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 NurseNancyNP on Sunday, November 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,200overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Smooth ride, quiet running engine, no body roll"
Cons: "None so far"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I'm Luvin this vehicle. It drives like a charm! I don't know if it is the best I've ever owned, my old 2006 BMW X3 gives some stiff competition, but it is definitely in the running. This thing looks a lot smaller on the outside than it feels from the inside. The cargo space is just right. Drives like a car with the cargo of an SUV..."
By DRB on Monday, October 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent mileage. Nice acoutrements."
Cons: "Requires premium fuel, needs auto exit seats."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"The car has been great. No issues, only oil changes done in 33,000 miles. Needs tires before winter, but this has been a good car. Amazingly spunky for a little 4-banger. My only concern is the engine/transmission make a horrible grinding noise when we first start it up. Audi says it's normal but I'm not buying that. Panoramic roof is nice. Great in the snow."
10 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By Remlerman on Friday, October 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great handling and screaming fast"
Cons: "Behind the curve in connectivity and electronics"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"This car is beautiful inside and out and handles as well or better than any BMW or Lexus I've owned. It is TERRIFIC at going fast: I have the TDI's Turbo-Diesel and it has an incredible amount of low end torque. The ride is very comfortable, the wheel transmits just the right amount of road feel and the sound system's speakers are great. All that being said, I'd give it back to the dealer tomorrow if I could. The electronics are way behind the curve; you have to take your eyes off the road and one hand off the wheel to do way too many things (change stations on radio, change audio sources, change screens so that some climate or other adjustment can be made). The Navigation system is archaic and clunky to operate and the voice recognition is terrible. The bluetooth system has a hard time distinguishing when multiple phones are in the car and the answer button frequently stops (and starts!) working. We got this car almost about the same time as a new Ford Escape which has electronics that are vastly more modern, useful and safety-conscious (the car literally will park itself) but are in a car that cost half as much as this. Powertrain: this car is really bad at slow speeds: approach an intersection slowly while waiting for pedestrians or cross-traffic and then try to speed up; the car lags like it's been flooded. You're sometimes left in mid intersection waiting for acceleration. Really too bad that this car is such a mixed bag of both excellent and really terrible design choices. 3G connectivity practically useless. Can't disable door auto-locks; can't close rear hatch from inside the car(!!)or with key fob. You have to look down at console to control too many functions."
19 people out of 30 found this review helpful
By TOM on Monday, September 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very utilitarian, great driving , great styling"
Cons: "A few missing features as noted."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This vehicle is now 4 years old and it looks like new, have had any mechanical issues or any other issues. It has been serviced by Audi under the Audi Care Plan 3 times (once per year) with no issues noted. Mileage is a bit less than advertised with High Octane gas. This, I do not think unusual at about 1 MPG less than advertised. The engine uses about 1 Qt. of oil in 10 months with normal driving. The vehicle is a smooth rider on highway driving and quite firm on bumpy roads using the oversize wheels that were purchased originally. At this point I see two improvements that could be made to this vehicle and that is: Find a way to create a well in the trunk/storage area so that items placed there do not move all over while driving. Rear leg room is minimal and a 5th passenger in the rear passenger seat is a bit unrealistic with the AC outlet in the middle over the hump. Also, the top side of the rear bumper is painted leaving it vulnerable to scratching while placing or removing items from the rear storage area. A protective pad should be placed there. Rear seats do not lie flat when released for more storage. Overall, however, this is a great reliable and beautifully styled crossover SUV that we love to drive."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Jeff on Saturday, September 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,100overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, well built"
Cons: "confusing controls, rough ride, road noise"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have put over 50K miles on this car, and have not had a single issue with it. Very high quality built car. Handling is exceptional, and has good power. The radio/navigation controls are a bit confusing at first, but you get used to them. I'm also not sure why Audi does not put USB ports in their cars. Hopefully that will change soon. The ride is also a bit rough and the road noise is noticeable at higher speeds. This car is built for aggressive driving. It is not as comfortable or smooth as some of the other luxury brands, but overall quality is great."
3 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By FiveTwelve on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, quiet, stable and well balanced"
Cons: "SUV could be higher clearance."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"What a fabulous SUV. I feel safe, sporty, and surrounded by luxury all at the same time. Great job Audi. Love the engineering."
10 people out of 16 found this review helpful