Downside: Unnecessary complexity. Audi needs to reexamine the notion that luxury inherently means more of everything. Sometimes less is better, especially when what is offered is elegantly simple.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Good in all three categories, but neither stunning nor memorable in any. The A6 4.2 Quattro is tightly built; but it's also a heavy runner at 4,145 pounds. It comes with four-link anti-roll bar, with twin-tube gas-filled shock absorbers up front; and a trapezoidal-link setup, with twin-tube, gas-filled shocks in the rear. But it doesn't have the edgy handling of a new 3 Series or 5 Series BMW or the super grin-power of a Cadillac CTS-V sedan.
Head-turning quotient: That front grille! I like it, but I think I'm in the minority, judging from the generally negative reaction of spectators, including some of who likened the A6's grille to the front end of a 1958 Ford Edsel.
Body style/layout: A front-engine, all-wheel-drive mid-size sedan. Its wheelbase -- center distance between front and rear wheels -- is 111.9 inches, 3.3 inches longer than that of the previous model.
Engines/transmissions: Two engines are available and, thus, two versions of the A6 Quattro. The A6 4.2 comes with a 4.2-liter, V-8, 40-valve engine that develops 335 horsepower at 6,600 revolutions per minute and 310 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm. The A6 3.3 has a 3.2-liter V-6 that develops 255 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 234 foot-pounds of torque at 3,250 rpm. The engines are linked to six-speed automatic transmissions that also can be shifted manually.
Cargo and fuel capacities: Seats five. Luggage capacity is 15.9 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 21.1 gallons of required premium unleaded fuel.
Mileage: I averaged 20 miles per gallon in city and highway driving.
Safety: Domed, pedestrian-friendly hood; side air bags for front and rear occupants; head curtain air bags; rigid body construction; adaptive headlights; traction and stability control; four-wheel anti-lock brakes.
Price: Base price on the 2005 Audi A6 4.2 Quattro is $51,500. Dealer's invoice on the base model is $47,493. Price as tested is $54,870, including $2,650 in options and a $720 destination charge. Dealer's price as tested is $50,625. Incentives are available. Prices sourced from Audi and Edmunds.com.
Purse-strings note: The A6 3.2 Quattro is a better buy. Worthy competitors abound. Shop accordingly. Bargain hard.