Tag Archives: audi

Audi Q8 e-tron
FeaturesNew Car Reviews

2024 Audi Q8 e-tron nails everything but range… But that’s not the point

The longtime knock against Lamborghini’s Urus SUV has been that buying an Audi RSQ8 delivers seven-eighths of the car for about half the money. Not that such things bug Lambo owners, but what if the all-electric Q8 e-tron with gobs of low-end torque could keep up while drag racing against an Urus?

Now, Audi sells a re-named version of the EV formerly known as e-tron. The newly minted Q8 e-tron comes with the choice between a Sportback roofline or a taller SUV canopy that cuts into range estimates ever so slightly. Neither, however, can hold a candle to a Lamborghini Urus in a straight line or while canyon carving and unimpressive EPA range numbers for both are something of a bummer—but that’s not the point here. 

Instead, Audi clearly built the Q8 e-tron hoping to entice any lingering holdouts among luxury urban buyers looking for the perfect EV to haul the fam, go grocery shopping, or take out for nights on the town. And in those regards, this luxury SUV from Audi—which just happens to be electric—absolutely nails the brief.

Skip to section:

Price & Specs

Base price:$74,400 
As-tested price:$88,990
Motor/battery:Dual motor + 114 kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Drivetrain:e-Quattro all-wheel drive
Power:355 horsepower; 402 horsepower w/ Boost mode
Torque:414 pound-feet; 490 horsepower w/ Boost mode
Weight:5,798 pounds
0-60 mph:5.4 seconds
¼-mile:13.9 seconds @ 101 mph
Top speed:124 mph
MPGe:80 city, 83 highway, 81 combined
Range:285 miles

Audi Q8 e-tron exterior design

The Q8 e-tron’s styling winds up simultaneously similar to both the former e-tron SUV and all the Q8/SQ8/RSQ8 siblings. Not quite as aggressive as the range-topping RSQ8—nor the Urus, obviously—the electric version still sports subtle fender flares and a statuesque profile, especially with the air suspension pumped up to the highest setting. A closed-off grille and lack of exhaust tips serve as the main hints that an electric drivetrain hides beneath the crispy skin.

This loaner from Audi arrived in a spectacularly understated “Plasma Blue Metallic” paint job (a $595 option well spent) that approaches shades of matte Nardo Blue in some lights with a hint of sparkle in others. And the 21-inch wheels might look simple from afar, but a closer inspection reveals pure sculptural art in rolling form.

What’s hot?– Quintessential Audi design, inside and out
– Buttery smooth ride, even on massive wheels
– Absolutely silent and serene NVH
– Spectacular heated, cooled, and massaging seats
– Bang & Olufson sound system is all that much better in an EV

Q8 e-tron pricing breakdown 

The base Q8 e-tron starts at $74,400 before options and a $1,195 destination charge. Standard equipment includes a 114-kWh lithium-ion battery, dual motors for single-speed Quattro all-wheel drive, and adaptive air suspension that raises and lowers the body depending on selection of drive modes. Ticking the box for the most opulent “Prestige package” adds another $10,400 to those numbers, which explains most of this loaner car’s $88,990 MSRP along with the Black optic package (another $2,000) and rear side airbags ($400).

Two years of free charging at Electrify America also come standard, and Audi’s four-year/50,000-mile warranty applies to everything on the car. To true buyers rather than lessors, the high-voltage battery is covered by an eight-year/100,000 warranty.

Audi Q8 e-tron
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Q8 e-tron interior and tech

As usual for Audis since the first-gen TT back in 1998, the Q8 e-tron’s interior design stands out from the bland, overly plasticine era overtaking most luxury automakers. Plenty of leather and brushed trim abounds, though a few pieces of piano black plastic have snuck in here and there. Otherwise, the deft application of angularity and ergonomics leaves most controls sufficiently intuitive and satisfying to operate—other than the distant volume control knob, that is, another Audi standard for the past decade or so.

Audi Q8 e-tron
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

But maybe the highlight of the entire driving experience so often goes overlooked: the steering wheel. The Q8 e-tron sports a four-spoke design that offers multiple comfortable hand placement options, with minimal buttonry to get in the way. Then there are the seats, quite possibly some of the best in existence, and obviously equipped with heating, ventilation, and surprisingly firm massaging functions.

Onboard tech, however, falls a bit short by most modern EV standards. Sure, the dual touchscreens for climate control and infotainment require a pleasing amount of haptic pressure to actually make selections—but not always, sometimes only a light touch does the trick. For some reason, however, the Q8 e-tron forgets drive modes regularly enough to approach annoyance, requiring the constant selection of regen settings via paddle shifters even after just turning the adaptive cruise control on or off. 

