Even though this car has a four-cylinder engine, the driving experience is not all that different than our recently departed V-6-powered Four Seasons Q5, in that it handles more like a sedan than like a tall crossover. It’s missing the $3000 MMI Navigation package, but that’s the price you pay for keeping the cost below $40,000, which is pretty darn good for an upscale crossover. One other thing you sacrifice when you forgo the nav package is the radio on/off switch located on the center console, a feature I really like. On the plus side, the transmission in this Q5 has two extra gears.
In cold weather like we’ve been experiencing, I was happy to see that this Q5 has heated seats, and I think, after a year with our Q5, that I’m finally attuned to the somewhat counterintuitive seat heater controls. I think the confusion stems from the fact that in most cars – make that, in every other car I’ve driven– the seat heater and the climate control buttons are discrete units, but in this (and other Audis), they are controlled by the same dials.
– Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
Excuse me, where’s the tradeoff? I’m sure the Q5 2.0T’s smaller engine shows in zero-to-sixty or quarter-mile times, but this engine is so well-suited to this application that it is undoubtedly the best engine for virtually every Q5 buyer. At 211 hp, the 2.0T is down 59 hp on the normally aspirated V-6, but the smaller engine actually produces an additional 15 lb-ft of torque, at 258 lb-ft. Audi also throws in the excellent eight-speed automatic transmission with the 2.0T, while V-6 buyers are left with the (still very competent) six-speed automatic. As you’d expect, you’ll reap the benefits at the gas pump, as the 2.0T is rated at 20/27 mpg compared to 18/23 mpg. Perhaps the only time I’d really want that 3.2-liter V-6 is if I were using the Q5’s impressive towing capacity, which is pegged at 4400 pounds regardless of which engine you choose.
A Q5 2.0T sells at a $3000 discount to a comparable Q5 3.2, but you can stretch the margin even wider if you’re willing to forgo some superfluous options. Our 2.0T rang in with a $7000 discount over our V-6-powered Four Seasons Audi Q5. The only option I really missed was Audi’s $3000 navigation system, which enlarges the infotainment screen and moves the rotary controller from the center stack to the center console, right where your hand naturally falls.
– Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
Can you believe this price? Like a fire sale, I tell you. I concur with spending the extra dough for the iPod cable and interface, and for heated seats (we are in the middle of a sub-zero period this week, so hard to deny seat heaters, and oh-by-the-way what about a steering wheel heater??). But I’m missing the nav. To add the nav and still keep it under $40,000, I’d give up the gorgeous quartz grey metallic paint job.
– Jean Jennings
For sure, this is the Q5 model to get. I was very pleased to see the as-tested price of $38,000, because in so many of these so-called “entry-luxury” compact crossovers, including the V-6-powered Q5, the sticker prices can so easily creep up to and beyond the $50,000 mark. There was nothing about this example that remotely felt like a “stripper,” either, unless you count the lack of a navigation system, which I do not. This Q5 had satellite radio, an excellent Bluetooth interface, and toasty hot heated seats.
I first drove the Q5 in July 2008 in Valencia, Spain, and Audi of America admitted at that time that they hoped to bring the 2.0T model here, but first we’d have to make do with the more expensive V-6 model and its older, six-speed automatic transmission. They did let us drive a 2.0T model, though, and it was immediately evident that they needed to bring that model to America. It took them a year and a half after the V-6 model’s debut to do it, but it’s finally here, and I for one would take this smooth and refined turbo four and its smooth and refined and precise eight-speed automatic over the V-6 any day. Doing so also gets you 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway versus the V-6 model’s 18/23 mpg.
I was quite pleased that I had the Q5 over the weekend in early December when Michigan got slammed by its first big snowstorm. In addition to Quattro all-wheel drive, I had a set of Michelin Latitude Alpin snow tires at my disposal, thanks to Audi of America having the good sense to install them on our Q5 test car. I felt pretty invincible, and the Q5 scrambled up my extremely steep, snow- and ice-covered driveway with ease. Hurray for Quattro, and hurray for snow tires.
– Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
This is definitely the Q5 to get. No, it’s not quick — 4090 pounds is about all Audi’s excellent four-cylinder can handle. But frankly, who cares? If you really want to go fast, take that $7000 you’ve saved over the six-cylinder Q5 and buy an old Camaro.
With this powertrain, the little crossover can still keep up with traffic and never feels strained thanks partly to the efforts of the eight-speed automatic. It’s otherwise just as quiet and just as pleasant to drive as models equipped with the 3.2-liter V-6. And its interior, which is very nice for $45,000 or even $50,000, becomes a real treat when the price dips to $38,000. And its fuel economy, even with the standard four-wheel-drive, beats that of most competitors, including the four-cylinder Acura RDX.
My single complaint with the Q5 has nothing to do with the engine but rather with the steering, which remains extremely artificial in its effort. Between about 5 mph and 15 mph, it becomes significantly heavier — a real annoyance in parking lots.
– David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
Is there anything Volkswagen’s turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 can’t do? It blends performance and poise in the GTI, allows the Audi TTS to pack a verifiable wallop, and essentially perfects the Q5 package.
As my colleagues have noted, this is indeed the best engine choice presently available in a North American-spec Q5. Not only is the 2.0T more affordable and more fuel efficient, it also feels much more suitable to this application. The 3.2-liter V-6 is a great engine, but it almost overwhelms the small crossover with power. The 2.0T doesn’t, but still provides plenty of grunt to hustle all 4090 pounds around. Unless you’re counting spark plug wires or measure your existence on horsepower ratings alone, you won’t miss the V-6.
Joe DeMatio noted that this model lacks navigation — no matter, but it does relocate the MMI controller. On vehicles equipped with navigation, the rotary controller, along with source buttons and a volume control, are on the center console, surrounding the shift gate. On Q5s without, those same controls are mounted on the center stack. I miss the center console location, but audio and menu controls placed on the steering wheel almost make reaching for the MMI redundant.
– Evan McCausland, Web Producer
2011 Audi Q5 2.0T
Base price (with destination): $36,075
Price as tested: $38,000
2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
8-speed automatic transmission
Quattro all-wheel drive
Electronic stability program
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
18-inch alloy wheels
Trailer hitch pre-wiring
Tire pressure monitoring system
Three-zone climate control
12-way power front seats
Leather seating surfaces
Tilt/telescoping steering column
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Heated outside mirrors
60/40-split rear seat
Audi concert radio with in-dash CD player
Sirius satellite radio
Options on this vehicle:
Quartz gray metallic — $475
Heated front seats — $450
Audi music interface with iPod cable — $300
Key options not on vehicle:
Navigation package — $3000
Panorama sunroof — $1450
Bluetooth and HomeLink — $700
Rear side airbags — $350
Fuel economy: 20/27/22 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 2.0L turbocharged I-4
Horsepower: 211 hp @ 4300-6000 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1500-4200 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Curb weight: 4090 lb
Wheels/tires: 18-inch alloy wheels, 235/60R18 Michelin Latitude Alpin tires