Autolist rating: 4/5
But would we buy it? Yes
Price range: $42,475 - $51,775, including destination
- Redesigned for 2018.
- The most popular vehicle Audi sells in the U.S.
- Crisp but unexciting exterior hides an excellent interior.
- Could be more fun to drive.
- Overall it's a very well-rounded vehicle.
What is it?
The Q5 is Audi’s midsize crossover and the most popular model the German automaker sells. Audi redesigned it for 2018 with more space, power, safety gear and ride comfort.
The Q5 sits smack in the middle of Audi’s crossover lineup. As a five-seater, it’s larger than the compact Q3 and smaller than the three-row Q7 family crossover.
There are three trims levels in the Q5 lineup: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige.
All three have the same powertrain: a 2.0-liter, 252-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission and Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system.
(Audi also has a more powerful SQ5 model, but we didn’t test that here.)
The Q5 competes against a deep roster of luxury crossovers, including the BMW X3, Mercedes GLC and GLE, Volvo XC60, Lexus RX, Acura RDX and MDX, Jaguar F-Pace, Range Rover Velar, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Infiniti QX50, Lincoln MKX (soon to be called the Lincoln Nautilus) and the Cadillac XT5.
TLDR: Size, power, interior.
The insides. Audi has been leading the industry for years when it comes to crafting luxurious, high-quality interiors, and the Q5 is no different. Everything is laid out and built with precision and comfort in mind. Nothing is superfluous, but it’s not austere either.
The power. The turbocharged engine and the sophisticated transmission type work together to create a smooth and robust driving experience. The Q5 isn’t a rocketship, but it is refined and precise.
The size. There are a variety of competitors for the Q5, but few can match its savvy size. It’s big enough to be practical and comfortable but small enough to handle well and is easily maneuvered in daily driving. This goldilocks zone makes it easy to understand why this is the most popular model Audi sells.
TLDR: Snooze-worthy exterior design and handling.
The outsides. OK, the exterior design isn’t bad per se, it’s just underwhelming. With head-turning rivals like the Volvo XC60, Acura’s 2019 RDX, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and the Infiniti QX50, the Q5’s design looks mundane by comparison. It doesn’t help that it’s not a big departure from the previous Q5 generation; your neighbors might not even know you upgraded.
Not exactly thrilling. The Q5 does many things well that make it a wise choice for daily use. But the driving experience -- much like the exterior styling -- is largely devoid of emotion. While the excellent engine/transmission pairing tries to keep things lively, the steering can feel numb and the handling is uninspired. Sure, buyers in this segment aren’t looking for a sports car, but it wouldn’t kill Audi to inject a little fun into the equation either.
5 stars of execution
- The Audi Q5 has received top marks from the two key crash test organizations in the industry; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given it a five-star rating, while the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated it a Top Safety Pick (one level below its highest ranking).
- All trim levels come standard with pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection and a system that prepares the vehicle in the event of an unavoidable accident by starting to shut the windows and moonroof, pre-tightening the seatbelts and turning on the hazard lights.
- Despite these commendable features and crash test results, we’d still like to see other tech-based safety gear standard, including lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control.
- We voted yes for this because the base Q5 (Premium) and mid-level Premium Plus models are competitive with the rest of its segment in terms of value; they’re not a screaming deal, but they cost about what their rivals do when comparing similar features.
- However, the loaded Q5 Prestige that we tested didn’t come with items like adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist or a heated steering wheel; they had to be added on as extras. Thus, our tester was a pricey $56,500.
- The Q5 is on the higher end of the efficiency spectrum for vehicles of its size and type.
- It’s rated by the EPA at 23/27/25 mpg in city/highway/combined driving.
- In our testing -- which was made up of more highway than city driving -- we averaged 24.4 mpg.
Driving experience? No
- The Q5 is perfectly competent in daily driving, offering a quiet, smooth and comfortable ride.
- But as we mentioned, it’s not particularly lively or engaging in the way that BMW’s X3 or Jaguar’s F-Pace will be.
- The Q5 wins our praise for being among the most well-rounded vehicles in its class.
- The engine and transmission, the overall vehicle size and the interior execution are the Q5’s biggest assets, and they go a long way towards vaulting it near the top of the segment for compact luxury crossovers.
Total Rating: 4 stars
What’s it gonna cost me?
The base Q5 is the $42,475 Premium model.
It comes with the 252-horsepower turbocharged engine, standard all-wheel drive, leather seats, pre-collision braking, power liftgate, power and heated front seats, LED headlights, wood trim and a seven-inch infotainment display screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The mid-level Premium Plus starts at $46,475 and adds features like a panoramic moonroof, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts and cyclist alerts when opening doors. This is the trim level we would select, and then we’d add the $500 cold weather package, which includes heated rear seats to keep everyone comfy and a heated steering wheel.
At the top of the Q5 range is the Prestige model that we tested. Starting at $51,775, it practically throws in the kitchen sink when it comes to amenities: Audi’s new, fully digital instrument panel (called virtual cockpit), 20-inch alloy wheels, color heads-up display, a navigation system with touchpad inputs, 360-degree birds-eye camera and a Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker, 755-watt stereo system.
Our model also had the $1,000 adaptive suspension system, the $1,800 driver assistance package that included adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist and the $500 cold weather package.
As we mentioned, the Q5 is near the top of the list for compact luxury crossovers. What else matches it? Volvo’s XC60 is up there with it; it’s stylish, practical and safe. But its reliability remains unknown since it’s such a new model.
BMW’s X3 is another great choice but feels smaller than you’d expect. Lexus’ RX350 has rock-solid reliability and is also well executed. Mercedes’ GLC is a touch smaller than these models, and its GLE is a touch bigger and more expensive, so it’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison.
Jaguar’s F-Pace is very nice but has nagging reliability issues. Acura’s RDX has just been redesigned for 2019, so we haven’t driven it yet. We’re also set to drive the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Infiniti QX50 in the near future.
Skip Cadillac’s XT5 since it doesn’t really excel at anything.