2015 Audi Q5 Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
July 8, 2015

The 2015 Audi Q5 remains one of the most elegant, truly car-like crossovers on the market.

The 2015 Audi Q5 delivers great acceleration, good handling, and impressive fuel efficiency, all with more height and ground clearance compared to a sedan or sport wagon-essentially what every luxury compact crossover shopper seeks.

Less of a shrunken Q7 than a more spacious Audi wagon, the Audi Q5 has pretty proportions and a cabin that's cleanly styled and trimmed to a high standard. The cohesive look fits snugly alongside Audi's car lineup, blending in easily with the Allroad wagon and even the A4 sedan, which all share its tall grille and slim LED-outlined headlamps. Its cockpit sets a high-water mark for simplicity and for fit and finish, particularly with the optional layered-oak trim, though we might wish for more recognizable buttons while we fumble to control the lush-looking non-touchscreen display.

In front, the driver and front passenger have a high seating position, and plenty of leg and head room. The seats have wide cushions with enough bolstering to make a lot of people comfortable, slim or not so slim. The back seat also doles out reasonable leg room, thanks to a wheelbase that's relatively long. The Q5's cabin is nicely detailed, about the best to be found in its compact-luxury niche.

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We're happy with any powerplants, especially the 2.0-liter turbo-4. It's lighter and almost as quick as the Q5 3.0T, with its supercharged 272-hp 3.0-liter V-6. We've spent a little time with the Q5 Hybrid. It blends the power from lithium-ion batteries and a 54-hp electric motor for 245 hp net, but would tend to prefer the Q5 TDI we've driven extensively, anyway. The turbodiesel's acceleration is similar, its combined fuel economy higher, and its driving feel more natural. We're also fans of the SQ5, which comes with an upgraded suspension, as well as a 354-hp version of the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. All-wheel drive comes standard on all Q5 crossovers, as does an eight-speed, paddle-shifted automatic.

In all its non-hybrid drivetrain versions, the Q5 excels at passing maneuvers, and out of corners. Car-like handling is a promise lots of SUV makers make, but the Q5 delivers it, with the responses and maneuvers of a sport wagon. Given the choice, we'd go for the less costly stock suspension setup, instead of the optional, electronically controlled ride and handling of the Drive Select-equipped models.

The Audi Q5 makes rear-seat airbags an option on the Q5. You'll have to spend a lot extra to get a simple rearview camera. Bluetooth is standard. And altogether, the Q5's combination of IIHS Top Safety Pick+ status and effective accident-avoiding safety gear helps trump any hesitations from its four-star overall federal safety score.

The Q5 isn't cheap, and adding the options we think most buyers want will drive the price up quickly. All models have power features, 10-speaker audio, leather, power front seats, automatic climate control, satellite radio, and a connectivity kit for iPhones.

Premium Plus and Prestige models ladle on the luxury features. A Q5 3.0T easily passes the $55,000 mark. Make sure you save some money to make the Q5 one of your devices on an AT&T mobile plan: that pipes in data, turning the SUV into a wireless hotspot and enabling in-car Google Earth maps.

 

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.)

8

2015 Audi Q5

Styling

There's not a hair out of place, inside or outside the Audi Q5.

The 2015 Audi Q5 takes a subtle approach to SUV styling-choosing handsome, simple design over anything too flashy.

The Q5's cockpit derives its style from its lack of drama, its lack of subpar materials, the absence of flashy cheapness. It's a universally pleasing, well-detailed execution that's common to just about every Audi interior. Like those other cars from the brand, the Q5 clearly splits the passenger from the driver with a wide center console. Its cockpit style doesn't come off as claustrophobic, though. It's forward and upright, with a great sense of space.

Audi clutters the cockpit with lots of buttons and switches, but the layers of leather, wood, and metallic trim bring it all together nicely, and give it a unified appearance.

