The 2021 Audi e-tron is an electric midsize luxury SUV. We hear a lot about how the future is electric for automobiles. For Audi, that future has already been underway for a few years now. The e-tron first came out for the 2019 model year and it has already received an update that gives it a longer range and a lower starting price.
If you’ve been thinking about making the big switch to an EV and you’re in the market for a premium SUV, then the e-tron should definitely be on your shopping list. Not only does it impress with its all-electric drivetrain and its quick charging time, but it gets points for being a great luxury SUV on its own merits, regardless of what is powering the wheels.
There’s also an available Sportback body style. This gets the e-tron in on the “SUV coupe” trend with a sloping roofline that reminds us of the sleek Audi A5 Sportback.
The Audi e-tron is a good EV and a good crossover, but is it right for you?
What’s New for 2021?
The 2021 Audi e-tron gets an extended driving range of up to 222 miles. That’s only 18 miles more than before, but it’s a respectable 8 percent increase. Every mile of range counts. There’s also a new entry-level Premium trim with a starting MSRP of $65,900. That brings the cost of entry for the e-tron down almost $9,000 compared to the original 2019 model.
These changes come together to make the e-tron a little more practical and a little more within reach for a wider range of buyers. See the 2021 Audi e-tron models for sale near you
What We Like
- Accessible starting price for its class
- Quiet, beautiful, roomy cabin
- Abundant and intuitive tech
- Swift performance
- Available Sportback body style adds variety
What We Don’t
- So-so range
- Tight cargo space in the Sportback model
$65,900 to $82,300 (before any federal, state, and local EV incentives)
The 2021 Audi e-tron is an all-wheel-drive electric SUV with one electric motor powering the front wheels and another one powering the rear wheels. In both body styles, it makes 355 horsepower and 414 lb-ft of torque, but those numbers can be bumped up to 402 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque when in Boost Mode.
When fully charged, the lithium-ion battery pack provides an EPA-estimated 222 miles of range for the SUV and 218 miles for the Sportback. The SUV has a combined MPGe rating of 78 and for the Sportback it’s 77. Audi claims a quick charging time of up to 163 miles worth of juice in just 30 minutes.
By comparison, the Tesla Model X Long Range Plus has a range of 371 miles and returns 105 MPGe. The smaller Jaguar I-Pace has a 234-mile range and a 76 MPGe rating.
Standard Features and Options
The 2021 model range for the Audi e-tron has expanded a great deal compared to when it first came out. There are two body styles that both come in three trim levels plus an available option package for the SUV version.
The new base Premium ($65,900 SUV, $69,100 Sportback) model comes with 20-inch wheels, comfort pre-conditioning, a heated steering wheel, four-zone climate control, lane-departure warning, heated front seats, a power liftgate, Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus, heated, auto-dimming, power-folding exterior mirrors with memory, and a Homelink universal garage door opener. The standard infotainment system on every 2021 e-tron is a dual-screen setup with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and dual USB ports. For the Sportback, the S line exterior package is also included.
For the SUV, you can get Premium w/ Convenience Plus Package ($69,400) which adds the Driver Assistance Package and a black optic exterior kit.
Upgrade to Premium Plus ($74,800 SUV, $78,000 Sportback) and you’ll be treated to dual charge ports, the Driver Assistance Package, ambient interior lighting, heated and ventilated 12-way power front seats with power lumbar, heated rear seats, matrix-design LED headlights with animation, 3D Bang & Olufsen premium audio, and wireless device charging.
Finally, the e-tron Prestige ($79,100 SUV, $82,300 Sportback) turns up the luxury with a head-up display, massaging front seats, full leather interior upholstery, multi-color LED interior ambient lighting, dual-pane acoustic side glass windows, an air quality system, power door closers, and rear sunshades.
The 2021 Audi e-tron impresses with its generous standard and available safety technologies. It has also performed well in crash testing. Both the SUV and the Sportback have received five-star overall safety ratings from the NHTSA. The IIHS hasn’t crash-tested the 2021 model as of this writing, but the 2019 e-tron and 2020 e-tron Sportback both received Top Safety Pick+ awards.
