2021 Audi Q8 Pros vs Cons. Should You Buy?
The market for luxury SUVs is a crowded one and becoming even more packed over time. Audi knows how to hold its own against the competition, and their range-topping Q8 is no exception. It is much like the Q7, which slates just below the Q8, but it scraps the idea of having a third row and instead opts for more cabin and cargo space. The Q8 is also undoubtedly sportier.
The Q8 is a cavernously designed, sporty mid-size SUV, sure, but 2021 is seeing a lot of changes to the availability of certain features. New for the year are things like standard blind spot monitoring, a heated steering wheel that comes standard on the mid-tier Premium Plus trim level, and adaptive cruise control and other handy features bundled into the all new Executive package. There is also a new integrated toll modulator that is now located right inside of the rear-view mirror, eliminating a bunch of clutter from the dash. More on those changes in a moment.
Aside from some changes to features, mostly everything else remains the same from the 2020 line-up. Those models were already well equipped with a ton of standard features, so expect 2021's trim levels to offer even more in that regard. You can also expect the same comfortable ride quality paired with some shapely and supportive seats in both rows. The entire cabin is decked out in high-quality materials, and the luxurious leather upholstery should once again delight buyers. Go ahead, plan your next road trip - the entirety of the cabin oozes comfort that can hold up day in and day out.
The downsides? Well, the Q8 is not quite as practical as the Q7. You do not get as much visibility out the rear due to the sportier styling of the rear roof pillars. And, to be quite frank, the lack of interior storage options is disappointing. Also, when you are driving in the default driving mode, you might notice that the throttle response is sluggish.
There are a lot of things to like about the 2021 Audi Q8 and a few things we'd like to see improved. This review will go over those things, plus what is new for the model year and how the Q8 stacks up against the competition. We will leave you with some final thoughts to aid in your decision-making process, so hang around until the conclusion!
What's New for 2021?
In order to boost the Q8's value, Audi is adding blind spot monitoring as a standard feature for the 2021 line-up. The Premium trim level's Convenience package gains a 360-degree surround view camera and a heated steering wheel. The Premium Plus gets the heated steering wheel as standard equipment, and its Executive package sees numerous additions like heating for the rear outboard seats and adaptive cruise control. The integrated toll modulator is built into the rear-view camera now, eliminating potential clutter along the dash. Finally, there is a new hybrid radio tuner that, when a terrestrial radio signal is too weak, will automatically switch over to an online version.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Audi Q8 – The Pros
1. Capable Handling
While some aspects of the 2021 Audi Q8's driving performance are not superior to its rivals, its handling capabilities feel nice and secure. It can round through tight turns with ease and maintains a sense of control throughout. Body roll is basically nonexistent. Composure reigns supreme here, and even in Sport mode, the suspension has a compliant, locked-down feeling to it that is totally appropriate for that driving type. Overall, it has some of the more refined handling capabilities for a mid-size SUV.
2. Precision Steering
Steering also feels on-point in the Q8. The steering wheel feels well weighted in your hands, and there is plenty of feedback that comes through it. The amount of effort required from the driver is just enough, and the steering never becomes dull. You can kick it up a notch, get sporty with it, and have some fun.
3. Supportive Front Seats
The front seats are incredibly well sculpted, and even the rear seats are nothing to scoff at. But the front seats really are best-in-house. The armrests feel divine, and there are seemingly innumerable ways that you can configure the support settings on both front seats. This makes it easy for the driver to find just the right position behind the wheel.
4. A Comfortable Ride Quality
Ride quality is something you should expect to be comfy in a luxury SUV, and the Q8 does not disappoint. The suspension feels appropriately tuned to handle everyday driving but can maintain a good level of comfort and compliance when you switch it over to Sport mode. Most noise is isolated from the cabin, as there is a good amount of insulation.
5. A Full-touchscreen Infotainment System
The fully-touchscreen infotainment system is a hit-or-miss feature depending on who you ask about it. Personally, we like this system. It eliminates a lot of excessive buttons and knobs from the center console and provides drivers with a more tech-y approach to infotainment. It is well worth the learning curve if you are even remotely tech savvy.
