Take a look at Audi’s lineup of all-electric vehicles, and you’ll find six different models. While the German luxury brand now has a well-stocked lineup of all-electric vehicles, not to mention a host of options that have a mild-hybrid powertrain, that wasn’t always the case. Audi’s electrification hopes and dreams launched with the stylish e-tron in 2019. The e-tron started as the edgy e-tron quattro concept that was unveiled in 2015 as a peek into Audi’s future electric flagship. In the world of EVs, five years is a long time, but the e-tron holds up as Audi’s flagship electric SUV.
The 2022 Audi e-tron delivers the upscale EV experience that shoppers that are considering an Audi expect. For all of the Tesla Model Y and Model X’s good qualities, luxury isn’t something Tesla has locked down. Build quality, material choice, and design matter in an EV that costs north of $85,000. If anything, most people are willing to take a cut in range and performance for that high-end feel.
With the e-tron, drivers aren’t getting the most range, the sharpest handling, or acceleration that will make you sick, but they’re getting a handsomely styled EV, a premium cabin, and a buttoned-down feel that you can only get from a brand that’s been making luxury vehicles for decades.
The e-tron is available in two body styles – SUV and Sportback – but the regular e-tron looks far sportier than most SUVs on the market. Audi’s hallmark design elements are on full display with the e-tron, as the large grille and sharply styled front headlights won’t be confused for any of its competitors. The Chronos Edition, which is pictured here in its menacing black-on-black design, fits the e-tron’s effortlessly cool character.
I’m sure SUVs are boring for designers. The ungainly tall-riding vehicles don’t leave much room for the imagination, but Audi managed to get the proportions of the e-tron just right to where it looks like a slightly bloated wagon with a slightly tall ride height. Lower the e-tron and it could get away with the wagon comparisons.
Cutting-Edge Cabin With That Audi Feel
Audi’s engineers would probably prefer the high-tech focus to be on the e-tron’s powertrain, but the electric SUV flexes its tech features on the inside. You’ll find more screens on the inside of the e-tron than you will in some bars. The dashboard has Audi’s dual-screen system with a 10.1-inch upper and 8.6-inch lower screen and then there’s the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. In total, the e-tron has 31 inches of digital real estate.
Not only do the screens look good, thanks to sharp graphics, but they’re far easier to use than you’d expect. There is a steep learning curve, but the fact that the upper screen handles audio, vehicle changes, and navigation and the lower screen is mostly for the HVAC really helps things. Plus, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system is one of the best digital instrument clusters in the business. If you want tech that will impress and not be distracting, the e-tron straddles that line better than most.
Of course, the e-tron is Audi’s flagship electric SUV. And it feels like it on the inside. The modern, high-tech design is joined by premium materials for a sophisticated feel. You won’t find ill-fitting panels here. The wood trim on the SUV we tested was sublime and the interior lighting where the “e-tron” name and four lines on the dash light up are so cool. As someone that’s spent hours trying to get the right LEDs behind TVs and computer screens, I wish I could hire the individual that was in charge of the e-tron’s lighting for my house.
Comfort Over Performance
EVs with performance that makes your stomach do summersaults is the it thing. Everyone wants an electric car with supercar levels of performance, but those are about as useful as a jackhammer for a mechanic. They’re simply for bragging rights. For drivers that actually plan on using their EVs, having something quiet and comfortable is far more important than outright performance. For most, the e-tron’s emphasis on being serene and stable will make it easy to overlook its middling performance and range.
All 2022 e-trons come with a 95-kWh battery pack and dual electric motors – unless you get an e-tron S. With Boost mode engaged, the e-tron delivers 402 horsepower and 490 pound-feet of torque. The pack delivers up to 222 miles on a single charge, which isn’t anywhere close to the 300-mile figure that people yearn for.
In a straight line, the e-tron doesn’t take your breath away, but performs swiftly. It’s also noticeably quiet, while the SUV’s suspension has the hallmark quality of being from a luxury brand. The regenerative braking is also smooth, though the e-tron lacks the one-pedal feature we’ve become accustomed to with EVs.
The e-tron’s performance may be disappointing to some, but the way it charges isn’t. The electric SUV comes with a 150-kW fast charger that allows it to gain 80% charge in roughly 30 minutes. After a trip from Baltimore, MD to Alexandria, VA, we put the e-tron’s charging system to work and it delivered on its promised figures.
As tested, the 2022 Audi e-tron Chronos Edition let us test cost $86,765 with destination and extras. There’s no denying that anything over $80,000 is incredibly expensive for a car these days. But for drivers wanting that luxurious feel from an electric SUV that doesn’t suffocate you with how forward thinking it is, there are few options out there that manage to be as well-rounded as the e-tron. Gorgeous, high-tech, ultra-luxurious, serene, the e-tron is an Audi EV done right.