2016 audi q5
Starting at
2.0L Turbo

220 hp
EPA - est City/Hwy

2016 Audi Q5 The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review
Bengt Halvorson

Bengt Halvorson

Deputy Editor

  • Still no standard rearview camera
  • Gas mileage isn't stellar on gas-only models
  • We're not sold by Drive Select's adaptive controls
  • Easy to spend more than $50,000
  • 3G connectivity comes with subscription fee

The 2016 Audi Q5 offers one of the greatest range of powertrain choices in its class, ensuring that almost anyone can find a version of this handsome small crossover to fit their tastes.

There are good reasons the Audi Q5 has been a perennial best-seller in its segment: it delivers what every compact luxury crossover SUV shopper seeks. It has good handling and acceleration coupled with very good gas mileage—and does it all while delivering more ground clearance and a higher driving position than a comparable sedan or wagon.

Less of a shrunken Q7 than a more spacious Audi wagon, the Audi Q5 has pretty proportions and a cabin that's cleanly styled and trimmed to a high standard. The cohesive look fits snugly alongside Audi's car lineup, blending in easily with the Allroad wagon and even the A4 sedan, which all share its tall grille and slim LED-outlined headlamps.

Its cockpit sets a high watermark for simplicity and for fit and finish, particularly with the optional layered-oak trim, though we might wish for more recognizable buttons while we fumble to control the lush-looking non-touchscreen display.

We're happy with any of the Q5's powerplants, especially the base 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4—it's lighter and almost as quick as the Q5 3.0T; the 3.0T has a 272-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 and is plenty of fun. The efficient Q5 Hybrid blends the power from the 2.0-liter four with that of a 54-hp electric motor fed by lithium-ion batteries for 245 hp net.

In 2015, Volkswagen admitted diesel engines in this model illegally cheated federal tests and polluted beyond allowable limits. As part of unprecedented settlements with federal and state governments, Volkswagen agreed to buyback from owners diesel-equipped models of this vehicle. To determine eligibility for all affected Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi models, Volkswagen set up VWDieselInfo.com for owners. (Owners of affected vehicles can enter their VIN numbers to see if their cars are eligible for buyback.)

We're also fans of the SQ5, which comes with an upgraded suspension, as well as a 354-hp version of the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. All-wheel drive is now standard on all Q5 crossovers, as is an 8-speed, paddle-shifted automatic.

In all its non-hybrid drivetrain versions, the Q5 excels at passing maneuvers, and out of corners, and it truly handles like a car, with the lean, responsive feel of a lower-riding wagon. We'd pass on the user-adjustable driving inputs of Drive Select and stick with the stock suspension and steering setups.

Passengers sit relatively high in the Q5, with more than enough head room and leg room in front, and the seats are firm and adjustable to a wide range of sizes. Even in back, there's enough leg room for most adults, thanks to a rather long wheelbase. Cabin materials are about the best they come in this class, with a rich, unified feel throughout and nice detailing. The Q5 has excellent build quality and a tight, refined feel overall—although road noise can be an issue.

The Audi Q5 has one of the most complete sets of safety features in this class; rear thorax airbags, which aren't broadly offered, are optional here. A rearview camera is available, but only in an expensive bundle of features. Bluetooth is now standard.

The Q5 can be equipped with a wide range of features, and choosing several can quickly raise the sticker price. Standard equipment includes a 10-speaker sound system, heated mirrors, leather upholstery, power front seats, tri-zone climate control, Sirius satellite radio, iPod connectivity, and an SD card slot that can manage up to 32 GB of music.

Premium Plus and Prestige models load on the luxuries, and a Q5 3.0T can easily top $55,000. The Q5 also now offers as optional equipment Audi Connect 3G wireless internet service, Google Earth mapping, adaptive cruise control with full braking at speeds of up to 19 mph, and a rear-seat entertainment system.

The 2016 model year brings a few additions to the standard-equipment list as well as some new package contents and options. All Q5s now include a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel and the panoramic sunroof, while Audi connect is now available as part of the Navigation Plus package. Premium Plus models with the available Technology package now include a Bang & Olufsen sound system. An adaptive damping suspension is now available as a stand-alone option on Q5 Premium Plus models, which is available with the 3.0T engine.

