We love the athleticism and bearing of the Audi Q5. The interior is luxurious, with the best second row seating in the segment. The Audi handles like a sports sedan and may have the sportiest suspension in the segment. We would skip the underpowered 4 cylinder variant, in favor the V6 equipped model for a more exhilarating driving experience.
Value is somewhat of an antonym when trying to describe luxury vehicles, with the possible exception of Acura and Lexus. Chances are, if you’re seeking a German made luxury SUV, value isn’t a top priority. If you are looking for value for your dollar in this segment, check out the slightly smaller Acura RDX or Lexus NX, which can be had for nearly $10k less. Both have higher reliability ratings than the Audi. The former performs even better than the V6 equipped Q5. That said, the Q5 is an excellent automobile that carries a certain charm that’s difficult to quantify in currency. You might lay awake at night, excited for your morning commute. The Q5 is that attractive and even more fun behind the wheel.
The Audi Q5 has two available engines: a 2.0L 220 horsepower 258 lb-ft torque TFSI inline 4 cylinder engine and a 3.0L supercharged V6 that makes 272 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. An upgraded version of the latter is available in the SQ5, more information is available in our SQ5 buyer’s guide. TFSI is an acronym for turbo fuel stratified injection. In layman’s terms, this means it is a forcibly aspirated engine. A turbocharger forces more air into the cylinder, increasing the amount of oxygen available in the combustion chamber. The fuel is pressure-injected directly into the combustion chamber, further increasing the compression ratio and thus, the available torque and power in the engine. The drawback is a much quicker carbon buildup behind the intake valves over time which will detract from engine performance overtime. Regular maintenance can alleviate this problem, but be wary when buying used. Have a mechanic ensure the engine is in condition before purchasing a 2.0L TFSI equipped model. A 7.9 second 0-60 mph makes the 2.0L equipped model adequately quick, considering its size. The 3.0L supercharged V6 advances the Audi from 0-60 mph a whole 2 seconds quicker at an estimated 5.9 seconds.
For the performance oriented driver, we believe that the extra 6 grand for the V6 is well worth the investment. While the Q3’s suspension rode soft, comfortable and uninspiring, the Q5’s ride is taut and agile. You may feel some bumps and cracks at low speeds but the handling is leagues better than its little brother at pace. In fact, we would put the handling of the Q5 on par with many sedans. The standard Quattro all wheel drive system is magnificent and handles all road conditions with presence and poise. The available Audi Drive Select will allow you make minor adjustments to the throttle response, transmission program, steering weight and suspension settings. Some reviewers found this option unnecessary as the most aggressive settings were indistinguishable from the “Sport” mode which is free and simpler to activate. In conclusion, we believe the Q5 is a capable, confidence-inspiring luxury SUV. For the performance oriented driver, the V6 variant is the clear choice.
Audi has a reputation for richly appointed cabins and the Q5 follows suit. You won’t be disappointed by the quality materials and rich leather throughout. Nappa and Milano leather are available at a premium. While we find both striking, we find the upgrade unnecessary unless you have your heart set on ventilated seats. The Q5 comfortably seats four adults, the back row bench’s leg space is encroached upon by the transmission housing and is probably practical for a child only. However, the rear seats recline and slide, an anomaly in the segment and a huge positive for rear passengers trying to get comfortable in a relatively small SUV.
The optional panoramic sunroof is pristine and quite large. Only a thin mesh screen prevents the sun from radiating heat into the cabin. As a result, some owners in warmer climates complain of a tendency for the cabin to get very hot when the vehicle is sitting. This minor gripe can be easily ameliorated by tinting the sunroof. The Q5 packs adequate cargo space, in line with the class average at 29.1 cubic feet with rear seats up and 57.3 cubic feet with seats down. Available technology is one category where Audi lags behind the competition. However, we found the analog knob control refreshingly simple when compared with some of the segment’s confusing touchscreens. Audi Connect Wifi is available and can connect up to eight devices and grants the navigation system access to google earth pictures, making it easier to find your desired destination on the first pass.
