By on September 16, 2011

Tick off all the boxes on an Audi Q5 order form, and you’ll find yourself staring at a $58,350 tab. Too much for a compact crossover? Well, the example seen here will set you back $20,000 less. Now I know what you’re thinking: “A mere $38,400 for a right-sized chunk of German engineering? Sign me up!” Not so fast—to save twenty large you must give up something. But what?

The Q5’s outer shell is very much current Audi…except it also strongly resembles the latest Cayenne. (And the latest VW Touareg for that matter. Time for a Fortune cover?) If these lines are viable for the far pricier Porsche—and dealers can’t keep the peppers on the lot—then certainly they’re sufficiently upscale for this Audi. One wrinkle: the full tab nets the twenty-inch five-spoke wheels the designers had in mind when they penned the Q5’s exterior. At the other end of the spectrum, you get the 18s seen here. Not bad rims, and certainly far from tiny by historical standards, but ensconced in a clean-to-a-fault soap bar with wheel openings sized for dubs they take the whole downmarket.

When optioned with the Luxury Package, the Q5 contends with the Infiniti EX35 for the segment’s best interior, with soft leather covering not only the seats but also the door armrests and the hood over the instruments. But with this package the price jumps well into the fifties—it’s only available with the V6 and top trim level. The base interior, though it shares the same Teutonically tasteful design and solid construction, is a decidedly less opulent place. The door armrests are molded soft-touch plastic with hard plastic door pulls, and the seat upholstery, though technically leather, like much automotive cowhide easily passes for vinyl. (In fact, I have in my notes that “the vinyl isn’t as convincing as some.”) All-black with a smattering of wood trim not your thing? Any of the three two-toned color schemes, offered at no additional cost, warms the cabin up considerably. But even then the interior doesn’t have the cozy, custom-tailored ambiance you’ll find inside the Infiniti (assuming you can fit). My wife loved that Infiniti. She was not a fan of the Audi, to put it politely.

Keeping the price under forty means the standard audio system (pretty good, but no 505-watt 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen, that’s another $850) and no nav. The latter omission isn’t a problem for me personally, except it also means that the primary “MMI” (climate, audio, etc.) control knob and its surrounding buttons are on the center stack, where they’re not nearly as comfortable to reach or as easy to operate. With the nav these controls are much more ergonomically located aft of the shifter on the console. My wife’s comment on the controls: “Every time I had to do something new I had to sit there and think about it.” Even starting the Q5 poses a challenge for the unfamiliar. I was baffled for a number of minutes (I don’t want to admit how many) until I noticed a slot tucked up next to the center stack’s air vents. Stick the entire fob into it, push till it goes click, and—what do you know—the car starts. Want to keep the fob in your pocket? Then spring for the V6.

In general, automotive infotainment systems won’t let you do various things while driving. Click over to the Q5’s phone dialer, and you’re informed: “Distraction causes accidents. Never enter data while driving.” Click to accept this…and the next page lets you enter a phone number. Better than not being able to do this at all, but making habitual liars out of drivers one click at a time.

You get the same firm but supportive seats regardless of how the Q5 is optioned. If you want to feel like you’re sitting on a sofa, an Audi is not the car for you. The high, unobstructed view forward from the driver’s seat is a key reason people buy this sort of vehicle instead of the wagon (“avant” for those who speak Audi) most driving enthusiasts would favor. Huge mirrors do the same for the rearward view. The Q5 is only 182 inches long, about the same as a BMW X3 or Infiniti EX35 but much less lengthy than a Cadillac SRX or Lexus RX 350, which really compete with the others in terms of price rather than size. Still, unlike in the Infiniti there’s plenty of room in back for the average adult. A high-mounted cushion provides good thigh support and the seatback reclines. The compact exterior has a larger impact on cargo space, but there’s still more of it than in the Infiniti. More of a bother: the artfully shaped tailgate affords no good grips and opens so high that women of below-average height will need a step ladder to reach it. Or get one of the upper-level trims, which include a power tailgate.

The stopwatch will tell you that the 2.0T’s 211-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine is nearly as quick as the 3.2’s 270-horsepower V6, thanks to a plumper midrange (peak torque of 258 foot-pounds at 1,500 rpm vs. 243 at 3,000) and two extra cogs in the autobox (for a total of eight). But the six feels smoother and sounds far sweeter. The turbo four is more than capable of moving the Q5, but the six is much more likely to move the driver. With eight speeds, manually downshifting to second or third for a turn requires a lot of taps. The solution: shunt the shifter into S and the transmission will find a suitably low gear (or an even lower one) on its own.

