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2018 Audi Q5 Overview
Longer, lighter, and more tech-laden than its predecessor, the Audi Q5 midsize crossover SUV receives a long-awaited second-generation redesign for 2018. First appearing in showrooms in 2009, the Q5 merged Audi's sporty sedan styling and handling with a roomier, more functional SUV body—and it worked. The first-generation Q5 was a big success for the automaker, selling more than a million and a half units worldwide during its nine-year run—which might explain why Audi held off so long on introducing the next generation. It didn't want to mess with a good thing. But in all likelihood, the appeal of the initial version will carry over to the new Q5 and beyond.
Audi kept its fingers fairly light in massaging the Q5's exterior styling for 2018, with the goal of appealing to current customers while also attracting new ones. The most noticeable changes are up front with the reshaped Singleframe grille, where designers widened its solid polished surround and raised its flare point up to align with the bottoms of the headlights for a more horizontal look. This theme continues with the horizontal grille slats, long but thin headlights, and slatted lower air intakes. From there, the sculpted hood merges nicely with the slightly swooping sidelines, while the flat, low roofline tapers toward an integrated rear spoiler. Along the lower doors, concave scoops give the Q5 a cinched, athletic look. The horizontal theme wraps up at the rear with elongated LED taillights and a slender strip of a bumper with integrated dual trapezoid exhaust pipes.
Some of the Q5's exterior design elements, such as the bumper color and accents, are dependent on the trim. In Europe, Audi will offer the new Q5 in Sport and Design levels, but for U.S. markets it retains the traditional Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trims. Differences between the European Sport and Design trims include the detailing on the front air intakes and the colors of the bumpers, as the Sport goes for a monochromatic look while the Design’s gray bumper and cladding gives it a more rugged appearance. Expect similar variations in U.S. versions.
For those who want a more distinctive-looking Q5, new S-line packages add special exterior features like specific paint and bumper colors, unique wheels, and trim around the windows and mirrors. Owners can choose between high-intensity discharge (HID) or LED headlights and from 14 different exterior colors. Overall, the changes for 2018 are more conservative and subtle than groundbreaking, though they do bring the Q5's design more in line with the redesigned full-size 7-passenger Q7.
Slightly larger than its predecessor, the Q5 now stretches 15.3 feet in length, an increase of 1.3 inches, and sits on a 9.25-ft wheelbase (up by 0.5 inches). Width remains the same, at 6.2 feet. Despite its larger size, the Q5 sheds nearly 200 pounds, thanks in part to the extra high-strength aluminum in the body, chassis, hood, and rear tailgate.
The lighter weight, as well as updates to the engine, help improve the 2018 Q5's performance numbers. Power comes from a familiar turbocharged 2.0-liter TFSI 4-cylinder engine, borrowed from the A4 sedan. Engineering tweaks, including revisions to the cylinder head, exhaust manifold, injection system, and turbocharger, have boosted the output and improved the throttle response, emissions, and fuel economy. The engine now generates 252 hp, up from 220 hp for the previous year, and 273 lb-ft of torque instead of 258. The new Q5 reaches 60 mph in 5.9 seconds instead of 7 and on to a top speed of 147 mph, and Audi expects fuel-economy numbers to improve on last year’s 20 mpg city, 27 highway, and 22 combined. European drivers will get a number of additional engine options, including a 3.0-liter TDI turbodiesel good for 282 hp and 457 lb-ft, and the Q5’s sporty SQ5 sibling receives a turbocharged 3.0-liter TSFI V6, which is covered in a separate preview.
The Q5’s engine links to a 7-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission, which sends torque to the wheels through Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. Updated for 2018 and included as standard equipment, the AWD system now features Ultra technology that intelligently decouples the rear axle and rear differential to send all power to the front wheels in situations where AWD is not required, improving efficiency and fuel economy.
The Q5 seats 5 passengers in its comfortable, well-equipped cabin. Ergonomics and material quality have improved over the previous generation, and interior dimensions—particularly second-row shoulder-, head-, and legroom—have improved slightly. Cargo space has also increased to 60.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down, an uptick of 2.8 cubic feet. With the 40/20/40-split rear seats up, the Q5 offers a still-generous 28.7 cubic feet of storage space. Standard interior features include leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, 3-zone automatic climate control, and a panoramic sunroof on the Premium Plus and Prestige trims. Among the available add-ons are upgraded upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, ambient lighting, and a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. Buyers also have a wide range of customization options from which to choose, including color themes and additional leather and trim packages.
Audi paid particular attention to the Q5's tech features for 2018, adding such options as a virtual cockpit, which replaces the standard analog gauges and readouts with a digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster. This display gives drivers the option of changing the screen view to show navigation (including Google Earth and Street View), audio, or phone information at the touch of a button. Also available are a head-up display and an upgraded MMI multimedia and navigation system, which now features touch handwriting-recognition technology for easier accessibility. The Q5 comes standard with Bluetooth capabilities, an SD card slot, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
The 2018 Q5 rides on an updated chassis and five-link suspension, with new dampers and wheel hubs. The revised electromechanical power steering delivers a precise feel and stays on-center, but it doesn't provide quite the feedback some early testers would like to see. Drivers can choose from 4 drive modes (Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, and Individual) that adjust the transmission shift points, throttle response, suspension, steering, and damper controls for an optimal driving experience. In addition, Audi introduces a number of new driver-assistance systems for 2018 including a new Pre-Sense City system, which monitors the area in front of the vehicle for pedestrians and obstacles. Adaptive cruise control, traffic-jam assist with autonomous steering, and blind-spot monitoring are among the other available safety features.
As far as ride and handling, the 2018 Q5 gets high marks from early testers, who tested both European and U.S. versions and noted some differences between the two. Critics report that the new Q5, with its updated suspension and reduced weight, feels more responsive and lighter on its feet, and although it's stable overall, there's still some body lean in tight corners. The turbocharged engine provides plenty of power, with good torque at the lower end, and the updated quattro AWD system seamlessly uncouples the rear axle to provide an efficient front-wheel driving (FWD) experience. All in all, the new Q5 should continue to prove a winner for Audi.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.
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