6. A Spacious Cabin
The Q8 sacrifices a third row of seats for more space. The cargo area is big enough for most people to find practical. (The optional air suspension helps with lowering the ride height to load and unload cargo.) But the cabin is really remarkable here. Up front, you will find no shortage of head, hip, and leg space. Even rear seat passengers who are on the taller side of things will find they have enough room. This is definitely above average for the segment.
7. High-quality Interior Materials
Audi always puts on a good show with gorgeous interior designs. What you find in the Q8 should at least meet - if not exceed - expectations. If you have never driven an Audi before, you will likely be delighted by all of the soft touch materials. Everything is solidly designed and looks and feels as expensive as it really is. The leather upholstery is also commendable for how breathable it remains on hot days.
8. Wireless Apple CarPlay
Wireless smartphone app integration is a burgeoning technology, so it is not available on all vehicles quite yet. But it is available on the 2021 Audi Q8. The MMI infotainment system supports wireless Apple CarPlay, meaning that iPhone users can go cord-free when pairing their devices to the Q8. Elimination of clutter? That's a priority for Audi, and we can dig it.
9. The Virtual Cockpit
The Virtual Cockpit is optional, and, honestly, we recommend it. Virtual Cockpit chucks out the analog gauge cluster and gives you an infinitely more high-tech digital array of driver data. Customizing it is easy, and it gives you access to the Audi Smartphone Interface for when you want to sync your smartphone.
10. The Optional Towing Package
Plan on towing a trailer or maybe even an RV? Get the optional towing package, as that boosts the max towing capacity to 7,700 pounds. For a vehicle in this segment, that is a tremendous capacity and rivals what you get on even some pickup trucks.
Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Audi Q8 – The Cons
1. Default Drive Mode's Slow Throttle Response
Driving in default mode means that you get a sluggish throttle response. You will notice that, when you floor it, the throttle seems to hesitate and takes more time to build up than what you get in other luxury SUVs. It makes for a merely average acceleration time (from 0 to 60 mph) of 5.6 seconds.
2. Limited Rear Visibility
Trying to see out the rear is tough due to the bulky roof pillars. They make for a more stylish rear design but are ultimately impractical for driving. You will need to rely on the rear-view camera, and at least blind spot monitoring comes standard - you'll rely on that too.
3. Voice Control Doesn't Handle Many Functions
For being equipped on a luxury vehicle, voice control does not actually control many features. Compared to what you get in BMW and Mercedes, Audi's voice control feels really basic. It also struggles to understand natural speech patterns, so your commands need to be specific.
4. A Subpar Fuel Economy
The Q8's fuel economy is below-average despite its mild hybrid powertrain system. It gets 19 mpg combined, which is 2-3 mpg short of what its rivals typically get. Real-world tests reflect these dismal EPA estimates.
How It Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 Audi Q8 vs. 2021 Audi Q7
The Q7 is comparable in many ways to the Q8, but it has major differences. Chiefly, it is a third-row SUV. Th Q7 is obviously less expensive, but it has the same plush ride quality and agile handling capabilities of the Q8. However, the third row is a tight squeeze for any adult, and the cargo space is tiny too. And, of course, the voice controls are just as limited.
2021 Audi Q8 vs. 2021 BMW X5
The 2021 BMW X5 is a really tough competitor this model year. All of its available engines put in strong driving performances, and there is an abundance of space in both the cabin and the cargo area. The cabin also lives up to BMW's reputation for sophistication and innovation. However, the wider door sills make entering and exiting the vehicle tougher than in the Q8. Also, there are some pretty big blind spots on the sides of the vehicle.
The 2021 Audi Q8 is easily one of the top contenders in the mid-size luxury SUV segment this model year. Despite some drawbacks with the throttle and the voice controls, the Q8 is an easy vehicle to enjoy driving. The suspension is appropriately tuned for comfort, and the seats are absolutely padded for long rides. Get that optional towing package and take your RV out for a cross-country road trip! Just make sure you budget more than enough for gas money since this engine gets thirsty.
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