Lane keep assist also intrudes regularly, the seats find new positions upon every start-up (which might change for a more permanent owner using a consistent key), and the range estimate seems to vary wildly. Did the engineering team truly need to reinvent the shifter for the umpteenth time? 

Audi Q8 e-tron
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

An EV for the last urban luxury holdouts

Slipping into the Q8 e-tron for the first time, a sense of serenity and confidence emanates from the entire interior. Luxury buyers not accustomed to the more typical over-technologized interiors of most other EV options might even be forgiven for struggling to recognize a difference between the controls for an internal combustion or all-electric Q8. Hell, there’s even a stop-start button!

Most importantly, anyone still poo-pooing the Q8 e-tron’s range estimate of 285 miles needs to take that initial impression into more consideration. The whole point of this car, clearly, is to convert any stubborn holdouts who simply don’t want to shift their thinking too much while making the switch to electrification. Audi even withheld aggressive regeneration, which means the Q8 e-tron cannot be driven in a full one-pedal mode. 

Otherwise, the gauges and dash seem very familiar, halfway between an Urus and other Audi models. The interior even smells similar to a first-gen TT or a 2016 A3, despite the lack of gasoline, gear oil, and belts to warm up on a cold day. Similarly, the gauges offer multiple customizable readouts for either more or—to the point—less EV-specific information. 

Audi Q8 e-tron
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

But the Q8 e-tron still prioritizes the benefits that electric cars offer, too. The large and spacious interior allows for plenty of legroom in the second row, which, when folded down, then opens up to a cavernous cargo area big enough for ski bags or bicycles. Even more importantly, this thing rides so damned quiet that the lack of sound can almost get creepy. Zero tire or wind noise until about 75 miles an hour absolutely bedevils the mind, especially compared to other EVs not named Lucid. Talk about NVH as a priority.

And the suspension rides in god mode, insanely smooth, given 21-inch wheels and 265-mm wide Hankook eco tires. Everything from asphalt ripples to pavement cracks and speed bumps simply evaporates. Only the most unpredictable road surfaces create the occasional rafting sensation when one wheel popping upward forces the entire skateboard chassis to lift noticeably.

Audi Q8 e-tron
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Power and range in line with ICE performance

For any EV aficionados, however, the Q8 e-tron’s power and range wind up on the slightly disappointing end, without a doubt. The dual electric motors deliver plenty of peppy acceleration, from a standstill or while passing at highway speeds, but nowhere near the neck-snapping jerk of other EVs at similar, and even lower, price points. Typically featherweight Audi steering actually becomes slightly firmer on center, then lightens up while whipping around corners. But those eco tires start to squeal early when pushed hard.

Switching between drive modes lifts the suspension’s ride height while adjusting throttle response and traction control modes. Out on the dirt roads of Johnson Valley, raised all the way up in “offroad” mode, the prospect of puncturing a low-profile tire prevented any true Quattro rally-racing shenanigans. And yet the air suspension and dampers still gobbled up washboards on rough graded surfaces with ease.

Most of the time, the Q8 e-tron putters around happiest in “efficiency” mode, which dulls down throttle response and lowers the suspension to minimize aero drag and maximize range. But on the drive out to Johnson Valley, the onboard range estimate’s programming almost immediately caused some serious range anxiety.

Theoretically, a 99% full charge with 280 miles of range remaining should be plenty to drive 135 miles at highway speeds. Yes, EVs run most efficiently in stop-and-go traffic, but come on now. Instead, almost immediately, the Q8 e-tron started eating through miles of range—to the point that only 20 miles into the drive, the estimated range left only 90 miles to spare. This is despite purposefully staying below 80 miles per hour.

Switching to Audi’s onboard MMI navigation, rather than using Waze through wireless Apple CarPlay, seemed to change the estimated range available as the computer took into consideration traffic and elevation changes. Around 65 miles later, with about 154 miles of range remaining, the situation started to plateau. But then, driving up the 15 Freeway towards Victorville restarted the range, plummeting to the point that hypermiling behind semi trucks seemed prudent (while searching for nearby Electrify America charging stations to use those two years of free charging).

Back at speeds below 60 miles per hour on State Route 247, the dissolving range once again settled down. Upon arrival at Johnson Valley, the range estimate still read 78 miles remaining. And then, on the last leg of the drive home, the remaining range actually increased over the total course of a 90-mile journey. Such wild fluctuations in Audi’s ability to predict range might not affect city slickers quite so much, and presumably, a family spending $90,000 on an EV commuter owns another car for road-tripping. But still, better programming would be nice—or maybe Audi just believes in ceding all trust to the machines.

