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New Audi Q5 reflects Gen-1’s winning approach

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Finding a good formula for any aspect of business can mean the difference between great success and utter failure. Audi, which has experienced both sides of the coin in its long history, wasn’t about to mess around with reinventing the 2018 Q5, at least not too much.

One reason for the lack of significant deviation are the sales which bolstered Audi’s most recent growth, attributable to the more than 1.5 million Gen-1 Q5s sold. Another reason, it was really hard to find much needing improvement on the old Q5 – it really was that good.

However, being good is not Audi’s style and achieving greatness is more in line with aspirations for the German luxury car maker.

Less-Is-More Exterior

Like I said, the new-year Q5 doesn’t change much on the outside – but in my opinion that is a great thing, as the previous model reflected all that could be great about the mid-size SUV segment exterior design proportions. Audi could never be accused of going over the top on design, but it could also never be called average or bland.

Observing the Q5 silhouette, there’s a refinement and sophistication that speaks to a less-is-more approach that lets Audi’s distinct character lines, along the fenders and door sills, become the real stars of the show. The grille and headlights on my Q5 tester were an obvious nod to older sibling Q7’s signature design. I fell in love with the optional 20-inch five-spoke wheels, which felt just large enough to add a feeling of prowess to an otherwise refined ride.

More-Is-More Cabin

The Q5 cabin is comfortable and worthy of premium luxury status. There is plenty of space for front and rear passengers, though the cargo space is slightly smaller than the 2017 model. Fold the rear seats flat and cargo capacity exceeds all expectations.

As expected, fit and finish is outstanding, visibility excellent with extensive power adjustments for seating. Heated and ventilated front seats, as well as heated rear seats, push luxury in the Q5 forward and to the top. I found the front seats to offer plenty of convenience for phones and other necessities, while the soft-touch surfaces created a wonderfully cozy and quiet cabin. Look for climate controls to employ buttons and dials, a simple approach wins out yet again.

Audi offers CarPlay and Android Auto, which was a pleasure to employ with the masterful Bang & Olufsen audio system. This level of quality sound will make you never want to exit your Q5. The navigation system was easy and intuitive to operate.

Under the Hood

My tester featured a 2.0-L 16-valve turbocharged 4-cylinder engine offering 252 horsepower @ 5,000-6,000 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-4,500 rpm. Tying it all together is a competent 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that provided extremely smooth shifts.

One downside to the Q5 is the auto-stop feature that helps the Q get its mediocre 25 mpg combined rating. The auto-stop is strangely slow to start and stop, at least slower than most I have experienced.

Add-On Equipment

My tester featured impressive add-on equipment such as Power sunroof; 20-inch alloy wheels; navigation; color head-up display; LED headlights; heated, power folding side mirrors; heated front seats with driver memory; ventilated front seats; SiriusXM satellite radio; and heated steering wheel.

While the base Q5 starts at $41,500, my tester landed at more than $53,000. When you take into consideration the refinement and ride of the Q5, it’s hard to look for another option.