What's New for 2009
The 2009 Audi Q5 is an all-new compact crossover SUV from the German luxury manufacturer.
Things are getting smaller: cell phones, houses, attention spans. Automobiles have also been hit with this downsizing trend, particularly sport-utility vehicles. Luxury divisions aren't immune, as an increasing number of premium compact crossovers have popped up over the past few years. The latest is the 2009 Audi Q5, a handsome little luxury SUV that takes its looks from big brother Q7, but borrows most of its mechanicals from the A4 sport sedan. The result is a stylish and capable entry in this growing segment.
The Q5 shares its wheelbase with the A4, and it employs essentially the same 3.2-liter V6 engine, Quattro all-wheel-drive system and interior design. Not surprisingly, it feels remarkably like the A4 from behind the wheel. However, the Q5 is 3 inches shorter, 3 inches wider and of course endowed with additional ground clearance. Compared to the A4 Avant wagon, the Q5 features 5 more cubic feet of maximum trunk space. This, along with a bigger back seat may be enough to offset the Avant's fuel economy, price and handling advantage.
While its underpinnings are all A4, the Q5 bears more of a styling resemblance to Audi's Q7 SUV. The Q7 is a three-row luxury cruiser hailed for its highway performance and impeccable cabin, but lamented for its pavement-crushing weight and unimpressive interior space. The Q5 shares the Q7's strong suits while doing a better job in the size department compared to its segment rivals. If you want a crossover from Audi, the Q5 might just hit the sweet spot.
The 2009 Audi Q5 is definitely worth a look, but the competition is fierce in this category. There's no clear leader, but there are a few stand-outs. The Volvo XC60 is the go-to choice for families, but folks without kids may find the Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and Q5 equally appealing. The Acura RDX, BMW X3, Infiniti EX35, and Cadillac SRX are also worth a look. You've certainly got solid options amongst these many choices, as each offers distinctive styling, features and driving dynamics, so we recommend checking out the lot before making your decision.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Audi Q5 is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV available in one trim level, although every Q5 comes with one of three equipment groups: Premium, Premium Plus or Prestige. Standard equipment on the Premium includes 18-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, eight-way power front seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, tri-zone automatic climate control, a trip computer and a 10-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player, an auxiliary input jack, an SD card slot and satellite radio. Bluetooth and an iPod interface are optional.
The Premium Plus adds xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, a power liftgate, heated front seats (optional on Premium), driver memory functions, a panorama sunroof (optional on Premium) and an upgraded stereo with a six-CD changer. The MMI Navigation package adds to the Premium Plus a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic updates, voice control, a rearview camera and the MMI electronics interface.
That package comes standard with the Q5 Prestige, which further adds 19-inch wheels (optional on Premium Plus), keyless ignition/entry and a Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker surround-sound stereo. Available options on the Prestige include 20-inch wheels, the Audi Drive Select adjustable vehicle settings system and a blind-spot monitor. The S line Package adds to the Premium Plus or Prestige special 20-inch wheels with summer tires, a sport steering wheel, shift paddles, unique front and rear fascias, aluminum interior trim and a black headliner.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2009 Audi Q5 features standard Quattro all-wheel drive and a 3.2-liter V6 engine that produces 270 hp and 243 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is the only available transmission. In performance testing, the Q5 went from zero to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, which is on-par with most of its competitors. Fuel economy estimates are 18 mpg city, 23 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined, which is a hair better than competitors. Tow capacity is above average, with a 4,400-pound rating when properly equipped.
The 2009 Q5 comes standard with stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Rear side airbags are optional. In government crash tests, the Q5 achieved a perfect five-star rating in all frontal and side categories. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Q5 was awarded the highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side crash tests. In Edmunds braking testing, the Q5 came to a stop in 123 feet, which is on-par with its competitors.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Q5's common ground with the A4 sedan extends to its interior design and high-quality construction. As in the A4, the center stack controls are canted toward the driver, but the layout depends on equipment level. In standard form, without navigation or the in-dash CD changer, the knob and buttons for the multipurpose electronics interface (MMI) reside on the center stack. It's not the most intuitive way to select stereo functions, to put it mildly. With navigation, though, the controls migrate aft of the shifter, falling more readily to hand. With either configuration, MMI has been greatly improved versus past iterations, particularly in the areas of navigation and radio control. The optional iPod interface is one of the best available.
Despite its compact size, the Q5 manages to feel roomy whether you're seated in the front or rear. The rear seats slide fore and aft, and they also recline, extending the Q5's advantage in rear-seat comfort. Folding the rear seats flat reveals 55 cubic feet of maximum real estate, which is a little below average for this segment.
Most people will be content with the Q5's 3.2-liter V6, as there's enough power on tap for all but the most demanding driving situations. While the EX35 may seem punchier, the Audi is on par with its European rivals in terms of acceleration. Around turns, the 2009 Audi Q5 feels balanced and secure, even if it doesn't quite replicate the sport-sedan feel of some of its competitors. The steering is precise, but as on the A4, the variable-ratio rack feels a little artificial in its weighting and feedback.