What's New for 2012
The 2012 Audi Q5 returns essentially unchanged from last year.
In most cases, compromise means settling on a middle-of-the-road choice that neither side considers attractive. In the automotive world, this usually means performance is traded away to gain economy and practicality, and vice versa. But there are exceptions to the rule, and one of them is the 2012 Audi Q5.
Based on Audi's A4 sedan, the Q5 inherits much of its smaller stablemate's entertaining driving dynamics. With confident handling and a choice of two responsive engines, the Q5 represents one of the most engaging SUVs on the market. But performance does not come at the expense of fuel economy, as the turbocharged four-cylinder engine returns an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in combined driving, while the V6 offers up a still commendable 20 mpg. Given that the four-cylinder is just as quick as the V6, we see little need to pay extra money for extra cylinders, though.
On top of performance and economy, the 2012 Audi Q5's larger proportions also deliver a decent amount of comfort and utility. With plenty of passenger space and an accommodating cargo hold, this compact crossover broadens its family-friendly appeal. On top of it all, the Q5 comes with one of the nicest interiors in its class, with all of the available features typical of the luxury segment.
Naturally, there are other choices for a small luxury crossover SUV. Among the competition, the Volvo XC60 provides a roomier interior and a few more family-friendly features. If performance is high on your wish list, the BMW X3 tops the Q5 with its available 300-horsepower engine. And if style is your thing, Land Rover's new Range Rover Evoque is the most dynamic looking of the bunch. But for an all-around small luxury crossover that does everything well, you'd be hard-pressed to do better than the 2012 Q5.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Audi Q5 is a compact luxury crossover available in four trim levels: 2.0T Premium, 2.0T Premium Plus, 3.2 Premium Plus and 3.2 Prestige. The numbers refer to engine displacement.
Standard equipment on the 2.0T Premium includes 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, roof rails, eight-way power front seats (with four-way lumbar adjustment), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather upholstery, tri-zone climate control, a sliding and reclining 40/20/40 rear seat, a dash-mounted Multi Media Interface (MMI) and a 10-speaker sound system with CD/MP3 player, auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio. Options on the Premium include a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, Bluetooth and an iPod interface. These items are included on the 2.0T Premium Plus, which also gets xenon headlights, LED running lights, a power tailgate, auto-dimming and power-folding exterior mirrors and an auto-dimming interior mirror. Nineteen-inch wheels are optional.
The 3.2 Premium Plus adds a V6 engine, 19-inch wheels, headlight washers, keyless ignition/entry and S line exterior trim. The top-shelf 3.2 Prestige adds adaptive headlights, a blind-spot warning system, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, a heated/cooled cupholder, rear door sunshades and the Audi MMI Navigation Plus package (navigation system, digital music storage, voice controls, rearview camera, HD radio, CD/DVD player and center-console-mounted MMI system).
The 3.2 Prestige can also be equipped with Audi Drive Select (four settings alter throttle response, transmission shift points and steering assist), adaptive cruise control and the Luxury package (ventilated front seats and upgraded leather). Both 3.2 models can be equipped with 20-inch wheels and the S line package, which adds different 20-inch wheels, performance tires, a sport steering wheel, shift paddles and brushed aluminum trim.
All but the 2.0T Premium can be equipped with the MMI Navigation Plus package and the Bang & Olufsen stereo.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2012 Audi Q5 2.0T comes standard with all-wheel drive and a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 engine good for 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. In recent Edmunds testing, a Q5 2.0T accelerated to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, a performance on par with the Audi's peers.
The Audi Q5 3.2 gets a 3.2-liter V6 that produces 270 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard. Surprisingly, the Q5 3.2 took just a little longer to reach 60 mph than the 2.0T, registering a 7.0-second run. Estimated fuel economy stands at 18 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined, which is tops among similarly powered all-wheel-drive crossovers. Towing capacity with the 3.2 is above average, with a 4,400-pound rating when properly equipped.
Standard safety equipment for the 2012 Audi Q5 includes stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Rear side airbags are optional on all models, while a blind-spot warning system is standard on the 3.2 Prestige.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Q5 was awarded the highest rating of "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. In Edmunds braking testing, the Q5 3.2 came to a stop in 112 feet, while the 2.0T turned in a 119-foot distance. Both are strong, competitive results.
Interior Design and Special Features
As we've come to expect from all Audi models, the Q5 benefits from classy interior design and top-notch construction.
The center stack controls are canted toward the driver, although the layout depends on whether or not you opt for the navigation system. Without navigation, the knob and buttons for the MMI system reside somewhat inconveniently on the center stack. With navigation, the controls are placed between the armrest and shift lever, 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.
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, which is a rarity in this segment of luxury crossovers, and the seats also recline for greater comfort. Folding the rear seats down creates 57 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, which is a little below average for this segment.
Whether you opt for the 2.0T or 3.2 engines, the 2012 Audi Q5 delivers smooth, powerful acceleration, and the six-speed automatic is also refined and responsive. Given that the 2.0T is more fuel efficient and was actually quicker in our testing, it's hard to make a case for the V6. Outside the Q5 line, the 2.0T engine also matches European rivals like the GLK350 and XC60 T6 in terms of acceleration, though the BMW X3 xDrive35i and Infiniti EX35 have more punch.
The Q5's ride quality is firmer than the norm for this class of vehicle, but we've never found it to be harsh. In terms of handling, the 2012 Q5 is one of the sportiest crossovers on the market. One downside, though, is that the electric power steering has both a consistently artificial feel and an odd tendency to weight up suddenly at low speeds. We would skip the optional Audi Drive Select system, as it's pricey and complicated; the car's standard setup is just fine.