Hey, look what’s back! It’s the Audi A6 allroad. So for those who’ve got some money and like to go glamping at the lake house, a luxury, quasi off-road wagon like this will not only make an affluent impression on the out of town neighbors, it’s practically standard operating procedure.
Every summer when I venture into the bougie coastal towns of New England I’m reminded of what a Mercedes exec told me many years ago; their most affluent customers buy the E Wagon. It’s a sign of old money and you always see one parked underneath the port-cochere of some magnificent beach home. But Audi hasn’t been quite as committed to the wagon in the U.S. market with the A6 Avant quattro discontinued after the 2011 model year and it’s been 15 years since the allroad name graced an A6 wagon – both of which I tested, back when stickshifts, superchargers and V8s were still on the menu. But the new E-Class All-Terrain Wagon now has some fresher competition in the A6 allroad.
It’s a stately wagon, here in upcharge Vesuvius Gray and far more attractive than the blah looking, facelifted E-Class. If the Benz says old money then the Audi says I’ve got next. But money you will still need plenty of and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the rich it’s that they want what few others have. So even though a Q7 Prestige costs almost the same, they’ll gladly overpay for the A6 allroad because of its exclusivity. So welcome back A6 wagon and enjoy your time at the shore.
When the Pathfinder was last redesigned in 2013, SUVs were trending decidedly more car-like and that upset some Nissan loyalists who felt like their beloved Pathfinder had lost some of its edge. But now with this all-new 5th generation model adventure is back on the menu. My time behind the wheel has been limited but Nissan has done this cabin right and based upon everything I’ve seen they’ve got themselves a legitimate contender. It’s more family friendly and the interior dimensions have been tweaked in all the right ways with more cargo room, a wider 3rd row and seating for up to 8. And hey, it has wireless CarPlay so you know I’m good with the tech. Pricing, including destination, ranges between $34,560 for a base Pathfinder S 2WD to $49,240 for a 4WD Platinum. Telluride, Highlander and Explorer now have some tougher competition. The new Pathfinder lands in showrooms early this summer.
Buick’s lineup of 4 SUVs is selling especially well and it’s the hottest GM brand at the moment. Bigger than the Encore and smaller than the Enclave this is a compact-sized 2-row SUV that now looks much more attractive and car-like. It’s priced from the mid $30ks and now comes in Buick’s highest Avenir trim and available in front-drive model or all-wheel drive as an option. There’s lots of cool stuff in here like a head-up display, heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, an air quality sensor, a really nice sounding Bose 9-speaker audio system, wireless phone projection with a conveniently placed wireless charger, remote start, a rear camera mirror, auto high beams, adaptive cruise, the vibrating safety alert driver’s seat, a pano roof and top notch, intuitive infotainment with some cool apps and easy to use voice controls. So people who love stuff more than they love driving will be giddy with the Avenir. This new Envision is pretty good, but would I rather have a Venza?
If you’re shopping for a new minivan you’ve picked a good time. First of all, there are only 4 models from which to choose so that makes life simpler but more importantly they’ve all been recently refreshed or completely redesigned with the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Pacifica midway through their product cycles and the Kia Carnival and Toyota Sienna the all-new vans on the block. So minus the Pacifica’s ace in the hole with its more creative seating configurations – the personal importance of which only you can decide — Can the Sienna bump itself to the top of the class? From its provocative new styling that now presents as even more premium and handsome than the Pacifica’s to its Lexus-infused aura I, and everyone I’ve been transporting this week have been raving about the Sienna’s sophistication and family-friendly personality. I won’t bury the lede. This Sienna is arguably the best minivan of all-time.
In the USA where SUVs are king, the DBX will court the wealthy, trying to steer them away from other luxury SUVs such as the more established Bentley Bentayga. What we have here is a 5-seat, all-wheel drive sport-utility with dimensions not too dissimilar from an Audi Q7 but without the 3rd row. Like many of these types, it runs with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, comes with an air suspension and works through a 9-speed auto. The aluminum-intensive body keeps the curb weight below 5,000 pounds, there’re 6 selectable drive modes, a limited slip rear differential and standard 22” wheels. This Buckinghamshire Green is a special paint you won’t find on the configurator – a $6,100 option and all told this DBX sits before you at $205,186. Gas mileage is rated at 15mpg in combined driving.