2022 Audi e-tron Review

2022 Audi e-tron - All-electric e-tron is Audi's compelling answer to Tesla.


Introduced in 2019, the e-tron was Audi's first foray into the electric vehicle marketplace. A 5-passenger crossover the e-tron is sized between the Audi Q5 and Q8. Audi also offers a coupe-like version of the e-tron called the Sportback e-tron. In the years since the e-tron's introduction, Audi has grown it's EV portfolio to include the e-tron GT, Q4 e-tron, and Q4 Sportback e-tron. Competitors include BMW iX, Cadillac Lyriq, Genesis GV60, Jaguar I-Pace and Volvo XC40.

Current e-tron trim levels include Premium, Premium Plus and Chronos. All get two electric motors for through-the-road all-wheel drive. Combined they produce a normal output of 355 horsepower and 414 lb-ft of torque. An 8-second boost mode is available that pumps horsepower to 402 and torque to 490. Power comes from a 95-kW lithium-ion battery pack that sits under the floor of the passenger compartment. The e-tron is rated to tow 4000 pounds with its optional towing package.

Prices range from $67,000-$84,000. Standard safety features include forward-collision warning with brake intervention, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and front and rear parking sensors. Additional standard equipment on the base model includes 20-inch wheels, hand-free liftgate, sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, 4-zone climate control, and infotainment system with navigation and support for Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Premium Plus adds 21-inch wheels, 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, wireless charging tray, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, surround-view camera, rear automatic braking, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. Chronos adds Black Optic package, upgraded headlights, dual-pane acoustic glass, head-up display, massaging front seats, rear-window sunshades and soft-close doors. 

There's no denying that most EVs are quick and the e-tron is proof. Despite its portly 5,700-pound curb weight, the e-tron will accelerate from 0-60 MPH in a scant 5.5 seconds in boost mode. Even more impressive is how it accelerates. There's no hesitation in power delivery -- mash the pedal at any speed and the e-tron leaps forward. There is also no power delay for shifting or turbo spool up.

Though the 95-kW battery is fairly large for the class, the e-tron isn't exactly efficient with its electron usage. The EPA estimates that its range is just 222 miles, which is among the lowest in the class. Factor in Chicago's extreme temperature swings and real-world range can easily drop below 200 miles. Thankfully an 11-kW onboard charger can charge from zero to full in about 10 hours on a Level 2+ home charger. E-tron also has DC fast-charging capability up to 150 kW, which can recharge the battery from 0% to 80% capacity in about 30 minutes. Audi provides 250 kWh of complimentary charging on the Electrify America network.

Though not a traditional all-wheel-drive system, the e-tron's through-the-road all-wheel-drive is enabled through electric motors on the front and rear axles. Rather than a direction connection front-to-rear, computers do the job of managing power delivery to enhance grip in slippery surfaces. There's no low range and the system isn't designed for severe off-road use.

From behind the wheel, the e-tron is significantly sportier that most crossovers. The wide tires have great dry-road grip and the firm suspension keeps them firmly planted. The steering provides enough boost at low speeds and has a nice heft and reasonable road feel at highway speeds. Brakes feel powerful and have a progressive and easy-to-modulate pedal -- though e-tron doesn't have a true 1-pedal mode as seen in other electric vehicles. All in all, the e-tron feels very nimble and athletic, until you start throwing it around. Once you ask all that weight to change direction there's a queasiness in the chassis that can be unsettling. To be fair, this is a trait common to all EV crossovers.

Though e-tron comes with an adjustable air suspension, ride quality can be on the firm side -- especially on Chronos models with the 21-inch wheels. The suspension is a trifle too firm on bumpy roads and the tires are too low-profile to take the edge off. However, ride quality is subjective from driver to driver, and some may find the firm ride to their liking. You'll definitely want to drive the Premium and Chronos back-to-back prior to buying.

Like most EVs, e-tron is whisper quiet around town. On the highway, there's some tire roar, but little wind or motor noise.

On the inside, e-tron is typical Audi -- call it upscale business class. Materials are beyond reproach for the price point and there's just enough brightwork to keep the cabin from feeling austere. The twin-shelf dashboard provides a welcome change from the current trend toward single, floating dash designs and there's lots of chrome. Unlike some competitors, Audi breaks up the electronic displays to include a dedicated instrument cluster, touchscreen infotainment system and climate control/multi-function panel that apes more traditional analog designs.

From a function standpoint, the Audi's approach mostly succeeds. Though functions are accessed by touchscreens, there's a tactile feel when pressing a button that doesn't exist on other systems. Still, menus can be confusing and even the gear shift takes some familiarization. The biggest grip might be the lack of a simple tuning knob for the radio.

Driver and passengers enjoy comfortable and supportive (and massaging on Chronos) seats and are treated to good head and leg room. Four full-size adults will be able to fit comfortably, though three in the back seat is a squeeze. Doors are tall and the openings large. Combined with a low step-in, this makes the e-tron a great empty-nester vehicle. Outward visibility is fair, mostly hindered by a smallish rear window and thick roof-pillars.

One special note is the impressive standard 4-zone climate control. While the HVAC systems in some EVs struggle to keep up with the demands of Chicago's wild temperature swings. Set to auto, the e-tron system quickly cools or heats the cabin to the desired temperature.

From a technology perspective the e-tron is class leading. All of the expected safety features are either standard or available as part of a simple package. There are lots of USB ports and the available Bang & Olufsen sound system is beyond reproach. There's wireless support for Android Auto and Apple Car Play and the phone-charging tray even has a cooler and signal booster.

Rear seats up, the e-tron offers 28.5-cubic-foot cargo space. Volume expands nicely to 57 cubic feet when you fold the seats. The rear hatch opening is large and the load floor is reasonably low. There's also a small cargo hold under the hood that's ideal for the emergency 110-volt charge plug. Interior storage is adequate with a few open and covered bins throughout. One exception are the smallish cup holders.

Bottom Line -- When e-tron debuted, it was one of a few luxury crossovers. Since then, competition has grown. Still, the e-tron stands out for its impressive array of technology, features, performance and luxury. The biggest drawback is its inefficiency. Where other luxury crossovers can eek-out more miles per kW, the e-tron drains its battery quite quickly -- especially on the highway. Though it does DC fast charge, the lack of overall range limits e-tron's "road-trip" ability.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.