The advantage of the turbo four + eight-speed combo: fuel economy. The EPA ratings of 20 city, 27 highway are tops for the premium compact crossover class, though BMW’s mighty turbocharged six is close behind. In casual suburban driving the (possibly optimistic) trip computer reported high twenties and low thirties.

Last winter I attended a comparison drive for the new BMW X3…and came away impressed with the Q5. The BMW had a steadier, more composed ride and more balanced handling, and when fitted with a (conservatively rated) 300-horsepower turbocharged six is much quicker. By any objective measure it’s the best performer in the segment. But the Audi’s chassis felt livelier and somehow more natural, and on curvy roads I enjoyed driving it more. The biggest difference: steering that clearly communicated what was going on at the front contact patches. This was the standard steering and suspension: a $2,950 “Audi Drive Select Page” offered only on the top trim substitutes active steering and adaptive shocks, but unlike on some other Audis doesn’t include an active rear differential. With the moderately rear-biased all-wheel-drive system and conventional rear differential a heavy right foot can coax the rear end to step out, but this is a more practical possibility with the BMW.

I wasn’t quite as impressed with the Q5’s steering this time around. Part of the reason could be that I didn’t have the other vehicles (X3, RX, SRX) on hand for a direct comparison. But the Q5’s steering also isn’t as exemplary during daily driving as it is when hustling along a curvy road. When driven casually, steering effort varies dramatically and somewhat unpredictably, and the feel is more artificial. The positive spin: when you most need the steering to talk, it talks. The Audi wants to be driven hard. Ignore its needs, and (like the high-strung, high-maintenance mistress I don’t have) it misbehaves while refusing to talk to you.

One mystery: the tested vehicle was fitted with W-rated Goodyear Excellence tires. Such “grand touring summer” tires, though commonly fitted as standard equipment in Europe, rarely appear in the all-season-loving U.S. On the Q5, we get performance-oriented rubber only with the “S Line” package, which is only offered with the V6. By accident or otherwise, the press fleet Q5 2.0T was wearing relatively sticky Euro-market treads.

So, to get to a $38,400 sticker (up $400 from the tested 2011 model), you’ve given up the wheels the designers intended, leather that feels like leather, ergonomic controls, a broad array of conveniences, the sweet sounding six, the trick shocks, and sticky tires. But do other cars offer more at this price point?

Not the related A4 Avant wagon, which lists for $800 more while including fewer features as standard equipment. You get a standard panoramic sunroof with the wagon—one’s an option on the Q5—but no power lumbar on the passenger seat, no wood trim, no three-zone automatic climate control, no automatic lights, no rain-sensing wipers, no trip computer. Tally up the differences using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, and the Q5’s price advantage widens to about $1,500. Detroit’s product strategy favored SUVs because they found car buyers were willing to pay more for them than for a wagon. The Germans didn’t get the memo. By this yardstick, the Q5 is a bargain: 380 pounds more car (4,090 total), less money.

The Infiniti EX35 that seduced my wife lists for $1,800 more, but includes a standard 3.5-liter V6. So is the Q5 3.2 a more appropriate comparison? Load up both the Infiniti and a Q5 3.2, and the Japanese crossover ends up about $5,500 less. The Germans charge top dollar for options, who knew?

A similarly-equipped BMW X3 xDrive2.8i lists for about $4,000 more, partly because you must specify the “Premium Package” to get the leather, wood trim, and dual four-way power lumbar adjustments standard on the Audi. This brings along some features not on the tested Audi, most notably a panoramic sunroof. Adjust for these, and the Audi retains a roughly $2,200 advantage. Enough to sway some buyers? Maybe. At a minimum the Audi is competitively priced.

So, with the Audi Q5 car buyers face a quandary. It’s fun to drive compared to any other compact crossover save the BMW, but anyone who makes this a top priority will (or at least should) go with the A4 Avant or BMW 3-Series wagon instead. So the Q5 is more likely to sell to those seeking the perceived superior comfort and convenience of a crossover. But a sub-forty Q5 lacks many comforts and conveniences. Check off the boxes to get these, and the price tag rapidly ascends into the mid-forties and beyond, at which point the Q5 isn’t as good a value.

