You need to squint pretty hard at the 2018 Audi Q5 to see that it's new. What your eyes can't tell you is that underneath this luxury compact SUV's evolutionary styling is an all-new platform, and with that comes more power, a smoother ride, a quieter cabin, and more rear-seat space. On the advanced safety front, forward-collision warning and low-speed automatic emergency braking are standard equipment on all 2018 Q5s.
The Q5's 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine has been updated to produce 252 hp?an increase of 32. A new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic replaces the old eight-speed automatic transmission. Audi says this combination makes the Q5 more than a second quicker to 60 mph, a claim we'll soon verify in our own testing. As before, all-wheel drive comes standard.
While there is some initial hesitation leaving stoplights, once underway the turbo-four proves smooth and adequately energetic. Shifts from the new transmission are quick and seamless, with responsive reactions to your right foot's demands.
Fuel economy looks to be considerably improved, with the EPA rating the new Q5 at 25 mpg combined vs. the previous car's 22 mpg; the last Q5 achieved 21 mpg overall in our testing. We'll measure that ourselves.
Although the ride has been made gentler, the Q5 doesn't abandon its sporty pretense. You can feel the suspension's underlying firmness at times, but it's particularly adept at soaking up big bumps. Nimble handling makes the Q5 enjoyable to drive. Steering effort is on the lighter side.
If the Q5 isn't snappy enough for you, there's an SQ5 version with a new 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 making 354 hp that's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Q5's reworked interior follows the latest Audi design themes, with an uncluttered center stack and lots of quality materials. The MMI infotainment system still requires some practice before you can deftly operate it while driving. Opting for the $2,600 Navigation package brings Audi's virtual cockpit; this eye-catching feature lets you expand the cluster from the instrument panel's large gauges into a color screen that can display audio, phone, and navigation information. The standard audio system includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
Most drivers are fond of the firm, well-padded front seats, although the bottom cushion is a bit short. The driver's seat gets a full array of power adjustments, including four-way lumbar; the front passenger seat doesn't have the lumbar adjustments. The wide and hard center console bumps into the driver's right knee, the only driving position demerit.
A tall entryway makes it easy to slide into the rear seat. Mimicking the front-seat bases, the bottom cushion could use more of a tilt to improve support for passengers' thighs. There's good headroom, and the seatback can recline via a handy lever located next to the lower cushion. The standard power liftgate reveals a nicely finished cargo area and a sturdy cover.
In addition to the standard forward-collision warning and low-speed automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, the Q5 is available with an abundance of advanced safety systems, including lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. While features such as blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning come standard on the Premium Plus and Prestige, these helpful systems aren't available at all on the base Premium.
The 2018 Audi Q5 starts at $42,475. Our Premium Plus test car tacks $4,000 on to the base price. Along with the Navigation package, 19-inch wheels, and a few other items, the total came to $51,570. The sportier SQ5 begins at $55,250.
We'll begin testing the new Q5 once we finish the break-in miles, so check back soon for the results from our road test.
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