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