2011 Audi Q5 First Impressions Review – Equipped with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that packs a punch

Audi Expert Reviews

By contributing editor David Colman


  • Price leader in its class
  • No decontenting in performance or luxe due to low price
  • Extremely stable in all conditions


  • Paddle shift would be nice
  • Exterior a tad plain-Jane
  • Mirrors obscure side views

You might succumb to reverse sticker shock because the price of this Audi is so low. Opt for the new-for-2011 turbocharged, 4 cylinder, Q5, and your base price is just $35,200. The 2.0 liter power plant used across the VW/Audi model range in everything from the Golf to the A4 makes its debut in the Q5 this year. Yes, you do lose 69hp by choosing the 211hp turbo 4 instead of the 270hp V6. But that slight concession in power saves you thousands in base price at little cost in ultimate performance. There’s still plenty of pop for passing maneuvers, plenty of quiet for freeway cruising, excellent overall gas mileage (20 city/27highway), and lots of tow capacity (4,400 pounds). Trailer hitch pre-wiring is a nice standard feature.

2011 Audi Q5

Granted, the base model Q5 looks a little plain compared to the ritzier V6, but purists will admire the turbo 4’s honest lack of pretense. The interior is supremely serviceable, offering standard 3 zone climate control, 12 way adjustable power front seats, leather seating surfaces, and wood inlays that embellish the dash, center console and all 4 doors. Of course, you can guild the base version by opting for the $4,200 Premium Plus Package, which brings you useful features like xenon LED headlights, heated front seats, power tailgate, and a Bluetooth ready iPod interface. More importantly, the package adds a terrific “Panorama” sunroof which opens view vistas for both front and rear seat passengers. Panorama transforms the Q5’s interior from cave to observatory.

Audi is generous in its standard tire and wheel fitment, providing the Q5 with ample contact patches at each corner thanks to 18 inch alloy wheels shod with grippy Dunlop Grandtrek Touring AS rubber measuring 215/60 R 18. You might expect the junior Q5’s turbo 4 to have difficulty motivating such a bulky, 4,320 pound package from a standing start, but the 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox does wonders by compensating for lack of sheer grunt with intelligent ratio selection. By shoving the console-mounted stickshift to the right, you can manually control gear selection. The central instrument display panel indicates the gear you’ve selected.

2011 Audi Q5 interior

A couple of items need attention here. That gear selection indicator is too small for easy reference, because it’s half the pica size of the less needed MPG indicator just above it in the same panel. The outside rear view mirrors, which for no apparent reason fold up when you turn off the ignition, are perfect for sighting behind you when towing a trailer. However, they are so large, and the A-pillar on which they are mounted is so thick, that peripheral vision becomes problematic.

At its base price, this Q5 represents one of the best deals in the Audi catalog. If you opt for the Premium Package, you can still sneak this SUV out the door for under $40,000. If you must have Navigation, plan on spending $44,125 for the pleasure of owning a fully loaded junior Q5.

2011 AUDI Q5 2.0T quattro Tiptronic

  • ENGINE: 2.0 liter DOHC, 16-valve, turbocharged inline 4
  • HORSEPOWER: 211hp
  • TORQUE: 258 lb.-ft.
  • TRANSMISSION: 8 Speed Tiptronic Automatic
  • FUEL CONSUMPTION: 20 City MPG/27 Highway/22 Observed MPG
  • PRICE AS TESTED: $44,125


David Colman has been writing vehicle tests for 25 years. His work has been featured in AutoWeek, the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and Marin Independent Journal. In 1987, he helped start Excellence, The Magazine About Porsche, which he edited for many years. He has been an active participant in racing and Solo events since 1961.

2011 Audi Q5 Photo Gallery

2011 Audi Q5 Specs

AudiThe official Audi of America website – www.audiusa.com

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  • Derek says:

    @cprg – Thanks for pointing out our error. The torque spec has been corrected.

  • cprg says:

    Your listed specifications are incorrect. It has 258ft-lb of torque. The 207 you list is from the A3 and other smaller 2.0L tuned vehicles.

  • Peter Anastopulos says:

    Love this Audi Q5 from the start but where is the promised diesel.It’s even cheaper then the Ford Edge which is another handsome piece.You must not be an urban driver if you are confused by why the exterior mirrors fold up when you stop.It’s called on street parking with delivery trucks swiping you. I never understood why any one would buy the agricultural,black plastic bumper 3X and a much higher price.Whats even sillier is the VW Tiguan reach’s the 35k price pretty rapidly

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