Audi Q5: Audacious and Loveable

By The Car Family

When you test vehicles nearly weekly you become a bit jaded. We put cars through a workout schedule that includes daily commuting, highway travel, and runs up local mountain roads always on alert for the good while acknowledging areas that may concern potential buyers. Seldom do we dwell on a vehicle after an evaluation. That was until the Q5 arrived. A bit dear, yes, but as relaxing and competent a ride that we have found in the $35,000 price range.

The build quality, interior elegance, class-leading fuel mileage, technology, ride quality and maneuverability are all exceptional. On the other hand Audi options are never inexpensive making it easy to add another ten grand to the base price. In addition, the interior space is limited; the stereo, information, and climate controls require a longer gestation period to master, and the engine requires premium fuel and, well, that’s it. This is a stellar vehicle for those who want an SUV with all-wheel drive.

Mom’s view: You should be prepared for a fairly high step-in height when entering the Audi and the area behind the rear seats isn’t that large compared to the competition, although there are a few cubby holes under the cargo cover. You can order the Q5 with a variety of engine combinations, of which the diesel might be the most attractive for those driving long distances. The Audi is easy to park and the rearview camera, with its unique aerial perspective, is absolutely marvelous. This feature is a must-have for mall hoppers as well as those with small children. The interior lighting is superb and the engine is immediately responsive. The crash ratings were excellent. The ride and handling provide that rare combination that enables the Audi to inhale bumps and yet permits emergency maneuvers without the undue lean so apparent in many other luxury SUVs.

Dad’s view: You need to do your homework before looking at this Audi as it is available with a variety of powertrains and options. Regardless, what you get is a premium interior and markedly agile handling. The seats were very comfortable and the suspension is well-balanced for those not into serious off-roading. We tested the base model with its 220 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine that drives a world-class eight-speed automatic transmission. It levels mountain passes, but if you need more propulsion there is an optional supercharged 272 horsepower V6. You pay at the pump for this big boy engine as well as at tune-up time. Look for about a ten percent reduction in fuel mileage with the supercharged engine. The turbocharged base engine has plenty of poke for most users and there is also a hybrid version for those who face heavy traffic daily. The mileage rating for the four-cylinder engine is 20/28 mpg city/highway, but you can expect about 23 mpg in everyday use. The hybrid improve that figure to 24/30. The standard all-wheel drive works seamlessly, but there isn’t a low range so this vehicle is not meant for extreme trekking. Although the Q5 comes with leather upholstery, three-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, iPod integration, and a 10-speaker stereo as well as Audi’s MMI infotainment system, you must consider the optional rearview camera, parking sensors, and blind spot monitoring system package. Add to that choosing between the hybrid version, the supercharged option, and the diesel and you have a Rubik’s Cube of decisions.

Young woman’s view: Difficult to assess a vehicle that is so comforting to the soul. That feeling is augmented by exceptional braking, a roomy feel that includes the ability to slide the rear seats to assist in loading, and its snappy performance that belies its horsepower rating. I won’t recommend this for a large family, but for others that appreciate the high seating position and are willing to pay for all-wheel drive this is a vehicle not to be ignored. Looks great in black and absolutely no one got in and didn’t compliment the interior. Let’s see, if I skip Starbucks….hmm.

Young working male’s view: One of the few test vehicles I truly would like to own. The two drawbacks were the ergonomics and the extensive option packages that extends from a panoramic sunroof to running boards. Round-trips of 400 miles are possible without stopping to refuel thanks to the Q5’s nearly 20 gallon fuel tank. In fact, I can’t think of a better SUV to make this trip.

Family conference: This Audi isn’t for everyone, but if you are making above the average income this Audi is a strong vehicle for consideration for those looking for a luxury vehicle. The Lexus RX and the Audi Q5 have been rated as the top two in their segment, but they really appeal to two different users. The Lexus is softer, offers more room, can be ordered with front wheel drive only, and runs on unleaded fuel. The Audi is sportier and more nimble. Both have high resale.

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