The Q5 is more than the mechanical cousin of Audi's Allroad wagon, it's visual kin too, sharing the softly rounded cues common to all Audis, just slightly taller and blunter than the related wagon. Last year's minor restyling reshaped the grille and slimmed down the headlamps, and capped it with LED taillamps, but did nothing to upend the Q5's best features--its carlike curves and its closeness to the rest of the Audi A4/A5 lineup.

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2015 Audi Q5

Performance

Take the TDI for top fuel economy, the supercharged six for the most fun.

The 2015 Audi Q5 may very well have multiple personalities, but we're not complaining. There's a choice of five different engines-each with different dynamics, ranging from sensible to enthusiastic-and its well-sorted suspension handles each configuration with grace and ease.

Where the green-eyed Q5 shoppers will peel off is with either the Q5 TDI or the Q5 Hybrid. The TDI is the less complex, more rational piece of the fuel-economy puzzle. With the usual diesel differences--a much narrower powerband, more vibration through the driving inputs--the TDI snares excellent combined fuel economy ratings of 27 mpg while still keeping a pace with the turbo-four edition, thanks to 240 hp and 428 pound-feet of torque. There's some additional tire noise too, but the compromises are slight for those leading EPA figures.

The Q5 Hybrid, couples the four-cylinder turbo to lithium-ion batteries and an electric motor. Total net output of 245 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque are said to deliver a 0-60 mph time of 6.8 seconds and 26 mpg combined on the EPA cycle. We've had some brief exposure to the Hybrid, but only in controlled track driving; we'll bring you more as we learn more.

There's also the SQ5, with its high-output version of the supercharged six that produces 354 horsepower. It'll get you from 0-60 mph times of 5.1 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph with a sports-tuned suspension, too.

The base Audi Q5 has an energetic, torquey power delivery that makes the most of its 220 horsepower. The Q5 isn't a lightweight; it weighs about 4,100 pounds in base trim. Still, even the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder is pleasantly assertive. The turbocharger doesn't lag much, power comes on smoothly, and 0-60 mph times of 7.0 seconds put this basic version well within luxury-car standards, as does a top speed of 130 mph.

Above that drivetrain, Audi's supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 is the direction in which most luxury buyers will steer. It turns in 272 horsepower, and runs it through the same quattro all-wheel-drive system and eight-speed automatic standard on all Q5 crossovers. It weighs about 250 pounds more than the turbo four, but still drops its 0-60 mph time by a second, to 6.0 seconds; top speed stays at 130 mph. The lower gas mileage and higher curb weight don't dissuade this Q5 from blasting through exit ramps and needling in and out of traffic-inducing inertia, but the magnitude of change over the turbo four isn't tremendous.

No matter which Q5 you choose, the paddle-shifted eight-speed automatic has closely spaced gears and responsive shifting. Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system plus eight inches of ground clearance make the Q5 a good pick for deep snow and steep driveways. The Q5 can also tow up to 4,400 pounds, depending on which engine is underhood.

Driven back to back against some other luxury crossovers without German heritage, the Audi Q5's dynamics come off as taut and carlike. Especially in the lightest-weight turbo four model, the Q5 excels in passing maneuvers, and out of corners. That's with an asterisk: we're less convinced by Audi's adaptive Drive Select controls here. They can tweak the steering, transmission, and throttle responses, in concert with the adaptive suspension, but Q5s without the system have firm but good ride control, and more natural response to road flaws. Steering in this case is still typically electric-assist numb, but at least it's predictable and tracks well, which we haven't always found to be the case with Drive Select.

Should you choose Drive Select, you'll get four modes of operation--Auto, Sport, Individual, or Comfort. Each one has distinctive feel programmed into each of the vital driving input channels, but each one feels out of touch with the other. Take a note: save the money for the B&O audio.

9

2015 Audi Q5

Comfort & Quality

Attention to detail is fine, and the Audi Q5 has good space for four adults and their carry-ons.

The 2015 Audi Q5 makes the most of its compact footprint, and it wraps its passengers in a spacious, comfortable, luxurious cabin. There's plenty of room for their cargo, too.

