The Audi Q5 has come up through the brand’s ranks to become its best-selling model. Which is doubly impressive considering it didn’t exist just over a decade ago.
New for 2020: The Q5 gains a plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV) version this year. Using the same 2.0-liter turbo engine as the regular model, it adds an electric motor and a 14.1-kWh battery to the mix. The EPA estimates a 65 mpg-equivalent, and the Q5 TFSI e can go up to 20 miles on nothing but electrons.
Audi took its time replacing the original Q5, with the second-generation model debuting in 2018. It’s longer and wider than the previous model, bringing it closer in size to its primary rivals from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
The Q5 is arguably the greatest representation of a modern Audi: sober styling, a high-quality interior that’s as good to touch as it is to look at, and a boat-load of tech. It’s also comfortable, with just a hint of sporty feel for the driver. Want more? That’s what the SQ5 is for.
All Q5 models use Audi’s familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder bolted to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. A plug-in hybrid version augments that pairing with an electric motor, adding over 100 hp and allowing for short-range all-electric driving.
Whether you pick the hybrid or not, the Q5 comes in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. Available features include a suite of safety and driver assists, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display, a head-up display, 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, and more.
2020 Q5 pricing ranges between $44,295 and $61,345 before options, including $995 in destination.
Pros/ Quality interior / Plenty of tech / Right-sized
Cons/ Dull styling / More of a four-seater than five / Ultra-light steering
Bottom Line/ A strong contender in a very competitive segment, the Audi Q5 is a high-quality crossover that's easy to like.
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2018 Audi Q5 Review
By Jonathan Yarkony
As little as 12 years ago, Audi didn’t have an SUV to its name. In 2006 the big, burly Q7 arrived, but it was a bit too bulky for most luxury shoppers’ tastes. Then in 2009 came the Q5, which took the small premium crossover segment by storm, climbing the ranks to the point where it outsold any other small luxury SUV in 2015, even outselling the Lexus RX north of the border in Canada.
The SUV onslaught helped grow Audi as a whole in North America, and last year was the first time Audi eclipsed 200K sales in the US and 25K units in Canada, though it has a long way to go to match American luxury sales leaders Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus.
What was it about the Q5 that so resonated with luxury shoppers and took the brand to new heights, becoming a global bestseller in the process? Aside from Audi’s impeccable interiors and solid, reassuring driving feel, the Q5 had just enough cargo and passenger space for family living, and a range of powertrains that offered consumers their choice of efficiency or a bit of excitement along with their utility. We drove the upcoming 2018 model that aims to repeat the success of the original Q5 by improving every facet of the vehicle, but is it enough of a step forward to get noticed in this intensely competitive segment?
Audi Q5 Powertrain
You have two powertrain options for the Q5. No matter which you pick, it will include the brand’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. On its own in 45 TFSI trim, it produces a healthy 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Choose the 55 TFSI e plug-in hybrid and an electric motor joins the fray, drawing power from a 14.1-kWh motor. Power jumps to 362 hp and 369 lb-ft, enough to rocket the Q5 to 60 mph in five seconds flat. That’s actually faster than the sport-oriented SQ5, which uses a turbocharged V6.
Both models use a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Audi Q5 Features and Pricing
Q5 45 TFSI Premium: Starts at $44,295 (55 TFSI e + $9,600)
The Q5 range starts at a little under $45k for the 45 TFSI Premium. Standard features include LED taillights, 18-inch wheels, partial-leather seating, four-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable and heated front seats, a split-folding rear bench, keyless entry with push-button start, and a 7.0-inch infotainment screen.
Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 is standard across all models. The tech suite includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane trace assist, lane departure alert, road sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and auto high beams.
A 10-speaker audio system with the three As (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Alexa integration) is also standard. Options include heated front seats, panoramic glass roof, blind-spot monitoring and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo.
A $2,450 Titanium package for the gas-only Q5 gives it a stealthier, de-chromed exterior look, 19-inch wheels, a heated steering wheel, and sport seats.
The 55 TFSI e upgrade sure looks pricey at nearly $10k more than the 45. However, in addition to its electrified drivetrain, it adds in Audi Virtual Cockpit, an upgraded, 8.3-inch infotainment screen with navigation and Audi Connect, and unique 19-inch wheels.
Options include upsized rolling stock, Convenience Package (blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, vehicle exit warning, power folding mirrors), Convenience Plus package (wireless charger and front and rear parking sensors), and a panoramic sunroof.
Q5 45 TFSI Premium Plus: $48,695 (55 TFSI e + $8,900)
Moving up to the Premium Plus trim nets two important interior changes: Audi Virtual Cockpit, the larger 8.3-inch infotainment screen, and a leather interior. Other perks are the panoramic sunroof, upgraded Audi Pre Sense and 19-inch wheels that are optional on the regular Premium. The Plus also gets full LED headlights, memory driver’s seat and side mirrors, and an automated parking assist.
