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Friday, April 26, 2013

Audi Q5

The Audi Q5 luxury crossover seats up to five passengers. Grown from the Audi A4 platform, the Q5 fits in the mid-size crossover class, competing against luxury alternatives like the BMW X3, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Volvo XC60, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and Cadillac SRX.

With the Q5, Audi doesn't stray too far from the successful luxury-crossover formula. The platform may be A4, but the Q5 has better ground clearance and comes standard now with Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system for great all-weather traction.

The Q5 arrived in U.S. showrooms in late 2009 as a 2009 model, and was left virtually unchanged for the 2010 model year, in a single configuration: as a five-door wagon with a V-6 engine, an automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. This initial Q5 had a smart mix of luxury and performance off the bat. The heart of the performance package was a 3.2-liter, 270-horsepower V-6, teamed up with a six-speed automatic with manual gear selection and all-wheel drive. Still in the lineup today, it's a powerful engine but has a little more volume and vibration than expected. Gearchanges are smooth enough, and Audi estimates a 0-60 mph time of 6.7 seconds.

In the 2011 model year Audi added a new drivetrain option to the Q5 mix--a version of the VW/Audi corporate four-cylinder with turbocharging and 211 horsepower. Mated to a six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, this is the Q5 we recommend unanimously. It feels lighter on its feet, produces much better fuel economy numbers than the V-6 (20/27 mpg versus 18/23 mpg) and has a sticker price that's much lower, though it's rare to find a Q5 priced below $40,000 with popular features.

The Q5's chief dynamic liability is its fairly stiff ride, and Audi's adjustable Drive Select suspension and steering are some of our least favorite applications of electronics. The Q5 will tow 4,400 pounds and has nearly 8 inches of ground clearance, so mild off-roading isn't entirely out of the question. Most versions come with luxury features like leather, Bluetooth, and satellite radio; a panoramic sunroof is a great addition to the options list.

The Q5 has a long list of safety equipment including front, side and curtain airbags; stability and traction control; and parking sensors and a rearview camera. The Q5 also has received strong crash-test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

For the 2013 model year, the Audi Q5 carries over its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, but offers as a high-output option its 272-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 coupled to an eight-speed automatic--and introduces a new Q5 Hybrid to the mix. The hybrid blends the turbo four powertrain and eight-speed automatic with lithium-ion batteries and a 54-hp electric motor for a net of 245 hp, a 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds, and combined gas mileage of 26 mpg. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard with the hybrid, as it is with the other powertrains.

Audi has talked about bringing diesel version of the Q5 to the American market. It could be an easy transatlantic journey, since the powertrain's already offered in other markets. But it now appears the diesel won't arrive until the next Q5 goes into production in Mexico sometime in 2016.

The updated Q5 also now offers as optional equipment Audi Connect 3G wireless Internet service, Google Earth mapping, adaptive cruise control with full braking at speeds of up to 19 mph, and a rear-seat entertainment system.

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