2019 Audi e-tron Expert Review

Editor's Overview

The 2019 Audi e-tron is the luxury brand’s first all-electric vehicle, and a harbinger of the German automaker’s vision of an emissions-free future. Sized between the compact Q5 and midsize Q7, the e-tron is a 2-row/5-passenger crossover SUV that will appeal to buyers looking for an easy-to-own-and-operate alternative to the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace.

You'll Like The 2019 Audi e-tron If...

If you want an all-electric SUV, the Audi e-tron is the real deal. Not as fussy as a Jaguar I-Pace or Tesla Model X, it’s easy to just get in and drive. The e-tron can also do real SUV stuff, like go off-road, carry plenty of gear in its cargo area, and even tow up to 4,000 pounds.

You May Not Like The 2019 Audi e-tron If...

While supremely innovative under the skin, the e-tron’s design isn’t as flashy as the Jaguar I-Pace. And like all electric vehicles, when the juice runs out, recharging the batteries is required, and that can take anywhere from 30 minutes on a high-speed public charger to hours at home.

What's New

The 2019 Audi e-tron is brand-new. This 5-passenger luxury-crossover SUV is Audi’s first electric vehicle (EV) and paves the way for other e-tron models to follow, including a sports-car concept. The e-tron is also among the first all-electric SUVs to hit the market, and it means serious competition for Tesla.

Interior Features

All e-tron Audi models have a 2-row/5-passenger setup that is roomy for both passengers and cargo. With 57 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded, the e-tron has slightly more space than the Q5. Up front, the dash is tech-rich, dominated by two digital panels. The top screen relays information like navigation and audio, while the bottom screen is for climate, using a type of haptic feedback. The latter isn’t quite as intuitive as changing fan speed or temperature via a button or dial, but it’s among the better systems of its kind. A third screen sits directly in front of the driver, an all-digital, configurable instrument cluster that Audi calls a “virtual cockpit.” The e-tron’s transmission selector is a big, horizontal lever that takes getting used to the first few times you want to engage Drive, Park or Reverse.

Exterior Features

Whereas the Tesla Model X looks like a futuristic orb and the Jaguar I-Pace is all sexy sleek, Audi’s electric vehicle looks like, well, an Audi SUV. At first glance, you might think it’s a Q5 or the new Q8, which has a similar athletic stance and slightly raked roofline. At 193 inches in length, the e-tron is larger than its profile suggests, and just a few inches shy of the Q8. Still, there are a few characteristics that separate the e-tron from its Audi SUV siblings. Up front, its grille is unique in that it is enclosed -- there is no engine to cool, after all. Likewise, at the rear there are no exhaust outlets, just horizontal lines on each side of the bottom rear bumper. On the driver’s side, just above the front wheel, is the e-tron’s charge port.

Driving Impressions

If you’ve driven an electric vehicle, the Audi e-tron will be refreshingly familiar. And if you haven’t, it will be initially exciting and then normal in the best way possible. With no gasoline engine, Audi’s e-tron is silent and smooth. Power delivery is instantaneous. Its two electric motors -- one driving the front wheels, the other the rear -- enable the e-tron to hit 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds. That’s fast, but not Jaguar I-Pace or Tesla Model X fast. What the e-tron gives up in neck-snapping performance, it gains in appreciable everyday manners. The thing is simply easy to drive. Like other Audi luxury vehicles, there are various drive modes such as Sport and Off-road, and they make a noticeable difference. When going turns to stopping, the Audi has regenerative brakes that help recharge the batteries. Unlike other EVs, however, it can’t be set to a degree that it enables 1-pedal driving, wherein you rarely have to use the brake pedal. Again, this is where the Audi e-tron feels more like a traditional, gasoline-powered vehicle vs. one running on electrons. The e-tron’s “quattro” all-wheel-drive system, off-road mode and self-raising air suspension allowed us to enjoy blasting over sand and dirt roads.

Pricing Notes

The 2019 Audi e-tron has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $74,800 for a Premium Plus model or $81,800 for the Prestige version. Destination charge is an additional $995. Both of those prices are before the $7,500 federal tax credit and other possible incentives for emissions-free vehicles. At its starting price, the e-tron is roughly $5,000 more than a Jaguar I-Pace, and about $6,000 below the starting price for a Tesla Model X. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new electric car. As this is an all-new vehicle, the Audi e-tron’s resale value is still being determined by our forecasters.



Notable Equipment

The 2019 Audi e-tron is available in just two trims, and both are very well equipped, even for a luxury SUV that starts around $75,000. The base Premium Plus e-tron includes leather interior, power front seats with heat and ventilation, air suspension, power tailgate, panoramic sunroof, 4-zone automatic climate control, 20-inch wheels, and LED headlights. The Audi’s infotainment system is robust, and includes navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, a top-view camera system, and a high-end Bang & Olufsen 3D audio system. Safety features include blind-spot monitoring (Audi calls it “side assist”) and automatic emergency braking.

Notable Options

Optional on the Premium Plus trim and standard on the top-line Prestige model is the recommendable Driver Assistance Package that includes functions like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance. The e-tron Prestige model also comes with a head-up display, massaging front seats, an automatic air-quality ionizer and fragrance system, upgraded leather, and power door closers, which make sure the doors are pulled snug. Both models can be optioned with a towing package that allows the e-tron to pull up to 4,000 pounds.

Favorite Features

SO ADVANCED, IT’S SIMPLE

Driving the e-tron is like driving the future, but of all the EVs we’ve tested, this is among the best. For all its technology, the e-tron is still a practical, livable luxury SUV from a long-standing and highly respected brand with a large dealer network.


UNEXPECTED AMENITIES

Beyond never needing to visit a gas station again, the e-tron will spoil you with features such as massaging and climate-controlled front seats, a fabulous-sounding Bang & Olufsen audio system, and soft-close doors that automatically ensure they are closed.

Under the Hood

The 2019 Audi e-tron is all-electric, powered by two motors fed by a 95-kWh lithium-ion battery. The battery is particularly sophisticated. It is made of 36 modules and 432 individual cells and has been engineered for both repeatable high-speed charging and precise cooling. The battery is guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles. Exact horsepower is still being determined, but is estimated to be in the 400 range. Torque output is rated at 414 lb-ft, or up to 490 lb-ft in boost mode. Also still being determined is maximum range. On the European cycle, the Audi e-tron’s range translates to 258 miles, but that number will likely be lower by EPA standards. As for recharging, the best-case scenario is 30 minutes to 80-percent capacity on a DC fast charger. For Level 2, 240-volt home charging, a full recharge takes an estimated nine hours. On a 120-volt line, however, a full charge can take a whopping 80 hours.


Dual asynchronous motors + 95-kWh battery

Horsepower: NA

414 lb-ft of torque (up to 490 lb-ft with boost engaged)

EPA city/highway fuel economy and range: NA

Editors' Notes

The 2019 Audi e-tron is one of the most important vehicles ever made by the German luxury automaker. It is the brand’s first all-electric vehicle, and a harbinger of Audi’s vision of an emissions-free future. Sized between the compact Q5 and midsize Q7, the e-tron is a sleek 2-row/5-passenger crossover SUV. It is among the first electric vehicles of its kind, competing with the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace, and forthcoming Mercedes-Benz EQC. Like those electric SUVs, the 2019 e-tron packs a potent, innovative powertrain and standard all-wheel drive. But the e-tron’s best trait is that, electrification aside, it drives, behaves and looks like the kind of luxury SUV you’d expect of an Audi. Starting around $75,000, the e-tron isn’t cheap, but it also isn’t absurd.

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