Audi provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

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56 Comments on “Review: 2011 Audi Q5...”


  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    It looks like just another SUV. From the side profile, it is hard to tell who made it.

    For the price, it ought to look like something not found on a Nissan, Hyundai or a Kia lot.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it’s clearly a VW/Porsche Group product even from the side…but which one? The first time I saw the second-gen Cayenne I thought it was a Q5.

      Similarly, I’m in the Audi dealership to drive the Q5 a couple of years ago, and standing next to one in the showroom a guy starts talking about how much his wife loves the one they’d owned for a few years. Problem was, the Q5 had only been out for a few weeks. So even a Q7 owner had trouble telling the Q5 and Q7 apart.

      I’m actually a proponent of a family resemblance among a brand’s models. But if even owners can’t tell them apart you’ve gone a bit far.

      • 0 avatar
        KitaIkki

        Among the VW group CUV/SUVs, only Audi puts the whole tail-light clusters on the tailgate/hatch. This means the lights won’t be fully visible if you have to drive with the tailgate/hatch open. No other automaker does this, and I don’t think it’s a good design.

      • 0 avatar
        Mr Butterfly

        I am yet to see a Q5 driven with open hatch. Or X3 or GLK or Cayenne or EX35. Doubt that it’s even remotely a problem.

      • 0 avatar
        JJ

        I agree that it’s probably not a problem. Plus it’s aesthetically pleasing not the have the light cluster cut through.

        I do know however that on the Opel insignia wagon (Euro Buick Regal in wagon form) where the taillights/tailgate design is pretty similar to this Audi there is a second set of lights beneath the tailgate so there are still lights visible in case the tailgate would be open.

        The main reasoning behind it was that when you’d park at the side of the road uncoming traffic would notice you more in dark(ish) circumstances when you’re taking your spare tyre out presumably or maybe getting rid of those dead bodies in the trunk (because what other reason would there be to stop on the side of the road in the dark and open the tailgate…)

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    Michael how does this compare to the M-B GLK 350?

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Good question.
      I saw one today and it looks to have a design that will look pretty solid for a few years.
      This is what I don’t like about the new Hyundai…they look like they will go south style-wise pretty quickly.

    • 0 avatar

      I last drove a GLK 350 at the same BMW event last winter. It’s a much different vehicle than the BMW or Audi. My full review here:

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/review-2011-mercedes-benz-glk350/

    • 0 avatar
      jeffsnavely

      I attended the same X3 intro event and drove all three — the GLK body control was so bad I cut my test drive short. It just wallowed all over the place in any kind of moderate cornering. It was really shocking to me – it felt like an old-school tippy truck. Absolutely no comparison to the X3 or Q5 (or any other CUV). Considering how buttoned-down the current C-class sport models are, Mercedes must truly think that CUV buyers just don’t care about vehicle dynamics.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Michael…

    You suggest that those of us wanting the fun should go with the Avant or 3 wagon. However, when I sit in the 3 wagon’s rear seat I get cramped! I could not imagine driving in the back seat for more than 30 minutes.
    I found the A4 Avant’s rear a bit more comfortable.
    Having never sat in the back of the Q5, would you say it is better than the Avant?
    Hopefully a whole lot more than the 3 wagon, which again was stupid small.
    Do Europeans have short legs?????
    Do they not drive for more than a few miles???

    And the REAL problem I have is my wife. As with my daughter, wagons mean OLD people! So I guess our next utility/fun car will be a CUV. But WHAT CUV?
    The Q5 is now way to much money. Ditto the X3.
    The EX35 has no room as I think you are suggesting.

    Maybe just wait for what Ford brings in their new Escape…but I know you don’t like the ecoboost as I do.

    • 0 avatar

      You make a good point–the rear seat is roomier and more comfortable in the Q5 than the A4.

      I have high hopes for the next Escape, based on my positive experiences with the new Focus. I’m not against the EcoBoost per se. I just tend to prefer a naturally-aspirated V8 to a boosted six. Part of the problem is that Ford’s V6 makes some of the least sophisticated noises in its class–and I say this as the owner of a Taurus X. Add a couple of turbos and it still sounds pedestrian.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        Ya…I guess an engine’s noise is not at the top of my concerns.
        Power is. But then again, a diesel never bothered me.
        And the twin turbo, even before Ford’s use, has always been a fav.

