Audi e-tron: living with an electric crossover

Until the recent purchase of an Audi e-tron, our family couldn’t find an electric vehicle that met our needs. Like most American families, we’ve had a midsize crossover SUV for more than a decade that is stealing space in our garage. It’s easy to get used to all of the interior volume. In our case, the slightly higher construction allows easier loading and unloading of child and car seats on the back seat.

The competition

The Tesla Model X and Jaguar iPace were both on our radar. However, we wanted something with more space than the Jag. And we could do without the conspicuousness of the Tesla. The Audi e-tron seemed ideal. The beautiful design of the e-tron is reminiscent of other Audi crossovers without looking too futuristic. It’s the perfect size too, just a little bigger than the Q5 we owned before, but a lot more roomy inside, especially in the back seat. As with most Audis today, the interior is modern, plush and dressed in beautiful materials.

It may sound strange, but electric range was less of a concern for our family. Most of the time the vehicle was driven 30 to 50 miles a day. We have a second gas vehicle that can handle long family outings. So the 204 mile EPA range is ample.

The drive

Our $ 87,025 Siam Beige Prestige e-tron arrived in July with 21-inch wheels and almost every option, including the tow package ($ 650), cold-weather package ($ 900), and the rear Side thoracic airbags ($ 400). First impressions? I was surprised at how well the car drives considering the 21-inch, low-profile tires. It runs smoother than our old Q5 and the recently leased Mercedes GLC 300, and the overall structure of the e-tron feels robust, even when it is driven through a field of potholes. The interior is trend-setting and technical, but also easy to navigate. The overall experience is more A8 than Q5 in terms of the quality of the equipment and the serenity of the driving experience.

The e-tron is relatively fast. It drives well in the Dynamic driving mode with lowered air suspension. Even in this more aggressive vehicle setting, the e-tron’s suspension is resilient. But to be honest, we rarely go to the limits of handling with the e-tron. This car spends most of its time in efficiency mode trudging down relatively straight and uninteresting roads – commuting, fetching kids, and running errands.

trip

We took the e-tron with us on a few road trips and it was an excellent companion. However, we ran out of space on a weekend trip to Legoland California. The cargo space of the e-tron swallowed all the luggage of our family of four, but there wasn’t enough space for our stroller either. So we had to rent one from Legoland every day. Not a big deal, but we’d appreciate more loading capacity on a future model.

The Legoland Resort has 16 ampere 240 V charging stations that we used. But it took more than one night to fully charge our half-used backpack.

On this trip, we all noticed how exceptionally quiet and isolated this Audi is. More than any other EV we’ve tested. Our children fall asleep faster and easier in this Audi than in any other vehicle we have ever owned. When you have young children, you know this is important.

In terms of EV range, we found the EPA rating of the e-tron of just over 200 miles to be a bit conservative on relatively flat stretches. On one trip we drove the Audi from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara for a weekend. And we didn’t recharge until we got home. The car drove 220.6 miles on what was mostly the highway on a full charge.

Turtle mode

Interestingly, the e-tron warns you of a “low” battery when the remaining 60-mile range is reached, then again at 30 miles. When you reach 10 miles or less, “Drive System Warning! Limited Performance ”and shows a tiny bright yellow turtle. Cute. This mode feels like a hyper-restrictive efficiency mode when you hit the accelerator pedal. At that point in the trip, we activated the car’s range mode, which added 9 miles to our battery by resetting the air conditioning and ventilated seats. But unlike some relatively pedestrian EVs we’ve driven, the e-tron doesn’t automatically search and suggest nearby public charging stations if the battery gets critically low, which was a bit of a surprise.

On the way home we took a downhill canyon route which, thanks to the regenerative braking of the car, brought some range to the battery. You can temporarily set more regeneration by tapping a rocker switch on the steering wheel. Or you can set the regeneration level manually via the infotainment system. But on this trip we let the Audi’s standard mode decide how much to use. By the time we reached the Pacific Coast Highway below, we had covered four miles. Not bad.

According to the display, we drove an average of 4.3 km per kWh on this trip, which corresponds to about 2.7 miles per kWh. In the 1,100 miles we drove in the car, we drove an average of 3.5 km per kWh, or about 2.2 miles per kWh.

Charge at home

We chose to buy a ChargePoint 32A home charger for our garage primarily for convenience. Yes, we could have used the supplied portable charger that comes with the car. But for that it would have to be pulled from the “frunk” of the e-tron every time we needed a charge. And since we had to wire our garage for 240V anyway, it made sense to permanently mount a level 2 charger. The sleek design of the ChargePoint charger appealed to us more than any other home charger we’ve bought. And it works great. A low battery will fully charge for approximately 13 hours. The disadvantage? It cost over $ 500 without the installation.

The ChargePoint app is easy to set up so we can monitor charging, turn it on and off, and schedule off-peak charging from our phones when rates are the lowest. You can also see an estimate of how many miles were added while charging and how much it will cost to charge. Audi’s own app also monitors and plans the charging process and performs many functions such as locking and unlocking the doors, setting the stationary air conditioning and locating the e-tron in the event of theft.

Volkswagen and Audi have an exciting partnership with Electrify America 150 kW DC fast charging. We can hardly wait until the network with charging stations is fully expanded to enable longer motorway journeys. The app is downloaded to our phones, but we haven’t had to use any of the stations yet. If you think three apps seem like two too many for a car, then we agree.

Good and bad

There’s a lot to love about the e-tron. But there are also a few things that could use improvement. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes, but it’s not quite enough. Both my wife and I want more customization options, and we’re two very different sized people.

Although the shifter looks nice, it’s a bit awkward to use and doesn’t like being shifted from park to drive quickly. Your foot needs to be on the brake pedal with enough pressure to enable shifting, more so than most gasoline cars. The tiny park button on the end of the gear stick can sometimes be hard to find. In drive, the e-tron rolls backwards on the gentlest incline as soon as you take your foot off the brake. They expect the vehicle to offer some resistance and hold you there like a gasoline car would, but it doesn’t. Oddly enough, there is a hill holder function, but it comes off too quickly if you take your foot off the brake.

We like most of the vehicle electronics systems – and the functionality of the touchscreen. However, it would be helpful to be able to tailor the security systems a little more to our preferences. The cross traffic alarm that we rely on on our narrow street does not warn you quickly and aggressively enough when traffic crosses behind the car. On the contrary, the parking sensors are highly sensitive and very loud. The daily drive into our garage is accompanied by a symphony of long, persistent beeps, even though we have plenty of space. However, the 360-degree view camera has proven helpful when navigating tight, unfamiliar places.

diploma

These are small criticisms of an otherwise incredibly comfortable, luxurious and intelligent electric vehicle. We have only just started our adventure with this car, but so far we are satisfied. If we had the choice, would we choose the e-tron again? Absolutely.

2021 Class: All new and redesigned cars, trucks, and SUVs

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