In town, while charging regularly at home or at the occasional fast charger, those 280 miles of range should serve 99% of owners just fine. Most range anxiety, after all, comes from false promises of a life lived on the adventurous edge. Even without a pre-conditioning button to push, the Q8 e-tron topped up from 66% to an overstuffed 99% at an Electrify America charger in Culver City in just 55 minutes. Not bad.

A few other general gripes might require a longer adjustment period than the mindset shift to EV life. Audi’s extremely aggressive driver aids—similar to the Urus, in fact—will absolutely yank the car away from lines on the road, to the point of pulling tires well into dangerous areas or cutting off lane-splitting motorcyclists regularly. (A button on the turn signal stalk turns off lane-keep assist, which cannot be controlled by any of the various settings deep in the MMI system either.) Automatic emergency braking can also sound and feel similar to tapping bumpers while parallel parking, partially because tipping into the go pedal afterward requires a bit more toe due to EV regen. 

Lastly, the MMI regularly disconnected the entire smartphone interface with a warning banner, which required turning the car off and then on again, then re-connecting the Bluetooth (only possible when fully stopped, of course). This might just as likely be Tim Cook punishing any older iPhone users, though…

Audi Q8 e-tron
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle
What’s not?– Range more akin to previous generation of EVs
– No full one-pedal driving
– Priced high as the market keeps expanding
– Doesn’t remember drive settings at all, even between switching cruise control on then off
– Infamous MMI glitches out and disconnects smartphone regularly

Can luxury be defined at the right price?

In reality, nobody will mistake a Q8 e-tron for a Lamborghini Urus, and not just because of the mild EV whine. But similarities across the entire Volkswagen AG conglomerate do shine through, mostly for the better. 

The question of Porsche’s newly announced Macan EV then starts to crop up. Sure, the Q8 e-tron is bigger by a fair amount, but the Macan’s 380-mile range capability adds to the impression that this Audi hails from a previous generation of electric vehicles—which it does.

Audi Q8 e-tron
Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

And yet, for the refined urbanite waiting to make the jump to an EV without giving up the familiarity of ICE cars, regardless of newfound nomenclature, the Q8 e-tron remains a solid option that delivers most of Audi’s strengths with just a few of the old weaknesses cropping up. In an increasingly crowded electric crossover-SUV market, such steadfast engineering likely combines the right attributes at the right price to stay fairly popular for the foreseeable future.

read more
Ferrari F355 Berlinetta
FeaturesHot Takes

Here are three of the most reliable and least reliable cars you can buy

Overall mechanical reliability is a crucial aspect of car ownership. Owning a vehicle that will get you from point A to point B without issue over the course of several years and thousands—scratch that, hundreds of thousands—of miles is important, and ensures a relatively stress-free and financially stable future. This isn’t a depending on who you ask scenario, either, it’s what pretty much all reasonable folks seek in their rides.

But there are those among us who are less than reasonable: They could care less about overall assumed reliability for several reasons. Maybe they enjoy the challenge of a project, it might be a second or third car that could sit in the shop for a while, or the juice may be worth the squeeze—meaning, it’s either fun enough to drive or nice enough to look at that, so they simply don’t care. It’s all about expectations.

Let’s outline three of the most reliable cars and three of the least reliable cars, and explain why each achieves its respective title. There are thousands of cars that could fit under either column, but here are six total that are worth looking into as your next faithful (or unfaithful) steed nonetheless. Some may surprise you, too, so buckle up.

Most reliable: Toyota Corolla (duh!)

Image credit: Toyota

This may be the shock of the century (kidding), but the wholesome, modest Toyota Corolla has belonged on this list for the better part of 25 years. Well, before that as well, but it’s a little tough finding clean examples made before the ninth generation debuted in 2000.

The top reason why they’re so reliable is there’s simply not much to ‘em. Sturdy, naturally aspirated Toyota four-cylinder, a conventional automatic, CVT, or manual gearbox, front-wheel drive, econobox amenities, traction control, ABS … and not much else. There have been a few higher-performance variants here and there, but even those are plenty sturdy in their own right.

Then, regular maintenance is cheap, as everything’s small for its respective measurements: common small tire sizes, modest brake dimensions, and small fluid capacities. Then, if any of this maintenance is performed DIY, these economy-level standbys are even cheaper to own. Outside of regular maintenance, there isn’t much to look out for. Just read the owner’s manual, follow the modest, factory-recommended service intervals, and enjoy a pious life of thrift.

