The 2019 Audi Q8 is the shape of the future. It’s beautiful as it successfully merges the look of a sports sedan with the shape of an SUV. It has flowing lines, crisp angles and just the right look on and off the road. Inside, it’s comfortable though a bit smaller than the name suggests. And under the hood, Audi paired a capable V6 engine with a 48-volt battery, creating a mild-hybrid setup that supposedly helps with fuel economy.
Audi’s range-topping 2019 Q8 effectively blends SUV capabilities with sedan characteristics. An exaggerated face, chiseled surfacing, and a raked roofline help visually separate it from the three-row Audi Q7. Inside, its tech-laden dashboard and two rows of seats further the differences. A turbocharged V-6 supplies deliberate acceleration and standard all-wheel drive provide all-weather traction. While the Q8 holds fewer passengers and less luggage than the 10Best-winning Q7, it has a bigger back seat and better encourages taking a long way home. Sure, it’s also more expensive, and the slick infotainment system draws the driver’s eyes. Still, the Audi brand has created a legitimate crossover that continues its tradition of refinement and engagement.
Compared with the supercharged Q7 3.0T, the sleeker Q8 adds a glitzier cabin and a turbocharged V-6 engine but subtracts a row of seats and some cargo volume. It also starts at about $7500 more than the six-cylinder Q7. Essentially, the more expensive model is for people who want more personality than practicality. Since the base Q8 Premium isn’t available with certain options, we’d recommend the mid-level Premium Plus. It adds a standard 360-degree camera system, larger 21-inch wheels, a fourth climate zone, a Bang & Olufsen audio system, and driver assists including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. We’d also add the Adaptive Chassis package (air suspension and four-wheel steering), the Cold Weather package (heated steering wheel and heated rear seats), and the Towing package to make use of its maximum towing capacity of 7700 pounds.
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, but it also 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.
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 4G LTE mobile hotspot and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. 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.