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The Audi Q3 is starting to show its age, which seems like a funny thing to say about a vehicle that is just now entering its third year in the United States. Keep in mind that before the Q3 came to U.S. showrooms in 2015, it was already a three-year veteran in other markets, and it bears the hallmarks of a 6-year-old design.
Not that we dislike the Q3 — on the contrary, like other Audis, it has much to recommend it. We like the Q3's ride quality and its quiet demeanor at highway speeds. Cargo room is good by class standards, and the design and materials quality of the cabin are impeccable, which is exactly what we expect from Audi. The Q3 offers comfortable accommodations for its front-seat occupants, and the engine's refinement is impressive.
But in other areas, the Q3 lets us down. While the front seat is roomy, back-benchers will be squeezed by a lack of legroom. Some of the ergonomic choices, like the placement of the climate controls and Multi Media Interface (MMI) dials, are questionable. And while some versions of the Q3 get a standard USB port to hook up smartphones — as does virtually every other vehicle on sale in the United States — other Q3s still employ Audi's proprietary MMI plug. An iPhone Lightning cable is included, but owners of Androids or older iPhones must purchase a pricey cable from the dealership in order to plug in their devices. (A USB charging port and Bluetooth connectivity do come standard.)
As with many Audi models, the Q3 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but this is an older version that produces 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. It comes coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. Edmunds tested the all-wheel-drive version and clocked it to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds, which is slow compared to its luxury-branded competitors. The EPA estimates the fuel economy of both front- and all-wheel-drive versions at 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway), a figure that is below par for the segment.
Audis are usually pretty good handlers, but the Q3 didn't impress us much: The suspension allows a fair amount of body roll in corners, and the overly light steering doesn't give much feedback. Audi does offer a Sport option bundle for the Q3, but it's an appearance package only — there are no changes to the steering or suspension, and therefore nothing any sportier in the driving experience.
For 2017, Audi has introduced a new entry-level Premium model; as with most Audis it offers plenty of equipment that is optional on the Q3's rivals, including genuine leather upholstery and a 10-speaker stereo. The Premium Plus adds more options we consider must-haves for a luxury vehicle, while the top-of-the-line Q3 Prestige adds navigation and other premium features. Which Q3 model is best? Let Edmunds help find the perfect 2017 Audi Q3 for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.