Boasting a styling makeover, mechanical updates and a refreshed interior treatment, Audi’s best selling vehicle in America gets its first full revision since it was introduced back in 2009.
Best considered evolutionary, the 2018 Audi Q5’s 2.0 T’s new styling treatment incorporates a coupe-like roof over a strong, curvilinear shoulder line, which nicely emphasizes the pronounced wheel arches. Its headlights feature a three-dimensional look, which competently bookends Audi’s single-frame grille treatment. At the rear, the new Q5 is a bit wider than its predecessor, which gives it a more substantive look.
The new interior offers a more spacious feel and the wrap-around dash is quite handsome. However, more than just a feeling, there really is more leg- and shoulder room for rear seat passengers. The optional virtual instrument panel is rendered in crisp high definition and can be reconfigured according to the driver’s preference.
Power comes from an updated version of the Volkswagen Group’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four—calibrated to deliver 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque for this application. Naturally, Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system is standard, as is a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. This edition of Quattro decouples the driveshaft to the rear wheels to improve fuel economy when the Q5 has sufficient traction. The EPA says you can expect to see 25 mpg overall, 23 in the city and 27 on the highway.
Audi’s products have long been praised for the execution of their interiors and the 2018 Q5 carries that tradition forward. The asymmetrical center console divides the front of the passenger compartment into distinct sections for the driver and their companion. Controls are intuitively arranged—though we do wish they’d left the volume control for the audio system to the left of the shifter instead of moving it to the right. Materials quality remains first rate and the overall design is very pleasing to the eye.
Standard comfort and convenience features include push-button ignition, cruise control, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Automatic emergency braking for vehicles and pedestrians at speeds up to 52 mph is also standard. Options include Bang and Olufsen audio, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and an adaptive suspension system.
Underway, you’ll be impressed with the pulling power of the turbo four. The Q5 is quick off the line and accelerates strongly throughout the engine’s rev range. The dual clutch transmission shifts crisply and has a knack for always selecting the right gear for any given situation. Brakes are strong and steering is more accurate than before with a redesigned five-link front suspension system working on its behalf. Still though, the Audi SUV’s steering feel could be improved upon.
Also, while we’re picking nits, the Q5’s stability control can be a bit on the aggressive side, though we will concede this ultimately keeps you safer—as startling as it can be at times. Other available driver’s aids include a full color head up display, blind spot monitoring, collision mitigation, rear cross traffic alert, smart cruise control, lane keeping assist and traffic sign recognition.
Happily, even with its delightful performance potential, the 2018 Audi Q5 rides quietly, smoothly and is a joy to use in town—thanks to its tidy size. Comfortable over long distances, the Q5 coddles its occupants without feeling overly plush. Adjustable drive modes give you the ability to tailor steering weight and suspension stiffness to your own tastes, or to firm the Audi up altogether when faced with a challenging mountain road. With is deft blending of style, comfort, technology and performance, this updating of Audi’s bestseller can be considered a solid success.
Pricing starts at $41,500.