Most reliable: E39 BMW 5 Series

Image credit: BMW

Did you think all I was going to outline was Japanese econoboxes? Think again! Life’s too short to make a list of all the usual suspects—Corolla, Civic, Accord, Camry, Mazda 3—as it’d not only be boring to write, but also perhaps not open one’s eyes to something new and different, and even make them into a connoisseur of sorts. Not that the aforementioned Japanese fare wouldn’t, I love ‘em as much as anybody. But the BMW E39 is special.

It’s a Bimmer (sidenote: not Beamer, that’s for BMW motorcycles) chassis that’s widely loved for its looks, interior amenities, ride quality, torquey inline-six engine, and fun-to-drive qualities. It’s also firmly cemented in the era of German cars that were better screwed together, had fewer squeaks and rattles, as well as an overall solid feeling in the way it rolled down the road. Fun fact: Its brilliance is also considered to be a bit of a measuring stick.

But there are still some things to look out for. Since it’s a BMW, oil and power steering leaks are a thing and could run up a shop repair bill, or be a little tricky to attempt to remedy on your own. But really, naturally aspirated inline-six Bimmers are easy to wrench on in the grand scheme of European cars. Other gaskets, as well as suspension arms and bushings, are also things to look out for, but those should be considered normal maintenance for any car. The key to reliable BMW service is regular maintenance—as long as it’s been kept up, the car’s various systems will continue to operate happily. But when something does give up the ghost, all parts are still widely available and for reasonable money.

Most reliable: Ferrari F355

Image credit: Ferrari

OK, hear me out! Let’s say you’re in the income bracket that could consider this legendary ‘90s exotic icon as a fun car to rip around in every day, on the weekends between Cars N’ Coffee events, or some combination of the two. Maybe you just hit it big in your career, or perhaps you selected the right lottery numbers. Or, you simply have earned enough of an income over the years to stash away for such a treat. The Ferrari F355 could be a very rewarding ownership experience, and, weirdly, more reliable than other exotics.

Its heart is a high-revving, 3.5-liter V8 that puts out 375 horsepower, which, when paired with a six-speed manual gearbox, will lunge to 60 mph in less than five seconds. Do yourself a favor and skip the clunky F1 automated manual gearbox, too, just stick with the stick if you’re able to. Redline is 8,500 rpm—nobody would ever call its soundtrack lacking. It’s also well-regarded for excellent, sporty handling, better ergonomics than other high-end fare of the era, and a drop-dead gorgeous exterior and interior.

Which means it could be worth putting up with the higher maintenance costs. It’s all about context, in that if you could afford a $100,000-or-so Italian sports car, these might not be too shocking. The Ferrari parts and fluid tax is a thing, but independent shops or attempting to do-it-yourself would save a lot of scratch over any dealer. Some trouble areas are faulty exhaust headers and catalytic converters on earlier models, valvetrains that need a little more attention than usual, and a timing belt service. That requires removing the engine from the car. OK, that’s not so ideal, but if you expect and plan for it, everything else is fairly modest for a Ferrari. Wait, one more: there’s also the electronic retractable roof on Spider and GTS variants—opt for a hardtop Berlinetta or have the retractable roof converted to manual to save a potential headache. 

Otherwise, these cars love to be driven and will reward regular miles with a very even-keeled temper. Stashing them away in the garage on a battery tender for weeks or months at a time makes them annoyed, and forces them to develop leaks and shorter service intervals.

Least reliable: B5 Audi S4

Image credit: Peter Nelson

From here, it’s all downhill: let’s kick off the least-reliable list right with an infamously complex and moody German car: the twin-turbo V6-powered Audi S4. These things are difficult to work on and incredibly complex, and did I mention they’re difficult to work on? And as a proud (and often frustrated) B5 S4 owner, it’s still a very worthwhile car to own if you know what to expect.

Since this is the list of bad cars, let’s start out with the negative aspects that impact reliability: Vacuum leaks caused by fragile materials, fluid leaks, no room to work in the engine bay, expensive servicing because of said lack of room, its stupid auxiliary water pump under the intake manifold, tiny/weak turbos that eventually die, sensors that give up the ghost quicker than other cars, plenty of areas for double the boost leaks—because double the amount of turbos—to occur, too many suspension bushings that are hard to replace, and more. It’s a challenge, to say the least.

