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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 fourth year in the United States. But the reality is that when the Q3 entered U.S. showrooms for the 2015 model year, it was already a three-year veteran in other markets, and it bears the hallmarks of a 7-year-old design.
Not that we dislike the 2018 Audi Q3 — on the contrary, we appreciate the effort Audi has put into transferring its strengths into an affordable package. We like the Q3's ride quality and its hushed cabin 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, such as the placement of the climate controls and Multi Media Interface (MMI) dials, are questionable. Unlike virtually every other vehicle on sale in the United States (including most Audis), the Q3 still employs Audi's old proprietary MMI plug to interface with external audio devices rather than a simple USB port. An iPhone Lightning cable is included, but owners of Androids or older iPhones must purchase a pricey cable from the dealership in order to connect 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. Fuel economy is also underwhelming.
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 there are no changes to the steering or suspension and, therefore, nothing any sportier in the driving experience.
For 2018, Audi has dropped the top-trim Prestige model; some of the features it added have been parsed to the Premium and Premium Plus trims, while others live in in options packages. The entry-level Premium 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 and doesn't cost much more, especially if you already planned on adding the Convenience package to the Premium. Which Q3 model is best? Let Edmunds help find the perfect 2018 Audi Q3 for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.