- A lesson in good taste
- Lots of drivetrain choices, all good
- Quick shifts from the eight-speed
- Quattro is standard
- Google Earth maps make Audi Connect a must-have
- We're not sold by Drive Select's adaptive controls
- Easy to spend more than $50,000
- Still no standard rearview camera
- Gas mileage isn't stellar on gas-only models
- 3G connectivity comes with subscription fee
The 2014 Audi Q5 gets quite serious about fuel economy with TDI power; it's still one of the most elegant, truly carlike luxury crossover SUVs.
The Audi Q5 leads the pack of compact luxury SUVs, and this year it expands its offerings with a turbodiesel TDI edition that's good for a 31-mpg highway EPA rating.
In the Q5, Audi now offers a total of five powertrains, all coupled to standard all-wheel drive. With each one, Audi also equips the Q5 with a paddle-shifted, eight-speed automatic gearbox. With any of them, the Q5 delivers responsive handling and acceleration, despite its tall roof and good ground clearance.
You're forgiven if you look at the Q5 and see a smaller, more tidy Q7. The two share the usual Audi details, but the proportions are quite different. The Q5 is more a compact sport wagon, one with a look that slides easily into a showroom filled with Audi sedans. The same is true for the inside of the Q5. It's a high-water mark for luxury SUVs, with its tight fit and finish and luxurious blend of wood, metal, and leather.
Last year's push for higher fuel economy continues for 2014, even as Audi plots a higher-performance model for the Q5. The drivetrains are great, especially the 2.0-liter turbo four. Down some 72 hp, it feels nearly as quick as the supercharged V-6. There are both Hybrid and turbodiesel models available, but the diesel has stronger low-end torque and higher EPA combined-cycle ratings. All Q5 crossovers sport all-wheel drive, and an 8-speed, paddle-shifted automatic.
With all the non-hybrid drivetrains, the Q5 does a great job at highway cruising and passing, and it truly feels like a lean and responsive sport wagon in corners. We'd pass on Drive Select, a toggle control that switches between different driving modes. (We may feel differently about the high-powered, 354-hp SQ5 edition coming soon. Stay tuned for more after our upcoming first drive.)
The Q5 has a relatively high seating position. Head and leg room in the front seats is ample. The seats are firmly bolstered and fit lots of body types well. The back seat has reasonable leg and knee room, though it's not so wide that three adults will fit across its bench seat. Road noise is an issue, but the Q5 has lovely build quality and a refined, tightly composed look and feel.
As a recent IIHS Top Safety Pick, the Q5 has a good crash-test history, but its equipment is less generous. A rearview camera is available, in an expensive package of features. Audi's finally made Bluetooth standard equipment.
From a base price just under $40,000, the Q5 comes with standard power features, leather, power front seats, satellite radio, and heated mirrors. The top models can go out the door for $55,000 or more, once they're fitted with features like adaptive cruise control, a rear-seat entertainment system, and in-car wireless internet.
In 2015, Volkswagen admitted diesel engines in this model illegally cheated federal tests and polluted beyond allowable limits. As part of unprecedented settlements with federal and state governments, Volkswagen agreed to buyback from owners diesel-equipped models of this vehicle. To determine eligibility for all affected Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi models, Volkswagen set up VWDieselInfo.com for owners. (Owners of affected vehicles can enter their VIN numbers to see if their cars are eligible for buyback.)