However, there are still some big positives to discuss. While the S4’s engine sits entirely in front of its front shock towers—and therefore affects overall handling—it can still be set up to handle very well with a little tuning. The reason for the engine being so far forward is due to its massive, Quattro all-wheel drive system, which gives the S phenomenal overall grip in all road conditions. When that twin-turbo V6 is running happily and without boost leaks, it’s a very entertaining engine to rev out and can make a massive amount of power reliably with minimal modification.

Though, big caveat to the B5 S4’s infamous status: Regular maintenance. If you follow the factory-recommended service intervals, use quality fluids, are aware of and look out for trouble areas, and drive them reasonably responsibly, they’re tanks. And by reasonably responsibly, I mean letting the engine and transmission oil/fluid warm up before launching them off the line every chance you get. So, if you happen upon one for a nice price and with a good service history, don’t be scared, just be prepared.

Least reliable: Jeep Wrangler

Image credit: Jeep

Some may call this one an easy target, others may be triggered and never read Accelera Mota ever again. Whichever it is, let the record state that the Jeep Wrangler is still one of the best factory off-road-ready trucks that money can buy.

You just have to, you know, put up with some occasional annoyances. When it comes to outlining issues that more than a few consumers have aired their grievances over, Repair Pal is a great resource for quick reference. One of the big issues outlined here is known as the death wobble, which is a very strong vibration caused by prematurely worn suspension and steering components. Then, ignition switch issues, leaky door seals, worn-out exhaust components, various fluid leaks, and various electrical gremlins are discussed as well. Some of these seem to be a thing since the early ‘90s, but others are a little more recent.

I don’t want to sell the Wrangler short, though. Preventative and regular maintenance, and being aware of these issues could help provide a more trouble-free ownership experience, even if the comments sections and forum posts love to make it a punchline. They’re seriously fun trucks, have such a unique driving experience, and can overcome so much out on the trail, either right off the showroom floor or after a few choice modifications. Plus, Jeep’s doing the Lord’s work by still offering certain trims with a manual transmission for the 2024 model year—good on ‘em.

(Editor’s note: As much as I adore Jeeps to death, we can never ignore the damn Stellantis/Fiat-Chrysler electrical gremlins in the newer JL models, many ranging from mildly annoying to downright comical. To my Jeep friends, I wish you luck in your everlasting war with JL reliability.)

Least reliable: Honda Civic

Image credit: Honda

Talk about shots fired! “What on earth is he on?” they’ll probably say of the ramblings I’ve put on screen here. For the record, It’s just a lot of coffee on an empty stomach. But the Honda Civic has experienced some interesting little reliability issues over the past two decades or so. They’re not exactly life-and-death, but will result in a visit to the shop to remedy, and could rain on anybody’s Japanese-econobox-opinion parade.

Once again, according to Repair Pal, folks have reported a myriad of annoyances that their own Honda Civics have experienced. The top five are prematurely worn engine mounts, power window switch failure, broken hood release cables, a shift control solenoid fault, and windshield wiper motor failure. An occupancy sensor failure, too, which results in an airbag light, but that’s a pretty minimal one.

It must be said that a couple of these are specific to a certain generation, such as the broken hood release cable being a thing on pre-2007 models. And, for the most part, these are all relatively cheap parts that don’t require many labor hours to perform at the dealer or an independent shop. Or, once again, perform on your own with the proper tools and safety protocols. More costly jobs, like head gasket replacements, are reported on as well, though those seem rare—to the point of not being on par with basically any other car.

But really, here’s the thing

Image credit: Lotus

Outlining the Honda Civic as a lesser-reliable option is more of an exercise in showing that all cars have their little foibles, and may not always meet peoples’ expectations for bomb-proof reliability. To not anger too many car opinions out there: They’re plenty reliable.

But all this goes to show that overall reliability is a very subjective topic, and Lord knows people fight each other in comments day in and day out over many cars’ reputations. We’ve all seen some version of “What do you mean the 2003 Lotus Esprit V8 is unreliable? I’ve fed mine nothing but conventional diesel oil since day one, 150,000 miles ago, and launch it cold every chance I get! It’s more faithful than a Prius!” Well, that may be a bit hyperbolic, but you know what I mean.

However, one overarching theme to all of it is regular maintenance. Maintain. Your. Cars. Oh, and letting fluids warm up before any hard driving, that’s important, too. Even for something as wholesome as a Honda Civic. Doing so will not only guarantee efficient and reliable operation but also help extinguish the chance of developing trouble areas and help it retain value.

Moral of the story: If you dig a certain car for whatever purpose, become very familiar with it, know what to expect, budget accordingly, and take good care of it. Also, it’ll be much cheaper to commute day in and day out in a Honda Civic than in a Ferrari F355.

read more