The base Q5 offers the best compromise for both value and gas mileage. At 20 mpg city, 28 highway, 23 combined, according to the EPA, it's competitive in its class. We've seen about 24 mpg in a mix of spirited city and highway driving. The Hybrid model is rated at 24/30/26 mpg.


Throughout the 2016 Audi Q5, everything's in order—and it's very stylish.

The 2016 Audi Q5 takes a subtle approach to SUV styling. Its design is simple yet handsome, both inside and out.

The Q5 is related to Audi's Allroad wagon underneath, and the two are visual kin as well, sharing the softly rounded cues common to all current Audis. The difference is that the Q5 is slightly taller and blunter than the related wagon. The minor restyling the Q5 received in 2014 reshaped the grille and slimmed down the headlamps, while also adding LED taillights, but did nothing to upend the Q5's best features—its car-like curves and its closeness to the rest of the Audi A4/A5 lineup.

The Q5's cockpit derives its style from its lack of drama, its lack of sub-par materials, and an absence of flashy cheapness. It's a universally pleasing, well-detailed execution that's common to just about every Audi interior. Like many of its brand mates, the Q5 has a rather wide center console, clearly differentiating the driver and front passenger areas, cockpit-style. The dash isn't all that curvy or claustrophobic—rather, it's more upright and forward, helping maximize a sense of space. A beautiful layered oak trim is now an option, elevating bits of the dash with a furniture-like finish.

Audi frames all this in metallic trim, wood, and coordinated leathers and plastics to give the somewhat cluttered dash a unified look. About our only complaint about the design is that even with the infotainment interface, there are a few too many buttons for the driver to deal with.

Throughout the 2016 Audi Q5, everything's in order—and it's very stylish.

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The supercharged V-6 is the most enjoyable, but the base engine is OK too.

The 2016 Audi Q5 could be described as having a case of multiple-personality disorder, but that's OK with us. Audi offers a choice of five different powertrains, with each bringing different dynamics. The characters range from sensible to enthusiastic—and with each one a well-sorted suspension provides grace and ease for the Q5's movements.

The base Audi Q5 has an energetic, torquey power delivery that makes the most of its 220 horsepower. The Q5 isn't a lightweight; it weighs about 4,100 pounds in base trim. Still, even the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 is pleasantly assertive. The turbocharger doesn't lag much, power comes on smoothly, and 0-60 mph runs of 7.0 seconds put this basic version well within luxury-car standards, as does a top speed of 130 mph.

Above that drivetrain, Audi's supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 is the direction in which most luxury buyers will steer. It turns in 272 hp, and runs it through the same quattro all-wheel-drive system and 8-speed automatic standard on all Q5 crossovers. It weighs about 250 pounds more than the turbo inline-4, but still drops its 0-60 mph time by a second, to 6.0 seconds; top speed stays at 130 mph. The lower gas mileage and higher curb weight don't dissuade this Q5 from blasting through exit ramps and needling in and out of traffic-inducing inertia, but the magnitude of change over the turbo four isn't tremendous.

Where the green-eyed Q5 shoppers will peel off is with the Q5 Hybrid.

The Q5 Hybrid couples the turbocharged inline-4 to an electric motor fed by lithium-ion batteries. Total net output of 245 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque are said to deliver a 0-60 mph time of 6.8 seconds and 26 mpg combined on the EPA cycle. We've had some brief exposure to the Hybrid, but only in controlled track driving; we'll bring you more as we learn more.

The diesel-powered Q5 was pulled in 2015 after the company admitted its engine polluted beyond legal limits. Audi has said it is working toward a fix, but the automaker hasn't announced when those models might return to the U.S.

There's also the SQ5, which is covered in a separate entry. It's powered by a high-output version of the supercharged V-6 that produces 354 horsepower and will get you from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 155 mph.

No matter which Q5 you choose, the paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic has closely spaced gears and responsive shifting. Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system plus 8 inches of ground clearance make the Q5 a good pick for deep snow and steep driveways. The Q5 can also tow up to 4,400 pounds, depending on which engine is underhood.

