Smallish so-called crossover SUVs have become the “must have” in an automaker’s product portfolio. Lexus began the assault in earnest with its RX model line and others quickly jumped on the bandwagon. And when brands didn’t follow the formula, like Cadillac’s original SRX that was just too big, they quickly made a course correction. A smaller Caddy sells like hotcakes and Audi has done quite well with its Q5 offering.
Audi’s current marketing campaign stresses the virtues of clean diesel power, a fuel alternative that’s not on every buyer’s shopping list since diesel fuel cost can soak up much of the added fuel economy benefit. But although it doesn’t always pencil positively, Audi’s TDI diesel is the perfect motive power for the Q5.
If it’s been a while since you’ve experienced a diesel, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. Starting, even on cold mornings, is a quick push of a button. The cabin is as quiet as a library, there’s no soot or smoke, and with 428-pound-feet of torque, it’s more powerful than most V8s. So if you wish to tow a 4,000-pound trailer, just hook it up.
Light on its Feet
We didn’t have truck-like loads to haul, but plenty errands to run, so we gave the Q5 a good workout. After a week and more than 400 miles of running about, two things occurred
to me. First, I looked forward to my next time in the driver’s seat, something that’s not always a new vehicle’s attribute. And then there’s the fuel economy — after all that driving, there was still lots of unused range left.
Audi calls the Q5 sporty, a term others have applied to similar SUVs. And although there’s plenty of ground clearance for snow work and modest off-road ventures, the Q5 feels competent enough on twisty roads at speed to claim a sports moniker. The suspension is firm without harshness and steering both quick and precise. And when enthusiasm needs reining in, the brakes are up to the task.
Over the last two decades, Audi has worked hard to become the benchmark in interior quality and lasting style. The Q5 is no exception. Materials are first rate, layout is logical, and seating is perfect for a long haul. And when you consider the hundreds of miles this Audi can travel between fill-ups, comfort is a welcome attribute.
While the TDI diesel is my choice of Q5 model offerings, the standard 2.0T is a solid value at just $38,195. And if you really wish rapid transit, a new SQ5 drops a twin turbo 3.0-liter gas engine, firm suspension, and larger brakes along with a more aggressive demeanor for prices starting in the mid-$50,000 range. So there’s enough choice to please nearly every taste and budget. Brian Douglas
2014 Audi Q5 TDI
ENGINE: 3.0-liter Turbodiesel
HORSEPOWER: 240 @ 3,750 rpm
TORQUE: 428lb.-ft. @ 1,750 rpm
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 24-city/31-highway/27 Combined
BASE PRICE: $46,500
AS TESTED: $51,445