Behind the Wheel

2019 Audi Q8 Review: Two-row SUV carves out its own space in a crowded field, falls short on power

The Audi Q8 stands out for its high-tech features but it has a significant downside.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The new 2020 Audi Q8 has defied the odds and carved out its own space, not just in the Audi lineup, but in the luxury SUV market with its precision craftsmanship and non-invasive technologies.

The Audi Q7 is a luxury three-row SUV but the Audi Q8 is not. Defying common nomenclature logic, the Q8 is a fastback two-row SUV. The differences between the two are not just a row deletion. The Q8 is a thoroughly modern vehicle that offers finer appointments and a new take on the typical center stack interface that is shockingly easy to use.

On the outside, it has Audi's freshest design language that verges on boring as you move from the face to the side, but reaches its apex at the rear where Porsche-inspired black fascia elements set the model apart from everything in Audi's stable but the E-Tron. It's modern, new, and completely inoffensive.

2020 Audi Q8 face front grille headlights The face of the Audi Q8 sports the automaker's new take on a grille.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The most disappointing aspect of the 2020 Audi Q8 is its 3.6-liter V6 engine, which is sufficient but far from inspiring. Putting the accelerator to the floor results in a disappointing too-long pause before the car takes off. It achieves middling fuel economy.

On the inside, it's clear that the Q8 is an Audi with horizontal lines, modern technology, and straightforward design. The overall aesthetic is the best that Audi currently offers. It's well appointed, with excellent fit and finish, which is expected from the luxury manufacturer.

Its seats are more comfortable than those in its German counterparts and there's a suitable amount of head-, hip-, and legroom in the two rows of seating for four adults. The SUV's trunk is spacious enough for daily driving or road trips.

Four big suitcases also fit at the rear though they significantly disrupt the view out the back window. As is the case with other SUVs, the second row's middle headrest significantly encroaches on rear window visibility.

2019 Audi Q8 interior seats back rear8 The Q8 has enough space in its back seat to comfortably seat two adults during a road trip.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The car employs two infotainment screens. The top features traditional radio and navigation functions. The lower controls the climate controls and seat comfort systems. They have just the right amount of haptic feedback and noise to mimic traditional controls, requiring a genuine push to activate certain functionality. The screens are easy to navigate, even for a novice, with little to no learning curve.

The Audi does get itself tripped up when it comes to dimming the infotainment system and driver information screen. There is no physical control for interior lighting and so it takes multiple menus to find the right menu choice.

2019 Audi Q8 interior cabin infotainment screens wheel shifter The interior of the Audi Q8 is its high point.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The Q8 comes with a long list of standard and available safety technology that is unobtrusive and acts as advertised without any invasive wheel jerking or hard braking when the conditions are less than ideal for the sensors. It is the best behaving overall safety system in a luxury SUV today.

As tested, the 2019 Audi Q8 came in at $79,340 with about $11,000 in safety and technology upgrades over the base price of $67,400. It's a price that makes sense when looking at the vehicle's competitors. Still, its engine holds it back from being the best SUV you can get for the price tag.

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Cadillac is moving the car buying experience into an interactive video-based platform as the brand works to gain new customers.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Edmunds.com is predicting hat sales of used cars will rise through 2020. At the same time, used car prices are expected to decline. That's a recipe for success for used car buyers according to Carvana. The online used vehicle retailer is predicting four trends for used car shoppers.

Mainstream Cars Stay Hot

Carvana believes that demand for used cars from mass-market brands like Honda, Toyota, and Nissan will continue. In 2019 small and mid-sized cars showed the strongest price appreciation in the used-vehicle market, a trend that is expected to continue in 2020.

Consumers Choose Quality Over Everything

According to Carvana, "A recent study from Brandwatch asked consumers what attributes were most important for brands in the auto industry, quality was the most popular option with 30% of the vote. Affordability followed, with 21% of respondents choosing it as the most important attribute. Carvana has more than 8,000 cars available on their site for local buyers priced under $15,000."

Customers Continue to Get Comfortable Shopping Online

If there's one thing America can agree on, it's not politics. It's that they generally hate going to car dealerships. Shopping for vehicles online has grown tremendously over the past decade and Carvana expects that to continue, a trend driven by the ability for customers to "do it all" from financing to browsing to scheduling delivery without ever having to talk to a salesperson.

According to Carvana, 75% of car buyers are willing to purchase a car online and 97% of car buyers do online research before a purchase.

The Digital Economy Will Continue to Transform Car Buying

Technology is making it easier than ever to buy a car. New online initiatives like Cadillac Live allow customers to talk to a salesperson without leaving their couch. Getting a 360-degree view of the vehicle is possible thanks to sights from most manufacturers, and CarFax offers reports on used vehicles.

Oscar-winning auteur Spike Lee will introduce the 2021 Cadillac Escalade in Hollywood on Tuesday, Feb. 4, with the premiere of "Anthem," a short film he directed.

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

We've seen the redesigned 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, and GMC Yukon. Now, it's natural the redesigned 2021 Cadillac Escalade's turn. On Tuesday, February 4 Oscar-winning auteur Spike Lee will introduce the model at the premiere of his new film "Anthem".

What ties the two together? According to Cadillac, "Filmed with Lee's signature Double-Dolly technique, which heightens the sense of motion to draw viewers closer to the character, the film captures the presence, innovation and movement of the next-generation Escalade, with reverence for its more than two decades as a cultural icon."

2021 Cadillac Escalade The Escalade will feature industry-fast OLED screen technology.Photo courtesy of Cadillac

"As one of the greatest storytellers and most creative filmmakers of his time, Spike Lee's unique perspective is the perfect conduit for sharing the passion and spirit of the 2021 Escalade," said Steve Carlisle, Cadillac president. "It is an icon reimagined."

Along with bold new styling, the 2021 Escalade will feature industry-first curved OLED screen technology. It is likely that the vehicle will be for sale via Cadillac's new virtual car shopping experience, Cadillac Live.

The 2021 model will be the first in the fifth-generation of the Escalade.