The Car Connection Audi Q5 Overview
The Audi Q5 is a luxury compact crossover SUV that quickly became one of the automaker's bestselling vehicles.
A redesigned Audi Q5 arrived for the 2018 model year. The latest Q5 launched first with a 2.0-liter turbo-4 and standard all-wheel drive and a more powerful SQ5 followed later.
With the Q5, Audi has a rival for vehicles such as the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, Volvo XC60, Cadillac XT5, and Range Rover Evoque.
The Q5 was mildly updated in 2021 with new bumpers and a new touchscreen infotainment system.
MORE: Read our 2021 Audi Q5 review
The new Audi Q5
The newest Audi Q5 sticks to the recipe that made it a success among luxury crossover shoppers. The Q5 is partially related to the A4, but boasts better ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive for all-weather situations.
The latest Q5 not only rides on the same architecture as the Audi A4, but also it shares much of the sedan's powertrain and interior. Highlights for the new model include an all-wheel-drive system that disconnects the rear differential to save fuel and then, Audi claims, it reconnects the rear wheels quicker than any rival. Inside, the Q5 gains as an option Audi's Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster that replaces conventional gauges with a high-resolution, multi-configurable digital screen.
Initially, the Q5 was available only with a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 248 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, improvements of 28 hp and 15 pound-feet over the outgoing model. It's mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox and it sends power to all four wheels exclusively; unlike some of its rivals, the Q5 is not available in a front-wheel-drive configuration. That turbo-4 was uprated for 2021 at 261 hp.
A replacement for the performance-oriented SQ5 also has arrived. Power comes from the new turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 fitted to the latest S4 and S5 sedan and coupe, with peak output rated at 349 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque. Mated to an 8-speed automatic and driving all four wheels, the engine will hustle the SQ5 from 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds.
Standard heated seats on all models headlined the major changes for 2019, while 2020 models brought the SQ5 performance model and the Q5 plug-in hybrid.
Audi Q5 history
The Q5 first arrived in U.S. showrooms in late 2009 as a 2009 model, and was left virtually unchanged for the 2010 model year. It was offered in a single configuration: with a V-6 engine, an automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. This initial Q5 had a smart mix of luxury and performance off the bat. The heart of the performance package was a 3.2-liter, 270-horsepower V-6, teamed up with a 6-speed automatic with manual gear selection and all-wheel drive. It was powerful, but created a little more volume and vibration than expected from an otherwise refined German offering. Gear changes were smooth enough, and Audi claimed a 0-60 mph time of 6.7 seconds.
The Q5's chief dynamic liability is its fairly stiff ride, and Audi's adjustable Drive Select suspension and steering are some of our least favorite applications of chassis electronics. The Q5 will tow 4,400 pounds and has nearly 8 inches of ground clearance, so mild off-roading isn't entirely out of the question. Most versions come with luxury features such as leather, Bluetooth, and satellite radio; a panoramic sunroof is a great addition to the options list.
In the 2011 model year, Audi added a new drivetrain option to the Q5 mix—a version of the VW/Audi corporate turbocharged 4-cylinder making 211 horsepower. Mated to a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive in base form, this is the Q5 we recommended unanimously at the time. It felt lighter on its feet, produced much better fuel-economy numbers than the V-6 (20/27 mpg vs 18/23 mpg), and had a lower sticker price. That said, it's still rare to find a Q5 priced below $40,000 with popular features.
For the 2013 model year, the Audi Q5 carried over its 2.0-liter turbo-4, but offered as a high-output option its 272-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 coupled to an 8-speed automatic, plus a new Q5 Hybrid was added to the mix. The hybrid blends the turbo-4 powertrain and 8-speed automatic with lithium-ion batteries and a 54-hp electric motor for a net of 245 hp, a 0-60 mph time of 6.8 seconds, and a combined gas-mileage rating of 26 mpg, according to the EPA. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard with all powertrains, including the hybrid.
Audi added a TDI turbodiesel Q5 to its lineup for the 2014 model year and it earned EPA ratings of up to 27 mpg combined.
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.)
On the other end of the spectrum, an SQ5 was added as the high-performance version of the Q5. It uses a 354-hp version of the corporate supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 and also gets upgraded chassis and suspension components, although it manages just 19 mpg combined. With those additions, the available Q5 powertrains numbered four, easily the most variety for any crossover in its class.
For 2016, Audi added some to the Q5's standard-equipment list and brought on some new package contents and options. A three-spoke multifunction steering wheel and the panoramic sunroof are now available on all Q5 models, and the adaptive damping suspension is now available as a stand-alone option on Q5 Premium Plus models. Audi connect is now available as part of the Navigation Plus package, while a new Bang & Olufsen sound system arrives in Technology package Premium Plus models.
For 2017, Audi discontinued the Q5 Hybrid and added an available appearance package to the top-of-the-line SQ5.