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2011 Audi Q5 Performance

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An all-new 2.0T model joins the Audi Q5 lineup for 2011, along with an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission and, as with the V-6, quattro all-wheel drive. And while we like the 270-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6, the new 211-hp TFSI four-cylinder engine is a charmer. First off, it actually produces more torque than the V-6—258 pound feet, versus 243 lb-ft—so it never feels off its game with the new automatic's closely spaced gears and responsive shifting, and secondly, it's a lot more fuel-efficient, at an EPA-rated 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway. While it's not quite as quick in the dash to 60 mph (7.1 seconds, versus 6.7), the new engine feels faster in transitions, in passing maneuvers, and out of corners—though it sounds quite coarse.

V-6 models continue with the former six-speed automatic—a slightly lumpier combination, actually—and both models include Tiptronic manual shift control. With all-wheel drive, about eight inches of ground clearance, and hill descent control, the Q5 can handle moderate all-terrain activity, but it's clearly not meant for anything more than casual hill climbing. Towing capacity is up to 4,400 pounds.

With the standard setup in the Q5, handling feels responsive and just short of nimble—with a very damped steering feel the only issue for enthusiasts. Audi Drive Select is optional and as in other Audis allows the driver to dial in choices for steering feel, transmission shift speeds, and throttle tip-in—Auto, Sport, Individual, or Comfort—but it leaves you with several specialized, each-imperfect settings.

The 2011 Audi Q5 feels responsive while it's also fuel-efficient, with the new four-cylinder engine, though the Q5's Audi Drive Select might not be worth the money.

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