        And the BMW X3? What is the rear foot/knee space for this car?
        I KNOW the 3 wagon sucks big time.

        And as a final note…I am a Ford lover these days. However, I am not happy with the Fiesta or the Focus.
        They both seem to be smaller inside than I was hoping for and seriously lower powered than I had hoped.
        I certainly look forward to the sooped(?) up Focus coming next year.
        Maybe THIS is my new CUV/hot hatch????

      • 0 avatar

        The BMW X3 has considerably more room in the rear seat than the 3.

      • 0 avatar
        Nurburgringer

        Michael –
        I’m currently shopping for a more practical, modern, efficient replacement for my ’98 5.9 Grand Cherokee and the Taurus X is on my short list.
        For the ~$20k a loaded, low mileage ’08 X will set me back I could have a brand new Mazda 5 (base for $18.5, loaded for ~$23), or a ’06 Mazda MPV and $10k+ in change.
        We’ll be having kids in a year or two, so for now we’d mainly be using it for longish road trips and home depot runs, etc.

        How do you like the X? Any chance of a long-term review?
        thanks!
        Kurt
        Milwaukee

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Sissies. My 3er E91 wagon is VAST compared to every other car I have owned. There is plenty of room. We travel by car a lot, often with 4 or 5 people in the car. Never a problem. My SAAB 900 had far less room and we have traveled all around US and Canada with no complaints. It was supremely comfortable. My E46 sedan — how about 4 adults and a 3 year old in a Britax Roundabout for 600 miles there and 600 miles back. Plus baby stuff and luggage. No problem. I have taken very long trips with my friends in cars like VW Golf IV — very comfortable.

      On the contrary, I have NEVER set in the back seat of an SUV and found it comfortable. Invariably, the seat cushion is too low (and too short,) the head room sucks and the seating position is knees to the chin. I have tried Explorer, Expedition, GX470, Sequoia, etc. All felt very, very cramped and uncomfortable. The only one that was all right was Honda Pilot, which is really an Oddysey with different wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      And for the next generation a CUV will mean OLD people and wagons will become popular again. Or maybe minivans, or maybe manvans.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffsnavely

      “wagons mean Old people”????? Not modern sport wagons like the A4, TSX or CTS!!!
      Please drive these before being suckered into a CUV.

      Wagons hold way more stuff than CUV’s, are easier to load (lower load height), easier to get in/out of, especially for kids & old people (lower ride height), much better dynamics, etc.

      Just take a close look at the A4 Avant vs. the Q5: the wagon has a wide spacious cargo area whereas the Q5 seems shorter & more narrow. The Q5 (and most CUV’s for that matter) just seems like a compromised vehicle for cargo compared to wagons.

      Yes, I’m a wagon fan. I’ve had an ’03 Saab Aero wagon (so cool & fun), a W211 MB wagon, and currently a W210 MB wagon which I love. So much cargo space you can’t believe it, way more than many full-size SUV’s. I fit a twin mattress & box spring in flat without moving the driver’s seat forward, and still several feet of room on top for more. Oh, and a rear-facing third-row seat, making it a minivan alternative as well. The 210 drives great too – handles much better than you would expect making it an always-satisfying drive, even after driving other sporty carts I’ve had at the same time.

      If they insist on a CUV, check out the 2009+ RAV-4. I’ve rented them several times out west and done lots of high-speed driving in them. They are quite satisfying to drive, much more so than the luxury CUV’s in question here. The 4-cylinder feels like a six (179 hp), and makes it feel light and nimble unlike the Q5, etc. For the price of a German CUV, you could buy a new or slightly-used RAV-4 and have plenty left over for another sporty car or used luxury sedan. I have had many German luxury & sports cars, and the RAV-4 impresses me every time.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Luckily in Norway wagons don’t mean ‘old people’. But I still could not find any wagon that could fit two child seats and have room for a 5’7″ teenager in the back, so I ‘had to’ buy a CUV. All modern wagons available now try to be sporty and cool, so there’s no space in the rear seats anymore. (Mondeo and V70 came close’ish, Passats and Maxzda 6 almost the same, but without the luxury or design, and the TSX (sold as Accord over here) is as bad as an old (E34) 5-series. As an enthusiast I won’t buy any sort of van, and none of the other cars I tried had a down tuned Type-R engine or weighed less than 3200lbs…

      • 0 avatar
        sjb

        @ jeffsnavely,

        Not to mention that wagons, with their lower load height, are much better for getting dogs (especially very large and/or arthrtic dogs as we have) in and out. We’re going to replace our Passat Wagon in a few months or so and just looking at the backsides of most of the SUVs and CUVs on the road, I cross them off due to how high they are. (We have a doggie ramp but if you don’t need to use it, it’s a plus.)

