By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 7.6
The 2015 Audi Q5 compact luxury SUV offers up comfort, style and performance, with standard all-wheel drive and five different models suited to individual buyers. The Q5 with either the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder or 3.0-liter V6 offer up a roomy and luxurious interior, good cargo space, and a comfortable ride. Fuel economy fans choose between a diesel with its instant torque and long-distance cruising, or the city-friendly hybrid model. Then there's the Audi SQ5, which adds a high-performance suspension and 354-horsepower V6 to the mix. In fact, the entire Audi Q5 lineup is oriented toward sport, with even the diesel and hybrid offering impressive acceleration. Next to competitors like the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Lexus RX and Cadillac SRX, the Q5 is a commendable jack-of-all-trades.
If you want a 5-passenger do-anything SUV, but crave luxurious surroundings, there's a good chance the 2015 Audi Q5 lineup has just the right vehicle for you. Excellent resale values help offset the high cost of purchase.
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The 2015 Audi Q5 lineup's option packages change a bit. For example, a power tailgate and xenon headlights are now standard on the SUV's Premium package, and blind-spot assist and navigation combine for a new Technology package on Premium Plus models. The SQ5 gets a new high-gloss black package.
The 2015 Audi Q5 lineup walks a fine line among its compact luxury SUV competitors. On one hand, it's not quite as hard-driving as the BMW X3 – with the...
... exception of the sporty SQ5 – but it doesn't feel as disconnected as the Lexus RX either. Instead, Audi lets you choose softer or sportier suspension and engine performance, thanks to the available drive-select feature. No matter what setting you choose, we still find the Q5's steering feel to be a bit over-weighted at low speeds, but have no complaints once up and running. The Audi Q5 hybrid offers a smooth transition between its electric motor and gasoline engine, but with mileage estimates of 24 mpg city/30 highway, it's actually a bit less miserly than the torque-happy TDI, and not hugely better than the 2.0T, the latter with a starting price about $15,000 less than the admittedly loaded hybrid.
Nobody even comes close to Audi's sophisticated in-cabin tech system. Audi Connect offers everything from Google maps with real-time news and traffic info, to a Wi-Fi hot spot for up to eight devices, all with a simple-to-use interface.
4 CYLINDERS, 8 SPEEDS
While there are a variety of powertrains to choose from, Audi's 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder may be the best all-around choice. It's fuel efficient, powerful, and with the 8-speed automatic transmission, makes even the base Q5 a fun-to-drive SUV.
Nobody does interiors like Audi, but you could argue that the 2015 Audi Q5 family isn't quite up to the standard as cars like the A4, for example. That said, it's still elegant and comfortable. With an emphasis on technology and, by default, a bevy of buttons, the Q5 comes standard with leather even on base models, and the 3-zone climate control will keep everyone comfortable. The knobs and dials surrounding the shift lever would look at home in a private jet, and the optional wood grain feels classy. The Q5's roomy rear seats fold in a flexible 40/20/40 arrangement.
The 2015 Audi Q5 is unmistakably Audi, from its massive, trapezoidal grille to its well-proportioned rear with twin tailpipes. It captures the Audi aesthetic perfectly. Standard LEDs in the taillights and mirrors, and optional LED running lights in the headlights lend a modern touch. The Audi Q5 rides SUV-high, too, with 7.9 inches of ground clearance – enough to tackle snow and dirt, but low enough that day-to-day driving isn't accompanied by a long climb into the driver's seat.
The base "Premium" model gets a power tailgate and xenon lighting package standard this year. That adds to the leather seats, 18-inch 5-spoke wheels, 3-zone automatic climate control, 10-speaker audio system, and hill-descent control. You'll note that Bluetooth isn't on that list, a surprising omission for a luxury brand. Q5 models with the 3.0-liter V6, diesel, and SQ5 models all start at the Premium Plus level, while the hybrid comes only in fully loaded Prestige trim. Regardless, the upper levels add things like heated front seats, keyless entry and push-button start, iPod integration, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a panoramic sunroof.
The Audi Q5's price starts high, and goes up from there, and it's easy to push the price nearly $50,000, even with the standard 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. A Technology package bundles blind spot detection and a navigation system, there's a Nappa leather-clad instrument panel, 14-speaker/505-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system, and an available rear-seat entertainment package as well. Other options include adaptive cruise control, and high-tech systems with navigation, rearview camera and a 3G network that turns the Q5 into a rolling Wi-Fi hot spot. One particularly ingenuous feature is an available cup holder that can keep drinks warm or cool.
The Audi Q5 comes with five possible engines, if you include the SQ5 in the mix. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with a respectable 220-horsepower. Stepping up from that is a supercharged V6. The TDI offers a smooth-running clean diesel, while hybrid fans can choose the Q5's combination of a turbo 4-cylinder with a battery pack that's good for 30 mpg. Then there's the SQ5, with 354 horsepower. All Q5 SUVs come with a slick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, and all come with Quattro all-wheel drive and the ability to tow up to 4,400 pounds. Note that gasoline-powered models require premium fuel.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (2.0T)
220 horsepower @ 4,450-6,000 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg
3.0-liter supercharged V6 (3.0T)
272 horsepower @ 4,780 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 2,150 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 mpg
3.0-liter supercharged V6 (SQ5)
354 horsepower @ 6,000-6,500 rpm
346 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 plus electric motor/generator (Hybrid)
245 horsepower (combined)
350 lb-ft of torque (combined)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/30 mpg
3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 (TDI)
240 horsepower @ 3,750-4,000 rpm
428 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 mpg
The base-level 2015 Audi Q5 2.0T Premium starts with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) right at $40,000. Prices rise quickly though – if you want any color besides black or white, you'll pay an extra $550, for example. The Q5 3.0T starts at about $46,000, while the diesel-powered Q5 TDI starts at nearly $48,000. The hybrid and SQ5 are both well above the $50,000 mark at $53,000 and $53,700, respectively. Start adding options and you'll quickly find yourself pushing $60,000. SUV competitors range from the less expensive Acura RDX, to the similarly priced Infiniti QX60, to the more expensive Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz GLK and BMW X3. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com to see what buyers in your area are actually paying for the 2015 Audi Q5. Resale value is a strong point for the Q5, with the Audi being among the best in its class.