Audi’s 2010 Q5 is a five-seat SUV that’s smaller, lighter and less expensive than the bigger, seven-seat Q7, but the Q5 gives up nothing to the larger SUV when it comes to luxury interior trim, refined driving dynamics and high-tech features. The Q5, based on an extended platform of the slick Audi A4, casts a shadow on the street the size of a compact sedan. But it’s far more capable.
The tall Q5 with standard quattro® all-wheel drive comes in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trims. It will easily cruise horse farm trails and carry firewood in its cargo compartment, and it can be configured, from a standing position at the rear hatch, to accepting long parcels and the occasional antique sideboard, thanks to seat levers mounted in the back.
This usefulness, along with state-of-the-art safety equipment, driving dynamics and foul-weather ability, makes the Q5 (MSRP $37,350) an attractive alternative to a luxury sedan. The Q5 delivers the smooth ride and interior refinement – like leather seats, dashboard trim and door panels – of a high-end sedan, as well as efficient, gutsy engines that will run their entire rev ranges without a stray vibration.
Audi’s Q5 comes standard with a direct-injected 3.2-liter V6 engine with an output of 270 hp, which is efficient enough that the Q5 will get 18 mpg in the city, according to EPA tests, as well as 23 mpg on the highway. At full throttle, the Q5 will reach 60 mph in less than seven seconds. Getting up to highway speeds is a smooth exercise as the six-speed automatic transmission silently shifts.
The Q5 will tow a 4,400-pound trailer, significantly more than is the average for compact crossovers. Equipped with Audi’s optional Auto Drive Select system, the throttle response, transmission shift points, steering effort and suspension settings will adjust to the extra weight of a trailer; Auto Drive Select will even tailor the driving characteristics of the Q5 if the roofrack is loaded for a long trip.
The Q5 steers and corners with the capability of a sport sedan. Complementing its good road manners is an overall competence that rewards the driver with seats that hold occupants in place and great outward visibility. The driving experience can be tailored four ways by the driver: Comfort, Automatic, Dynamic and Individual. The Comfort mode sets the engine response, transmission shift speeds, variable steering ratio and suspension damping to a level that isolates the vehicle from bad roads. Automatic mode alternately switches between the Comfort setting and the sportier Dynamic setting, depending upon the behavior of the driver. Take note that the steering ratio is variable, not merely the assist provided to reduce steering effort.
Inside the Q5 is a quiet and comfortable environment with critically acclaimed, luxurious interior surfaces and materials. The interior invites relaxation, not just because of the soft-feeling, supple textures, but also the locations of the controls, gauges and information displays. The door panels will hold water bottles, and the center console will keep coffee heated or soda cooled with the optional thermo cupholder.
Standard equipment includes leather power seats, multi-zone climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio system and cruise controls. Small switches on the ends of the control stalks give access to the extensive trip computer information display between the tachometer and speedometer. Warm orange digits display trip information and outside temperature, which is vital information for long trips. Sensors in the mirrors alert the driver to blind-spot objects, moving or stationary, on the Prestige model.
The complete impression given to a driver and passengers in the 2010 Audi Q5 is one of attention to their needs on short and long trips, from cruising down an endless superhighway to a quick trip on back roads.