When is an aging car truly past its prime? It’s a tough question to answer, but we’re confident that the 2016 Audi Q5 isn’t there yet. With engine offerings ranging from a sprightly turbocharged 4-cylinder to a diesel-powered V6, with a gas-electric hybrid and a supercharged V6 in between, the Q5 remains a class standout under the hood. Inside, the Q5’s high-quality construction and spacious seating will never get old, while the exterior styling appears similarly timeless. It may be tempting to conclude that this crossover hasn’t aged a day.
The 2016 Audi Q5’s crisp looks epitomize understated luxury.
Still, let’s face it: 2009 was a pretty long time ago. That’s when the current-generation Q5 debuted, and Audi can’t completely hide that fact. Suppose you want to plug a device into a USB port, for example. There isn’t one; instead, you’re stuck with Audi’s proprietary digital music interface, a throwback to when USB connectivity wasn’t the norm. We’re also not enamored of the base MMI infotainment system’s awkward dash-mounted controls, which come standard on all but the Prestige trim. The Q5 additionally lacks up-to-date safety technologies like adaptive cruise control, surround-view parking cameras and forward collision mitigation with automatic braking.
But maybe those safety features aren’t a high priority for you, and you’re cool with connecting your devices the old Audi way (or just using Bluetooth). In that case, the Q5’s many virtues make it a must-drive in this segment. Other front runners include the well-rounded 2016 BMW X3, which has newer technology and a comparable array of powertrains to choose from, and the 2016 Acura RDX, which comes generously equipped for less coin. If you’re up for paying more, the Q5-derived 2016 Porsche Macan is the best-driving compact crossover you’ll find, though also the least versatile. Ultimately, the 2016 Audi Q5 may have been around the block a few times, but it’s still got a lot left in the tank.
Regardless of which powertrain you choose, the 2016 Audi Q5 delivers refined acceleration, with responsive shifts from the eight-speed automatic. The 2.0T and 3.0T are fully competitive with their competitors in terms of both acceleration and fuel economy, while the diesel and hybrid versions of the Q5 are even more fuel-efficient, yet plenty quick on the draw.
Composed, quick and confident, the Audi Q5 is a pleasure to drive.
The Q5’s drive quality is firmer than some might expect of a luxury crossover, but we’d describe it as taut, not harsh. Still, the optional adaptive dampers make a real difference, as they provide user control over drive quality — including a relatively cushy "Comfort" setting. In any event, handling is excellent by crossover standards, thanks to quick (if somewhat artificial-feeling) steering and disciplined body motions. Every Q5 inspires confidence in the way it handles the road.
The 2016 Audi Q5 is a compact luxury crossover offered in seven trim levels that correspond to the four available engines: 2.0T Premium, 2.0T Premium Plus, 3.0T Premium Plus, 3.0T Prestige, 3.0 TDI Premium Plus, 3.0 TDI Prestige and 2.0T Hybrid Prestige. A higher-performance version, the SQ5, is reviewed separately.
The 2.0T may be the most affordable Q5 model, but even the base Premium trim’s equipment list is comprehensive.
Standard equipment on the 2.0T Premium includes a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 18-inch wheels (19s are optional), xenon headlights, LED running lights and taillights, automatic wipers, heated exterior mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, aluminum roof rails with crossbars, a power liftgate, eight-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar for the driver and optional heating), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, tri-zone climate control, a sliding and reclining 40/20/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth connectivity, the Multi Media Interface (MMI) with dash-mounted controls and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary sound jack, satellite radio and Audi’s digital music interface.
The 2.0T Premium Plus adds aluminum door sills and trunk-edge trim, auto-dimming and power-folding exterior mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats, driver memory settings and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
From there, the 3.0T Premium Plus adds the supercharged V6 engine, 19-inch wheels, "S line" exterior styling tweaks and headlight washers.
The 3.0T Prestige tacks on adaptive headlights, a heated and cooled cupholder, rear door sunshades and the Technology package (includes blind-spot monitoring, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a color trip computer, a navigation system with voice controls, Audi Connect online services with mobile WiFi capability, an upgraded MMI system with console-mounted controls and a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system).
The 3.0 TDI Premium Plus features the diesel engine but is otherwise equipped like the 3.0T Premium Plus, lacking only the S line exterior trim and the headlight washers (available via the "S line Plus" package, described below). Likewise, the 3.0 TDI Prestige is similarly equipped to the 3.0T Prestige.
Finally, the 2.0T Hybrid Prestige includes unique 19-inch wheels, hybrid badging and hybrid-specific instrumentation, but otherwise mirrors the features of the other Prestige trims.