With the seats folded, the Q5 moves from about 29 cubic feet to more than 57 cubic feet of storage space. There's enough cargo room for four roll-on suitcases and a clear view out the rear hatch glass. Small storage abounds, down to the 1-liter cup holders molded in all the doors, the console, and the fold-down armrest in the backseat.

The driver and front passenger have a commanding view of the road ahead from very comfortable standard seats; the Comfort package's heating and ventilation aren't too soft to retain that support. With the range of adjustments available from power seats and tilt/telescoping steering wheel, finding an excellent driving position is easy. We might pass on the panoramic sunroof if head room was an extreme concern, but it lets in so much light, those tall family members will have to be frequent travelers.

Even in the back seat, there's enough legroom for most adults, thanks to a rather long wheelbase. The tight legroom of the A4-based Allroad isn't a factor here, although just as in any compact crossover, you won't be able to fit three adults comfortably across the second-row bench seat. The rear seat slides on a track, and the seatbacks recline for better touring comfort--while they also fold down for more cargo space.

Inside, the Q5 delivers a bright, richly finished cockpit with a fine eye to details and to choices for interior trim. The build quality has been uniformly excellent in the most recent few examples we've driven, and although road noise is more present in four-cylinder models, the Q5 carries itself with the refined feel that comes from a tight body structure.

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2015 Audi Q5

Safety

With an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation, the Q5 jockeys for a spot in the upper echelon of crossover safety.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Audi Q5 four stars overall, with a five-star side-impact rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives it top 'good' ratings, and now with those best 'good' ratings in the rigorous small overlap frontal impact test, plus effective front crash prevention (active safety) technology, it's now on the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ list.

It's earned the top 'Advanced' rating in the IIHS front crash prevention category, for the Q5's Audi Pre Sense system, as part of the Driver Assistance Package.

The Q5 is also blessed with good visibility. It has large side mirrors, and the rear seats don't obstruct too much of the view to the back, which translates into good outward visibility even without the high-tech solutions.

All the usual standard airbags and stability control are included, to which the Q5 adds optional rear side airbags and standard all-wheel drive. Bluetooth is finally standard on all models, and blind-spot monitors are now an option on almost every version where they're not standard. However, the Q5 still makes a rearview camera an option-and it's bundled in an expensive package only offered on Premium Plus models and higher trim levels.

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2015 Audi Q5

Features

Bluetooth audio streaming is fine; Audi's Google Earth maps are worth the price of admission.

It's not hard to spend more than $50,000 on a 2015 Audi Q5, though its most entry-level version starts below $40,000. Each model is broken down into Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trims-each of which adds features and increases the price.

Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) is probably the best of the roller-controller systems, but it still catches us off-guard on occasion. There's no touchscreen access at all, and without the level of voice commands from some other systems, you'll find yourself hunting through menus for some functions, while clicking some of the redundant hard keys arranged around the control knob. Fortunately, the MMI system can be bundled with Audi Connect, the brand's data-connectivity package that delivers Google Earth maps to the GPS. For a monthly fee of under $40, drivers get beautifully flowing and accurate maps, as well as real-time traffic information and local search. They also get connectivity for up to eight devices inside the car, all provided by Audi's 3G link to T-Mobile. Yes, you already pay for that with your smartphone--but does your navigation system look this good?

The base model now carries all the features we'd want to see in any luxury-branded vehicle--now that Bluetooth and iPod connectivity and keyless entry have been made standard. The base Q5, dubbed Premium trim, also includes power locks, windows, and heated exterior mirrors; leather upholstery and walnut trim; power front seats; an AM/FM/XM/CD player with an SD card slot for additional memory; and 18-inch wheels.

With the Premium Plus package, the Q5 gets a panoramic sunroof; a power tailgate; heated front seats; and a xenon headlight package with LED daytime running lights. Other options on the Q5 2.0T include a package with sport seats, a sport steering wheel and shift paddles; and a navigation system bundled with a rearview camera. Rear-seat airbags, different wood or aluminum trim, and an entertainment system are stand-alone options.

