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2012 Audi Q5 Performance

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Overall, the Q5 performs and handles like a car, with the lean, responsive feel of a lower-riding wagon

Last year, Audi has broadened the Q5's appeal with the introduction of a new 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder model and new eight-speed automatic transmission, and while its 211-horsepower output is quite a bit lower than the 270-hp V-6 in the Q5 3.2 model, we almost unconditionally recommend the 2.0T.

The 2012 Audi Q5 is strong and fuel-efficient in 2.0 TFSI form, with the neat, responsive driving manners of a lower sport wagon.

The turbo four 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. Both models include Tiptronic manual control, for shifts (although V-6 models continue with the six-speed automatic), and 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.

The smaller engine isn't quite as quick to 60 mph (7.1 seconds, versus 6.7), and the down side is that it's a bit more coarse in sound, but it excels at in passing maneuvers, and out of corners.

There's one disappointment in the Q5; the steering has an overly damped feel that is decently weighted but feels completely disconnected from the road surface; it's the same issue as in the A4 family, but more so.

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—and it doesn't dial in any more road feel.

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