When I purchased my last car, I made a spreadsheet of all the things I cared about so I could easily compare which car had an advantage over another. As I started looking for a compact SUV, I kept in the same general class of vehicles. And I’ve since learned that sometimes that’s a mistake.
I had a chance to drive my first Audi and it’s brand I haven’t personally considered because it’s very squarely in the luxury space. Not that I have anything against luxury. It’s my wallet that doesn’t seem to like it. Turns out that a fully loaded consumer brand is often close to the same as the base price of a luxury brand and the features aren’t that different!
If you’re in the $40k+ range for your next vehicle, and specifically for your next compact SUV, here are all the reasons the Audi Q5 should make your short list.
Audi Q5 – not as expensive as you might think
Let’s start with the price and just get it out of the way. The Audi Q5 starts at $41,500. I highly recommend you do what I always do… head to the manufacturer’s site to build and price your own. I maxed out at $50k for the configuration I wanted.
If the price doesn’t scare you and you’re looking for performance on top of the luxury, you can check out the Audi SQ5 which starts at $54,300.
Surprisingly, the price isn’t scaring many people away. Since 2010, Audi has doubled the amount of vehicles delivered in the United States with half of the purchasers falling in Gen X (like me) and the other half skewing younger in Gen Y.
Of those buyers, the SUV owners are comprising the biggest customer segment – a place where Audi delivers. Wanna see?
Audi Q5 – sleek and wide on the outside
I’ll be the first to admit that the 2018 Audi Q5 doesn’t get my pulse racing when I look at it. For 2018, the focus was on width. It’s a wide design which is both masculine and commanding at the same time.
They’ve also enhanced the exterior lines to match the design of the Q7 with a flat, coupe-like roof line and a signature wave-design shoulder line.
As for the different between the Q5 and SQ5, the only noticeable exterior differences were the badging (of course) and the wheels. That’s where I ran into issues because… WHEELS MATTER.
I loved everything about the Q5 but I wanted the wheels of the SQ5. Why not get the SQ5 then? Well, it comes at a higher price tag with performance tuning that would honestly be wasted on me. And the interior is different. Let me show you.
Audi Q5 – interior love and misgivings
I need a car that’s pretty on the outside. Audi does check the box even if it’s not a head turner. Study and follow the design and you’ll appreciate what they’ve done. But let’s face it. The interior is what I’m looking at the majority of the time and I loved it. Mostly.
Leather seats, wood inlays, 12.3-inch display mounted on the dashboard, (optional) 19 speaker 755 watt Bang & Olufsen® sound system. And cool tech like MMI® all-in-touch® with handwriting-recognition technology. Yes, you can actually write in your destination for navigation.
So what didn’t I love about it?
The back seat. It’s plenty roomy and comfortable. You can even get heated seats in the back. But that’s about it. At this time, there are no USB ports but I’m told they’re coming. Other than that, the passengers can expect a nice place to sit and that’s about it. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that with larger vehicles, one can expect that there might be demanding family members sitting in the back.
And one last thing… the dreaded hump. Because Audi equips its SUVs with quattro® all-wheel drive (which is a good thing), you lose some foot space in the back.
That’s all okay though because the real reason you get behind the wheel of a vehicle is to drive it. And that’s what this one is built for.
Audi Q5 – shut up and drive
A car can be beautiful on the inside and outside but it’s what’s under the hood that really counts. Not just how fast it can go but how you feel getting there.
From that perspective, Audi seems to show that they make cars for drivers. Here are some of the improvements they’ve made for 2018.
- The 2018 Audi Q5 is standard equipped with a 2.0-liter TFSI® engine and a seven-speed S tronic® dual-clutch automatic transmission which produces 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque.
- The 2018 SQ5 is standard equipped with an a 3.0-liter TFSI® V6 engine mated to an eight- speed Tiptronic® automatic transmission to produce 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.
- A redesigned front five-link suspension offers greater steering precision than the outgoing Q5 model and excellent handling through optimized steering-rack placement direct at wheel centers. In addition, the Q5 offers an available adaptive damping suspension while the SQ5 offers an available sport adaptive air suspension (as part of the S Sport package), which lowers vehicle height by 30 mm (when in auto mode) compared to the standard suspension.
- Every Audi Q5 and SQ5 is standard-equipped with quattro® all-wheel drive offering high- precision and dynamic handling through active torque distribution to both axles. New for 2018, Q5 models are equipped with a new system of quattro® all-wheel drive with ultra® technology that helps to optimize efficiency.
- Standard Audi drive select offers five different modes – comfort, auto, dynamic, individual and offroad. SQ5 models equipped with the available sport adaptive air suspension also add a Lift/Offroad and Allroad mode.
The result is a vehicle that puts you at ease the moment you get behind the wheel. It’s smooth and enjoyable at both high speeds and low. And it’s not so luxurious that you feel like you’re no longer in control of the vehicle. The steering and suspension are tight enough to make it feel sporty but soft enough to make it an incredibly smooth ride.
Questions about Audi?
There’s so much about the Audi Q5 and SQ5 that I didn’t even cover and that was from just a few hours at Audi of America HQ (which is within driving distance of my house!). And I didn’t even talk about my experience in the Audi A5.
Let me know what you think and what questions you have. Maybe I’ll even get to spend more time behind the wheel of an Audi, all in the name of research.