The Audi Q5 has been around since the 2008 season, earning only a mild update for 2014. It’s an old-timer among five-passenger compact crossover SUVs.
Changes for the 2017 Audi Q5 are minor: The top 2017 Q5 Prestige trim level gains adaptive cruise control and other standard equipment, including Drive Select. Audi also is making its adaptive suspension available on more models and increasing some wheel sizes, while adding a sport appearance package to the top performance model. Bluetooth connectivity is standard on all trim levels. Blind-spot monitoring is available.
Three engines are available for 2017 Audi Q5 models: a four-cylinder plus two renditions of a supercharged V6. Gone are hybrid and diesel versions.
The base turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder develops 220 horsepower, versus 272 horsepower for the supercharged 3.0-liter V6. Topping the performance chart, a stronger supercharged V6 generates 354 horsepower in the SQ5 edition. That’s sufficient to accelerate to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, versus 7 seconds for the four-cylinder and 6 seconds for the regular V6.
Each engine mates with an 8-speed automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. The enthusiastic base engine delivers plenty of four-cylinder action, helped by a quick-operating transmission.
Audi’s MMI infotainment systems perform well, though lacking a touchscreen. Base models have a 6.5-inch screen.
If installed, the adaptive Drive Select system can alter steering, transmission, and throttle responses, working in accord with the adaptive suspension. Drive Select has four modes: Auto, Sport, Individual, and Comfort.
A rearview camera is available but only with the Technology package for the Q5 2.0T trim, which also includes navigation and Bang & Olufsen audio. Sport Interior, S Line, and Black Optic packages are available for 3.0T models.
Federal officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2017 Q5 a four-star score overall, with a five-star rating for side-impact protection, but four stars in frontal crash and rollover safety. The 2016 Audi Q5 was rated a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, after earning top Good scores in each crash test.
Each engine selection comes in a choice of two trim levels.
The Q5 2.0T Premium ($40,900) comes with the four-cylinder engine, leather seating surfaces, walnut trim, 10-speaker audio, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, xenon headlights, three-zone automatic climate control, panoramic sunroof, and 18-inch wheels. 2.0T Premium Plus ($43,150) adds heated front seats, driver’s seat memory, heated power mirrors with memory, and 19-inch wheels.
Q5 3.0T Premium Plus ($46,400) gets the V6 engine and Premium Plus contents, including 19-inch wheels. Q5 3.0T Prestige ($53,200) adds adaptive headlights, adaptive cruise control, Drive Select, navigation with voice control, blind-spot monitoring, Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker audio, paddle shifters, and a heated/cooled cupholder.
Audi SQ5 Premium Plus ($53,300) holds the 354-horsepower engine and comes with Drive Select, plus 20-inch wheels. SQ5 Prestige ($60,800) adds equipment similar to the 3.0T Prestige.
Not all crossovers and SUVs age well, but the subtle, simply styled Q5 still looks handsome after almost a decade in Audi’s lineup. Throughout its life, excellent build quality has been a strong point. The 2017 model year will be the first-generation Q5’s last, as a replacement was exhibited in early fall of 2016.
Design elements hail from Audi’s group of sedans. Specifically, the Q5 is related to the prior-generation A4, which ranked among the German automaker’s best. In general, designers haven’t tried to overrun the Q5’s carlike curves, keeping its exterior free of drama and possibly negative surprises.
Despite its status as one of the oldest crossover SUVs in its category, the Q5 earns plaudits for its roomy and comfortable cabin â€“ and its luxury touches. Highly refined and richly finished, the cabin demonstrates strong attention to details, as well as to trim choices. The interior also makes good use of available space, helped by an upright dashboard.
Following a cockpit-style layout with a relatively wide central console, the driver and passenger are well separated. Although it’s a bit cluttered, the dashboard presents a unified appearance. Trim possibilities include newly optional layered oak wood.
Both the driver and front passenger have good views ahead, and satisfying seats. A relatively long wheelbase translates to sufficient legroom for back-seat occupants. That seat slides, reclines, and folds forward. When folded, cargo space almost doubles, totaling more than 57 cubic feet. Smaller-item storage includes 1-liter cupholders.
Back seats don’t impede much of the rearward view, and outside mirrors are big.
Performance stretches from perky in the four-cylinder Q5 to superlative with the sizzling SQ5. The base model gets a lot of useful energy out of its 220-horsepower engine, despite having to push more than two tons of crossover. Turbo lag isn’t evident, either. Picking the 3.0-liter V6 adds some 250 pounds, limiting the performance boost from the additional 52 horsepower.
Audi’s 8-speed automatic transmission responds well to calls for shifting, and features closely-spaced gear ratios. Standard quattro all-wheel drive helps the Q5 breeze through snow and scamper up slick driveways, helped by 8-inch ground clearance.
Carlike handling and a taut suspension yield a firm, well-controlled ride. In standard form, the suspension provides natural responses to pavement imperfections. Helped by its lighter weight, the four-cylinder Q5 excels in passing and cornering capabilities. Electric power steering limits road feel, but the Q5 stays readily on course and is pleasantly predictable.
Road noise may be noticeable in four-cylinder models, but tight body structure results in a refined road experience.
Ranking as a true performance model, the potent SQ5 is emphatically swift. Even with the adaptive suspension, however, expect some body roll during hard cornering. That’s a price to be paid for a top-heavy crossover SUV.
Fuel-efficiency is nothing to boast about. Four-cylinder models are EPA-rated at 20/27 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined. The Q5’s 3.0-liter V6 is EPA-rated at 18/26 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined, while the SQ5 is estimated at 17/24 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined.
Regardless of age, the Q5 remains one of the more desirable luxury SUVs, promising carlike handling and ample interior space. Simple styling and quality materials have helped it remain viable. Abundantly equipped in each trim level, the Q5 makes the most sense in four-cylinder form.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.