With strict new fuel-economy regulations, the ever-increasing price of gas and the general overall attitude of car buyers becoming more environmentally friendly, the auto industry has reached a point at which even cars that cost more than $100,000 are being designed with fuel economy in mind.

Case in point is the 2013 Audi A8, which the German automaker has updated with some significantly different engines. Gone is the big, gas-guzzling 4.2L V8 of old, replaced by a smaller turbocharged 4.0L V8 and supercharged 3.0L V6. While many of us in the industry mourn the loss of such a great engine, the decision has translated into significant increases in MPG, at least on paper. The fact is we are lucky to have V8 engines at all. Research shows that when buyers are offered V8s and tuned-up V6s, only a small percentage are still taking V8s.

I had the opportunity to test out the 4.0L twin-turbo Audi A8L for a week while I was in Michigan for the Thanksgiving holiday. With a new engine, does the flagship A8 still pack the necessary punch and employ the luxury features expected from such a pricey ride, all while achieving improved fuel efficiency?

Click on through to find out.

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How Much?

How Much?

MSRP: $72,200 - $134,500

Invoice: $67,146 - $125,087

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Key Stats

Key Stats

Engine: 4.0L twin-turbo V8

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Performance: 420 hp, 444 lb-ft torque

Fuel Economy: 16 mpg City, 26 mpg Highway

Seating: 5 passengers

Cargo: 13.2 cu. ft.

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The Competition

The Competition

The 2013 A8 most directly competes with the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Hyundai Equus and Lexus LS (pictured).

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What We Like

What We Like

Michael: The 2013 A8 has more active safety features than I knew what to do with at first. Between lane departure warnings, blind spot and collision assistance, adaptive cruise control, night vision and a plethora of other tech and safety gadgets, I felt pretty overwhelmed for the first couple of days behind the wheel.

But upon further reflection, the combination of all of these features, while somewhat irritating, actually resulted in me being the most alert I have ever been while driving a vehicle. I couldn't zone out even if I wanted to. Between the vibrating of the steering wheel when I got too close to the lines on the road, the flashing lights that came on when I got too close to the back of another car and the big lights on the mirror that blazed whenever a vehicle was in my blind spot, the car was impossible to ignore.

I felt very, very safe even while throwing this surprisingly nimble car around. I agree with Steve Ewing over at Autoblog when he says "even with the less-powerful engine on board, it's still the best-handling big luxury sedan money can buy."

Autoblog: Once nestled into the 22-way power adjustable seats, drivers are greeted with a fantastic array of technology, the most impressive of which comes in the form of Audi's Multi-Media Interface Touch infotainment system. Gone are the days of scrolling through the MMI with the central command knob (don't panic, it's still there). Instead, if you want to find a phone contact or input an address into the navigation system, you can scribble your best handwriting onto the multifunction touchpad found just north of the gear lever.

That, combined with Google Earth-based navigation and an array of optional driver safety aids including adaptive cruise control, pre-sense collision warning and lane-keeping assist, means your A8 is loaded to the brim with every bell and whistle to keep you safe and informed at all times.

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What We Don't Like

What We Don't Like

Michael: I'm a pretty tech-savvy guy but I could not figure out how to stream audio through the car's audio system, using either Bluetooth or WiFi. I find it hard to believe that a vehicle that costs $106,000 does not have this capability, so I'll chalk it up to a lack of intuitiveness. As someone who loves his Spotify streaming music, this was pretty frustrating.

Autoblog: If there's one thing we definitely miss about the 4.2-liter engine, it's the aural stimulation. That high-revving V8 made a truly spectacular noise when you wound it up, and while there's nothing to complain about in terms of the [new engine's] performance, it's simply too quiet for our tastes, though that's less of an issue here in the comfort-above-all A8.

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Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The switch to smaller displacement engines on the 2013 A8 was a good move on Audi's part. The car hasn't suffered at all in performance and now gets a respectable 26 mpg on the highway, which I can confirm from my week of driving -- quite impressive for a car this size that's full to the brim with safety, tech and luxury features.

This car is big, beautiful, luxurious and fun to drive, making it pretty darn close to being the perfect vehicle. It's just unfortunate that near-perfection comes at such a price.

AOL Autos Score:

4/5 Stars


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