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The Audi e-tron: The new electric SUV that’s high on luxury and sustainability

The goal is a future independent from fossil fuels. The innovation is now. Meet the Audi e-tron®, Audi’s eagerly awaited debut luxury electric SUV. Like all Audis, the e-tron encompasses Audi’s reputation for incomparable engineering. With a starting price of $74,800 (see below for more details) for the Premium Plus model, the fast-charging e-tron takes the electric SUV to new distances. For those that want options like upgraded media and smartphone technology, virtual cockpit, and Drive Assistance, there’s the $81,800 Prestige package model. Add in the Cold Weather Package, the Driver Assistance plus package, or the limited Edition One package, and the price can easily add up to $90,000.

The e-tron will be rolling into dealerships later in 2019. You can’t drive it off the lot at this time. Reserve yours now online, and conveniently pick it up at our Benzel-Busch Audi dealership when it’s ready. What follows is a full report on this electric vehicle (EV) that’s setting the standard for luxury SUVs.

EV TECHNOLOGY: Ground-breaking quick-charging batteries

Before Audi put the e-tron on the market, the company first invested heavily in R&D. The result: e-tron’s quick-charging battery uses innovative quick cold lithium-ion technology. We find this battery next-tier impressive—with the e-tron, you can go from empty to 80%-charged, in just 30 minutes, and pennies on the dollar.

And to help prevent your e-tron from ever completely run out of energy (a concern for all new EV owners), Audi’s taken 3 critical steps:

  • Home charging. The e-tron includes a home charging capsule from Amazon that can fully charge the battery in roughly 9 hours, from a 240 volt/50 amp outlet. Wake up to a fresh charge every day—no need to stop by a filling station on your way home.
  • On the road. A nationwide network of 16,000+ charging stations covers you from coast-to-coast. Though this doesn’t cover every single mile, plans are in the works to add an additional 480 stations by the end of 2019.
  • 2,000 miles of FREE charging. Thanks to Audi’s partnership with Electrify America, Audi e-tron owners will receive approximately 2,000 miles of pure electric driving, at no additional cost over a four year period.

We feel this is proof of Audi’s strong commitment to EV durability and safety. To top it off, the e-tron’s battery is covered by an 8-year/100,000 mile warranty.

THE EXTERIOR: unmistakable Audi styling

Audis are known for their distinctive aerodynamic profile, and the e-tron delivers. With this entry into the luxury SUV sector, the e-tron doesn’t skimp. LED tail-lights have a unique horizontal design and animated light display that define the new generation of SUV. Far from advertising that you’re helping to save the planet, the e-tron exudes cool and class.

THE PERFORMANCE: fast acceleration, not the longest distance

In addition to the innovative 95 kWh EV battery, the e-tron features Audi’s incomparable quattro engineering. Dual-motors on each axle create instant and impressive torque. Go from 0-60 in just 5.5 seconds in boost mode—albeit it’s a hair slower than competitive luxury electric SUVs.

The fully-active all-wheel drive system provides more traction and level turning, and is excellent in the snow. (On the other hand, you’ll never be able to use the weather as an excuse.)

If you are accustomed to a gas-powered engine, being an EV owner may take some getting used to. A 30-minute charge will take you 160 miles--not as far as a full tank of gas--but further than competitive luxury EV SUVs like Tesla Model X or the Jaquar I-Pace.

THE INTERIOR: Room for 5 to bask in luxury

Sporty outside, spacious inside. The e-tron comfortably fits five, plus, as an SUV, there’s 29 cu feet of cargo space, and 40/20/40 split folding rear seat. Pille in the skis, golf clubs, or home improvement gear. Leather seating, adaptive air suspension, and ample rear seating creates an ultra comfortable riding experience. You would be hard pressed to find another luxury SUV—gas or electric—that surpasses the e-tron in interior comfort.

The Premium Plus package includes a Bang & Olufsen 3D 16-speaker premium sound system, heated 12-way power front seats, phone box with wireless charging and signal booster, plus much more. If you upgrade to the $7,000 Prestige package, you’ll find dual pane acoustic glass side windows for a super-quiet ride, full leather interior, and individual contoured front seats, with massage.

THE TECHNOLOGY: a step-up from the traditional driving experience

Audi’s higher-end vehicles are known for their technology, especially when it comes to infotainment. The e-tron features the brand’s signature MMI Touch Response system. Touch screens let you control handling—steering, braking, and accelerating—as well as Google Earth navigation and climate control. The Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus, with high definition instrument display, enables you to optimize your driving experience. For the ultimate in ease, the e-tron also come equipped with in-car Amazon Alexa integration, as well as Smartphone integration.

Technology also extends to safety: the base model Premium Plus e-tron includes Audi’s active lane assist to prevent unwanted lane departure. The $2,850 Driver Assistance plus package, optional with the Premium Plus and standard on the Prestige model, amps up safety technology with Audi adaptive cruise assist (includes turn, maneuver, and efficiency assist), active lane departure prevention with emergency assist, and Audi pre sense 360°.

THE PRICE: premium EV battery, tech and interior—premium price

A luxury vehicle commands a high-end price. The base model Premium Plus e-tron starts at $74,000—above the I-Pace, but $8,000 less than the base price of a Tesla X. As its name implies, the Premium Plus model comes stacked with luxury appointments, including a panoramic sunroof, top-view camera system, LED interior ambient lighting, blind spot detection, and more.

An additional $7,000 brings you up to the Prestige model, fitted with an interior cabin you might find on a Gulfstream—full leather, fully-contoured front seats, air-quality controls, and ambient interior lighting. Some of the cost of your Prestige package goes to an even quieter ride (thanks to dual pane acoustic glass), and more automatic driver-assist, with an upgraded Driver Assistance package.

For $900, you can add the Cold Weather package to either model, something we recommend as a safety feature in the New York Metro Area. Other optional add-ons include 21-inch 15-spoke design wheels ($1,500), towing package ($650), and rear side airbags ($400).

If cost is no object and you want the most exclusive e-tron available, there’s the limited Edition One package—a $4,900 upgrade from the Prestige package—that counts among its features 21-inch 5-arm Turbine-design wheels, night vision assistance, and a custom black & orange interior/exterior.

Here’s welcome news: because you’re leading the charge for saving the environment, the federal government, and some states, offer financial incentives on EVs—including up to $7,500 in tax credits—which can lower the total cost of your e-tron.

With just three models in the luxury electric SUV category, your choices are limited, but all are extremely good.The e-tron is most of what you’d expect from a top-end Audi, plus a few more surprises. What the e-tron slightly yields in cutting edge design, torque, and driver-focus, it makes up for with an all-around luxurious experience.

Model Lineup

Premium Plus $74,800* MSRP

Premium Plus includes Audi pre sense® city & side assist, Matrix-design LED headlights, Bang & Olufsen® 3D Premium sound system, heated and ventilated front seats, MMI® Navigation with Virtual Cockpit Plus, and top view camera with virtual 3D.

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Prestige $79,100* MSRP

Prestige includes all of Premium Plus, and adds Driver Assistance Package, head-up display, individual contour seats with Valcona leather, massage function for front seats, air quality package - ionizer and fragrance, and power door closers.

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