You don’t expect snow in California in late May, but on the way to Lake Tahoe, the flakes keep falling larger and faster. And a few years ago, you wouldn’t have expected an SUV to be powered by electricity. But our new 2019 Audi e-tron—one of a wave of battery-electric utes—feels pleasantly sure-footed as it winds through the twisty mountain pass.
A few aspects give the e-tron an advantage over gas vehicles in the snow. With its heavy batteries mounted under the floor, the battery-electric vehicle (BEV) has a lower center of gravity than the company’s gas-powered Q8. That translates into the ability to slalom through the snowy corners like a professional skier. The battery pack also powers two motors, one on each axle, creating an all-wheel-drive system that further improves handling. And, with a combined output of 402 horsepower, Audi’s first long-range BEV launches from 0 to 60 in a reasonably brisk 5.5 seconds. With a single-gear transmission, acceleration is immediate and incredibly smooth. Unlike earlier battery-electric vehicles, Audi hasn’t gone for weird head and taillights and jellybean curves to announce, “something’s different.” If anything, the e-tron reminds you of the Q8. The front-mounted charging port and the single-frame grille—largely closed off because BEVs don’t demand as much air—are among the subtle differences. But the e-tron makes good use of the space that is normally used for the engine with the addition of a “frunk,” (front trunk) and a surprisingly roomy interior. There’s also no drivetrain tunnel running down the middle of the cabin. If we have a complaint it’s that e-tron’s range (EPA-rated 204 miles per charge) doesn’t quite measure up to the Jaguar I-Pace (235 miles) and Tesla’s Model X (around 250). Still, e-tron offers more than what most Americans will normally use. And as more high-speed public chargers pop up, range becomes less relevant because it can regain 80 percent of its battery capacity in 30 minutes. Another plus: the 2019 Audi e-tron starts at $75,795, but when you factor in the $7,500 federal tax credit it’s actually a bit cheaper than the gas-powered Q8, and that could win over potential
buyers who’ve been wondering whether it’s time to plug in. Visit audiusa.com