|2010 Audi Q5
|2010 Audi Q5
Review and photographs by Kurt Gensheimer
- Sedan-like handling
- Exterior style that competitors lack
- Unique LED ‘eyebrow’ lights
- Copious interior space for its size (excluding rear middle seat)
- Useless rear middle seat
- Interior colder than refrigerated German coleslaw
- Options push sticker past the $50K cringe point
- Where’s the 2.0T?
Ruling: Eventually we’ll all end up driving wagons again, but until then, the Q5 eases the transition with a perfect blend of SUV and station wagon characteristics.
What’s old is new again. Take station wagons for instance. Between the 1950s and 1980s, they were all the rage. Remember the Brady Bunch mobile? Or how about the ’87 Buick Electra Estate wagon in Adventures in Babysitting? And of course, who could forget the venerable Family Truckster; half Mercury Grand Marquis half Godawful Hollywood creation. Then the 90′s came, and with the introduction of the Ford Explorer, suddenly the SUV craze took over for the next 15 years. The age of wood-paneled wagons was over.
As we enter a new decade, the excess of hulking, guzzling SUVs has fallen from vogue, and although the wood-paneling may not reappear, with the recent launch of the Ford Flex and Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, people are starting to rediscover the merits of wagons. However, there are some buyers out there who want to step down from their SUV, but aren’t quite ready to embrace the wagon again. Enter the exploding Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) market.
In the past five years, the Crossover market has grown from Toyota RAV4 spartan to the opulence of BMW X3s, Mercedes GLKs and Lexus RX350s. But up until recently, Audi was missing from the picture. There needed to be an Audi which filled the void between the A4 wagon and the Q7. With this year’s release of the Q5, Audi makes up for lost time with not only a vehicle that measures up to all the aforementioned opulence-mobiles, but takes the Crossover game a level higher.
One of the most distinct advantages the Q5 has over its competitors is in the performance department. The first time you enter a bend in the road, the resulting grip, resistance to body roll and positive feedback you feel through the steering wheel makes you realize the Q5 is more car than truck. So it should come as no surprise that the Q5 shares similar wheelbase, chassis design, quattro system and 3.2 liter V6 engine as the A4 sedan and the A5 coupe. To enhance its handling characteristics, the Q5 is also available with the optional ADS (Audi Drive Select) system, which dials in handling with driver-adjustable suspension, transmission settings and variable rate steering that is lighter at low speeds and heavier on the freeway.
The V6 powerplant puts out more than an adequate 265 horsepower and 243 lb.-ft. torque, and when combined with the quattro drive system, achieves sprints to 60 in a shade under 7 seconds. Although we find the combined power of the V6 and the 18 city/23 freeway fuel economy numbers passable, we can’t help but wonder where the 2.0T four-cylinder is that Audi/Volkswagen seems to outfit in almost every one of their midsize vehicles. Not only is the 2.0T more fitting for the size of the Q5 – resulting in less weight, higher fuel economy numbers and a lower MSRP – but the 2.0T also produces more torque than the V6 (258 lb. ft).
With no 2.0T option visible on the 2010 horizon, it seems buyers will have to make do with the 3.2 in the interim. Not that this is a bad thing. For example, the 3.2 V6 is capable of towing 4,400 pounds; something the BMW X3, Lexus RX350 and Mercedes GLK can’t. So if you’re one of those people with a demanding “must have” list which includes car-like handling and truck-like towing capacity, the Q5 should be on your short list.
Like most German vehicles, the Q5 is stout. Built like a brick you-know-what, and plenty safe enough for your most prized cargo. It received a 5-star rating for all passengers in both frontal and side impact and also earned a 4-star rollover rating, meaning that there’s only a 15 percent chance of the Q5 rolling in a single vehicle crash, which is on par with some sedans.
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