The Audi Q5 is compact luxury crossover related to the Audi allroad wagon, taller and blunter but still with pretty proportions, as well as a clean cabin. The Q5 crossover has carlike curves, akin to Audi sedans and coupes.
Under the skin the Q5 has multiple personalities, with five engines and five sets of driving dynamics. From sensible to enthusiastic in character, while offering grace and ease of movement on a well-sorted suspension and the quattro all-wheel-drive system and 8-speed automatic transmission.
The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 220 horsepower with an energetic and torquey power delivery, even pulling the two-ton Q5.
Most buyers will likely go for the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 272 horsepower and accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds and goes 130 mph (same top speed as the four-cylinder).
The green choice is the 27-mpg TDI and 26-mpg Hybrid. The TDI brings 240 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque. The Hybrid connects the base engine to a 54-hp electric motor fed by lithium-ion batteries, to get 245 net hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, and a zero to 60 mph acceleration time of 6.8 seconds.
We prefer the TDI for its more natural and earthy feel, with its diesel engine. We most enjoy the Audi SQ5 hotrod, with a 354-hp version of the 3.0-liter supercharged V6, and a beefed-up suspension.
The Q5 is unchanged mechanically for 2016, but there are a few additions to standard equipment, and new packages and options. All 2016 Audi Q5 models have a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, and Bluetooth. One new option for 2016 is an adaptive suspension, while the option of turning your car into a WiFi hotspot with Audi Connect is available at more trim levels. Plus, the Bang & Olufsen sound system spreads.
Audi Q5 styling is subtle, simple, and handsome. The Q5 easily blends in with the allroad wagon and even the A4 sedan, with its tall grille and slim headlamps surrounded by LED running lights.
The Q5 cabin sets a high water mark for its simplicity, detail, and rich finish. It’s bright and spacious under the panoramic sunroof, it’s luxurious, and it can haul cargo. The center console is wide, maximizing a sense of space and making the driver feel like a pilot. The dash isn’t curvy or claustrophobic, it’s upright and forward. There are too many buttons for the driver, but it looks unified. The optional layered oak trim is beautiful, and gives the dash panel a furniture-like finish.
Build quality is excellent and overall feel tight and refined, although road noise can be an issue with the base engine.
The seats are quite comfy. The seats are high, providing excellent driver visibility, yet there’s plenty of headroom and legroom. In the rear the legroom is also good, although three adults can’t fit comfortably on the rear bench seat, which slides back and reclines so two can nap separated by a fold-down armrest.
The Q5 holds 29 cubic feet with the seats up, to 57 cu ft with them folded, enough for four big suitcases without stacking. There are also many small storage spots.
We like all of the Q5 engines, especially the base 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 220 horsepower, which is pleasantly assertive. It’s lighter and almost as quick as the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 with 272 horsepower. The turbocharger doesn’t lag much, the power comes on smoothly, it accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds, and can hit 130 mph.
The paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic transmission is quick, with closely spaced gears. Quattro means you won’t have any trouble with wintry conditions. Also, with a ground clearance of 8 inches, the Q5 can handle deep snow as well as abrupt transitions.
The Q5 handles like a car, especially the lightest model, again the base 2.0-liter. It’s a crossover that excels at passing, and comes out of corners like a lean and responsive wagon, like the allroad.
With the available Drive Select there are four driving modes of operation: Auto, Sport, Individual, or Comfort, which adjust the steering, transmission and throttle response, in concert with the also-optional adaptive suspension. We would pass on Drive Select mainly because there’s nothing wrong with the stock setup. It rides and responds to the road very well, while the steering is predictable and steady.
The Audi Q5 delivers what a compact luxury crossover promises: good acceleration, handling, and fuel mileage. Comfort and convenience in the cabin. We think the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is the best choice, being nearly as fast as the supercharged 3.0-liter V6, although it’s hard not to like the TDI diesel.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.