        I’ll look in to the MB Wagon and A4 Advant but fear they may be too nice and too pricey for this household. I like some of what I read about the new Acura wagon, but it’s supposed to be, like, 0-60 in about an hour and that would drive my husband crazy. I also don’t think the RAV4’s side opening for the trunk door will fly with him either.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    Do Europeans have short legs?????
    Do they not drive for more than a few miles???

    And the REAL problem I have is my wife. As with my daughter, wagons mean OLD people!

    To answer you questions: Europeans have the same legs as white people all around the world.
    Some drive long distances, but those who do, don´t do it with the car full of people, just 1 or 2 persons.
    Wagons doesn´t mean old people in Europe, small sedans do.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I like this car, but a GLK makes more sense. It is roughly the same price and has a V6, not a 4.

  • avatar
    rentonben

    Someone shoot me if I buy this or wool slacks at Costco. Just put me out of my missery, as I’ve obviously given up.

  • avatar
    minimo3

    My wife loved the Infiniti too and we ended up getting one. Dealers seem very willing to discount and we end up getting it $2k under invoice. The BMW and Audi similarly equipped were at least $5000-8000 more.

    I have to agree about the interior of the EX35, its really nice.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Europeans with loads of money and kids(or friends) with long legs buy Q7’s or American SUV’s, Europeans who need a practical car, but has kids with long legs buy MPV’s or CUV’s. Since the last affordable big wagon disappeared in 2002, lots of people started buying minivans, and used them as 6-seaters, I found a 2nd Gen CRV, which is (was, it’s a 2002, I haven’t tested a new one) as far as I can see the only car available in the market today that can seat three adults across the rear seat (flat floor means even the middle passenger can stretch his legs.) I have to admit there’s probably 250lbs worth of sound insulation less in the CR-V than any Audi, and no turbocharged V6 available, but the low weight and speed limits means I don’t have to care :P

  • avatar
    Grahambo

    Always enjoy your reviews, Michael. I attended the same (or, more aptly, a similar) luxury CUV comparison event at my local BMW dealership several months ago as the one you reference in this review (and which served as the basis for some of your prior reviews) and my impressions overlap with yours in some respects and greatly diverge in others. In short, I vastly (and surprisingly) preferred the feel of the Q5’s steering to that of the X3 in the daily driving context. The Q5’s steering had nice heft to it, and reminded me of an old Mercedes or even Porsche rack in terms of the feeling of solidity it imparted. By contrast, the X3 seemed to continue in BMW’s recent vein of screwing up the steering in all of their models. It struck me as far too light and artificial with no sense of centeredness, if that makes sense. That said, I found the X3 much, much more fun and capable on curvy roads whereas the Q5 — so solid when just driving along — felt like it did not want to turn at all when the roads got twisty. Indeed, it felt flat out ponderous and was no fun. The X3 with the turbocharged six is also much quicker, as you note, and this added to the relative feel of nimbleness I experienced in the X3 compared to the Q5. I am embarrassed to note that I didn’t check to see if the Q5 I drove had the 20 inch or 18 inch wheels and I also don’t know if it had the Drive Select package(all of which could have affected handling feel) — my suspicion is that BMW would have gone with a lower-spec model when choosing its competitors for the event, but I don’t know that to be the case. I do believe that the Q5 had the V6 — would that have accounted for the increased ponderousness that I experienced? In any event, I would, at least for now, still choose a 3-series any day over these vehicles (or, for that matter, the S4/A4). Given my recent experiences with the X3 and “updated” 5 series models, I do, however, have grave fears for the steering on the upcoming F30 3 series.

    • 0 avatar

      The Q5 at the event was the 3.2 with its standard 19-inch tires. I have noted a tendency for BMW to not fit any competitors with performance-oriented options at these events.

      I don’t think our impressions diverge much. I think the steering was 110% of the reason I enjoyed the Audi more–it compensated for the shortcomings we both note.