Standard safety tech on every 2021 Audi e-tron includes a backup camera, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beams. Optional with the Driver Assistance Package is a surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and traffic sign recognition.
Behind the Wheel
Audi has spent decades building a reputation for cars and SUVs that are both luxurious and exciting to drive. That well-earned reputation is on full display in the Audi e-tron.
It doesn’t have the white-knuckle performance of Audi’s sportiest SUVs like the RS Q8, but we don’t expect it to. The acceleration is lively, the brakes are responsive, and the handling is reminiscent of a smaller vehicle. Part of what makes the e-tron drive almost like a sport sedan is its low center of gravity thanks to the lithium-ion battery packaged in the floor.
For short bursts of extra performance, you can use what Audi calls Boost Mode. Enter Boost Mode by switching from “D” to “S” on the shifter and fully depressing the accelerator. For up to 8 seconds, this awakens the electric drivetrain to give you an extra 47 horsepower and 76 lb-ft of torque. That turns up the heat pretty significantly, but it’s temporary in order to conserve battery life.
Meanwhile, highway cruising is smooth, comfortable, and supremely quiet. For starters, there’s no engine noise since this SUV is electric. It also has well-crafted sound deadening baked into it that cuts down on road and wind noise giving you a nice, quiet sanctuary to enjoy.
For years now, Audi has been crafting interiors that have been the envy of the luxury car world. With a handsome design, high-quality materials, and impressive tech features that are easy to use, it’s hard to find any complaints at all in this interior. Space for passengers and cargo is plentiful, but naturally, you get less cargo space when you opt for the Sportback model with its sloping roofline.
Other Cars to Consider
2021 Tesla Model X: We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that the range and MPGe rating of the e-tron is not even close to that of the Tesla Model X. However, the e-tron is more affordable and can be bought and serviced through a much bigger dealer network than a Tesla. Other perks of the Model X include available three-row seating and those awesome “falcon wing” doors.
2021 Jaguar I-Pace: Jaguar’s first shot at an electric crossover is smaller and more performance-oriented than the e-tron. The Jag is almost more of a performance wagon than an SUV giving it a different demeanor than the Audi while having very similar pricing and range.
Mercedes-Benz EQC: The U.S. launch of the electric Mercedes-Benz EQC has been pushed back to (at least) the 2021 calendar year, but it might be worth the wait. It’s a little smaller than the e-tron and is expected to have a slightly lower starting price.
Used Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid: It’s not all-electric, but the plug-in hybrid version of the Porsche Cayenne is excellent. Its many strengths include standard all-wheel drive, a gorgeous exterior and interior, a roomy cabin, and true Porsche-like performance. A used example can be had at a similar price point as a new e-tron.
Used Tesla Model S: If you want to get behind the wheel of an electric luxury vehicle and don’t have your heart set on an SUV, the used market for the Tesla Model S has become very attractive. You can get a well-appointed, low-mile, used Model S with incredible performance and amazing range at a more affordable price point than you might expect.
The 2021 Audi e-tron is a very good luxury SUV. It’s worth a test drive for anyone in the market for a premium midsize SUV and has been flirting with the idea of going electric. Its range may be a bit behind its competitors, but it’s more than enough for daily driving for most people. With one of the nicest interiors you’ll find in any midsize SUV, the e-tron is easy to recommend. The fact that doesn’t burn any gas is a great bonus.
It’s rare that an Audi is ever the value proposition among its competitors, but the all-electric luxury crossover class is so small that this is where the e-tron finds itself. It’s more affordable than the Tesla Model X and it’s a bigger, more practical SUV than the Jaguar I-Pace at a similar price point.
The best bang for the buck is in the new-for-2021, entry-level Premium trim. It’s generously appointed with features like Virtual Cockpit Plus and four-zone climate control. If you want some extra driver assistance tech, the Convenience Plus Package is a worthwhile upgrade.
The e-tron Sportback is good if you prioritize style over practicality and you’re willing to pay a premium for it. For our money, the more affordable SUV with the bigger cargo area is a better buy. Find an Audi e-tron for sale