Class: Premium Compact Crossover
Miles driven: 380
Fuel used: 17.3 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 22.0 mpg
Driving mix: 55% city, 45% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 19/24/21 (city, highway, combined)
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||C|
|Power and Performance||C/A*|
|Fit and Finish||C+|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Base price: $54,300 (not including $975 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Special Paint ($575), Prestige Package ($4200), S sport Package ($3000), Driver Assistance Package ($1800), Fine Nappa leather interior ($1250), Dynamic Steering ($1150), 21-inch alloy wheels ($1000), Carbon Atlas inlays ($500)
Price as tested: $68,750
The great: Robust acceleration, high-class interior
The good: Fine ride-and-handling balance
The not so good: This level of performance and luxury doesn’t come cheap
Audi has a “little-little” sport-utility vehicle, and it has a “little-big” one, too. Frankly, you wonder if any manufacturer can have enough of them these days, with compact crossover SUVs all the rage. The little-little Q3’s big brother, the Q5, has been redone for 2018, and in sported-up S form, it can be a little invigorating to drive.
The basic design of first-generation Q5 that the new vehicle replaces dated back to the 2009 model year, so a replacement certainly was due. Styling of the five-passenger Q5 gets sharper edges for 2018. Audi claims improved interior space with more rear-seat legroom and shoulder room, and increased cargo capacity with the second-row seats folded down. A host of new safety and technology features is folded in, too.
Q5 offerings start with a trio of 4-cylinder models with prices that range from $41,500 to $50,800 sans options or delivery. The V6 SQ5 Premium Plus is a $54,300 vehicle, but a $4200 package turns it into a Prestige like the one Consumer Guide® had the opportunity to test. CG’s sample vehicle hardly stopped there, however. A generous application of individual and package options elevated the bottom-line price (with delivery) to $68,750.
All SQ5s come with a 3.0-liter twin-scroll-turbocharged V6 and an 8-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard—this is an Audi SUV after all. Other features include 4-wheel disc brakes with six-piston fixed front calipers, Audi side assist and pre sense rear monitoring, rear cross-traffic and vehicle-exit alerts, LED headlights, leather-and-Alcantara seating surfaces, heated 8-way-power front seats with driver’s-seat memory, 20-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone automatic air conditioning, panoramic sunroof, power-folding heated exterior mirrors, power tailgate, driver-information system with a 7-inch color display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, 10-speaker audio, MMI central control with 7-inch display screen, HomeLink garage-door opener, parking assist, and a rearview camera. To that the Premium Plus adds navigation, MMI all-in-touch handwriting-recognition technology, Audi virtual cockpit (which can project map or overhead views within the driver-information-display area), head-up display, Audi connect PRIME and PLUS online services, a Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker “3D” sound system, top-view camera system, and dual-pane acoustic glass for the windows in the front doors.
A few options added to the test truck replaced standard gear. Wheels were 21-inch Audi Sport alloys, and a $1250 interior option draped the seats in diamond-quilted Nappa leather with leatherette on the center console and door armrests. Carbon Atlas inlays dressed up the dash, doors, and console. Additional safety features—adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam assist, lane-keeping assist, traffic-sign recognition, and automatic high-beam-headlight assist—came in the $1800 Driver Assistance Package.
The engine develops 354 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of early peaking torque, and it makes the SQ5 decidedly quick, especially in “Dynamic” mode from the button-activated “drive select” system. (Audi claims 5.1 seconds from 0 to 60 mph.) An edgy little rasp rises from the exhaust when the gas pedal is tromped. There’s no undue wait for a downshift from the automatic trans. The EPA rates the V6 at 19 mpg in city driving, 24 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined. This driver found this to be pretty much on the mark after testing the SQ5 for 286 miles. With 50 percent of the trip under city conditions, he got 21.7 mpg from the revamped Audi.
Out on the highway, the SQ5 is quiet, with a nice ride, especially in “Comfort” mode, and fine handling characteristics. The S Sport Package option that was added to the test truck includes adaptive air suspension. Out on the Interstate in a light but steady snow and set in “Auto” mode, the little-big Audi displayed good grip on roads that weren’t thoroughly plowed, and wasn’t thrown off when making lane changes across bands of accumulated snow.
Passengers will find good legroom in both rows. When this 5’-10.5” driver slipped into the place behind the driver’s seat as set for him, there was ample legroom, which suggests that with even a 6-footer in front pretty good space would still be available. Headroom is fine in either row. However, a substantial center hump in the floor effectively restricts rear passenger capacity to two adults. Entry and exit are pretty easy, and step-in height is manageable even for older, less-spry passengers.
Interior ambience is at the usual Audi level: high. The diamond-stitched interior had big areas of bold Magma Red to go with the underlying black, and many surfaces had a rich look and feel. The console-dial MMI controls require quite a bit of work for making radio presets, but at least the steering wheel buttons make it fairly easy to work them once input. Virtual cockpit can fill the instrument-cluster space with map or satellite views of the surrounding area.
A good amount of cargo loads on a flat floor. There’s also a little space under the floor for a few incidentals. Rear seats fold in a 60/40 split, but at some angle up from the level cargo floor, and with a slight offset. Personal items can be stashed in good-sized glove and console boxes. There are pockets in all four doors, and net pouches on the backs of the front seats. Cup holders are provided in the console and the pull-down rear-center armrest.
Not everyone who craves a premium compact SUV wants or needs the SQ5’s level of performance—and the associated cost. However, it seems Audi is wise to try to blanket the market for small sport-utes even as it grows bigger.