2019 Audi e-tron SUV

Style

Audi’s strategy with the e-tron, its first electric car, is to make it fit inconspicuously into the company’s lineup of SUVs. It slots between the Audi Q5 and Q7.

There’s nothing obvious about the e-tron’s styling that lets you know it’s electric. If you look closely, the front grille and bumper have unique design features. There are pointed open intakes on both sides of the front fascia to channel air efficiently. The stylized front LED lights are underscored by four horizontal slashes of daytime running lights. The brand’s unchanged iconic octagonal is sits squarely in the middle. On the tail, there’s a splash of LED color that wraps all the way around.

The front overhang is minimal, enhancing the overall vibe that is simultaneously muscular and flowing.

Audi’s electric SUV is available in a choice of ten colors, including the signature Antigua blue. That shade provides a striking contrast to e-tron logo on the hinged electric charging flap that drops down.

The cameras that replace side mirrors in other markets are unfortunately not available in the United States.

Performance

The Audi e-tron’s two motors—one on each axle—produces just over 400 horsepower and 489 pound-feet of torque. Sprints to 60 miles per hour happen in about 5.5 seconds. The power is programmed to be unfurled in smooth and modest doses. Audi went for comfortable cruising rather than the abrupt tire-chirping takeoffs experienced in many other electric vehicles. The ride is exceptionally quiet even by EV standards.

The most striking contrast between the Audi e-tron and other EVs is in its braking. Unless you select a manual mode, the e-tron has very little regen grab. Take your foot off the accelerator and the vehicle coasts like a conventional ride. The regen is available by using the brake pedal instead of a special gear or steering-wheel paddles.

2019 Audi e-tron SUV

Nearly all of your foot action on the brake pedal – except for very hard stops – will be applied to regenerating energy. It’s a clever design to maximize reclaimed energy while making it feel familiar to drivers with no EV orientation.

Audi engineers also point to the company’s first-time integration of Quattro drive controls and torque control. The result is well-planted and stable handing in all road conditions and climates. As with other Audis, drivers can choose various driving profiles: auto, comfort, dynamic, efficiency, individual, allroad, and offroad. Regardless, the feel of the steering wheel is light and easy.

Efficiency/Range

The e-tron SUV is expected to get an official range rating of about 230 to 240 miles. That puts it in line with other long-range EVs, although a little disappointing considering its use of a sizable 95 kilowatt-hour battery pack. By contrast, the Jaguar I-Pace (also not so efficient) gives 234 miles from a 90-kWh pack while the Hyundai Kona EV’s 64 kilowatt-hours provides an impressive 258 miles of range.

The e-tron is one of the least efficient electric vehicles on the market. Audi officials say they’re okay with lower than average efficiency numbers because the vehicle offers a heavy safety cage, other high-tech safety gear, and a comfortable interior that’s more important than an absolute efficiency number. Also, they chose to be conservative with the amount of the battery’s capacity that’s used to ensure longevity.

They might have a point about not getting too hung up on a few miles of range. Electric cars are dramatically more efficient than gas-powered vehicles. Giving back a little efficiency for safety, durability and extra cargo is a fair trade.

Charging

2019 Audi e-tron SUV

Daily home charging of the Audi e-tron is in line with the EV competition. Given the e-tron SUV’s relatively low level of efficiency, the 9.6-kilowatt onboard charger adds about 20 miles of range for every hour plugged in. Still, that equates to a full recharge in an overnight session.

One novelty is how the e-tron comes standard with a compact and portable Level 2 charging unit, dubbed a “capsule” by Audi. You can leave it docked and plugged into a dryer-style outlet (NEMA 14-50) in your garage – or take it on the road. The unit allows you to skip buying a new Level 2 charger, commonly a $300 to $500 expense.

Where the e-tron shines is as one of the first non-Tesla electric vehicles to offers ultra-fast charging at the 150-kilowatt level. That even beats a Tesla Supercharger which charges at 120 kilowatts. Most CCS stations available today supply a maximum of 50 kilowatts and very few offer a 150-kW dose. But 150-kilowatt charging is on the way it’s good that the e-tron will is equipped to handle the new, faster stations rolling out over the United States.

The 150-kW rate means charging the e-tron from empty to 80 percent capacity—about 190 miles of range—in 30 minutes.

To sweeten the deal, the e-tron includes 1,000 kWh of free energy from the Electrify America network currently being installed.

Passenger and Cargo Room

So many vehicles are called an SUV these days that the term has lost its meaning. The electric Bolt, Kona, and Niro vehicles are SUVs in name only. The Jaguar I-Pace comes closer but is more like an upright wagon.

On the other hand, the Audio e-tron has legitimate SUV dimensions and cargo space. It comfortably seats five adults while providing 28.5 cubic feet of storage. When the rear seats, which come in a 40/20/40 configuration, are dropped down, space opens up for a healthy 57 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

Price

The 2019 Audi e-tron starts with a starting price of $74,800. That’s based on the Premium Plus trim which is equipped with 20-inch wheels and all-season tires, as well as a top-view camera system, side assist with cross-traffic alerts, LED headlamps, 12-way power heated and cooled front seats, Illuminated aluminum door sills, and the 9.6-kW onboard charger. Options include rear side airbags with lit buckles for $400, a cold weather package for $900, and a driver-assistance package for $2,850.

The Premium trim for $81,800 adds heads-up display, the driver assistance package, active lane assist, Rear window sunshades, dual-pane acoustic front side windows, leather seats, and an air-quality package. Move up to 21-inch wheels for $1,500.

The Audi e-tron goes on sale at dealerships throughout the United States by mid-2019.

Audi e-tron SUV specifications

Availability: Now
Base MSRP: $75000
Est. tax credit: $7500
Technology: Electric Vehicle
Body type: SUV
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 230 miles pure electric
Battery size: 95 kWh
Charging rate: 9.6 kW

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