The Q5 is Audi's luxury compact crossover — and its best-selling vehicle in the United States. As the name would suggest, it slots between the Q3 and the Q7 sport-utility vehicles; and it's freshened up with a mid-cycle update for the 2021 model year. While there are a trendy new Sportback Q5 and a new PHEV powertrain available, Audi loaned me a Premium Plus (the mid-grade) version of the tried and true four-pot combustion-powered base model, the 45 TFSI, to test for about 48 hours.
New-ish. Audi debuted the current-generation Q5 for the 2018 model year; 2021 brings a mid-cycle refresh. The base Q5 receives a 13-horsepower bump to 261 horsepower, as well as a mild-hybrid system that improves the auto stop/start system's efficiency. Audi also tweaked the exterior design, most notably giving it a new vertically-lined grille.
The Q5 is the Audi equivalent of the second cheapest bottle of wine. It’s above entry-level, and what a strong plurality of buyers — around 30 percent —buy. Customers choose the Q5 because it offers what they want — a rightsized luxury crossover — at a good value; desirable features like leather seats and the brand’s trademark all-wheel-drive come standard. (For further validation: Kelley Blue Book gave the Q5 a Best Buy Award for 2021.)
The Q5 interior is very tech-forward, featuring Audi's virtual cockpit (a.k.a. a digital dashboard) and a 10.1-inch touchscreen even on the base model. Everything is clean and well laid out, though the material quality won't floor you. The main issue is size; while the trunk is reasonable, the back seat is tiny. I had to sit closer to the wheel than I like to fit my daughter's rear-facing car seat behind me.
The Q5 takes a different tack from the Porsche Macan to which it's related. The Audi is quick — 0-60 mph happens in less than six seconds — but it's more cruiser than wannabe sports car. The Q5 is quiet and smooth, staying well-planted in corners. Avoid leveling up to the 20-inch wheels, though; their bumpy ride came uncomfortably close to waking my sleeping kids.
The Q5 starts at $43,300, about $2,000 cheaper than the all-wheel-drive versions of the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class. My tester had the $4,800 Premium Plus package and the $1,500 Navigation package, among other upgrades. The total came to $53,040. For reference, the new sportier-looking Q5 Sportback begins at $48,895, while the Q5 plug-in hybrid starts at $52,995 — about the same as the sportier SQ5.
Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four; seven-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive
Torque: 273 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 23 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
Kelley Blue Book has released their best cars to buy awards for 2021. The results may surprise you.