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- Highs Enjoyable to drive, big comfort on big wheels, the interior of the buttonless future.
- Lows Feels laggy from a stop, more expensive and less practical than the Q7, thirsty V-6.
- Verdict As the cooler version of the three-row Q7, the Q8 delivers hot looks and a supple ride at the expense of seating and cargo space.
We all know someone a little cooler, and in the case of the three-row Audi Q7 SUV it’s the Q8—the more stylish two-row fraternal twin that shares the same underpinnings. The Q8’s proportions are wider, shorter, and lower but the dramatic design sacrifices back-seat headroom, passenger capacity, and cargo area to the Q7 as the Q8 is only offered as a five-seater with two rows. Power comes from a turbocharged 335-hp V-6 engine with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, the same powertrain as in the Q7’s upper trim levels. The 500-hp SQ8 and even crazier 591-hp RS Q8 are reviewed separately. The joy experienced while driving the Q8 is a benefit of sharing platforms with the Bentley Bentayga and Porsche Cayenne SUVs. The Q8’s chassis balances crisp, reassuring handing with a supple ride. Even if it's not as athletic as other “SUV coupes” like the BMW X6 or Mercedes-Benz GLE coupe, it’s still enjoyable to drive—and certainly less strange looking. It’s also a cheaper alternative to the A8 full-size luxury sedan by more than $15,000.
Where This Vehicle Ranks
What's New for 2023?
The 2023 Audi Q8 receives additional standard equipment such as matrix LED headlights, headlight washers, as well as illumination animation on approach or departure—meaning the exterior lighting elements do a happy dance for you. The Q8 Premium’s Convenience package now includes adaptive cruise control with lane-keep assist. The Executive package for Q8 Premium Plus adds dual pane glass to help quiet the cabin. New interior packages add leatherette to the dashboard for Premium models, as well as to the armrests and center console to the Premium Plus trim. Audi’s remote park assist is now standard on Prestige models. New colors are replacing last year’s palate with Waitomo Blue metallic taking the place of Galaxy Blue metallic, Tamarind Brown metallic bumping Barrel Brown metallic out, and Satellite Silver metallic substituting for Florett Silver metallic.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We'd choose the Audi Q8 Premium trim and enhance it with select options. Its standout standard features already include a fully digital gauge cluster, built-in navigation, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and a power-operated tailgate. While 21-inch rims are standard, we'd still spec the Black Optic package for its sportier appearance. We'd also add the Convenience package (blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, wireless charging, and more) and the Towing package. The latter unlocks the Q8's maximum tow rating of 7700 pounds.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Audi provides every Q8 with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive. A 48-volt hybrid-assist system aids stop-start operation, which was smooth and quiet during our experience. While the Audi had plenty of passing power on the highway, it felt hesitant around town unless we crushed the gas pedal. The transmission had mostly dutiful reactions, but it and the engine best cooperated in Dynamic mode, which provoked snappier responses. We only wish the engine and exhaust made gutsier sounds. While it swiftly changes directions and obediently hustles around corners, it's less engaging than Audi sedans, such as the sleek A7. The Q8's steering has light effort and linear feedback, which was relaxing on long trips but boring on switchback roads. Our test vehicle had the optional air suspension and wore 22-inch wheels—21-inchers are standard. These large rollers were mostly quiet even on lumpy surfaces. With adjustable ride height and four-wheel steering (included with the Adaptive Chassis package), our Q8 was agile in tight spaces and capable of tackling choppy terrain. Its brake pedal was easy to modulate at highway speed but suffered from inconsistent reactions in traffic. Still, it hauled the hefty crossover from 70 mph to zero in a competitive 170 feet during our emergency-braking test.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Q8 has mediocre EPA estimates that are lower than other all-wheel-drive rivals. The government estimates the Audi gets 18 mpg city and 23 highway, which is identical to the Q7 with the same engine. The Q8 we took on our highway fuel-economy route greatly exceeded its EPA highway rating, however. It earned 28 mpg over 200 miles, while the last Q7 we tested saw 24 mpg in the same test. A similarly equipped BMW X6 returned 29 mpg. For more information about the Q8's fuel economy, visit the EPA's website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
In typical fashion, Audi has crafted a sophisticated and sturdy environment inside the Q8. The materials are premium, and the panels are expertly aligned. While the base model misses out on upscale features such as four-zone climate control and a leather dashboard with contrast stitching, it has standard heated front seats and a panoramic sunroof. Only the top-of-the-line model offers massaging front seats, upgraded leather surfaces, and quieter dual-pane glass. Our test vehicle had all that plus a head-up display and customizable ambient interior lighting. Not only is the Q8 visually impressive, it has more than enough passenger space. The driving position remains sporty despite its elevated height, and two adults can leisurely stretch out in the back. Although the two-row Q8 has less cargo volume than the three-row Q7, we managed to squeeze eight carry-on bags behind its back seat. That number increased to 23 (two less than in the Q7) with the split-folding rear bench folded nearly flat. Our test vehicle had the optional air suspension, which can lower the rear end to help with lifting luggage in and out. Inside, the Q8 has limited cubby storage. Its shallow center-console bin and narrow door pockets left us with few spots to store small items.
Infotainment and Connectivity
With a pair of vivid touchscreens integrated into the dashboard and center console, every Q8 boasts a cutting-edge infotainment system. Instead of the intuitive rotary controller found on other Audi models, the displays respond to touch inputs with haptic feedback. We quickly assimilated to its logical menus and large icons, but distractions were unavoidable. Thankfully, receptive voice commands and handy steering-wheel controls provide alternate operation. Standard features include a Wi-Fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Wireless charging and two different Bang & Olufsen audio systems are optional. We're particularly fond of the standard digital gauge cluster (called Virtual Cockpit), with its configurable settings and superb navigation.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
While the base model is available with several driver assists, more advanced options such as adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology and night vision with pedestrian detection are reserved for higher trims. Our test vehicle had the optional 360-degree camera system that helped us navigate narrow drive-throughs and avoid scratching the massive rims.
For more information about the Q8's crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2019 Audi Q8
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED
$79,340 (base price: $68,395)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
183 cu in, 2995 cc
335 hp @ 6400 rpm
369 lb-ft @ 1370 rpm
8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 14.8-in vented disc/13.8-in vented disc
Tires: Hankook Dynapro HP2 Plus, 285/40R-22 110H M+S AO
Wheelbase: 117.9 in
Length: 196.3 in
Width: 78.5 in
Height: 67.1 in
Passenger volume: 105 cu ft
Cargo volume: 31 cu ft
Curb weight: 5152 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 5.3 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 14.3 sec
Zero to 120 mph: 22.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.3 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.4 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.0 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 14.0 sec @ 99 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 130 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 170 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.88 g
Observed: 18 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 28 mpg
Highway range: 630 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 19/17/22 mpg