      I’m not sure why I didn’t like the steering as much in the 2.0T. I’ve stated some possible reasons. Audi claims that the system and calibration is the same with both engines. The V6 adds 200 pounds to the nose, but this should hurt, not help. In the end I think it’s most likely that I drove the 3.2 at that event very hard, while I used the 2.0T mostly for day-to-day driving.

  • avatar
    swedishiron

    Volvo XC60 T6 with an INLINE SIX will spank this and has better styling and will be more durable and reliable (Yes you know its true). The R Design 2012 T6 has 325HP and 354LB of torque.

    • 0 avatar

      The engine is the Volvo is very nice. I’m currently trying to get an XC60 T6 R-Spec to evaluate.

      Reliability–I’m not so sure. Older Volvos edge out older Audis as the least reliable cars in TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey. The XC60 is doing better than the Q5, but this is entirely because the 3.2 had a very common problem with its water pump. This problem is now in the past, and never affected the 2.0T.

      So both are looking pretty good so far…but they’re still young. The fifth year is often where European cars take a serious turn for the worse.

      For the survey results, and to sign up to help with it:

      http://www.truedelta.com/car-reliability.php

      • 0 avatar
        onthercks07

        Hey Michael,

        I know this review is old but I had a few questions comparing this to the Audi A4 Avant and Volvo XC60.

        1) How do the cargo areas compare?
        2) Is the rear seat area more comfortable in the Volvo or the Audi?

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      YES!
      I keep forgetting about this choice.
      And my wife is Swedish! Maybe I can kind of slip this one into the mix.
      I fell in love with the interior at the LA auto show. Very nice leather…and it just looks goooood.

      • 0 avatar

        Great review! Always enjoyable. Interesting about the A4 wagon being more expensive… pushing the crossovers. Seems VW’s broad inter-model pricing array is more arbitrary than anything.

        A nice car. The perfect crossover? Everybody’s got a Q5…

      • 0 avatar

        I think Mercedes started the German SUV pricing trend with the first ML. Like the latest VWs, the ML was designed with the American market in mind, and was accordingly priced well below the E-Class. As a result, when BMW and Audi came out with their own competing SUVs, they also had to price them lower than their comparable sedans.

        The exception, perhaps because it doesn’t directly compete with the others, or because it shares a platform with a Porsche: the VW Touareg. It’s a little larger than the Q5, and about $5,000 more despite the much less prestigious brand.

  • avatar
    dwight

    Nice station wagon. That’s what they are. Station wagons. All of them. Based on the car platform in its size range. Station wagon. Station wagon. Station wagon. Wagon Wagon W A G O N. I’m tired of these vehicles. Another boat that noone can drive properly. Come back to ground level people. Bring on TSX wagon and enjoy the ride.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Right, a station wagon that is heavier, taller, and handles worse than it needs to because of the added ride height that contributes nothing because it can’t realistically go off-road.

    • 0 avatar
      BigDuke6

      You’re absolutely right. Except that buddy’s wife that thinks wagons mean OLD, doesn’t look at this as a wagon. It has big wheels, sits up high (higher than it needs to be), and those four circles on the grill. She wants to be seen in it! My Mazda6 wagon isn’t the biggest or the coolest, but I can toss my mountain bike in the back without taking any wheel off and that’s good enough for me! Oh and it sits much closer to the ground and drives like a car…..

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Problems with the Volvo – NAV and interior tech are trash. Last time I checked, the driver has to control the entire system with an invisible nub behind the steering wheel, and the passenger has to control the system with a wireless remote! What is this, 1992? Volvo has THE WORST Navigation systems in the entire industry, bar none. Their navigation package should be a gift certificate to Best Buy to pick up a TomTom.

    Volvos have great seats at least most of time, but the rest of their interior materials and switchgear are usually pretty subpar, Acura level at best. They are really no more of a premium brand than Subaru is.

    Lastly, for whatever reason, Volvos are always slower than their power ratings would suggest. The standard XC60 is I believe a good second slower to 60 than the less powerful Audi V6, while returning significantly worse fuel economy.

    Positive? The XC60 beats the living crap out of the 9-4X. I don’t see a lot of Q5 or X3 converts though.

