New & Used Audi Q5: In Depth
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The Audi Q5 is the vehicle that's fueled much of the German automaker's growth in the U.S. over the past half-decade. A compact to mid-size crossover with cool style and seating for up to five passengers, the Q5 remains a strong seller even now, five years after its introduction.
Based loosely on the A4 sedan's architecture, the Q5 has rivals in vehicles like the Volvo XC60, BMW X3, Range Rover Evoque, and the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class.
MORE: Read our 2015 Audi Q5 review for more information, including fuel economy ratings and pricing with options
With the Q5, Audi doesn't stray too far from the successful luxury-crossover formula. The platform may be A4, but the Q5 has better ground clearance and comes standard now with Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system for great all-weather traction.
The Q5 arrived in U.S. showrooms in late 2009 as a 2009 model, and was left virtually unchanged for the 2010 model year, in a single configuration: as a five-door wagon with a V-6 engine, an automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. This initial Q5 had a smart mix of luxury and performance off the bat. The heart of the performance package was a 3.2-liter, 270-horsepower V-6, teamed up with a six-speed automatic with manual gear selection and all-wheel drive. Still in the lineup today, it's a powerful engine but has a little more volume and vibration than expected. Gearchanges are smooth enough, and Audi estimates a 0-60 mph time of 6.7 seconds.
In the 2011 model year Audi added a new drivetrain option to the Q5 mix--a version of the VW/Audi corporate four-cylinder with turbocharging and 211 horsepower. Mated to a six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, this is the Q5 we recommend unanimously. It feels lighter on its feet, produces much better fuel economy numbers than the V-6 (20/27 mpg versus 18/23 mpg) and has a sticker price that's much lower, though it's rare to find a Q5 priced below $40,000 with popular features.
The Q5's chief dynamic liability is its fairly stiff ride, and Audi's adjustable Drive Select suspension and steering are some of our least favorite applications of electronics. The Q5 will tow 4,400 pounds and has nearly 8 inches of ground clearance, so mild off-roading isn't entirely out of the question. Most versions come with luxury features like leather, Bluetooth, and satellite radio; a panoramic sunroof is a great addition to the options list.
For the 2013 model year, the Audi Q5 carried over its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, but offered as a high-output option its 272-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 coupled to an eight-speed automatic--and introduced a new Q5 Hybrid to the mix. The hybrid blends the turbo four powertrain and eight-speed automatic with lithium-ion batteries and a 54-hp electric motor for a net of 245 hp, a 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds, and combined gas mileage of 26 mpg. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard with the hybrid, as it is with the other powertrains.
Audi added a TDI turbodiesel Q5 to its lineup for the 2014 model year; it earns EPA ratings of up to 27 mpg combined.
The updated Q5 also now offers as optional equipment Audi Connect 3G wireless Internet service, Google Earth mapping, adaptive cruise control with full braking at speeds of up to 19 mph, and a rear-seat entertainment system.
The Q5 has a long list of safety equipment including front, side and curtain airbags; stability and traction control; and parking sensors and a rearview camera. The Q5 also has received strong crash-test scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS); it's a Top Safety Pick, but the NHTSA has not yet rated the current version.