In my upscale ‘hood, where I’m poised – vicariously – on its economic fringe, Audi’s Q5 is sprinkled liberally throughout the area’s highways and byways. In fact, the Q5 is so prolific you could think of it as an upscale substitute for Ford’s Edge or Chevy’s Equinox if, in fact, this Dallas/Fort Worth ‘burb boasted(?) even a modest number of Fords or Chevys. Like many crossover SUVs, Audi’s 2014 Q5 sells because it delivers the goods people want (high hip point, reasonable visibility and semblance of utility) in a stylish, upscale fashion – and (notably) it doesn’t cost $85K. In upscale suburbia, if you can save a little coin (for dining out, the grad school loan and/or this year’s Great Escape) save it. Even in an upward-trending, escalating economy it could all end tomorrow. And if it does, you could be sleeping in the frickin’ Audi!
We didn’t sleep in the Q5, but given its overall comportment we might have. As with most products coming from Audi AG, the Q5 delivers composure in spades, offering a platform with behavior appropriate to both the school zone and red zone. You won’t – obviously – grab this Q-Ship for track days, but for the functions most of us subject our vehicles to on a day-in/day-out basis the platform people at Audi have absolutely nailed it. The all-independent suspension delivers a supple ride, the steering is beautifully weighted, and while the 2.0 turbo could feel slightly overwhelmed by the Q’s undeniable heft, no muscles were pulled, no hernias herniated.
When speaking of sleep-inducing, the Q5 sheetmetal is beginning to show its age, especially if compared to more recent offerings from BMW, Volvo, Range Rover and – to a lesser degree – Mercedes. While the design is irrefutably pleasant, the walk-up and walkaround leave you wishing for something more visceral. The good news: The Q5 has absolutely nothing in its DNA that’s faddish or quirky; the bad news: neither is there anything with which to make a strong, emotional connection.
Inside, access is what you’d expect from a compact CUV, but step-in for the elderly mom was more difficult than her own CR-V. Once inside, your view of the dash is inviting while your view of what’s around you is (relatively) unobstructed. With fairly flat seats and leather seating surfaces, don’t go charging for the apex; you’ll swing and sway like Sammy Kaye. But then, that’s what Audi’s TT and R8 are for – charging the apex. As with most compact CUVs, the backseat works better for two than three, and when folded will swallow almost 60 cubic feet of ‘stuff’, which isn’t bad, Dad, when you have a dorm room to unload.
On the road, the platform’s composure is never upset by the 2.0 liter turbo’s 220 horses or 258 lb-ft of torque. (Notably, it’s still an iron block – and still notoriously undersquare.) Moving the Audi’s two tons (plus people and cargo) is rarely a challenge, but neither will this CUV attempt to get away from you; for that’s there’s the 428 lb-ft of the Q5 TDI, or 354 horses of V6-powered SQ5. The 8-speeds of the Tiptronic auto never seem to lack a proper gear, while delivering what the EPA estimates will be a combined 23 miles per gallon. We achieved mid-20’s on the freeway, and high teens in stop-and-go – about the same as the aforementioned CR-V.
At a base price of just over $38K (with destination) the Q5 impresses as an almost screaming deal; you can easily spend as much on Volkswagen’s Tiguan. With Premium Plus and Audi’s MMI Navigation, however, the window escalates to $46K, which strikes us as a little dear. Take advantage of a competitive lease – and Audi’s 4-year/50,000 mile new vehicle warranty – and enjoy. And if you elect to buy it, buy it to keep it, with (in our experience) as much extended warranty as you can afford. On the economic fringe of an upscale neighborhood, extended warranties are powerful insurance against homelessness – and sleeping in your Audi.