    Infiniti’s “hey, nobody will use the backseats, let’s make em uninhabitable” decision will probably go down as one of the dumbest design decisions in modern history. I think that pretty much single handedly killed any chance that car had. Hopefully they aren’t so stupid with the JX.

  • avatar
    klossfam

    We looked at the Q5 2.0T this summer to replace a 2008 Highlander Ltd (cargo and towing were no longer needed)…We ended up buying a 2011 VW Tiguan SEL Premium. Almost all the high end/high priced options in a mid-$50k Q5 but the Tiggie lists for $39k list ($35k out the door). A little more compact package but a far better value > if you can call it a value. In true German fashion, it already requires a new throttle position sensor at 3,000 miles.

    I also really like the EX35. A agree with Michael’s wife that it is one of the best interiors (at any price IMO). Owning a 2008 G35xS also has made me appreciate the latest Infiniti interiors. They wear really well…looks almost like new 3 1/2 years later. Say what you want about the Nissan/Infiniti VQ V6s also, but they are bullet proof, sound powerful and ARE powerful…Hammering the G is still fun. If I could deal with the day to day mileage of the EX and didn’t have 6 ft tall friends and family, the EX is a FAR better value than the Q5.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Looks ungainly and ordinary to me. The hood is too long.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    The bad news for Audi UK is that Range Rover are working on a SUV to compete directly with this and it will borrow a lot of styling cues from the Evoque. not only that but Jag plan to make one too.

    This market is getting very crowded.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I would have to agree with Michael’s comment that Audi doesn’t make much effort to make their turbo 4 sound like a premium car engine. I was looking at an A4 2.0T a couple years ago and was surprised by the economy 4 banger sounds emanating from under the hood.

  • avatar
    wsn

    If turbo 4 is what you are looking at, the direct competition is the Acura RDX.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Nice review Michael. We buy CPOed cars, and I’m looking at the 2012 models as the likely eventual replacement of my wife’s RX350.
    The Q5 and new X3 were high on the list. She likes the Evoque as well, in pictures and on Top Geat at least. I’d say an A4 Avant would merit consideration, but she hates the overly low entry point and ground clearance. Ideally something about the height of a Vovlvo XC70 would be ideal, but I don’t trust the current iteration of that car. I understand that the 3 series wagon is being discontnued in the U.S. with the new 3 series next year.

    I may not have many good options it seems, if the base Q5 is a big step down from the RX350 in comfort and convenience, as you make it seem. The Infiniti EX is cute, but utterly useless for carrying more than 2 passengers, so it’s not an option.

  • avatar
    mrjim

    Hands On Comparisons invited over 100 midsize luxury SUV/Crossover owners to physically compare the Q5 with 15 other competitive models. They rated the Q5’s interior appearance in the bottom 3 of the 16 models tested. The cargo area rated above average for cargo space, ease of loading and folding the rear seats, and for the nifty cargo tie down system. Exterior styling and value for the money rated average.

  • avatar
    JayJay

    Michael. How do you compare Audi Q5 with Acura RDX?

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    I did copious amounts of research before deciding to buy a Q5 about 6 weeks ago. I never considered the GLK or the X3 for price/value differences as well as performance, in clouding economy. I’d been driving a Cayman S for over four years and decided to get something that would accommodate my wife and the dog. I bought the Q5 2.0T with the Premium+ package, so I got to the mid $40’s in price ($45,100) after dealing a bit. About the only fault I’ve found is that the seat heaters are a little weak. Seems that after some complaint in ’08, Audi turned them down a few notches. The 2.0T has more than adequate punch when needed and I’ve been getting 24 mpg in mixed, mostly suburban driving. Most folks consider me an aggressive driver having done autos and track events for the last 10 years. As noted in the review, fit & finish are superb (remember I’m coming from a $70k Porsche). In this group, it doesn’t have the biggest load space but my golf clubs and cart fit without needing to fold the seats. I suppose the only question will be it’s reliability and only time will tell on that count. X3s and GLKs abound in my area… they are everywhere. Q5s are relatively few and I like having something a little different from the crowd. With word today that we’ll be seeing $4/gal. gas by Memorial Day, I couldn’t be happier with this choice. Just for the record, this is the first SUV/wagon for me. I drove a Volvo 245S for over 10 years and have had an Isuzu Trooper, Grand Cherokee, ML 430, and a G500 in the past. The Q5 2.0T comes in as the best upscale sensible choice among the current offerings.


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