Audi is a German brand owned by Volkswagen, with a name and history dating back to 1910. The make that we know as Audi was formed in 1969 when VW consolidated several companies into one line. Known as a competitive entrant in the luxury field, Audi specializes in vehicles recognized for attractive styling, good performance and innovative technology. It frequently offers its Quattro all-wheel-drive system as a standard option in all of its models. Luxury models from Audi are known for attractive interiors with detailed finishes and high-quality materials.
Audi differentiates its vehicles by using letters and numbers for their names. Audi base models use an “A” in their names while sportier, more luxurious options take an “S” designation. Audi also offers RennSport models, with fewer luxury touches but higher-level sport performance. These vehicles are labeled “RS.” SUVs and crossovers carry a “Q” in their names while the e-tron (Audi’s EV), R8 and TT are named separately.
Each letter is usually paired with a number, ranging from 3 to 8. Higher numbers typically mean greater power, a larger size or a more luxurious body style; models with higher numbers are generally more costly and considered higher-end.
Like other German luxury models, Audi models tend to have higher levels of depreciation. However, according to Motor Trend, several Audi vehicles have slower depreciation than their luxury import competitors. The Q5 and the Q7 depreciate at slightly over 50% after five years of ownership.
Car buyers looking for bargains can save 50% or more on the cost of even a high-end Audi after three years, however. Audi sports models are particularly likely to show higher depreciation, with the S5 and S6 depreciating over 59% after five years.
Reliability is often a concern for luxury models, especially vehicles like Audis that contain a high level of innovative, precise technology. This kind of high-tech detail can mean that it is easier for something to go wrong. However, according to Consumer Reports, Audi outstrips its German luxury competitors in terms of reliability. It sits at No. 14 on the magazine’s list of the most reliable automakers while Mercedes-Benz comes in at 21 and BMW at 17.
A3, S3 or RS3 – The A3 is Audi’s introductory model, offered in a 184-horsepower front-wheel-drive model or a 228-horsepower AWD Quattro model. The Sportback A3 is a plug-in hybrid with 204 horsepower while cabriolet or convertible and sedan models are also available. A3 models begin at $32,500. If you want to move up in your level of sportiness, you might consider the S3, starting at $44,500. This model has a 2.0-liter turbo engine with 288 horsepower.
For an even sportier take, the RS3 starts at $56,200. It has a five-cylinder turbo engine with 394 horsepower that accelerates from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds. Its AWD handling has earned Audi accolades.
A4 or S4 – One of Consumer Reports’ highest-ranking luxury compact sedans, the A4 is widely praised for its driving quality. It has a 2.0-liter turbo engine with 188 horsepower in the front-wheel-drive model and 248 horsepower in its Quattro AWD edition. A4 sedans start at $38,500 while the A4 Allroad offers a wagon option, the only Audi wagon available in the U.S. The Allroad, beginning at $45,700, comes only in the AWD, higher-powered model.
For a speedier model, look toward the S4 sedan, which starts at $50,200. It has a 3.0-liter turbo engine with 349 horsepower for extra speed and verve to go along with its quiet, smooth handling and interior technology.
A5 or S5 – Based on the A4, the Audi A5 is available as a hatchback, coupe and convertible. Quattro AWD is standard on the S5, and these models begin at $48,400, with more luxury features and body styling options than the A4. Standard A5 models use the same powerful engine as the A4 while the sportier models offer even more power and speed.
The S5 comes in convertible, coupe and Sportback models and starts at $52,400. These models feature the sporty engine found in the S4. On the other hand, RS4 models begin at $74,200. The RS7 goes from zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds and has a twin-turbo V6 engine with 444 horsepower.
A6 or S6 – The A6 is a luxury sedan that begins at $54,100. It is known for a sporty feel, quiet cabin and extensive, high-technology infotainment system. Both 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter turbo engines are available for the A6. The S6 begins at $73,900 and offers a 4.0-liter V8 turbo engine for a luxury look and a sporty feel.
A7, S7 or RS7 – Built on the A6 model line, the A7 offers a Sportback hatchback and begins at $78,000. It is similar to the A6 in drive, feel, appearance and high-tech entertainment and interior features. Similarly, the S7 is a hatchback model with the powerful engine offered in the S6. On the other hand, the RS7, which starts at $113,900, offers a twin-turbo engine with 605 horsepower for a truly high-powered luxury sports car.
A8 – The Audi A8 is the carmaker’s flagship luxury model. It is built on the powerful turbo engine of the A6 with a high-tech infotainment system, exceedingly comfortable ride, smooth handling and a quiet cabin. This model begins at $83,800 and is packed with luxurious details and optional features.
