If absence makes the heart grow fonder, drivers will be fond of the 2013 Audi allroad, which returns to the market after a 7-year hiatus. The allroad is an elegant wagon that replaces the A4 Avant.

Audi is setting all kinds of sales records lately. And there’s good reason: Audi vehicles are some of the purest, smoothest vehicles being manufactured today. The allroad features functionality and sophistication in a slightly larger package. The allroad is a half-inch wider and 2.3 inches taller than the A4 Avant, and it provides another inch and one-half of ground clearance.

The allroad, as evidenced by its name, is an off-road themed wagon, but practically speaking, we’re not sure how many drivers will take the allroad to the deer camp. Audi’s signature quattro permanent all-wheel drive is standard, but the allroad is really too nice to be getting scuffed up on old logging trails.

A 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 engine develops 211 horsepower and sends 258 lb.-ft. of twisting torque to an 8-speed automatic transmission with sport and manual shift modes, which gives the allroad great road manners and a smooth, responsive ride. The electronic speed-sensitive power steering is excellent, and the allroad handles cornering like a champ. Power from the engine develops instantly and stays strong and smooth throughout the gear range.

Inside, the 5-seat allroad has a standard panoramic sunroof that stretches back over the second row. Instrumentation via a controller knob with surrounding buttons requires a little study, but once you get used to the system, it seems intuitive enough.

The optional navigation system is terrific. It works on either a regular map, a 3D map or with Google Earth satellite imagery overlaid on the map. With the Google satellite imagery, the view is amazing; it seems like you’re flying at 10,000 feet over the roadway. Drive by a Walmart and the nav screen even shows cars that were in the parking lot at the time the image was made. If you ever wondered what was on the other side of that tree line blocking your view from the road, the allroad nav system can show you. The system is part of Audi connect, the company’s infotainment system.

Functionality is also premium with the allroad. The vehicle has 50 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down and 27 cubic feet otherwise. With the vehicle’s increased height, loading your stuff into the back is easy. An optional power tailgate makes it even easier.

Our test allroad with the premium plus optional package had three zones of climate control, a power tailgate, xenon headlights, rain and light sensors for wipers and headlights, a 12-way adjustable heated driver’s seat, an 8-way adjustable heated passenger’s seat, a 60/40 split folding rear seat, Sirius Satellite Radio, Bluetooth connectivity, parking sensors with a rearview camera, and an advanced key system with pushbutton start. Either aluminum or wood inlays are available. Other optional technology features include adaptive lighting, radar cruise control and active lane assist. A 505-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system is also available.

The 2013 allroad has a full complement of safety features and airbags including side curtains, but it has not yet been rated for safety by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The government’s 5-Star Safety Ratings system gives the allroad four stars for front seat passengers and five stars for rear seat passengers in side crashes. Frontal crash tests have not yet been done.

Audi’s been on a roll lately, and with the smooth and functional 2013 allroad, it looks like the roll should continue.

2013 Audi allroad

  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4
  • Transmission: Eight speed automatic with sport and manual shift modes
  • Horsepower: 211
  • Test model base price: $39,600
  • As tested price: $47,395