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Audi Allroad: Smart money or stupid money?

Audi Allroad: Smart money or stupid money?

We love driving the Audi Allroad. It’s tough to label anything a “staff favorite,” but with over six months of service and 12,000+ miles on the odometer, it’s clear that the Allroad doesn’t stay stationary for long.

And while there is likely universal agreement that this wagon is fun to drive and delivers better handling, a smoother ride, and better fuel economy than most small SUVs, it’s a tough argument that it’s a smart value. (Read our complete Audi Allroad road test.)

Starting at $39,600, it doesn’t take adding many options to push the price into the stratosphere. In fact, our entry-level Premium model, equipped with the Convenience Package (Audi music interface with iPod cable, HomeLink, Bluetooth, trip computer), HID headlights, and heated front seats, cost us $43,570. And this doesn’t get you navigation or a powered liftgate.

Visit our wagon buying guide for quick access to the latest advice, Ratings, road tests, and videos.

2013-Acura-TSX-Wagon.jpgSo here’s the financial case against the Allroad: Assuming you want to stick with a wagon body style, a loaded Acura TSX wagon sets you back just $36,405, and it includes a high-end sound system, power rear gate, and navigation. Granted, the TSX isn’t available with all-wheel drive. And you can argue that the Allroad is simply “nicer” (although it’s tough to calculate that) and quieter. The TSX only gives up a measly 10 hp, but it’s lighter so overall performance is about a wash. The last TSX sedan we tested returned 25 mpg overall (the Allroad clocks in at 22 mpg), so fuel economy nod goes to Acura.

For most people, the $7,000 price gap isn’t chump change. And it would more than cover a set of winter tires, if needed for the Acura.

Feeling even more frugal? Tempted to turn your nose up at both of these “prestige” brands? Consider the Subaru Outback wagon. It certainly gives up some refinement, quickness and handling prowess to the Audi and Acura. But if you can live without the premium label and, again, admitted snob appeal, a well-equipped 2.5i Premium Outback comes in at a tick above $30,000.

Looking long term, we estimate that the Allroad would cost $.75 a mile, or $71,750 cumulative, over eight years of ownership, factoring depreciation, loan interest, sales tax, fuel, insurance, maintenance, and repairs. In contrast, the TSX is far less expensive to own, at $.57 a mile and $54,500. So, that upfront $7,000 savings in purchase price grows to more than $17,000 over a typical ownership period. Clearly, smart money is on the TSX as an alternative. (Owner cost information is available on the model pages.)

There is no question that the Allroad is a great car, but you do pay for it. Is it more buck than bang? Ultimately, it is up to you whether it is worth the price. By our calculations, you can get a comparable car that is nearly as good for significantly less.

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