Smoothly Does It

The Audi Q5 luxury SUV was launched in 2008, offered in the US in 2009, had a facelift in 2012 and for 2018 has received a total revamp. The Q5 is an important vehicle for Audi, sales have been strong with 1.5 million sold so far and they show no signs of abating. It is by far Audi’s best-selling vehicle.

The 2018 Audi Q5 uses the now familiar MLB chassis, has standard all-wheel drive and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Everything is bigger and at the same time almost everything is better. The outside gets new creases and curves, the rear a little more in the hips, distinguishing it from the outgoing model. The changes are subtle but it definitely looks more modern. The biggest change is the much-needed interior makeover which offers all the tech goodies you would want and more.

My test vehicle arrived with a Moonlight Blue exterior and soft cream colored interior in Prestige trim. Base prices start at $41,500, my loaded tester came out at $57,100 including destination charge.

Much Improved Performance

The re-developed 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged I4 now makes 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque that’s 32 horsepower, 15 lb-ft of torque more respectively. This new found power is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and through the quattro all-wheel-drive system. To save fuel and achieve a combined 25 mpg, the Q5 features a decoupling prop shaft that releases the rear wheels when not needed, essentially making it a front driver without the pain of one. I didn’t notice any difference on hard take offs except for maybe a mild chirp of the tires.

Stop/Start is standard and for the most part unobtrusive, although I prefer to turn it off or Drive in Sport mode. Speaking of, the Q5 has 5 unique modes, In the Lift/Off-Road mode, it gives the Q5 9 inches of ground clearance that drops to 6 1/2 in Dynamic mode. Dynamic can be customized under the Individual setting, Comfort makes everything a bit softer and Auto if you can’t be bothered to think and you prefer the car to make decisions for you.

Despite some initial lag when you punch the gas at a low rpm the Q5 is good for a 0-60 sprint of 5.9 seconds almost a second faster than the outgoing model. Thanks to more torque, once on the move it gathers speed with ease and is quicker than most others in this segment, including the BMW X3 28i Mercedes-Benz GLC 300.

Getting Dirty

The Q5 is not a Jeep and nor is it meant to be but we felt we had to take it into the dust and test it out anyway. We found a nice washboard dirt road East of San Diego near Buckman Springs, CA that leads to Corral Canyon OHV area, where the going can get very tricky even for a Jeep. We just drove to the area but didn’t go in it and the road is moderately rutted and has sporadic patches of tarmac. First impressions are that the ride quality over the rough stuff is impeccable, whereas my 2011 Subaru Outback would be chattering my teeth on this stuff. I went into “drive it like Walter Rohrl mode” and satisfyingly got a little tail out action. Good to know that the Q5 can be uncouth if you drive it the right way.

On paved roads the Q5 has plenty of power, corners flat and simply does an excellent job of making any trip, no matter how short, a pleasurable event. Complaints are few, mostly the over light steering, which gives almost no feedback, but it’s easy to ignore given the way the rest of the car drives. In dynamic mode, the car grips well on the optional 19-inch wheels and the brakes were progressive and fade free throughout the week I had it.

Interior Delights

Audi interiors are cool, minimalistic and elegant. In the Q5, Audi offers Smartphone integration, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto as standard. Safety features include, Blind-spot monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control with full stop/go and traffic-jam assist are available. I tried the latter and it does get angry if you let go of the wheel for too long. I cruised by the Highway Patrol doing 20 mph with my arms folded and I got a wry smile.

The Q5 gets Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtural Cockpit instrument panel plus the larger 8.3-inch central display. It’s great fun to toggle through all the display options while sitting in traffic. Front seats have eight-way power and leather, rear passengers on my tester get heated seats and climate control. Everything blends well and I really didn’t want to give it back. Trunk space is pretty good and fits two 90 lb dogs……. surprising because it doesn’t look that big from the outside.


The Q5 was already selling like hot cakes before this new version came out so Audi undoubtedly has a winner on its hands. There are a lot of choices out there from Lexus, Cadillac and Mercedes and BMW but none quite seem to be as cool as the is new Q5. The only other competitor comes from Audi itself, in the shape of the Audi allroad, which has a tad less cargo space but is quicker.

The Q5 gets pricey when you start adding on on equipment, but that’s typical for premium car ownership. If I was in the market for a premium SUV, this would be high on my shopping list.

2018 Audi Q5 2.0T quattro numbers

BASE PRICE $41,500
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
POWER 252-hp @ 5,000–6,000 rpm
TORQUE 273-lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto
CURB WEIGHT 4,100 lb
0-60 MPH 5.9 sec
PROS Enhanced performance, superb ride quality, peerless interior
CONS Over light steering

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