Driven back to back against some other luxury crossovers without German heritage, the Audi Q5's dynamics come off as taut and car-like. Especially in the lightest-weight turbocharged inline-4 model, the Q5 excels in passing maneuvers and out of corners. That's with an asterisk: we're less convinced by Audi's adaptive Drive Select controls here. They can tweak the steering, transmission, and throttle responses, in concert with the adaptive suspension on models so equipped, but Q5s without the system have firm but good ride control, and more natural response to road flaws. Steering in this case is still typically electric-assist numb, but at least it's predictable and tracks well, which we haven't always found to be the case with Drive Select.

Should you choose Drive Select, you'll get four modes of operation—Auto, Sport, Individual, or Comfort. Each one has distinctive feel programmed into each of the vital driving input channels, but each one feels out of touch with the other. We'd rather save that money for the B&O audio.

Audi also offers an adaptive suspension system on Premium Plus and Prestige models with the 3.0T engine. It is keyed in with the Drive Select system.

The supercharged V-6 is the most enjoyable, but the base engine is OK too.

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Comfort & Quality

There's plenty of passenger space in the 2016 Q5—and enough space for a few carry-ons.

The 2016 Audi Q5 makes the most of its compact footprint, wrapping its passengers in a spacious, comfortable, and luxurious cabin. It does a good job when called up for cargo hauling duty as well.

Inside, the Q5 delivers a bright, richly finished cockpit with a fine eye to details and to choices for interior trim. The build quality has been uniformly excellent in the most recent few examples we've driven, and although road noise is more present in four-cylinder models, the Q5 carries itself with the refined feel that comes from a tight body structure.

The driver and front passenger have a commanding view of the road ahead from very comfortable standard seats; the Comfort package's heating and ventilation aren't too soft to retain that support. With the range of adjustments available from power seats and tilt/telescoping steering wheel, finding an excellent driving position is easy. We might pass on the panoramic sunroof if head room was an extreme concern, but it lets in so much light, those tall family members will have to be frequent travelers.

Even in the back seat, there's enough leg room for most adults, thanks to a rather long wheelbase. The tight leg room of the A4-based Allroad isn't a factor here, although just as in any compact crossover, you won't be able to fit three adults comfortably across the second-row bench seat. The rear seat slides on a track, and the seat backs recline for better touring comfort—while they also fold down for more cargo space.

With the seats folded, the Q5 moves from about 29 cubic feet to more than 57 cubic feet of storage space. There's enough cargo room for four roll-on suitcases and a clear view out the rear hatch glass. Small storage abounds, down to the 1-liter cup holders molded in all the doors, the console, and the fold-down armrest in the backseat.

There's plenty of passenger space in the 2016 Q5—and enough space for a few carry-ons.

JD Power Reliability Ratings

2016 Audi Q5 Models
Power Circle Ratings

Overall Quality


4 Overall Quality - Mechanical
4 Powertrain Quality - Mechanical
3.5 Body & Interior Quality - Mechanical
5 Features & Accessories Quality - Mechanical
3.5 Overall Quality - Design
3.5 Powertrain Quality - Design
3 Body & Interior Quality - Design
3.5 Features & Accessories Quality - Design

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The 2016 Q5 is among the best in its class in terms of safety.

Audi's Q5 continues to excel in crash tests for 2016, providing leading scores in most categories. It also offers an array of advanced safety tech, either as standard equipment or on the options sheet.

The NHTSA gives the Audi Q5 four stars overall, with a five-star side-impact rating and four stars in front crash and rollover.

The IIHS gives the Q5 "Good" ratings in all categories now that it has been evaluated in the new small-overlap test. That, along with an "Advanced" rating for front crash prevention, qualify it for the agency's Top Safety Pick+ status.

All the usual standard airbags and stability control are included, to which the Q5 adds optional rear side airbags and standard all-wheel drive. Audi's forward-collision warning system, dubbed "Pre Sense," is optional. Bluetooth is finally standard on all models, and blind-spot monitors are now an option on almost every version—if not standard. However, the Q5 still makes a rearview camera an option—and it's bundled in an expensive package only offered on the middle and upper trim levels.

The Q5 is gifted with good visibility. It has large side mirrors, and the rear seats don't obstruct too much of the view to the back, which translates into good outward visibility even without the high-tech solutions.

The 2016 Q5 is among the best in its class in terms of safety.

NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating

2016 Audi Q5 Models

Overall Rating


Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating: (4/5)
Overall Side Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Barrier Rating: Not Rated
NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating: (4/5)

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings

2016 Audi Q5 Models

Side Impact Test Good
Roof Strength Test Good
Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint Good
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results Good
IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results Good

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The Google Earth maps in the Q5's infotainment system are a standout.

