The 2014 Audi A4 blends tech-smart equipment and trim, sleek styling into a luxurious and sophisticated package that stands out from the crowd of luxury sedans. Minor updates for the new model year carry forward Audis process of incremental refinements to keep the A4 abreast of its highly competitive class. As one of Audi's most essential bread-winning models, the A4 family nevertheless avoids the pitfall of becoming too commonplace for its premium status and price. This year's differences lie mainly in the A4's front-drive fundamentals (though all-wheel drive is an option) and its pared-down, underplayed look. Side by side, it shares the lead in styling with the ATS, sleek and rakish and embossed with new details last year for a fresh take on its spare lines. Trimmer headlamps and a toned-down grille are subtle enough, but the grille's angled corners are an expert touch wider fog lamps build more muscle at ground level, where the car could use it. The cockpit's trimmed in aluminum or a warmer-looking wood, and leather is standard. The controls are more easily understood since they were rearranged a bit last year, too. The A4 comes with a single engine these days, and it's uprated slightly for 2014. The 220-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder responds with zest. Those with quattro all-wheel drive can also have either a six-speed manual shifter, or an excellent eight-speed automatic with a sport shift mode, which only lacks paddle-shift controls. On either of these versions, the ones we recommend, acceleration is strong, and fuel economy on the highway is best, with the automatic rated at 31 mpg highway.