Road Tripping in an EV

By Derek Price
This week, I put an electric vehicle to the test doing something EVs aren’t necessarily great at: a road trip.
I planned to go from my home in Fort Worth, Texas, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, a distance of 640 miles round trip, which is by far the longest distance I’ve ever gone under electric power. It may not be ambitious by some people’s standards, but for me, it was a stretch.
My electric chariot for the trip would be the Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron, a quick and comfortable German crossover with a government-rated range of 241 miles.
After looking up the fast charging stations along my route, I packed my bags and hit the road with two questions on my mind: how much longer would it take to travel by EV rather than internal combustion, and what kind of experience would the electric Audi deliver for the trip?
That first question involves some straightforward math. With one stop for a bathroom break, a traditional gas-powered car can make the trip in five hours each way.
With three stops for charging along the route — admittedly a little conservative to calm my range anxiety — each leg of the trip added about 90 minutes of charging time. It turned the normal five-hour drive into six and a half.
The Q4’s 150-kilowatt max charging speed meant it could recharge up to 80% of its battery capacity in about 30 minutes at each stop, time I spent buying groceries at a Walmart, walking around a shopping center, eating a burger and answering emails.

Audi’s Q4 e-tron is rated for up to 241 miles of range while delivering Audi’s signature mix of style, tech and performance.

If you’re the impatient type, road-tripping in an EV isn’t for you. If you don’t mind taking some time to leisurely stretch your legs, though, it’s not bad.

My Q4 e-tron tester drove exactly like what it is: a somewhat pricey German luxury car. No surprises here.
Like gas-powered Audis, it’s quick, stylish and comfortable.
The base version of the Q4 e-tron, called the 40, delivers 201 horsepower to the rear wheels. The version I tested, the 50, makes 295 horsepower and is fitted with all-wheel drive for better traction.
It’s deliciously quick off the line, no surprise in today’s best EVs, and drives with enough poise and silence to create a peaceful feeling at highway speeds.
My tester also came in the Sportback variety, which lowers the rear roofline for an eye-catching, coupe-like shape. That’s one of the reasons I got several compliments about the vehicle’s looks during my week behind the wheel.
Weirdly, the Sportback also offers slightly more cargo volume than the regular Q4 e-tron. With the back seat up, Audi claims the Sportback can haul 26.1 cubic feet of stuff, compared to 24.8 in the boxier Q4 layout. That seems to defy logic.
If I could change one thing about this vehicle, it would be the cabin materials, many of which are made from recycled products to match this car’s eco-friendly ethos. When you run your hands over the dash and various trim bits, some of it feels more thin or plasticky than I’d like to see on a premium product.
That’s getting incredibly picky, though. Everything else about it — including the performance, the tech features and the classy look — screams high-end car.

The Q4 e-tron’s interior is designed using recycled materials to minimize its impact on the environment, something many EV buyers appreciate.

Finally, if you’re wondering how much all that high-speed charging cost, here’s the answer: $96.23. That works out to about 15 cents per mile using DC fast chargers the whole way, which is the most expensive way to operate an EV.

Using today’s average gasoline price of $3.44 per gallon, that means I could have bought nearly 39 gallons of gas for the same price. Any car that gets more than 16 mpg — nearly any vehicle sold today — could have made the same trip cheaper.
Granted, road trips aren’t where EVs shine. They’re much better for local trips powered by dirt-cheap overnight charging at home in your garage.
After my experience road-tripping the Q4 e-tron, my opinion about EVs is cemented. They can be great for local driving, but I wouldn’t want one as my only car. I’d still need a gas vehicle for long trips, especially when time matters.
In a pinch, though, vehicles like this can be comfortable and enjoyable ways to eat up highway miles. Just be prepared with things to do and places to walk while you’re biding your time at charging stations.
Pricing starts at $49,800 for the latest Q4 e-tron. The Sportback version starts at $58,200.

At A Glance

What was tested? 2022 Audi Q4 Sportback 50 e-tron Quattro ($52,700). Options: Metallic paint ($595), Premium Plug package ($2,800), Technology Package ($2,200), S line plus package ($1,400). Price as tested (including $1,095 destination charge): $60,790
Wheelbase: 108.7 in.
Length: 180.7 in.
Width: 83 in.
Height: 64 in.
Powertrain: 82 kWh battery and dual electric motors (295 total system horsepower)
Efficiency: 95 MPG equivalent
Range: 241 miles


Style: 10
Performance: 7
Price: 6
Handling: 8
Ride: 8
Comfort: 7
Quality: 7
Overall: 8

Why buy it?
It offers Audi’s high-tech, high-style formula in an all-electric package.

Posted in Audi