The 2018 Audi Q5 uses the now familiar MLB chassis, has standard all-wheel drive and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Everything is bigger and at the same time almost everything is better. Although a tad understated on the outside, the Q5 makes up for it with a sumptuous interior, as we would expect.
My week tester was a 2018 Audi Q5 Prestige, so all bells and whistles included, which can make the Q5 expensive very quickly. The $9,300 Prestige trim (base price $41,500) which includes the Virtual Cockpit, a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats with driver memory, full LED headlights, and 20-inch wheels, and on my tester the driver assistance package ($1,800) and warm and cold weather packages for ($14,50 and $500 respectively). That took the price to a considerable $56,100, some $14,000+ over the base price.
The re-developed 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged I4 makes 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque that’s 32 horsepower, 15 lb-ft of torque more respectively. This new power is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and through the quattro all-wheel-drive system. To save fuel and achieve a combined 25 mpg, the Q5 features a decoupling prop shaft that releases the rear wheels when not needed, essentially making it a front driver without the pain of one.
Stop/Start is standard and for the most part unobtrusive, although I preferred to turn it off or Drive in Dynamic mode for the week. Thankfully the car remembers your selection and stays in Dynamic unlike some that default you back to Comfort, which gets irritating. Even in Dynamic mode the ride quality is superb and the Q5 has plenty of power, corners flat and simply does an excellent job of making any trip, no matter how short, a pleasurable event.
Complaints are few, mostly the over light steering, which gives little feedback, but it’s easy to ignore given the way the rest of the car drives. In dynamic mode, the car grips well on the optional 20-inch wheels and the brakes were progressive and fade free throughout the week I had it.
Despite some initial lag when you punch the gas at a low rpm the Q5 is good for a 0-60 sprint of 5.9 seconds almost a second faster than the outgoing model. It makes you think it has more power than the 252 hp suggests, however, the hugs gobs of torque have it gathering speed with ease and it’s quicker than most others in this segment, including the BMW X3 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300.
Does it go offroad?
The Q5 is not a Jeep and nor is it meant to be, but we felt we had to take it into the dust and test it out anyway. We found a nice washboard dirt road East of San Diego near Buckman Springs, CA that leads to Corral Canyon OHV area, where the going can get very tricky even for a Jeep. We just drove to the area but didn’t go in it and the road is moderately rutted and has sporadic patches of tarmac. First impressions are that the ride quality over the rough stuff is impeccable, whereas my 2011 Subaru Outback would be chattering my teeth on this stuff. I went into “drive it like Walter Rohrl mode” and satisfyingly got a little tail out action. Good to know that the Q5 can be uncouth if you drive it the right way.
Audi interiors are cool, minimalist and elegant. In the Q5, Audi offers Smartphone integration, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto as standard. Safety features include, Blind-spot monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control with full stop/go and traffic-jam assist are available. I tried the latter and it does get angry if you let go of the wheel for too long. I cruised by the Highway Patrol doing 20 mph with my arms folded and I got a wry smile.
The Q5 gets Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument panel plus the larger 8.3-inch central display. It’s great fun to toggle through all the display options while sitting in traffic. Front seats have eight-way power and leather, rear passengers on my tester get heated seats and climate control. Everything blends well, and I really didn’t want to give it back. Trunk space is pretty good and fits two 90 lb dogs……. surprising because it doesn’t look that big from the outside.
There are a lot of choices out there these days in the Luxury SUV segment from the likes of Lexus, Cadillac and Mercedes and BMW but none quite seem to be as cool as the Q5. The only other competitor comes from Audi itself, in the shape of the Audi allroad, which has a tad less cargo space but is quicker and by having a lower center of gravity, handles better. That said the Q5 is an excellent and fun drive.
2018 Audi Q5 Numbers
BASE PRICE: $41,500
PRICE AS TESTED: $56,100
VEHICLE TYPE: Front-engine, AWD, 5-passenger, 4-door SUV
ENGINE TYPE: 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
POWER: 252-hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE: 273-lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode
0-60 MPH: 5.9 seconds
CARGO VOLUME: 25.1 ft³, 53.1 ft³ with seat area
CURB WEIGHT: 4,210 lbs
EPA COMBINED/CITY/HWY: 25/23/27 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 19.3 mpg
PROS: Quick and entertaining, beautiful interior, fantastic ride quality
CONS: Gets pricey with options