The 2019 Audi Q5 puts mid-size crossover function to the fore, and heaps on luxury features and touches. Now in its second year in its current form, the Q5 adds heated front seats and a 7.0-inch digital display.
The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. It’s the same engine that’s used in the heavier Audi Q7, so it has more oomph in the Q5. The transmission is a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Acceleration is brisk and effortless.
A high-performance Audi SQ5 edition sports a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 making 354 horsepower, mated to an 8-speed automatic. Acceleration is more brisk, if not breathtaking. New for 2019, the SQ5 comes in base trim, keeping the price down with the focus on performance.
The Q5 seats four persons comfortably and five a bit less so. Fold down the rear seat, and the Q5 becomes a capable cargo wagon, one that fits easily in the garage.
The EPA rates the 2019 Q5 at 23 mpg city, 27 highway, and 25 combined. The SQ5, with two more cylinders and 102 more horsepower, gets 19/24/21 mpg.
The NHTSA gives the Q5 five stars overall for safety, with four stars for rollover. The IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick.
Standard equipment for 2019 includes automatic emergency braking that the IIHS rated â€œAdvanced.â€ It prevented a crash at 12 mph and slowed the car by 21 mph in the 25-mph forward crash test. An optional system avoided the higher-speed crash altogether.
The Q5 is available as Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige.
Standard equipment in the Q5 Premium (about $44,000) includes real leather upholstery (some rivals offer synthetic materials), 18-inch wheels, two USB ports, xenon headlights, power-adjustable front seats, a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster, low-speed automatic emergency braking, and a 7.0-inch screen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Premium Plus (more than $50,000) adds LED headlights, an 8.3-inch infotainment screen with navigation, two more USB charge ports for rear-seat passengers, sport seats, keyless ignition, panoramic sunroof, wood trim, blind-spot monitors, wireless smartphone charging, and automatic braking when backing up.
The Q5 Prestige adds a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (Audi calls it â€œVirtual Cockpitâ€), upgraded 8.3-inch infotainment screen, 20-inch wheels, and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.
Options include a sport appearance package that adds 20-inch wheels, black trim accents, and roof rails. And active suspension system is available for the Prestige.
The SQ5 is equipped similarly, for about $8,200 more per model. In addition to the more powerful engine, it gets adaptive dampers, sport seats, and bigger wheels. An air suspension is available. A loaded Prestige SQ5 will run more than $62,000.
The Q5 adopts a familiar crossover-SUV shape that’s neither daring nor dull. Compared to the first-generation vehicle, it’s more crisply styled, with horizontal instead of vertical bars in the wide-mouthed grille, slimmer and sharper headlamps, a longer hood and more rounded corners, and a sharp character line on the sides, connecting the headlights to taillights.
The SQ5, with different trim and wheels, is a sleeper, offering no hint as to what’s under the hood.
The cabin keeps pace with the exterior. It is refined, beautifully detailed, and serene. The instrumentation is logical, with the switchgear located on a panel below the climate control. The infotainment is managed on a big touchscreen on top of the dash.
Prestige models replace the standard analog-type instruments with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit with a configurable 12.3-inch LCD screen showing everything from digital gauges to audio controls to Google Earth navigation.
There’s plenty of room in front, and the leather seats are comfortable. The Premium Plus and Prestige trims have sport seats with more bolstering. The SQ5 has sport seats with red stitching, and available carbon-fiber trim.
In the rear, the Q5 now has the space to match its rivals in passenger comfort. The outboard passengers have a generous 38 inches of legroom. The middle seat is flat, while the outboard seats are deeply scalloped.
The cargo area behind the rear seat is nicely finished, while offering an impressive 26.8 cubic feet of storage space. The 60/40 rear seats fold easily, if not quite flat, and when they’re down there’s more than 60 cubic feet of storage space.
You don’t need the power of the SQ5 to get strong acceleration, as the base turbo-4 shoots the Q5 from 0-60 mph in less than six seconds–not easy, given the crossover’s weight.
But it’s the ride that’s the best part. Even with the 20-inch wheels, it’s nice and soft, but not too soft. The five-link suspension, front and rear, provides a suppleness even on rough roads; we found ourselves on a hard-packed washboard trail, and the ride was surprisingly smooth. The remarkable quiet of the well-insulated cabin adds to the satisfying feeling of luxury.
The Q5 is poised on a twisty road and stable on the freeway. The steering is light and feedback is limited, however. It’s designed for comfort, not sport.
The optional Drive Select system has four modes (Auto, Comfort, Sport, Individual) that alter the steering, transmission, and throttle response.
We got some seat time in a Q5 with the available adaptive dampers, and couldn’t feel much difference in the dynamics. But even set in Sport mode with the 20-inch wheels, the cabin was still serene and the road and its noise isolated.
Audi’s newest all-wheel-drive system is an improvement on what is arguably the best setup in the business. We’ve experienced it on snow, ice, dirt, and deep sand, and it was unfazed.
As for the SQ5, with a turbocharged V-6 making 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, it will launch to 60 mph nearly a second faster than the Q5. It rides more than one inch lower, and its grip is amazing. An available rear mechanical limited-slip differential sends power to the outside wheels in corners, which helps the SQ5 feel more nimble, despite its 4,400 pounds. The SQ5 comes alive in Dynamic mode.
The standard air suspension lowers the ride height to 7.0 inches, more than one inch lower than the Q5. And it’s adjustable, so the car be raised for rugged terrain or lowered for freeway. One thing: we found the 21-inch wheels to be a bit of a challenge for the balance; the 20-inch wheels and tires both look, handle and ride better.
The Audi Q5 offers a lot of mechanical excellence, foremost its comfortable ride. The base turbo-4 engine is good, and it has a beautiful cabin, not to mention more cargo space than expected from a mid-size crossover.
by Sam Moses, with driving impressions from TheCarConnection