By KBB.com Editors
We don't just like the idea of the premium compact crossover, we like most of those in the segment. From the agile and boldly styled BMW X3 to the larger, softer, best-selling Lexus RX 350, the category offers something good for everyone. But we never had a clear favorite until we drove the 2011 Audi Q5.
The stylish and substantial exterior design speaks for itself. The interior oozes with both style and quality. The drive is comfortable and/or exhilarating, depending on your mood. The 2011 Audi Q5 is the category's gold standard, and our current favorite.
While the 2011 Audi Q5 strikes the best balance in the segment, you can easily find something roomier, sportier, softer or more affordable in the category.
For 2011, a new 2.0T model is introduced featuring a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine, eight-speed Tiptronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. The 3.2 Premium Plus model features a six-speed Tiptronic transmission and now includes the S-Line exterior package as standard equipment. The 3.2 Prestige gains adaptive headlamps, while the 20-inch wheel option and six-disc CD changer are discontinued.
Driving Impressions A good balance of ride and handling has traditionally required compromises on both sides of the equation, but technology continues to rewrite the rules. While the BMW X3 and Lexus...RX 350 hold down the segment's extreme positions on the sport-comfort spectrum, respectively, the Audi Q5 offers a range of proficiency that approaches both ends. And that range is delivered by more than just the powertrain and suspension, but also seats, visibility, ergonomics and the "driving feel" we still highlight so often when talking about European cars. And when outfitted with its category-exclusive "Audi drive select" feature - highlighted in the Favorite Features section of this review - the 2011 Audi Q5 offers an even more dynamic personality.
Audi Drive Select
At the push of a button, drivers can alter engine, transmission, steering and suspension tuning according to mood. Modes include Comfort, Automatic, Dynamic and Individual, which allows a custom response profile on MMI/navigation-equipped versions.
Audi Dynamic Steering
In a tight parking lot, you want a lot of steering assist and response. When bombing down the autobahn, you want little boost and subtle directional changes. With Audi dynamic steering, the Q5 has variable assist and variable ratio, delivering the best of both worlds. The system can even provide minor steering corrections in extreme situations, reducing the need for electronic stability program intervention.
As much as we love the 2011 Audi Q5 from the outside, it's what's on the inside that counts. And for our tastes, the inside of the Audi Q5 is as close to perfect as you'll find in the segment. It's contemporary without being cold, full of high-quality materials and, importantly, comfortable. Goodies include standard three-zone climate control, sliding and reclining rear seats and an available panoramic moonroof. The 2011 Audi Q5 is also among the segment's roomier entries. Audi's new, third-generation control and navigation system boasts 3D building graphics in larger cities, voice-driven destination address input (or just say, "I need money," for instance, to find an ATM) and a music hard drive.Exterior
The beauty of the Audi Q5 lies not in sharp creases or extreme angles, but in masterful proportions and glorious details. So, yeah, we like the looks of this thing. The face of the Q5 features one of our favorite corporate grille designs. The profile is beautiful in its balance, with its long wheelbase, short overhangs and perfectly proportioned wheels and wells. We also like the view from behind, especially the shape and integration of the standard LED taillights and the lack of vertical panel gaps, thanks to a unique, wraparound "clamshell" tailgate. For those interested in taking this beauty off-road, the 2011 Audi Q5 offers 7.9 inches of ground clearance. For those who aren't, there's the 3.2's standard S line appearance package.
Every 2011 Audi Q5 features leather seats, power front seats, three-zone climate control, multi-function steering wheel and a 10-speaker sound system with SIRIUS Satellite Radio. Standard safety equipment includes six airbags and electronic stability control that adjusts for a higher center of gravity when it detects the roof-rack crossbars are in place.
From the base price, the 2011 Audi Q5 offers about $17,000 worth of upgrades, highlights of which include Audi drive select, xenon plus headlamps with LED daytime running lights, power tailgate with memory, panorama sunroof, third-generation MMI control and navigation with backup sensors and camera, HD radio, blind spot warning, Bang & Olufsen sound system, heated and cooled single cupholder, keyless entry and start, power folding side mirrors and rear side airbags. Features that are standard on some competitors but not on the Q5 2.0T include Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, heated seats, driver's-seat memory, auto-dimming mirrors and iPod integration.
The base Q5 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine shared with partner Volkswagen. This same engine serves duty in the sporty GTI, so you know it's no lightweight. Paired with a new eight-speed manually selectable Tiptronic transmission, the 2.0T delivers V6 like performance with impressively frugal fuel economy. The Q5 3.2 features a 3.2-liter V6 engine, all-wheel drive and a manually-selectable Tiptronic six-speed automatic transmission. Like the 2.0-liter turbo, we've nothing but good things to say about this engine, which Audi says will power the Q5 to 60 miles per hour in 6.7 seconds (about a half second faster than the 2.0T) and to an electronically-limited top speed of 130 mph. Like most of Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive systems recently, the Q5's features a 40/60 rear-biased torque split, which improves performance driving feel versus a 50/50 distribution. In case your interests are more specialized, the 2011 Audi Q5 3.2 boasts segment-leading towing capacity of 4,400 pounds and an innovative electronic stability control system that detects the installation of roof-rack crossbars and adjusts accordingly for the presumed higher center of gravity.