The Titanium sub-trim remains, now only running $1,400. The PHEV drivetrain difference is also smaller with the Plus trim, down to $8,900.
Options include a Black Optic package, 20-inch wheels, cold- and warm-weather packages—heated seats and wheel in the former, ventilated seats in the latter—and a Driver Assistance package, which bundles adaptive cruise control with lane-keep assist. A 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system is also on the options list.
Q5 45 TFSI Prestige: $52,445 (55 TFSI e + $8,900)
Go for the top-of-the-line Prestige trim and you’ll get all of the Premium Plus standard and optional features. On top of that, it adds an upgraded LED ambient lighting package, electric power steering wheel adjustment, surround-view camera, traffic sign recognition, and a head-up display.
Audi Q5 Recommended Trim
We dig Audi’s current tech focus. The one-two punch of MMI and Virtual Cockpit is a hard one to resist, so we’d make sure to get a Q5 with those. Our pick has to be the Premium Plus, then. While the Prestige comes with even more goodies, none feel as necessary. We’d pocket the difference and go without the memory mirrors or head-up display.
As for the engine, it really depends on your use. If you find yourself doing lots of short trips in the city, the PHEV model might just be the ticket. Just know that it’s unlikely to pay for itself in terms of saved fuel over the course of its lifetime. You’re buying it for the added frugality, sure, but also the increased performance.
Audi Q5 Fuel Economy
The Q5 sits right in the middle of the class in terms of fuel efficiency. The EPA rates the 2.0-liter turbo at 24 mpg combined, the same as other competitors like the Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4MATIC, Alfa Romeo Stelvio AWD, and Jaguar F-Pace. For the Audi, that translates to 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. They’re all slightly behind the BMW X3’s 26 mpg average, however.
Rating the PHEV Q5 is a little more difficult. It doesn’t do massively better in terms of straight EPA numbers. The agency rates it at 27 mpg combined, but it also scores a 65 mpg-equivalent thanks to its EV mode. On a full charge, the Q5 55 TFSI e can roll 20 miles under nothing but electric power.
Audi Q5 vs Mercedes-Benz GLC
The Mercedes-Benz GLC is the closest competitor to the Q5, not least in terms of measurements. They’re both within an inch of each other in every dimension save wheelbase, where the Merc goes 113.1 inches to the Audi’s 111.0. The other exception is trunk space: the Q5 boasts 26.8 cubic feet versus the GLC’s 19.4, though the difference doesn’t feel as dramatic as the on-paper stats suggest.
The GLC engine lineup mirrors the Q5’s too: a 2.0-liter turbo-four powers the GLC300, and there’s a plug-in hybrid in the shape of the GLC350e. The SQ5 has a match in the GLC43 too, but there’s no four-ringed answer for the bonkers GLC63. The lineup starts below the Q5 at $43,495, but that’s for the rear-drive model; all-wheel drive is an extra $2,000.
The GLC now comes with the MBUX infotainment system, which is one of our favorites, alongside the latest Audi MMI system. Its ride is ever so slightly cushier than the Audi in non-AMG form, so we’d recommend driving them back-to-back to see which suits you best.
Audi Q5 vs BMW X3
Want something that leans a little more into the “S” part of “SUV”? Take a look at the BMW X3. The Bimmer doesn’t skimp on tech either, and it can play the quiet cruiser role when you need it to as well. That said, as sporty as the X3 can be, it requires spendy options to really be at its best, taking it far beyond the $44,945 starting price.
Like the Merc, it comes in either rear- or all-wheel form. The X3’s all-turbo engine lineup includes a 2.0-liter four-pot and 3.0-liter inline-six. There’s a plug-in hybrid option here as well, and a powerful X3 M, boasting over 500 hp.
|Price Range (USD) /||$44,295 – $61,345|
|Engine /||2.0L I4 turbo / 2.0L I4 turbo w/ plug-in hybrid|
|Horsepower (hp) /||248 / 362|
|Torque (lb-ft) /||273 / 369|
|Fuel Economy (mpg) /||22/28/24 (I4) / 65 (mpge, PHEV)|
|Drivetrain /||7DCT, AWD|
Our Final Verdict
The Q5 is quintessential Audi. It wraps a high-quality, tech-filled interior within the brand’s signature looks, with a refined ride that finds a balance between sport and luxury. It isn’t a leader in any one aspect, but stays close to the top of the pile in terms of value, performance, and available tech and safety.
Those wanting an extra dose of power and fuel efficiency can now have their cake and eat it too with the Q5 plug-in hybrid. If you want a well-rounded compact luxury crossover, it’s hard to go wrong with Audi’s best-seller.3.8
|Space and Comfort||7.0|