The e-tron name has been applied to fully electric Audi models since 2019. The first and primary model is a five-passenger SUV that was the premier vehicle in the e-tron line-up. Audi later added the e-tron Sportback, e-tron GT, and Q4. 2022 will be the last model year for the standalone e-tron name as the second generation of the vehicle will be branded the Q8 e-tron starting with the 2023 model year.
The e-tron is available in four versions: e-tron, e-tron Sportback, e-tron S, and e-tron S Sportback. Within each of these models are premium, premium plus, and chronos edition trim levels. All models come with two electric motors and a 95-kWh lithium-ion battery that delivers a combined 355 horsepower and 414 pound-feet of torque. Standard is a single speed automatic with Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system. They get an estimated 222 miles of electric range when fully charged under ideal circumstances. For 2023, prices start at $70,800 for a base model and climb up to a starting price of $97,900 for an e-tron S Sportback. Competition includes other all-electric SUVs such as the BMW iX, Cadillac Lyriq, Jaguar I-Pace, Genesis GV60, Mercedes-Benz EQB, Tesla Model X, and Volvo XC40 Recharge. I spent a week in an e-tron Chronos Edition and here's what stood out....
Audi has been building vehicles with unique lighting signatures for many years now, but the e-tron takes sequential lighting to a new level. It features digital matrix LEDs that project images on the road ahead (like a movie projector). I first realized this new feature when I turned the e-tron off at night and graphics projected on the garage door including the Audi logo and e-tron name. Similar images are projected when unlocking and opening the door. Audi is one of the first to implement these lights in a mass-market vehicle. Due to US regulations, the feature is limited to the welcome and leaving animation, but in Europe it advances to project arrows, lane-keep assist lines, and more. Additional lighting elements include door lights that project to the ground when the doors are opened and sequential turn signal lighting.
Exterior Styling (+)
The exterior styling is like the rest of the Audi SUV lineup, therefore the e-tron does not stand out as an overly contemporary electric vehicle. It has a large grille that looks like most others until you get up close and realize there are no slits for air to pass through and e-tron is embossed on the bottom of it. LED headlights have a unique signature and large openings on either side of the front fascia give it an aggressive, mean look. The side profile has a traditional roofline with a small third window and wide c-pillar that creates a blind spot that makes the 360-degree cameras useful. Around back an LED lightbar stretches across the hatch and a spoiler covers the top portion of the window. Overall proportions are good with minimal overhangs and wheel arches that are nicely filled.
Whether it's a base or top end model, the e-tron has stylish wheel designs. 20" 5-arm directional wheels finished in brushed silver and gray look sporty on premium models. Step up to the premium plus and available 21" 5-arm turbine design directional bi-color wheels always look to be in motion. And finally, the chronos edition has 21" 5-double V-spoke design wheels finished in black that the wheel arches well.
When fully charged the e-tron delivers around 222 miles of range which should be sufficient for most owners. It is, however, less than many newer EVs that now offer over 250 miles of total range. During my time with it, I was able to exceed the estimated 222 and get into the 230s range with ideal fall weather. The onboard charger can charge from zero to full in around 9-10 hours when connected to a 240-volt household power outlet. It is also capable of DC fast charging at up to 150kW which can charge the battery from 0-80% in around 30 minutes.
Traditional Audi vehicles have always been fun to drive with refined handling and potent engines, the e-tron is no different. The e-tron isn't as quick as some smaller crossovers, but when the Boost button is activated, it will accelerate from 0-60 in about 5.5 seconds. These are still impressive numbers for a heavy SUV weighing 5,822 pounds. For the average driver, it will feel plenty fast. The instant torque is satisfying as you weave amongst traffic on the highway with ease. It delivers a grounded and composed ride that blends a luxury cruiser with athleticism. Steering is well-balanced and precise exuding confidence. All models come with an adaptive air suspension system that smooths bumps from broken pavement, resulting in a comfortable driving experience. Even the models with the larger 21" wheels offer a smooth ride over imperfect road conditions. The regenerative braking system has good stopping power and feels like a traditional system. Unlike some competitors the one-pedal driving is weaker and doesn't seem to bring the e-tron to a full stop. Comparatively, vehicles like the Volvo XC40 Recharge or Volkswagen ID.4 have strong one-pedal regenerative braking that slows the vehicles down quickly.
Interior Vibe / Comfort (+)
Audi continues to deliver classy, comfortable, and stylish interiors in its electric lineup. The e-tron has a modern, but not outlandish design with a dual-screen infotainment set-up, a digital gauge cluster and my new favorite gear selector. At the top of the center console is a wide hand rest with a "trigger" button on the left side. Tap that button up for reverse, down for drive and push it in for park. This can all be done with your thumb naturally and has a video game controller feel.
It comfortably seats five with ample head and legroom all around. Note that the Sportback version will impede rear seat head room. The seats are comfortable and well-padded. Standard features include leather, heated, and powered adjustable front seats, and a heated steering wheel. Available upgrades include heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, and massaging front seats. All these features worked well on chilled mornings and heated up quickly. The massaging seats had a variety of settings and maximize comfort up front.
Drivers will face a 12.3'' customizable digital gauge cluster that Audi refers to as their Virtual Cockpit. There are a variety of settings to adjust to your personal preference of what you want displayed that include the speedometer, maps, audio information, driver assist information and more. An available head-up display will also project information onto the windshield. At the center of the dash are two split touchscreen displays (10.1" on top and 8.6" on the bottom) that controls the audio and climate. The system is intuitive but utilizes haptic touch controls for most of its system that are touch sensitive or swipe oriented. There is a small audio dial at the top of the center console. There were noticeable delays with these controls on colder weather days when the screen was cold to the touch that was frustrating. Once warmed up, the controls worked well, but that's a concern for anyone living in colder climate areas. The system does integrate wirelessly with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa. Other standard features include quad-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and a panoramic sunroof. The panoramic roof is one of the larger ones in the class and extends far back for rear passengers letting in a lot of light. Available features include a Bang & Olufsen audio system and wireless device charging. The technology is all there, but the controls will be a personal preference.
Cargo Capacity (+/-)
There is 28.5 cubic feet of cargo room behind the back seats and 56.5 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. The numbers are average for the class of five passenger luxury crossovers. There is also a small storage bin under the hood that is suitable for holding charging cables. The power liftgate and decent opening size make loading/unloading cargo easy.
The e-tron scores well in its safety ratings and has earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick. Depending on the trim, the e-tron received the highest rating of Good or the second-highest rating of Acceptable for how well its headlights illuminate the road ahead. Standard driver assist features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors and automatic high beams. Other available features include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, road sign recognition, and surround-view parking camera system.
The Audi e-tron does everything well with refinement at the forefront. It was one of the first all-electric models to arrive and 2022 marks its final year of this generation. The areas needing improvement such as overall range will likely be improved with the new model coming out for 2023. It has unique features such as the LED lighting that make it stand out and the interior is best in class. With a comfortable and balanced ride, there's not much criticism to find in the e-tron.
First Impression Summary:
Test Vehicle: 2022 Audi e-tron Chronos Edition
Exterior Color: Navarra Blue Metallic
Interior Color: Okapi Brown interior
Notable Options: Chronos Edition ($17,500), trailer hitch ($750), e-tron beam lighting ($475), privacy trunk cover ($340)
Price as tested: $86,505 (with destination charge)