The 2016 Audi Q5 starts at $41,825 for a base 2.0T model, but it's easy to get the price up past $50,000 with the various powertrains, packages, and standalone options. Audi offers the Q5 in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige models, although not all powertrains are available in all trim levels.

The base model now carries all the features we'd want to see in any luxury-branded vehicle—now that Bluetooth and iPod connectivity and keyless entry have been made standard. The base Q5, dubbed the Premium trim, also includes power locks, windows, and heated exterior mirrors; leather upholstery and walnut trim; power front seats; an AM/FM/XM/CD player with an SD card slot for additional memory; and 18-inch wheels. For 2016, the Q5 adds a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel and the panoramic sunroof to the standard-equipment list.

With the Premium Plus package, the Q5 gets a power tailgate; heated front seats; and a xenon headlight package with LED daytime running lights. Other options on the Q5 2.0T include a package with sport seats and a navigation system bundled with a rearview camera. Rear-seat airbags, different wood or aluminum trim, and an entertainment system are stand-alone options.

The Q5 3.0T tops off the standard equipment list with 19-inch wheels and the rest of the Premium Plus content. Moving up to the Prestige trim packs in standard adaptive lighting; navigation; blind-spot monitors; a Bang & Olufsen audio system; and a heated/cooled cupholder. Stand-alone options on the 3.0T include adaptive cruise and Drive Select; the Sport interior; an S line package with 20-inch wheels, sport interior, adaptive suspension, and aluminum trim; and a Comfort package with a leather instrument panel, ventilated front seats, and premium Milano leather. For 2016, availability of the adaptive suspension has been expanded to Premium Plus models with the 3.0T engine; it is also available on the Prestige line. With just one or two of these packages, the Q5 3.0T's price tag can soar; we've driven one with the Comfort package and a sticker price of more than $55,000.

Hybrids come only in the Prestige trim. The Comfort and Sport interiors are options, as are different 19-inch wheels and 20-inch wheels, rear side airbags, a DVD entertainment system, and interior trim.

Audi's Multi-Media Interface (MMI) is probably the best of the roller-controller systems, but it still catches us off-guard on occasion. There's no touchscreen access at all, and without the level of voice commands from some other systems, you'll find yourself hunting through menus for some functions, while clicking some of the redundant hard keys arranged around the control knob. Fortunately, the MMI system can be bundled with Audi Connect, the brand's data-connectivity package that delivers Google Earth maps to the GPS. For a monthly fee of under $40, drivers get beautifully flowing and accurate maps, as well as real-time traffic information and local search. They also get wi-fi connectivity for up to eight devices inside the car, all provided by Audi's 3G link to T-Mobile. Yes, you already pay for that with your smartphone—but does your navigation system look this good?

The Google Earth maps in the Q5's infotainment system are a standout.

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Fuel Economy

None of the 2016 Audi Q5 models are gas guzzlers, but the hybrid model is particularly fuel-stingy.

With the 2016 Audi Q5's varied powertrains come a range of fuel-economy ratings. Some mainstream compact crossovers can outshine the fuel mileage of certain Q5 powertrains, but the little Audi remains one of the leaders in the luxury market.

The base Q5 offers the best compromise for both value and gas mileage. At 20 mpg city, 28 highway, 23 combined, according to the EPA, it's competitive in its class. We've seen about 24 mpg in a mix of spirited city and highway driving. The Hybrid model is rated at 24/30/26 mpg.

Both figures trail vehicles such as the Chevy Equinox, which earns a 32-mpg highway rating in four-cylinder form, albeit with front-wheel drive versus the Q5's standard quattro all-wheel drive.

The Q5 with the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 is at the opposite end of the spectrum, with ratings of 18/26/21 mpg, according to the EPA.

In 2015, Audi stopped sales of its Q5 diesel version after the company admitted its engines polluted beyond legal limits. The company has said it is working toward a fix for those cars.

None of the 2016 Audi Q5 models are gas guzzlers, but the hybrid model is particularly fuel-stingy.

Fuel Economy Information

Ratings Based on 4 cyl, 2 L, SemiAuto-8



6.3 gals/100 miles





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