Audi SUVs – Audi’s Q models, the Q3, Q5, Q7 and Q8, are some of its most popular on U.S. streets. Roughly parallel to their passenger car equivalents, you can begin your exploration of Audi SUVs with the entry-level Q3, which starts at $38,900. Quattro AWD is standard on Audi SUVs at all trim levels.
The Q5 is the company’s best-selling vehicle, with a powerful 248-horsepower, 2.9-liter turbo engine. Consumer Reports calls it “one of the best choices” for buyers looking for a compact luxury SUV, with prices beginning at $45,300. For $10,000 more, you might consider the SQ5, with a more powerful engine and versatile transmission.
The Q7, starting at $66,300, is the automaker’s three-row SUV, labeled by Consumer Reports as “among the best we’ve ever tested.” With a 3.0-liter V6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission, the SUV offers a sporty vehicle, roomy interior and extensive luxury features.
Audi’s highest-end SUV is the Q8, which is based on the Q7 platform. However, it offers more of a crossover look, with a wider, lower fit that welcomes five passengers. It includes a mild-hybrid system along with its 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine. Starting at $81,200, it offers technological enhancements and increased safety features beginning with its 2020 models.
Audi e-tron – The Audi e-tron, an SUV crossover, is the automaker’s first full EV. With a new price range between $75,795 and $98,000, the e-tron has a 204-mile range and an assortment of luxury features. The e-tron has highly responsive handling and a quiet ride, although it has a lesser range and a longer charging time than its luxury EV competitors at standard EV chargers, up to 13 hours from empty.
Audi TT – The TT, with prices beginning at $53,800, is a stylish, two-door sports car. It has all-wheel drive and automatic transmission, setting it apart from sports cars that provide more direct control over handling. It comes in coupe and convertible roadster models and has a turbocharged engine.
Audi R8 – The R8 sits apart on its own as an Audi supercar, built with a 5.2-liter, V10, dual-injection engine with 532 horsepower. This mid-engine, two-seat sports vehicle also shares components with the Lamborghini Gallardo. A performance model features 602 horsepower for even more power. This model begins at $188,400 for a supercharged ride.
Over five years of ownership, Edmunds estimates that Audi A4 owners will pay $6,359 in maintenance costs as well as $1,898 in repair costs on average. While maintenance costs for the first three years of ownership are estimated to sit below $700 annually, estimates shoot up for years four and five, at around $2,300 each year. These prices include estimated costs for common replacement items, such as a complete brake job or replacement of shocks and struts.
Audi has announced several goals to lower the environmental impact of its manufacturing activities. According to the company, it aims to reduce its impact by 35% per vehicle built by 2025 in comparison to 2010. Audi produces a carbon footprint report annually and has set a goal of CO2-neutral automobile production by 2025. Several of its factories are powered at least partially through waste heat from other industrial facilities nearby. In addition, the company has installed the largest solar-power system in Europe at one of its plants in Hungary, with plans to go online in 2020.
The best-known unique Audi feature is its Quattro all-wheel drive, available on most Audi models. Audi claims that Quattro was the first permanent AWD system developed for passenger cars, and it has been updated repeatedly since its introduction in 1984. The automaker’s reputation for high-tech features is also realized in its infotainment and control system, called MMI. It offers a smartphone-like experience with natural voice control, handwriting recognition and a large dash screen.
Audi’s e-tron SUV was named a leading safety pick by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), the first fully electric vehicle to be so designated. The IIHS has also given positive safety assessments to most Audi vehicles, naming the A7 and the Q3 as top safety picks. Audis are known for providing strong protection to both drivers and passengers in a crash as well as including technological and autonomous safety features like forward crash prevention and blind-spot detection.
The National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given high safety rankings to Audi vehicles including the Q5 and the A4 as well. Both received five-star safety ratings from the agency.
What’s next?/Future products
Building on the success of the e-tron, Audi is expected to delve further into the EV market. It has projected the release of 30 new electric vehicles before 2025, 10 featuring hybrid power and 20 full EVs. It will make use of the core platform of the e-tron to introduce multiple sedans and SUVs, which are predicted to hold higher battery capacities and longer ranges. It announced the launch of an 800-volt system, with the higher voltage providing faster charging times, especially as parent company Volkswagen’s Electrify America charging stations roll out in the coming years.
Audi’s concept cars also show a great deal of interest in the power of autonomous, self-driving vehicles. The company has announced a concept car that aims to introduce the “fully autonomous luxury sedan of the future.” It also intends to build on the success of its R8 model, a supercar topping most-wanted lists around the world, by introducing a high-performance sports vehicle with electric power.