compared to Utah where the price is still upwards of $4.25 per gallon in many places. But I recently picked up an Audi A6 Quattro, silver with a 3.2 liter engine. And I have been very pleased with one particular aspect of it: it doesn't require premium gas. So cheap gas is no longer a pipe dream for someone who wants to drive a luxury all-wheel drive car. What's more, its fuel economy is so good that it gets roughly the same gas mileage as a Subaru Outback wagon. You know, I heard a quote (and I can't remember the reference) that the automobile companies' goal is to make the average guy dissatisfied with his existing car about every 1.5 years so that he'll pick up a shiny new one with a cool new design. I guess I am definitely guilty of succumbing to their strategy sometimes, but this time around I think I've picked up a keeper: the Audi A6 Quattro. I had been driving a Subaru Outback, but decided to be "sensible" and pick up a simple Ford Fusion sedan about 2 years ago when they first came out. But here's the problem: In the winter I do dawn patrol backcountry ski tours at least once or twice a week in the morning before work. And on snowy days, I would take my wife's '05 Toyota 4Runner. But I always felt awful leaving her with the Ford, because then she couldn't really go anywhere that day --- it was just front-wheel drive, and we live right at the bottom of the Cottonwood Canyons in Salt Lake (20 minutes from Snowbird). She would have plenty of snowy, hilly roads to maneuver. So my quest for a good all-wheel drive car began... I went through a lot of choices: Another Subaru? A different wagon like the Volvo XC70? A BMW 325xi? And I even considered an AWD Ford Fusion. But frankly, none of them had the polish and powerful engine I was looking for at the price point I wanted to hit. Plus, many of the luxury brands required premium gas. Then I came across the Audi A6 Quattro. It has a 3.2 liter engine, all-wheel drive, leather seats, built-in turn-by-turn navigation system, etc, etc, etc, etc......I couldn't list all the options. But I found one at roughly the same price as an LL Bean Outback, which doesn't even have all the high-end features of the Audi. Then the kicker --- it didn't need premium gas, it could take mid-grade gas just fine. So here I had found it --- an all-wheel drive car for my wife to drive on snowy days when I take the 4Runner, but at the right price, and it doesn't require premium. Cheap gas was no longer totally out of the question --- compared to the BMW and Volvo cars that all required premium. I've been monitoring the mileage I get too, and even with driving it hard and in the city a lot I am getting just over 25 mpg. That's not bad for an all-wheel drive luxury car with a 3.2 liter engine. I know some will think that's not such great mileage, and others will think it's dumb to go for a luxury car. But for me it was the right combination of top end features, price, and practicality. I certainly think the Audi A6 Quattro is worth a test drive, especially if you live in the Rockies.

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