The Prestige-spec Technology package described above is offered as an option on all other trims except the base 2.0T Premium, which offers a lesser Navigation package that lacks the parking and safety features, color trip computer and Bang & Olufsen stereo but includes Audi Connect and the MMI upgrade with controls on the center console. Also offered on all but that base trim is the Sport Interior package (including shift paddles, front sport seats, a black cloth headliner and Audi Drive Select, which provides four selectable settings for throttle response, transmission shift points and steering assist). The Luxury package (including ventilated front seats with power lumbar, upgraded leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped dashboard) is offered on all 3.0T/3.0 TDI trims and the 2.0T Hybrid Prestige.
The 3.0T can also be equipped with the Black Optic package (including the Sport Interior package plus 20-inch wheels, gloss-black exterior trim, matte-black roof rails and a flat-bottomed sport steering wheel). The 3.0 TDI’s version is the "S line Plus" package (including the Sport Interior and High Gloss Black packages and adding the 3.0T’s standard headlight washers and S line exterior trim).
On the Prestige trims, you can opt for the "Audi exclusive line" package, which gets you the Sport Interior package plus piano black inlays and upgraded leather upholstery with contrast piping and stitching. Offered only on the 3.0T Prestige and 3.0 TDI Prestige is the Driver Assistance package that includes Audi Drive Select, adaptive cruise control and dynamic steering. The Prestige (except the hybrid) and Premium Plus trims can also be outfitted with adaptive suspension dampers.
Rear-seat side airbags are a stand-alone option for all trim levels.
Audi knows how to put together a premium cabin, and the aging Q5 continues to stand out in this regard. Materials quality is excellent, and the overall ambience is one of sophistication and class. Technology is somewhat hit-or-miss, however, starting with Audi’s quirky proprietary music interface, a relic from an earlier time that’s a poor substitute for industry-standard USB connectivity.
Furthermore, without navigation, the knob and controls for the Audi MMI system reside rather inconveniently on the center stack. With navigation, the controls are placed on the center console between the armrest and shift lever, where they’re easier to reach. Navigation-equipped models also get Audi Connect online services with mobile WiFi, an upgraded display, enhanced Google Maps satellite imagery and an additional joystick button atop the main control knob.
Although the 2016 Audi Q5’s technology features aren’t fully up to date, this is still one of the nicest interiors in the class.
Despite its compact size, the Q5 manages to feel roomy whether you’re seated in the front or rear. The rear seats both recline and slide fore and aft — a rarity in this class. The Q5 provides a healthy 29.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seatbacks, but if you fold them down, the resulting 57.3-cubic-foot cargo hold is below average for the segment. The Acura RDX has 61.3 cubes with the rear seats folded, for example, while the Volvo XC60 has 67 cubes.
All 2016 Audi Q5s come with stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Rear side airbags are a stand-alone option, while the Technology package includes parking sensors, a rearview camera and a blind-spot warning system.
In SUVS brake testing, a Q5 2.0T with 18-inch wheels and summer tires came to a stop from 60 miles per hour in 114 feet, an average distance for this class and tire. A 3.0T Prestige with 19s and summer tires stopped in a praise-worthy 109 feet. The heavier Q5 TDI with 19s and all-season tires took 120 feet.
In government crash tests, the Q5 received four out of five stars overall, with four stars for frontal crash protection and five stars for side crash protection. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Q5 its highest rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests, while the Q5’s seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
All 2016 Audi Q5s feature all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The 2.0T Premium and Premium Plus come standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 23 miles per gallon combined (20 city/28 highway). In SUVS testing, a Q5 2.0T accelerated to 60 miles per hour in 6.7 seconds, an average time for the segment.
The Q5 3.0T trims get a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 272 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, along with an automatic stop-start system that saves fuel by shutting off the engine when you come to a halt. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 miles per gallon combined (18/26). In SUVS testing, the 3.0T engine brought the Q5 from zero to 60 in a fleet 5.8 seconds.
For the Q5 3.0 TDI, Audi installs a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6 with 240 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque; it gets the automatic stop-start system as well. Fuel economy estimates for the TDI are the best of the Q5 bunch at 27 miles per gallon combined (24/31). During SUVS testing, a Q5 TDI went from zero to 60 miles per hour in 6.0 seconds, a remarkably quick time given its laudable fuel efficiency.
The Q5 Hybrid pairs the 2.0T engine with a 54 hp electric motor and a battery pack for a total output of 245 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Audi estimates its 0-60 time at 6.8 seconds, while EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 26 miles per gallon combined (24/30).
Top-notch interior craftsmanship; TDI and hybrid’s extraordinary fuel economy; 3.0T and TDI’s quick acceleration; refined driving character; sporty handling.
The 2016 Audi Q5 is stylish, luxurious, fun to drive and offered with no fewer than four different powertrains. It’s an aging star, but a star nonetheless.