The Q5 3.0T tops off the standard equipment list with standard 19-inch wheels and the equivalent of Premium Plus content. Moving up to Prestige trim packs in standard adaptive lighting; navigation; blind-spot monitors; a Bang & Olufsen audio system; and a heated/cooled cupholder. Stand-alone options on the 3.0T include adaptive cruise and Drive Select; the Sport interior; an S line package with 20-inch wheels, sport interior, adaptive suspension, and aluminum trim; and a Comfort package with a leather instrument panel, ventilated front seats, and premium Milano leather. With just one or two of these packages, the Q5 3.0T's pricetag can soar; we've driven one with the Comfort package and a sticker price of more than $55,000.

Hybrids come only in the equivalent of Prestige trim. The Comfort and Sport interiors are options, as are different 19-inch wheels and 20-inch wheels, rear side airbags, a DVD entertainment system, and interior trim. Q5 TDI models come with Premium Plus trim, and can be outfitted to Prestige trim.

Both the 3.0T and TDI versions can be trimmed with an S line plus package, which adds 5-spoke, 20-inch wheels; summer performance tires; and black exterior trim.

7

2015 Audi Q5

Fuel Economy

Hybrid and turbodiesel editions give the Q5 a leg up in fuel economy.

There are a few mainstream compact crossovers that outshine the Audi Q5's fuel economy ratings, but its one of the best in the luxury market.

The base Q5 remains the best compromise for value and gas mileage. At 20/28 mpg, or 23 mpg combined, it's competitive in its class--and we've seen solid numbers near the higher end of the combined figure (24 mpg) in a mix of spirited city and highway driving.

The V-6 Q5 is at the opposite end of the spectrum, at 18/26 mpg, or 21 mpg combined, and it's even worse in the SQ5 performance model, rated at 16/23, or 19-mpg combined. Consider the lower fuel economy the cost of its best-in-lineup acceleration.

The Hybrid model began the push for better fuel economy. It's rated at 24/30 mpg, or 26 mpg combined, achieved with Audi's new gas-electric drivetrain. Until this year, those figures were the leaders in luxury crossovers. Audi's turbodiesel Q5 TDI is rated at 24/31-mpg rating (27 mpg combined) is just slightly better than the Hybrid. Both trail vehicles like the Chevy Equinox, which earns a 32-mpg highway rating in four-cylinder form, albeit with front-wheel drive versus the Q5's standard all-wheel drive.

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June 7, 2016
2015 Audi Q5 quattro 4-Door 2.0T Premium Plus

Great car: could use more space, less technology.

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The Q5 is a smooth ,tight car with great handling. I wish it was 4" longer with the space added to the rear seating area. I think the Q5 is too short and the Q7 is too long. Audi needs to introduce a Q6. This... + More »
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September 22, 2015
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2015 Q5 S-Line model satisfies both husband and wife.

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After test driving multiple sport SUV's, such as the BMW X3, Lexus NX 200T and others the choice was clear. Finding a sporty SUV was never difficult, the X3 was loads of fun to drive, provided excellent... + More »
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July 19, 2015
2015 Audi Q5 quattro 4-Door 3.0T Premium Plus

Well built quality car but not an exciting drive.

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I've driven the Q5 for a couple of months and I think it is a very good vehicle. The quality is top notch so the car has a rich feel to it. The ride is quite good, not too soft not too firm. The only problem I... + More »
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April 17, 2015
For 2015 Audi Q5

Best car I've owned.

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I have the 3.0TDI Prestige S-line model. Incredibly refined ride and handling, awesome torque and smooth effortless power. I'm averaging 28mpg in city and 39mpg highway, and I drive hard & fast. Two tone Black... + More »
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April 11, 2015
For 2015 Audi Q5

Purchase of Audi Q5: My worst decision of life

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This is the worst experience of my life that I have purchased this dead dragon so called prestigious Audi Q5 which has been a nightmare since my purchase. During the previous one month I suffered a lot and my... + More »
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