The luxury electric SUV segment has grown over the past five years. Many established carmakers like Audi are joining the likes of Tesla in the market. Each of the two brands has a high-performance electric SUV: Audi’s e-tron S and Tesla’s Model X Plaid. So, which one is the better luxury electric SUV? U.S. News broke it down, and here’s how they compare:
Audi e-tron S and Tesla Model X Plaid specs
The Audi e-tron S has three electric motors generating 429 horsepower and 595 lb-ft of torque. It can be temporarily boosted to 496 and 718, respectively. The larger electric motor powers the front axle, and the two smaller ones each power one rear wheel. All of that power goes out through all-wheel drive. Audi claims that the 6,000-lb e-tron S goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, and the top speed is limited to 130 mph.
The Tesla Model X Plaid also has three electric motors, generating an incredible 1,020 horsepower. From 0 to 60 mph takes just 2.5 seconds with a top speed of 163 mph. U.S. News names the Model X Plaid the winner for powertrain and acceleration.
Audi e-tron S and Tesla Model X Plaid features
The Audi e-tron S comes in two trims: the Premium Plus and Prestige. Both are luxurious inside with leather upholstery, heated seats, a panoramic sunroof, wireless charging, and a 16-speaker sound system. The Prestige trim gets you more amenities like dual-pane acoustic glass to quiet the cabin, rear window sunshades, and soft-close doors. U.S. News gives the nod for interior quality and technology to the Audi e-tron S.
Audi’s convenience package is available on both trims. It includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping systems, emergency and turning assist, surround-view camera systems, and rear automatic braking. Standard features include forward collision mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and front and rear parking sensors. The Prestige trim also adds an intersection assist and head-up display.
The Model X Plaid only has one trim but comes with plenty of features inside. There’s room for six total passengers in heated seats and a heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, 22-speaker sound system, navigation system, 17-inch infotainment touchscreen, and wireless charging pad.
There are a host of driver aids on the Model X Plaid with the Autopilot suite of systems. That suite includes forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, and a lane-keeping system.
How convenient are the two electric SUVs?
Range and recharge time are two important factors in choosing an electric SUV. That’s also where big differences lie between the two models.
Audi’s e-tron S with the standard 20-inch wheels can go 208 miles on a full charge. When equipped with 21- or 22-inch wheels, that range drops to 181 miles. You’d have to upgrade to the Sportback model for more range, which gets 212 miles of range at best.
That’s a far cry from the Model X Plaid. Standard-issue wheels can take you 333 miles on a full charge. With 22-inch wheels, the range drops to an estimated 311 miles.
Audi states the e-tron S takes 10.5 hours to charge on a 240-volt household outlet or a Level 2 charging station. That time is a lot quicker on a DC Fast Charger – 75% of charge in about a half-hour.
In contrast, the Model X Plaid takes around 7.5 hours to fully recharge on a 240-volt outlet or Level 2 station. At a Tesla Supercharger, you can get 175 miles of range – roughly 50% of the total – in around 15 minutes or so. U.S. News gave the win to the Model X Plaid in fuel economy, range, and charging.
When it comes to cargo space, the comparison isn’t close. The Audi e-tron S can hold up to 56.5 cubic feet of cargo with the second row folded down. With it upright, that number drops to 28.5 cubic feet. That’s more than the Model X Plaid’s 21.5 cubic feet with the seats in place. However, drop those back seats down, and you get 92.3 cubic feet of space.
How much do these electric SUVs cost?
The Audi e-tron S has a starting cost of $84,800 for the Premium Plus trim. If you want the extra amenities and driver aids, the Prestige trim comes in at $89,800. That’s a lot less than the Model X Plaid at $138,990. Even if you got the Prestige trim, you could likely also get a Tesla Model 3 and still pay less than the price of a Model X Plaid. For that reason, U.S. News gave the e-tron S the easy win for the price category.
Which EV SUV should you choose?
Overall, U.S. News recommends the 2022 Tesla Model X Plaid but with some disclaimers. If budget is a major factor, it should not be your pick. The 2022 Audi e-tron S also has a better interior, traditional technology, and is a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS. However, if you’re looking for performance, range, efficiency, a better battery warranty, and more cargo space, the Model X Plaid is the way to go.