Comfortable, quiet, and handsomely styled, the Audi Q5 provides the premium look and feel that crossover buyers crave. Driving all four wheels is a 252-hp turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a seven-speed automatic. The cabin is well-finished, and atop its dash sits a 7.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto; an 8.3-inchdisplay is optional, as is the 12.3-inch driver-facing digital gauge cluster. All Q5s come with automated emergency braking and a power lift gate.
Q5 is a vehicle that “will offend no one and excite just as many, but 2013 was also the first year that the Q5 narrowly succeeded the A4 as the sales king of all the Audis in this land. By last year, the Q5 outsold the A4 by roughly 40 percent. And that was less than a decade after the sedan birthed the crossover.
For 2018, the Q5 gets not only a new suit of clothes but its first full reworking in the model’s nine-year history. This includes a new generation of Audi’s familiar turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, now making 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, plus a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic in place of the last Q5’s eight-speed conventional automatic and an all-new platform that integrates more aluminum bits. At a glance, the ’18 Q5 is the same vehicle, the new model being within an inch of the vehicle it replaces in every major dimension. It’s 10 pounds heavier than the old one—that’s the equivalent of 10 pounds of feathers or rocks or grape-flavored Pez—and a closer look reveals a couple of new curves above the wheels, a lazy rolling wave along the sides of the thing. The Q5, like the BMW X3 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC300 , is pleasantly in offensive, soft in shape and in impact.
Furthering the push toward indistinguishableness, Audi is touting the new model as a vehicle that has the “sporty characteristics of a sedan with the off-road capabilities of an SUV.” That moves the Q5 into the sphere of sportiness occupied by the BMW X3. Neither of these claims is entirely true, of course.
Yes, the Q5 comes with an off-road setting, accessible through its Drive Select mode toggler, which locks the drivetrain into all-wheel drive. Like the A4 All road’s, the Q5’s all-wheel drive is an on-demand system called Quattro with Ultra, meaning that it’s a front-wheel-drive vehicle most of the time. No shame in that. The system operates seamlessly and is credited by Audi with helping deliver the new model’s 3-mpg improvement in city fuel economy. But an off-roader this is certainly not.
The Q5 is not offered with air springs. And our mid-level Premium Plus version had no adjustable dampers. But the coil springs, the fixed-rate dampers, and the rest of the suspension are tuned to deliver a well-controlled ride, free of float, while rounding the edges off sharp impacts, even with the Q5wearing the optional 20-inch wheels.
But a lack of floppiness does not a sporty vehicle make. The Q5 feels refined to the point of flavorlessness. A large part of the problem is the steering system. This is the kind of steering that gives electrically assisted systems a bad name. It’s accurate, and its15.8:1 ratio is quick enough, but it is soutterly devoid of feel that not only is the “sporty characteristics of a sedan” descriptor revealed as bogus, even non-enthusiast drivers might be put off by the artificiality of the steering. It also makes the Q5 feel slightly unsettled on the expressway as its nose seems to drift to and fro with nary a murmur through the steering wheel. At least the Q5’sbrake-pedal feel and stopping performance(161 feet from 70 mph) are top-notch for the class.
Audi certainly offers a nice turbo 2.0-liter, which is fortunate because it’s the only engine available in the regular Q5 (the high-performance SQ5 will be powered by a turbo charged 3.0-liter V-6). It makes more horsepower than the fours in its German cousins. Allied with the new dual-clutch, the Q5 gets to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, or 1.1quicker than the old version. That makes it a bit fleeter than the other German four-banger—and most V-6–powered competitors
But like the All road, the Q5 has a visually quiet, near-minimalist interior style. It’s a calming place. Without flashiness to distract and confuse the eye, minimalism invites greater scrutiny of material quality, and here Audi does pretty well. The only truly cheap-feeling pieces are reserved for the back seat and cargo areas. Audi has wisely chosen to sacrifice a bit of cargo space to improve rear-seat legroom in the new model.
Naturally, the Q5 comes with the most up-to-date in Audi electronics magic, including a new version of the always-intuitive MMI infotainment interface and the so-called Virtual Cockpit, which replaces physical gauges with a large screen. It can be configured to display a sprawling Google Maps view that is sure to impress your passengers.