By Jim MacPherson
There are two schools of thought on how best to judge an automobile. The first holds that all you need to know is in the numbers. For these folks, acceleration times, stopping distances, fuel economy and interior measurements reveal a car’s worth.
The other side claims that subjective factors, though difficult to quantify, tell the real story. To these people, the vehicle’s sense of balance and stability, the steering feel and even such seemingly insignificant issues such as how smoothly the controls work, are what make a car great. Fortunately for Audi, the Q5 should please both groups.
For this review, we had the Q5 3.2 Premium Plus model with its V-6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Also available are 2.0T four-cylinder versions, powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. These vehicles, along with a hybrid model that’s expected to arrive soon, have an eight-speed automatic transmission. All Q5s come with Quattro all-wheel drive.
The 3.2-liter V-6 is smooth and reasonably powerful. However, Audi may be a little optimistic in assessing the engine’s acceleration capabilities, listing a 0-to-60 time of 6.7 seconds. Our review car managed this feat in 7.3 seconds, which is fast enough to make the Q5 with the V-6 engine feel lively around town and on the highway.
The ride is firm, but comfortable. The Q5 does a surprisingly good job absorbing both any kind of bumps. The body structure and interior trim were solidly assembled so that no matter how rough the surface, nothing rattled, buzzed, squeaked or vibrated.
Handling is a high point for the Q5. This compact SUV proved to be exceptionally nimble; the diameter of its turning circle is just over 38 feet. The steering feedback is well above average and braking is powerful. All of these factors make driving a Q5 more fun than the body shape would suggest it could – or should – be.
The Q5 is not a massive truck-based SUV that encourages you to take everything with you, but with careful packing likely can accommodate a family of four on vacation. Passengers are treated to comfortable front seats, while the rear seats tilt and slide and are roomy enough for adults. As for cargo, the specifications claim 29.1 cubic feet of storage capacity with the back seats up. They fold easily to form an almost flat load floor that produces 57.3 cubic feet of storage capacity.
Gauges are easily read, but the controls are fussy. Audi has updated its MMI (Multimedia Interface) one-control-does-it-all system to make it less complicated. Alas, it is still distracting when the optional navigation package is ordered, adding needless complication to many basic audio control functions.
Whether you are a “numbers” buyer or a person who wants to be swayed by subjective factors, the Audi Q5 has a lot going for it. It’s a little pricey, but you get what you pay for with this car.
Audi Q5: Starts at: $35,600
Engines: 2.0T 4-cylinder 3.2 V-6 Hybrid 2.0T
HP 211 270 241
Torque (lb-ft) 258 243 354
EPA 20/27 18/23 N/A