Positioned below Audi's three-row Q7 crossover, the compact Q5 utility has space for five passengers in a stylish and well-appointed interior. After receiving fresh styling, a potent supercharged V6 and an efficient hybrid model last year, the Q5 gains a torquey and fuel-thrifty diesel option for the new model year.
The Q5 continues to share a basic platform with the A4 sedan and A5 coupe/convertible. Like those models, it features relatively sporty handling along with a comfortable ride, though the platform's driving dynamics are dulled somewhat by the Q5's higher height and larger size. On the other hand, the Q5 does provide an elevated view of the road ahead along with plenty of cargo space: 29.1 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 57.3 with them folded.
Despite being a car-based crossover, Audi says the Q5 still acquits itself well off-road. Its climbing capability of 31 degrees of incline is respectable, while its overhang angle is 25 degrees thanks to a short front overhang. The ramp breakover angle, determined by the wheelbase, is 17.5 degrees. Ground clearance is a healthy 7.87 inches, with a fording depth of up to 19.69 inches when driving through water. Despite all that, the Q5 should not be mistaken as a hard-core off-road vehicle.
The Q5's cabin is tastefully trimmed in high-quality materials and can be outfitted with the most recent version of Audi's MMI infotainment system. Also available is Audi Connect, which brings in-car internet connectivity and industry-first Google Earth integration - complete with panoramic views and high-resolution 3D satellite and aerial imagery.
The Q5 can be had with four different powertrains, each of which shift through an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels via Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The entry-level engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque while returning 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
Those looking for a bit more power can spec a 3.0-liter supercharged V6, which replaces the old 3.2-liter unit and produces 272 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 18/26 mpg.
New to the lineup is a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that cranks out 240 horsepower and an impressive 428 lb-ft of torque. Despite all of that low-end twist, the diesel is the thriftiest Q5 motor, earning a 24/31 mpg rating from the EPA.
Although somewhat outshined in terms of power and economy by the new diesel, a gas-electric hybrid remains available. It teams the standard Q5's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor to produce 245 horsepower and 345 lb-ft of torque. Mileage checks in at 24/30 mpg.
Audi recently added electromechanical steering to all Q5s in order to reduce fuel consumption.
Trim Level Breakdown
Audi asks Q5 buyers to choose between four separate trim levels. The hybrid model is available only with the top-level Prestige trim.
The 2.0T Premium features the turbo four in addition to leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, an AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM sound system with an AUX inout jack, automatic wipers and headlights, a driver information system and 18-inch wheels.
The 2.0T Premium Plus adds a panoramic sunroof with two glass panels that run nearly the full length of the roof, a power tailgate, heated from seats, Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and full iPod integration.
The 3.0T Premium Plus brings the six-cylinder motor in addition to a sporty S-Line bodykit, a proximity key, 19-inch wheels and headlight washers.
Finally, the 3.0T Prestige boasts a navigation system with voice control, a 14-speaker, 505-watt Bang & Olufsen Sound System, a rearview camera, adaptive headlights, Audi side assist and rear-door sunshades.
Highlights from the options list include the Comfort package, which includes heated and ventilated front seats and Milano leather, the Sport Interior Package, featuring front sport seats and a 3-spoke sport steering wheel, and the Driver Assist package, which lets the driver tailor steering effort, throttle response and transmission shift style to his or her preferences. This package also includes adaptive cruise control.
Standard safety features include dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Also available as extra-cost items are rear side airbags and side assist, which warns the driver of vehicles in the Q5's blind spots.
Vying to steal the hearts and wallets of premium crossover buyers away from the Q5 are the Cadillac SRX, the Lexus RX 350, Acura RDX and BMW X3.
Efficiency-focused car shoppers can consider the Lexus RX 450h and Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC as alternatives to the Q5 hybrid and diesel models.