Inside, it's a well-executed driving environment, with the sort of stylish simplicity—trimmed with rich materials that add a luxury undertone—that Audi seems to do better than anyone else. There are a few too many small buttons, but Audi frames them in metallic trim, wood, and coordinated leathers and plastics to give the somewhat cluttered dash a unified look.
The 2011 Audi Q5 is smooth and softly sculpted on the outside, and stands out even in a class of handsome all-weather wagons. With the Q5, it's the height and stance that conveys its capability and, as with the Volvo XC60, it's going for subtle, carlike, and elegant, rather than tough, imposing and upright. From some angles in fact, the Q5's silhouette looks more like a slightly taller version of the A3 hatchback than it does a smaller sibling of the Q7 utility vehicle. Up close, the Q5's prominent, rounded nose and sedan-like tail lamps (with LED lighting) walk the best line between sport-ute size and German-wagon efficiency.