2.0-liter in-line 4, turbocharged
211 horsepower @ 4300 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27
270 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
243 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/23
By Nickoy on Sunday, June 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,657overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "sport sedan in a crossover body"
Cons: "can't play radio with ignition off"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Smokes other cars (yes cars, not suvs!) on the freeway and at traffic stops, while performing like a more serious offroader in snow, sand and mud. Good ground clearance, even better fuel economy (20-21 mpg city, 28-30 mpg freeway). Handles potholes like a champ. Attacks hairpin curves at full speed, with very minimal body lean. Panorama sun roof opens all the way to the back, perfect for stargazing. Daytime running lights (LEDS) look wickedly menacing. Got mine in black. Only complaint is I cant play the radio with the engine off."
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Pappy on Thursday, May 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive and many conveniences."
Cons: "Burns oil a quart every 2-3,000 miles"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"It uses synthetic oil for 10,000 mile intervals for change but burns oil every 2,000-3,000 mile a quart. A big negative for me for a german engineered car of this type."
9 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By DBCooper on Saturday, April 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Acceleration, mileage, room, overall quality"
Cons: "options add up quickly, you get what you pay for"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Phantom Black, Black with Ash inlays. Our second Audi, my other car in the family is an A3 TDI. Drove the Q5 4cyl and 6cyl and liked them both, drove the TDI and it was an easy decision. Audi says 31mpg on the highway, I regularly get 35 in warmer temps. Averaging 30.4MPG overall in the first 5K miles. But don't just look at this like a high MPG vehicle. Torque from the diesel is huge, change lanes? no problem. Overtake a vehicle in town or on the highway, no problem. The TDI never feels like it's stressed, performance is immediate smooth and always balanced. One of the worst snow accumulation winters in history in Chicagoland and the quattro handled everything with no problems at all. Diesel fuel is easy to find, and has been averaging about 35 cents less per gallon than premium no lead. (As I write this it's 55 cents less). If a suitable competitor exists, you'd be hard pressed to find the combination of comfort, room, features, power, acceleration, smoothness, and mileage that the Q5 TDI delivers. They're not easy to find on dealer lots, but drive one if you get the chance and compare all the characteristics to anything you like. You'll be impressed."
10 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Glowplugv on Tuesday, April 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Power, fit/finish, sport seats, internet maps"
Cons: "Cargo mats not worth the price"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Audi Q5 TDI Premium Plus, Scuba Blue/Chestnut interior with ash inlays. Had to order it and it took 82 days (felt like an eternity!). Fit and finish is flawless. About the same level of plastic compared to the MBZ’s, though just a little more apparent than the MBZ’s. We ordered the sport package to get the seats. It is well worth. Both my wife and I feel the seats are more supportive than either of the MBZs we have and well worth the extra cost. That was confirmed with a recent trip of about 250 miles. Steering wheel feels/looks smaller than the MBZ. We also ordered the cargo mats. They were disappointing as they not very substantial (particularly the cargo liner). I’d go with Weather Tech rather than these. Car comes with a subscription to an internet connection (via sim card installed in the SUV). There was a deal to get 36 months for $450 which I highly recommend. Only downside is that it is 3G but so far I don’t see any issue with the connection speed. This provides you with full Google maps and internet searches. So far the searches have been very successful and the Google maps down to street level are very good very much like the desktop version. Once something is found, you can have the Nav system take you to it. The voice commands are structured but with no voice training the recognition has been excellent. There is a definite pause while the computer asks for information but again it is not an issue. The salesman demonstrated the hotspot function and we were able to get both smartphones connected. Also it was easy to pair our Android phones to the Q5’s Bluetooth system. Navigation system is very functional and it has a number of options to configure the view from standard to using Google imagery. It appears to be up to date probably because of the Google connection. Screen could be a bit larger, but it is not a deal breaker. The MMI system has a lot of options, but it makes sense as you use it. It is no worse for finding functions/settings than my MBZ system. Let’s face, these things have so many bells and whistles, it will take time to master them all in any car. If you have not followed the development of modern diesel powered cars, you need too. There is no comparison between either of the MBZ diesels (‘80’s) we owned. Power at all speeds is there to access. The engine response is very good, but like the articles there is a very slight lag. It has no affect on any real world merge or passing situation I’ve encountered so far. The power does not come at a efficiency price (well the TDI does have a higher base price). The first 350 miles have been about 100 miles in town and 250 miles on an Interstate Highway road trip (70 mph). The in town mileage was around 24 mpg and overall for the 350 miles it was 31.4 mpg. I suspect the pure highway was around 34 mpg. The engine shuts down when you stop most of time. The start-up is very fast so there is no issue about keeping people waiting behind you. This function can be shut off it you don’t care to use it. If you need fuel, just ask the car for the nearest station via the internet connection (or use Gas Buddy on your Smartphone). This is our first SUV and we really enjoy driving it. The ride is firm but not harsh. Compared to our E350 Sport model (low profile tires), it sure handles Midwest potholes much better. When I tested drove a Q5 TDI in the snow (an unplowed parking lot with 6-8 inches of snow), the ESC kept the Q5 moving in a straight line under full throttle from a dead stop with no snow tires. This version of the Q5 is in the sweet spot of performance and efficiency, albeit at a premium price. This is not the car to haggle over on when your investment will be returned. Get a Chevy Cruz or VW TDI for that discussion. If you are looking at the best Q5 configuration, then the TDI certainly has to be considered the best choice."
10 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Audi Owner on Wednesday, April 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought this car new in 2009 and have been in love every since. I love the fact that it depreciates sooo slowly! It makes me feel better about my choice. Waiting for a new look for the Q5 so I can upgrade. Love this car!"
By Inlet rider on Monday, February 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Advertised 20-40 mpg. I get 22-23 mpg with the hybrid engine. Not happy. Had to wait for this model to come out to get good gas mileage and not getting it. Paid over $10,000 for this engine."
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful