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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The F-150 has gotten an available hybrid power plant for 2021.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Don't get so focused on similarity of the headlights and bed of the redesigned 2021 Ford F-150 that you miss the significant new details that make the truck one of the best you can buy. Consider that its revisions are a response to consumer demands and the F-150 really begins to shine.

One of the shiniest spots of the F-150 PowerBoost comes from its hybrid powertrain. Its also one of its sorest points. Each F-150 hybrid is equipped with a 3.5-liter hybrid V6 engine. Unlike some engines that are calibrated for fuel economy ahead of power availability, the Ford engine allows for both delivering 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque upon request.

2021 Ford F-150 interior features The interior of the F-150 is quite well-appointed, but not as luxurious as the Ram 1500. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

It never really feels like the truck wants for power, but switching from all-electric power off the line to a traditional hybrid power combination while getting up to speed makes the truck shutter to life. Playing it easier on the accelerator does help, not that you need to be a lead foot to make the shutter happen.

Through it all, the transmission doesn't question what is happening. It's smooth as silk, with the same gear ratios with the hybrid engine as it has with all other available F-150 engines.

Buyers can get their PowerBoost powertrain with either two- or four-wheel drive. The 2WD version is more efficient, but just barely, putting up 25 mpg combined to the 4x4's 24. The other F-150 engines fall between 19 and 21 mpg combined. Towing and hauling will significantly impact those numbers (it has a 12,000-pound towing capacity).

As tested in the mid grade Lariat trim, the Ford F-150 felt just right. It wasn't as fancy as the Platinum or King Ranch versions of the truck, but comfortable enough to be lived in with the right blend of refinement and tech. It's a truck you can use every day, not worry about getting dirty, and take your date out in on a Friday night.

2021 Ford F-150 Lockable rear under-seat storage is a major plus when it comes to grocery shopping. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

With the SuperCrew box, the F-150 Lariat starts at $47,055. For the average customer the truck's equipment list is going to make it feel pretty loaded: 12-inch driver information screen, 12-inch infotainment screen, dual-zone automatic climate control, a Wi-Fi hot spot, leather-trimmed seats, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a Class IV trailer hitch, and Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0.

Plus, it has most of the features that Ford has included as part of its generational revision like the tailgate work surface, lockable rear under-seat storage, flat fold-out work surface in the center console, and foldable shifter.

It all works well, almost too well, as a matter of fact. The features of the interior of the truck are almost nice enough to get you to forget how well the Ram 1500 is appointed for a similar price tag. But, the Ram 1500 doesn't have a full hybrid system, on-board generator, or a host of other technologies that the Ford has.

2021 Ford F-150 interior features The center console folds out to a flat surface that can be used for work or as a table. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford is better than the Chevrolet 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, and Ram at all but one thing. Fix the shutter from a stop and the F-150 PowerBoost will quickly become the best choice for pickup truck buyers.

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The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness is coming to a dealership near you.

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The first member of Subaru's new Wilderness family of vehicles has arrived. The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness broke cover this morning delivering more ground clearance, a freshly tuned drivetrain, and recalibrated safety features.

Buyers will be able to tell their Wilderness model apart from the other Outbacks on the lot by its hexagonal front grille, larger wheel arch cladding, front skid plate, unique hex-designed LED fog lights, and an anti-glare hood decal in matte-black finish. Window trim and exterior badges have a black finish and Subaru Wilderness badges are featured on the front fenders and rear gate.

The exterior is highlighted with high-contrast Anodized Copper accents. Up top is a fixed ladder-type roof rack system with a 700-pound load limit.

Subaru back end Wilderness is a new brand from Subaru.Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

Subaru back end

A new paint color, Geyser Blue, is available exclusively on the wagon. It's inspired by Subaru's rally heritage and the scenery found in the U.S. National Parks.

The 2022 Outback Wilderness offers 9.5 inches of ground clearance, a 0.8-inch upgrade over the 2021 Outback. Redesigned front and rear bumpers give the wagon better approach angles than its traditional Outback counterpart extending from 18.6 degrees to 20.0, with ramp breakover angle shifts up from 19.4 degrees to 21.2 degrees, and departure angle extends from 21.7 degrees to 23.6 degrees.

Its suspension has been tuned to improve stability over rough terrain while still delivering traditional Subaru comfort and handling on the open road. Front and rear shock absorbers have been lengthened to allow for more suspension travel.

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness: Exterior

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

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The wagon's revised rear differential has a final drive ration of 4.44:1 and works with the car's continuously variable transmission (CVT) to deliver equivalent ratios at the front and rear wheels. The combination allows for more low-end torque at the wheels allowing the car to climb grades of up to 40 percent on a gravel surface.

A pressure sensor improves low speed control. Standard dual-function X-Mode includes Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud modes. Exclusive to the model, a new feature allows X-Mode to switch from low speed to managed speeds over 25 mph without the interruption of power or performance.

The car rides on exclusive 17-inch alloy wheels that feature a matte black finish and are wrapped in Yokohama Geolander all-terrain tires. The tires are embossed with raised white letters as a nod to the original Outback. A full-size spare tire is stored under the cargo area.

Each Outback Wilderness has Subaru's turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood that produces 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. There's an eight-speed manual mode shifter with steering wheel paddle shifters for convenience. The turbo gets an EPA-rated 22 mpg int he city and and 26 mpg on the highway. The car is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds.

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness: Interior

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

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The Outback Wilderness also offers features from other Outback grades including a front view camera, LED rear gate light, and a hands-free power liftgate.

Like the Outback Onyx Edition, the interior of the Outback Wilderness features Subaru StarTex water-replant upholstery that's designed to be easy to clean and wear hard. Anodized Copper-finish accents make their way into the cabin as well. Touch points usually finished in chrome have been switched over to Gunmetal Gray in the new model.

Under the driver's feet are brushed aluminum pedals and all-weather floor mats with the Subaru Wilderness logo. In the cargo area, the rear seatback is wrapped in a waterproof material, and a waterproof rear cargo tray protects the load floor.

Each model comes standard with the largest infotainment touch screen available in a Subaru today. The 11.6-inch screen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, multimedia and climate control functionalities, the ability to control X-Mode settings, a rearview camera, satellite radio, and more. Navigation is available, along with a power moonroof and reverse automatic braking tech as part of an add-on package.

A variety of accessories have been added to the Subaru catalogue for the Outback Wilderness including aluminum or steel skid plates, a rear differential protector, and roof racks.

Pricing for the 2022 Outback Wilderness will be announced later this year.

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