- Lots of drivetrain choices, all good
- A lesson in good taste
- Quick shifts from the 8-speed
- Google Earth maps make Audi Connect a must-have
- Quattro is standard
- Still no standard rearview camera
- Gas mileage isn't stellar on gas-only models
- We're not sold by Drive Select's adaptive controls
- Easy to spend more than $50,000
- 3G connectivity comes with subscription fee
The 2016 Audi Q5 offers one of the greatest range of powertrain choices in its class, ensuring that almost anyone can find a version of this handsome small crossover to fit their tastes.
There are good reasons the Audi Q5 has been a perennial best-seller in its segment: it delivers what every compact luxury crossover SUV shopper seeks. It has good handling and acceleration coupled with very good gas mileage-and does it all while delivering more ground clearance and a higher driving position than a comparable sedan or wagon.
The Q5 is more a tall Audi wagon with even more space, than a shrunken Q7. It's styled well, and trimmed with a deft touch. The look fits in with Audi's sedan family, and blends in despite its big grille and LED-rimmed headlamps. The cabin elevates the experience with options for layered-oak trim and suede. We do wish Audi would reduce its switch and button count, and consider touchscreens instead of the knob-controlled interface it now uses.
We're happy with any of the Q5's engines, but the turbo-4 is a new favorite. It's nearly as quick as the supercharged V-6, and puts less weight on the front end than the 3.0T, which has a 272-hp supercharged V-6 and is plenty of fun. The efficient Q5 Hybrid blends the power from the 2.0-liter four with that of a 54-hp electric motor fed by lithium-ion batteries for 245 hp net.
Audi sold a diesel-powered Q5 in the U.S. up until 2015, when the automaker announced its engine polluted beyond legal limits. The company has said that it is working to fix those engines, but haven't announced when those cars might return.
The SQ5 might be the best of all, with its 354-hp V-6 and upgraded suspension. All-wheel drive is now standard, as is an 8-speed, paddle-shifted automatic.
In all versions save for the hybrid, the Q5 excels at tackling corners and in passing. It truly handles like a car, with the lean, responsive feel of a lower-riding wagon. We'd pass on the user-adjustable driving inputs of Drive Select and buy the stock suspension and steering setups.
Passengers sit relatively high in the Q5, with more than enough head room and leg room in front, and the seats are firm and adjustable to a wide range of sizes. Even in back, there's enough leg room for most adults, thanks to a rather long wheelbase. Cabin materials are about the best they come in this class, with a rich, unified feel throughout and nice detailing. The Q5 has excellent build quality and a tight, refined feel overall-although road noise can be an issue.
The Audi Q5 comes with one of the most complete sets of safety features in this class; rear thorax airbags, which aren't broadly offered, are optional here. A rearview camera is available, but only in an expensive bundle of features. Bluetooth is now standard.
The Q5 can be equipped with plenty of features, and choosing several can quickly raise the sticker price. Standard equipment includes a 10-speaker sound system, heated mirrors, leather upholstery, power front seats, tri-zone climate control, Sirius satellite radio, iPod connectivity, and an SD card slot that can manage up to 32 GB of music.
Premium Plus and Prestige models load on the luxuries, and a Q5 3.0T can easily top $55,000. The 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 2016 model year brings a few additions to the standard-equipment list as well as some new package contents and options. All Q5s now include a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel and the panoramic sunroof, while Audi connect is now available as part of the Navigation Plus package. Premium Plus models with the available Technology package now include a Bang & Olufsen sound system. An adaptive damping suspension is now available as a stand-alone option on Q5 Premium Plus models, which is available with the 3.0T engine.
The base Q5 offers the best compromise for both value and gas mileage. At 20 mpg city, 28 highway, 23 combined, according to the EPA, it's competitive in its class. We've seen about 24 mpg in a mix of spirited city and highway driving. The Hybrid model is rated at 24/30/26 mpg.
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.)