The Audi Q5 is certainly the segment's most modern offering, delivering a high degree of technology, comfort, and conservative style.
The 2018 Audi Q5 is a five-seater compact crossover SUV that's all-new for 2018 and squares off against competitors like the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and the Jaguar F-Pace.
Initially, the Q5 is available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 that sends power to all four wheels, but a more performance-oriented SQ5 will follow with 354 hp from a turbo V-6. The Q5 remains available in Premium, Premium Plus, and Platinum trim levels, with a fairly high degree of customizability within those three variations.
The Q5 manages a 7.5 ranking on our scale, reflective of its good looks and good safety scores. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Audi Q5 styling and performance
It may not look all that different for 2018, but the Q5 is all-new underneath. Its exterior follows Audi's more sinewy design language that emphasizes a shapely belt-line and a nose that appears longer than before. The difference is mostly in the detailing, with standard HID and optional LED headlights projecting the way forward and flanking the latest version of Audi's shield grille. At the rear, the Q5 sports a tailgate that could have been carried over from last year, but new LED lighting cleans up its rear lights.
SQ5s, meanwhile, have a slightly revised look outside with their own alloy wheel designs.
Bigger changes come inside, with the Q5 gaining the automaker's latest interior design language. Unlike some Audis, its central display screen doesn't retract when not in use, meaning it looks something like a tablet computer held on via an aftermarket clip. It's a rare wart in an interior that is otherwise soothing and logical. Switches are organized in a single panel below the climate control, but all infotainment controls are via a big touchpad that looks like it belongs on a Dell laptop. Higher-spec models get Audi's Virtual Cockpit that replaces conventional gauges with a configurable LCD screen.
Underhood, the Q5 once again sports a 2.0-liter inline-4 as its base engine, but it has been upgraded to the automaker's latest unit. Nearly the same engine that also powers the larger Q7, the Q5's engine works well in this smaller application. It's mated exclusively to a 7-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive, which now disconnects the driveshaft going to the rear wheels to save fuel in most situations. Unlike rivals, however, Audi's system spins up in a fraction of a second to apportion power rearward when needed, and it can sense when a driver is beginning to encounter adverse conditions that require a little extra traction.
The SQ5 makes use of a new turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 fitted to the latest S4 and S5, with peak output rated at 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Mated to an 8-speed automatic and driving all four wheels, the engine will hustle the SQ5 from 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds.
The latest Q5 rides on a new platform modular shared with the A4, which endows it with a big upgrade in structural rigidity. It's not substantially lighter than the outgoing model, despite more use of aluminum and reduced weight for its all-wheel drive system. More standard and optional features, plus additional sound deadening keep it right around 4,000 pounds for the Premium trim level and slightly higher with more features added on.
Comfort, safety, and features
The Q5 only grows slightly longer despite its new architecture, but Audi has been able to carve out a little more room for the second row. It's now as comfortable as any competitor, allowing two 6-footers to sit behind other 6-footers. The middle seat, as in most compact crossovers, is best for kids or for occasional adult use.
Up front, there's good room for two, with comfortable seats swathed in leather on all models; most rivals clad base models in leatherette rather than real hides. The cargo area is nicely finished, and the rear seats fold down with ease, but they don't create an entirely flat load space.
On the safety front, the Q5 hasn't yet been tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA. Available features include adaptive cruise control that can bring the vehicle to a halt in heavy traffic and then automatically start it back up, as well as automatic emergency braking. One new, optional trick is that it can detect when vehicles are approaching and it will alert passengers if they're about to open the vehicle's doors into traffic.
Audi offers the Q5 in three trim levels, each of which is well-equipped. Base Premium models come standard with leather seats Premium Plus models add a panoramic moonroof that, unfortunately, has a shade that doesn't fully block out the sun, as well as memory seats and some safety tech like blind spot monitoring and rear automatic braking. The range-topping Prestige goes fully decadent with 20-inch wheels and a Bang & Olufsen audio system.