First Look: 2013 Audi Q5

Three years doesn’t sound like a long time, but that’s exactly how old the Audi Q5 is. Seeing as an all-new model is due for another three years, the time is ripe for a mid-cycle update — and that’s exactly what was bestowed upon the 2013 Audi Q5.

A Few New Cues

The vast majority of the Q5’s exterior is left unchanged, but designers did strive to update the Q5’s front fascia to bring it more in line with the brand’s recent introductions. The grille’s upper corners now tuck inward, while the insert boasts chrome strips that continue into the grille section tucked beneath the license plate bracket. Fog lamp surrounds are also subtly reshaped, while the lamps themselves are enveloped with a chrome ring. Headlamps retain their existing shape, but now boast slender light pipe accents that frame the assembly itself — a technique also applied to the tail lamps as well.

Revisions inside are even more limited, though the thin veneer door, dash, and console trim first offered on the A7 is now an option. An updated version of the MMI infotainment system is now offered, and can be paired with Audi Connect, a 3G-based data service that provides real-time weather and traffic information, Google Maps data, and an in-car WiFi hot spot.

Engine Choices: And Then There Were Quattro

The big news for 2013, however, is all beneath the surface. While Audi only sells the Q5 in North America with two engine choices, that figure will soon grow to four.

Volkswagen’s ubiquitous direct-injection, turbocharged, 2.0-liter I-4 remains the entry-level engine, but a few revisions for the new model year — including a new cylinder head that incorporates the exhaust manifold — help improve efficiency. Power is also improved, as Audi rates the engine at 225 hp — an increase of 14 hp — while torque remains unchanged at 258 lb-ft.

A gasoline-fueled six-cylinder remains available, but it’s not the aging 3.2-liter V-6 currently offered. Instead, Audi’s direct-injection, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 (which first debuted in the 2009 S4) serves as the top-end gasoline engine. The forced-induction six-cylinder provides 272 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque in Q5 guise. Both gasoline engines are pared with an eight-speed automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel-drive as standard equipment.

At long last, the 2013 Q5 gains a TDI diesel option — but it’s not the small, thrifty 2.0-liter turbo-diesel I-4, like that used in the A3 TDI. Although such an engine will be offered in Europe, U.S.-spec Q5 TDI models are relegated to the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6. Though Audi claims it delivers outstanding fuel economy on the European test cycle, it also packs a formidable punch. 245 hp doesn’t sound that impressive, but the diesel six-cylinder delivers a whopping 428 lb-ft of torque. Mated with a standard seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and Quattro driveline, that power is enough to sprint the Q5 from 0-62 mph in 6.5 seconds and on to a top-end of 140 mph.

Finally, A Hybrid

Audi first showcased a hybrid version of the Q5 in late 2010, but it’s only now coming to market. Despite that lapse in time, little appears to have changed. The driveline, which is also shared with the A6 and A8 Hybrid concepts, bundles a 211-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 with a modified eight-speed automatic transmission, which uses a 54-hp electric motor in lieu of a torque converter. An air-cooled, 1.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides power for the latter.

Audi claims drivers will be able to drive the Q5 on the engine alone, the electric motor alone, or a blend of the two power units. Predictably, the pure EV mode is relatively limited: cruise constantly at 37 miles, and Audi says you’ll have about 1.9 miles of range before the engine kicks online. Pair the 2.0T with the electric motor, and the Q5 Hybrid can move from 0-62 mph in a respectable 7.1 seconds. Fuel economy figures based on EPA cycle testing are still forthcoming, but Audi holds the Q5 Hybrid returns roughly 34 mpg combined in European-cycle testing.

Coming Soon To A Dealer Near You

Audi isn’t ready to disclose pricing for the revised 2013 Q5, but the European-market release insists the revised crossover won’t be much more expensive than the outgoing model. If so, expect 2013 Q5 2.0T pricing to start somewhere close to $36,000, while 3.0T models could command nearly $44,000.

Both models should arrive at U.S. dealers in the fall of 2012, but the 2013 Q5 TDI and Q5 Hybrid models won’t reach our market until later in 2013. Pricing for either model is unavailable at this time, but expect Q5 Hybrid volumes to be quite limited. Audi plans on selling only 500 examples each year — roughly three percent of all Q5 sales in 2011.

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