Driven: Audi Q5

If you’re looking for a mid-sized SUV, you’ve got plenty of attractive choices, as everyone and their brother seem to be getting into the SUV business these days. Some manufacturers have been in the market a long time, however, and have learned from experience. Audi, for example, is introducing a second-generation vehicle with its new 2018 Q5. Its experience in the SUV market and reputation for some of the nicest interiors in the business combine to create an attractive vehicle that mixes performance, luxury, and the latest safety and convenience technology.

Starting with a large, gaping grille flanked by LED headlights and distinctive body character lines, the Q5 styling is modern, aggressive, bold and appealing, ending at a hands-free power tailgate. Also appealing to families is its five star overall safety rating.

The Q5 provides all of the latest bells and whistles a modern SUV can offer, including rainsensing wipers; a rear view camera with guide lines; Audi pre-sense, low-speed, automatic braking (which can stop the car and prevent an imminent crash at speeds under 25 mph); Audi side assist with pre-sense rear; and, with the key fob in your pocket, the ability to just wave your foot below the rear bumper to lift the electric tailgate. Other amenities include heated front and rear seats and steering wheel, manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and three-zone automatic climate control, for which there are hard buttons and knobs. All other controls are operated through a screen that looks like it was stuck on top of the dash as an afterthought. The screen is controlled by a rotary knob and buttons between the seats, or with some practice, you can use a touch pad to draw letters for input. The dash is pebble plastic, which is more VW than premium, but all other interior materials are top-notch.

Front seats are mildly bolstered and very comfortable, and there is good rear space with sufficient leg room. A panoramic sunroof extends over the back seat to give a light, airy feel to the interior. There is a decent amount of rear cargo room, although the height is limited by the slope of the rear hatch. There’s a handy cargo cover, and the rear seats fold 40/20/40 to expand cargo-carrying capacity. No third-row seat is available, but you can get one in the bigger Q7. The leather-wrapped steering wheel includes controls for the virtual video dash behind the wheel, which you can customize with things like analog gauges, navigation information, a clock and outside temperature. If your passengers can’t live without Wi-Fi for more than 5 minutes, the Q5 can serve as a hot spot, but it requires a monthly fee after the first six months.

On the road, the Q5 offers a typical Teutonic driving experience, with a nice, firm ride, communicative steering, responsive handling and good brakes. The steering is a bit over-boosted at slower speeds, but it improves as speed increases, and the suspension is adequately tight in ‘dynamic’ setting while still offering a comfortable highway ride. Acceleration is brisk for a 4,000-pound vehicle, and the shifts from the 7-speed automatic transmission are pretty smooth. Sport mode really improves engine performance by coaxing the transmission to hold gears longer for quicker acceleration. Legendary Quattro all-wheel drive aids foul-weather traction and all-weather handling. There’s an auto stop/start gas-saving feature when you stop at a light, but it’s not too annoying and can be defeated if it becomes irritating.

According to Alex Madison, salesman at Audi Kirkwood, “The all-wheel drive Q5 is very versatile with the latest technology, in addition to being sporty, quick and fuel-efficient.”

Q5 2.0T Quattro S Tronic

>> base | $42,500, including delivery
>> as driven with options | $54,275

gas mileage
>> 23 city
>> 27 highway

>> front engine; all-wheel drive
>> 2.0-litre, turbo, 4-cylinder engine
>> 252 horsepower
>> 7-speed automatic transmission