Luxury SUV Best Buy of 2018
Audi's Best-Seller is Now a Best Buy
Audi's compact luxury SUV has been the company's best-selling vehicle for several years, but the new-for-2018 model has upped the Q5's game. Larger, more luxurious and more powerful, the Audi Q5 expands and improves on the refined driving experience, tech-friendly cabin and high-style design for which the brand is known, confirming the Q5's place as this year's Luxury SUV Best Buy for 2018.
However, this wasn't an easy choice. There were several excellent contenders in this category, including the stellar Mercedes-Benz GLC. Both are well-executed compact luxury SUVs with versatile, high-quality interiors, driving flair, beautiful style, and thoughtful attention to detail. But key factors gave the Q5 the advantage.
The 2018 Audi Q5 is quicker and more fuel-efficient than its predecessor, thanks to its significantly updated 252-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and all-new 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This Audi goes from 0 to 60 mph 1.1 second faster than the previous model, while its combined fuel economy has gone up by 3 mpg. Who says you can't please all the people all the time?
In addition, enthusiastic driving never ruffles this Audi’s feathers. Every Q5 comes standard with Quattro all-wheel drive and Audi drive select, offering five different driving modes. And if you want to go faster yet, there's an SQ5 version with a turbocharged V6 that puts out 354 horsepower.
The Q5 also impresses when driving at a leisurely pace. Credit careful suspension design for the pleasant ride, as Audi has succeeded in making this vehicle responsive in turns yet comfortable on long highway runs. The Q5 is also available with adaptive dampers that work with the different Audi drive select modes to deliver a just-right mix of ride comfort and handling prowess. The end result of Audi's efforts is a vehicle that has the capability of an SUV (off-roading, generous cargo space), but drives a lot like an A4 sedan.
As is the case with many of the vehicles in Audi's lineup, the Q5 has a crisp, attractive cabin that's filled with cutting-edge technology. As important as tech is becoming to buyers, though, what's even more important is that this tech is easy to use. Intuitive technology helps keep drivers from getting frustrated, and the less time you spend with your eyes off the road when operating the stereo, navigation or phone, the safer you are.
Audi has embraced technology that makes the Q5's interior a luxurious cabin for the modern age. The driver is welcomed by Audi's "Virtual Cockpit," a vivid 12.3-inch display that can show a traditional gauge set or a full-width map in either a traditional format or including topography sourced by Google Earth. Also on offer is a full-color head-up display that keeps key info in the driver's line of sight without being intrusive. Audi connect allows you to get weather info, stream internet radio, and helps if you need roadside assistance. On the entertainment side, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard, while a 755-watt 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system is available. The icing on the cake, though, is that these features are all easy to control through Audi's intuitive dial-and-toggle-based MMI system.
On the safety side, Audi's standard pre sense city can detect pedestrians and vehicles, and can bring the vehicle to a stop if necessary. Optional Audi side assist includes blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and will let you know if there's a car or a cyclist approaching as you open a door into traffic. Available adaptive cruise control can work in rush-hour traffic to brake and accelerate as traffic demands. The Q5 can also read road signage and convery speed limits in the head-up display, for instance, while turn assist can help prevent you from turning left in front of oncoming traffic.
Luxury and Value
The all-new Q5, with more power, better fuel economy, a roomier interior and an impressive list of standard equipment, has a base price that's a mere $625 more than it was for 2017. For 2018, you can get into a Q5 for about $43,000. If you want to go all-out, you can spend around $57,000 for a Prestige Q5, but that would give you a wide array of features, including heated and cooled front seats, an impressive suite of driver-assist and safety features, adaptive damping suspension and much more.
As one member of our test team explained, the Q5 is a "Jack and Master of all trades. Where the other lux SUVs here stand out in certain aspects, the Audi seems to hit every one of them, and hit them at or near the bull’s-eye. This thing is just so good at just about everything." That you can get all of that capability, excellence and an extensive cache of safety and convenience features is why we selected the Q5 as our 2018 Luxury SUV Best Buy.
Video Tour: 2018 Audi Q5
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