Shame on me for not playing with the fancy new Audi drive-select system while I had possession of the Q5. Joe DeMatio mentioned the system’s ability to improve steering feel in his review of the Audi Q5 last summer, and the steering weight and feel were among my biggest disappointments in this Q5. I found the steering to require more effort than I’d expect from a crossover in this class. Perhaps a few adjustments through the drive-select system would have changed my mind.
I love Audi’s new Multi-Media Interface (MMI) and its associated 3D navigation display. It looks very upscale and continues to be quite intuitive for operating the navigation system, the stereo, and other functions. As is usually the case with Audis, the interior is a very pleasant place to spend time, and the seats are comfortable. The panoramic sunroof isn’t for me, but if you want to let the sun in, you’ll love it.
Although the small luxury crossover class makes no sense to me, I’d say this Q5 is about as good as it gets. Obvious improvements would be to offer Audi’s 2.0T and 2.0-liter TDI engines along with the 3.2-liter V-6. A 2.0T would provide plenty of thrust, and the TDI engine would provide much better fuel economy, although probably very leisurely acceleration.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
In my role as a motor gopher and summer intern at Automobile Magazine, I spent nearly two hours with fellow intern Andrew Trahan taking photographs of the Q5. I’ve been curious to drive the Q5 since it was introduced as the Q7’s smaller, better-looking sibling, and this was my first time driving any Audi. From the moment I spied its pearlescent white paint sparkling in the garage, I wasn’t disappointed. The interior fit like a tightly sewn German glove (if there is such a thing). The controls were intuitive, the supple leather seats were supportive, and the car exuded quality. I spent time with a BMW X3 several years back, and by comparison the Q5 felt light-years ahead in quality and style. As unattractive as the X3 is, the Q5 is beautiful; as harshly as the X3 rides, the Q5 has a controlled feeling about it. It’s difficult to imagine how the X3 can even compete with the Q5.
Andrew, who is more familiar with the Audi product line, suggested that I try the Q5’s three-mode suspension settings. The dynamic mode made the steering a little too heavy for what we were doing, which was, essentially, driving through a corner and smiling for the camera seventeen times in a row, so I switched over to “automatic” and left the dial in that position. The one flaw in the different modes is that “dynamic” = “sport,” so if you only want to have sportier shifts, you still need to be in dynamic mode with the accompanying heavier steering and stiffer ride. BMW’s system, on the other hand, allows you to dial in faster shifting without the stiffer suspension.
Eventually, we moved our photo shoot to the heart of the University of Michigan campus, in search of a more stately backdrop. It was probably the best idea we had all afternoon. Driving the pearl-white Q5 around a college campus, I noticed everyone staring. Everyone. Students turned their heads and gawked. I knew what they were thinking. Who could THAT be driving around? Why is that car SO cool? Apart from slinking around in the magazine’s Four Seasons Audi R8, I don’t know how I would have gotten more stares.
Jeffrey Jablansky, Intern
I didn’t think the overcrowded midsize luxury crossover market needed another player, but the Q5 makes an extremely strong case for itself. For starters, I think it’s the best-looking of the bunch. The interior is also quite attractive, but we’ve happily come to expect that from Audi. The huge sunroof is very nice and makes the well-wrought cabin feel larger. Not that it’s particularly small–it was much easier for me to install my daughter’s baby seat in the back of this Audi than it is in the cramped Infiniti EX35, which I think is a fair competitor.
I was pleasantly surprised by the pep provided by the 3.2-liter V-6, especially considering its 4200-pound burden. From behind the wheel, the Q5 doesn’t feel big or cumbersome, but I think it’ll satisfy buyers who desire an up-high seating position.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
I only spent a few minutes with the Q5, but that was enough to be impressed by the nimbleness of this two-ton vehicle. Turn-in is quick, and the 3.2-liter V-6 pulls with enough gusto to make me wonder, like Phil, if Audi couldn’t get away with offering smaller engines.
The interior is spectacular. I, too, enjoyed the panoramic sunroof, although I’m not sure that enjoyment was worth $4300 (the Premium Plus package also nets you “necessities” like heated seats).
I couldn’t help but draw comparisons with our similarly priced, similarly appointed Infiniti EX crossover. There’s no doubt the Audi offers more utility, thanks to its width and height advantage. On the other hand, during my admittedly brief drive, the Q5 felt more like a proper crossover – that is to say, less like a sport sedan – than the nimble EX. I didn’t have time to master all of the drive select settings, though, which might make the difference.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
2009 Audi Q5 3.2
Base price (with destination): $38,025
Price as tested: $48,275
Premium Plus Package – $4300
-Panorama Sunroof, Xenon Lights, Garage Door Opener, Power Tailgate, Heated Front Seats, Bluetooth, Audi Music Interface, Six Disc CD Changer
Audi MMI Navigation Plus Package – $3000
-HDD Navigation with Voice Control, Audi Advanced Parking System, Color Driver Information System
Audi Drive Select – $2950
18 / 23 / 20 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 3.2L V-6 DOHC FSI Direct Injection
Horsepower: 270 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 243 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
Weight: 4178 lb
18″ aluminum wheels
235/60 all-season tires