What's New for 2010
The 2010 Audi Q5 receives a new Luxury Package for the Prestige model and other minor trim adjustments.
Compact luxury crossover SUVs like the 2010 Audi Q5 are multiplying like bunnies. With so many of them hopping around, the task of evaluating their relative pros and cons may seem overwhelming. In the case of the Q5, though, it's worth the effort. Thanks to a sprightly V6 and underpinnings from the A4 sport sedan, the Q5 is one of the most entertaining vehicles in this segment. And thanks to its generous rear passenger space and ample cargo space behind the rear seats, this entertainment doesn't come with the usual practicality compromises.
The Q5's wheelbase is identical to the A4's, as are its Quattro all-wheel-drive system and many of its suspension bits. Interestingly, the Q5's 3.2-liter V6 -- a smooth and powerful engine that's one of our favorites in this class -- is no longer available on the A4. Otherwise, though, the Q5 largely drives like an A4 wagon with an elevated seating position, which is exactly what shoppers in this segment are looking for -- carlike handling along with a commanding view from the driver seat.
Compared to fellow compact luxury crossovers, the Q5's handling is at the top of the heap, yet its ride will never beat you up. Its acceleration is also up there with the class leaders, and its transmission always seems to be in the right gear. In terms of practicality, the Q5's maximum cargo capacity is on the small side for this segment at 57 cubic feet, but its capacity behind the rear seat (29 cubes) and rear-seat room are wholly competitive. And there's plenty of technology inside to keep you occupied, including Audi's third-generation Multi Media Interface (MMI), which includes revised menus and a joystick-like controller atop the primary knob for added functionality.
Other popular compact luxury crossovers include the Acura RDX, BMW X3, Infiniti EX35, Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and Volvo XC60. Each offers distinctive styling, features and driving dynamics, so we'd recommend holding off on deciding until you've driven the lot. But the 2010 Audi Q5 makes a strong case for itself with its winning combination of performance and practicality. Not all bunnies are made equal -- this Audi hops with more panache than most.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Audi Q5 is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and 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, Audi's MMI with dash-mounted controls, and a 10-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player, an auxiliary input jack, an SD card slot and satellite radio.
The Premium Plus adds xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, a power liftgate, heated front seats, driver memory functions, a panorama sunroof, Bluetooth and an iPod interface. Some of these features are available as options on the Premium trim. The available MMI Navigation package adds a hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic updates, voice control, a rearview camera and the third-generation MMI system with console-mounted controls, improved menus and a joystick-like button atop the main control knob for enhanced functionality.
That package comes standard with the Q5 Prestige, which further adds 19-inch wheels (optional on Premium Plus), keyless ignition/entry, a blind-spot warning system and a Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker surround-sound stereo (also optional on Premium Plus). Available options on the Prestige include 20-inch wheels and the Audi Drive Select adjustable vehicle settings system. The S line Package (optional on the Premium Plus and Prestige) adds 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. The Luxury Package for Prestige models adds special leather upholstery and ventilated front seats.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2010 Audi Q5 features standard Quattro all-wheel drive and a 3.2-liter V6 engine that produces 270 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only available transmission.
In performance testing, our Q5 test vehicle 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 -- respectable ratings for a compact luxury crossover. Towing capacity is above average, with a 4,400-pound rating when properly equipped.
The 2010 Audi 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 perfect five-star ratings for frontal and side impacts. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Q5 was likewise awarded the highest rating of "Good" in frontal-offset and side crash tests. In Edmunds braking testing, the Q5 came to a stop in 123 feet, a competitive performance.
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 MMI reside on the center stack, and the resulting procedure for using the stereo is less than intuitive. With navigation, though, the controls migrate aft of the shifter, where they fall more readily to hand. Navigation-equipped models also get the latest, third-generation MMI system with revised menus and an additional joystick button for enhanced 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, unlike those in the Acura RDX, for example. Folding the rear seats flat reveals 57 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, which is a little below average for this segment.
The Q5's 3.2-liter V6 delivers smooth, powerful acceleration, and the six-speed automatic is also refined and responsive. The Audi matches European rivals like the X3, GLK350 and XC60 in terms of acceleration, though the Japanese EX35 has more punch. The ride is firmer than most, but impacts are never harsh. In terms of handling, the 2010 Audi Q5 is one of the sportiest crossovers on the market. One downside, though, is that the electric power steering rack has both a consistently artificial feel and an odd tendency to weight up suddenly at low speeds.
Also of note is the optional Audi Drive Select system, which allows the driver to choose among three modes for ride compliance, steering effort and transmission responsiveness -- or enjoy custom settings via a fourth "Individual" mode. It's an interesting idea, but in testing we've noted that it's pricey and can be finicky to use. Most shoppers should find the Q5's standard suspension, steering and transmission calibrations perfectly adequate.