Hybrid SUVs are sort of the next big thing, as most people want to look economical while still having a massive vehicle filled with tons of luxury. People are selfish, basically. However, these hybrid SUVs are actually getting quite good these days and the Audi Q7 e-tron and Volvo XC90 T8 are among the best of them. So Top Gear decide to put them back-to-back to see which is better.
The Audi Q7 e-tron is unique in its class, as it’s the only hybrid SUV to use a diesel engine in tandem with electric motors and batteries. The 3.0 liter TDI V6 that sits under the hood of the Q7 e-tron allows it to be incredibly economical and torquey, even when the battery runs out of juice. Other hybrid SUVs can’t say that, as they use small-displacement petrol engines that struggle to carry all of that the mass on their own. The Volvo XC90 T8 is such a car, as it uses a 2.0 liter twin-charged (both turbocharged and supercharged). While it does make a healthy 316 hp, without the help of the battery it struggles to motivate the big XC90, therefore, economy suffers.
However, when both cars have full batteries, they both work superbly and switch between fuel and electricity seamlessly. They also will both use as much of the battery as possible on shorter trips to increase fuel economy.
Both cars are also superbly comfortable and luxurious, though the Audi Q7 is slightly more so. It’s also packed with better technology, as Audi’s new MMI system and Virtual Cockpit are in a class of their own. Volvo’s new touchscreen infotainment system is very good and much better than any Volvo system before it. However, it just isn’t up to par with Audi’s new MMI/Virtual Cockpit combo.
Where the Volvo excels over the Audi is in seating space. Audi stores the batteries for the Q7 e-tron under the trunk floor, so it eats up cargo space and deletes the third row seating. However, Volvo packaged its batteries down the spine of the car, which frees up space in the trunk and allows the XC90 T8 to still have seen seats.
Overall, Top Gear felt that the Audi Q7 e-tron is the better car. It drives better, is more fuel efficient and has a longer battery range. The Volvo XC90 T8 has more seating space and looks very good, but it just isn’t as good of a hybrid SUV and that’s really the point of these things.