Few changes have been made to the exterior of the Q5 since 2012. As a result, the styling is beginning to look a little dated. On the upside, with the 2018 model now available, 2017 Q5s will become much more affordable. We still find the Q5 well-proportioned and attractive with a wide, athletic stance that screams performance pedigree. The available 19in and 20in wheels enhance the Q5’s stance. Of course, this Audi is equipped with the beautiful trademark LED lights that fueled the resurgence of the brand.
JD Power awards the Q5 with an “about average” predicted reliability rating, while Consumer Reports gives one mark higher with a 4 out of 5 reliability rating. Only the Mercedes GLC, Lexus NX, and Infiniti QX50 receive higher reliability ratings in the segment. Audi has issued 3 recalls for some Q5s. The first is for fuel leaking from pump area. The dealer will change the fuel pump flange if cracks are detected and apply a protective film to unaffected flanges free of charge to remedy the problem. The second is for a tendency for the Q5 to roll when placed in park, the dealership will replace the transmission free of charge on affected vehicles. The third is the possibility for the coolant pump to clog, causing overheating and a possible fire hazard. A free software update is available from the dealer that will disengage power to the pump if it becomes blocked, preventing a fire.
The Q5 receives the highest possible crash test ratings from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives this Audi a 4 out of 5 star frontal impact, rollover, and overall rating. Side impact is 5 out of 5 stars, probably due to the side curtain airbags. Driver assistance technology arrives at a premium, but improves the safety characteristics of the vehicle. An available lane departure warning system, blind spot monitoring system, and adaptive cruise control can reduce the anxiety of safety conscious drivers.
The most capable challenger to the Audi Q5 is the Mercedes Benz GLC. The Benz’s turbocharged inline 4 cylinder engine produces 241 hp and 273 ft-lb of torque. The engine powers the GLC from 0-60 mph in just 6.4 seconds, over a second quicker than the 4 cylinder equipped Q5. The handling is quite comparable to the Q5, but expect a little more body lean and a slightly softer ride. We must say that the standard front seat thigh support adjustment option and makes the GLC more comfortable for long-legged drivers. However, the rear seat adjustability present in the Q5 is nowhere to be found in the GLC.
The interior is tastefully appointed and features a standard infotainment system with a steep learning curve. All wheel drive is not standard, but the 4matic equipped GLC 300 is still a few hundred cheaper than the base Q5. A collision warning system with automatic braking also arrives standard in the GLC, an option that significantly increases the price of a comparably equipped Q5. If you’re choosing between a 4 cylinder equipped Q5 and GLC 300, we recommend the Benz. However, add a few options to the GLC 300 and the total quickly approaches the $46,400 price tag of the V6 equipped Q5.
For the money, we would prefer the 3.0L Q5’s higher performing engine, sportier handling, and sleeker styling to the GLC.
Starting at $40,900 for the 2.0 TFSI Premium, the Audi Q5 is one of the most expensive SUVs in the luxury compact SUV class. All Q5 models come equipped standard with Audi’s award winning Quattro all wheel drive system. There are 4 available trims, technically 5, but the SQ5 is such a different animal that we have dedicated its own review page. The 2.0 TFSI Premium Plus trim level starts at $43,150 and has a host of options that aren’t available as options on the premium trim level. For the extra wood, you receive stainless steel door trim, memorized mirror and seat settings, power folding mirrors, push button start, and heated rear passenger seats among other things.
The 3.0T Premium Plus commences at $46,400 and includes larger brakes that regenerate. These brakes harness the additional kinetic energy, allowing them to brake more efficiently and last longer. The power mirrors and rearview mirror auto-dim and an auto stop-start function that increases fuel efficiency with the larger engine. The 3.0T Prestige package begins at $53,200 and bumps a 505 watt Bang Olufsen audio system with 13 speakers, in dash DVD and CD player, aux, and Bluetooth capability with voice control. Along with the stellar audio system, you get Audi’s navigation system with rearview camera and a host of safety features like parking sensors and blind spot sensors that are expensive options at other trim levels.