The Audi E-Tron is Green Car Reports’ Best Car To Buy 2020.
We can’t think of a single fully electric vehicle that fits so well into a carmaker’s lineup the way that the E-Tron does.
The E-Tron is a thoroughly competent SUV that performs well and is a joy to drive or be a passenger in—and it just happens to be a fully electric vehicle. Audi has done such a great job integrating the E-Tron with the rest of its model line, between the Q5 and Q7, that it might not register as an electric vehicle to those not in the know.
For families just making the jump to fully electric, that’s probably all right. Audi has made it easy by providing a familiar driving interface and making it drive mostly like a gasoline vehicle. Our recent test E-Tron had a very premium bottom-line price of $89,190, but loaded up with upgraded trims and tech options, it felt like a luxury vehicle worth the price tag.
Kudos to Audi for running the full gamut on SUV needs, offering 4,000 pounds of towing capability, an Off-Road mode, a line of accessories such as ski racks and bike carriers—and to the brand for setting up an easy home-charging installation program via Amazon Home Services. More than any other legacy brand so far, Audi has gone above and beyond with support.
It’s as if they had a whole series of fully-electric vehicles on the way. They do.
There’s one glaring blemish amid our E-Tron positivity. Fundamentally, at just 204 miles according to the EPA—and some amount over 200 miles but less than 250, as we’ve observed each time we’ve driven the E-Tron—this model’s range and efficiency are disappointing.
It’s a serious, serious demerit for the E-Tron, and we hope that future versions and upgrades do better. But the Best Car To Buy is more than just how much range a carmaker has squeezed out.
The E-Tron demonstrated exemplary consistency in range, in performance, and in charging (given 150-kw CCS fast-charging hardware, which will continue to become more widely available). It’s truly the “no surprises” EV in that respect. And for that reason, among many, we think the E-Tron is a great pick.
The two other contenders this year were good entries, but not models that stand out above the E-Tron: for opening up electric motoring to a new crowd, or setting new standards for efficiency, for example.
The Porsche Taycan isn’t a revolutionary green vehicle, but a revolutionary performance car. Its 800-volt technology and all the work that Porsche did to bring it to market likely will lead to revelations in efficiency and lightweighting, but the Taycan at face value doesn’t make a strong argument to that end. At the other end, the Kia Niro EV is the best of electric-vehicle technology that’s here right now—and it's affordable. Ultimately, availability is what’s stopping us from choosing the Niro EV; and in the presence of a $47,000 price tag, in the vicinity of the upcoming Tesla Model Y, the Niro EV isn't much of a steal.
The Audi E-Tron is a big leap for Audi and the entire Volkswagen Group because it fits perfectly into the lineup today for those who want to go tailpipe emissions-free, and yet lays the foundation—with efficiency improvements, to be sure—for tomorrow, and the many premium EVs to come in the next decade.
Audi sees the E-Tron as a blueprint for the future. So does Green Car Reports.