I cross-shopped the Q5 against the X3 35i, XC60 T6, Range Rover Sport, and Cayenne. All had their strengths, but I fell in love with the Q5's TDI engine. In short, it provides the best of both worlds. It explodes off the line like a rocket thanks to its considerable low end torque, but also returns fantastic mpg, often reaching 35 mpg on the highway. I had no idea diesels were so much fun -- I preferred it to the petrol inline sixes in the XC60 and X3. You can get the same basic TDI engine in the Cayenne, but it's at least $20k premium over a similarly equipped Q5. And just so you don't think I'm too easy of a grader when I say it "explodes" off the line, I'm coming from a C63 AMG.
TDI Premium Plus quattro 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbodiesel 8A)
My new 2014 Audi Q5 TDI has a little over 1700 miles. I've been very careful during the break-in period, which happened during extreme cold temperatures and much snow and ice on the roads for a few weeks in February. The car would start flawlessly every time even at temperatures of -20 F in the mountains of Colorado. I've averaged 25.5 mpg in the city during cold weather and snowy roads. On a 180 mile round trip from Winter Park to Steamboat Springs, where you start at 8800 ft, go down to 7000, then up to almost 11,000 ft and then down to 6,800 ft I averaged 35 mpg with 5 people in the car, skis on the roof and a fully loaded trunk. From Boulder to Colorado Springs and back I averaged 41.5 MPG. Update: After owning this vehicle for two years I'm just hoping it is not too good to be true with the diesel scandal. I bought it because it had power and speed to spare while using very little fuel and polluting less than a gasoline car. That may still be true for CO2 emissions, but it is not true for NOx emissions, and that is very disappointing. I'm hoping the fix will not reduce my power or fuel economy. I've averaged almost 31 mpg over 25,000 miles, with no mechanical or electrical problems. My biggest complain is the Google Earth based GPS. The time to arrival algorithm is not very accurate, especially when driving in the mountains. It can be 30 minutes off on a two hour drive. In the city though, it is accurate enough. I bought snow tires to get one more season out of the all seasons it came with, but I still think the original tires will not last as long as expected. The Audi Q5 is excellent in the snow with these new snow tires. I did notice an appreciable difference in traction, but it does not corner as well as with the all seasons, as expected. Last year we drove the car from Colorado to California and from Colorado to the East Coast. It was such a pleasure we may do it again this year. The seats get a bit hard after 6 hours drive, so we bought a seat cushion for long trips after the first one and our bottoms thanked us. Update: The major change I've seen is my mileage has increased to an average of 31.6 of combined driving in the third year, from 30.8 the first year. I don't know if that's due to the engine loosening up and becoming fully burned in, or because the original tires are getting worn out. I have 34,000 miles and I have measured up to 40.5 MPG on one trip. Usually the computer is off by up to 1 mpg, so figure at least 38-39 mpg on the highway through 3 Colorado mountain passes. I hope Audi can fix the diesel cheating problem without affecting performance. I don't know of any other car that can perform similarly or better (range, MPG, AWD, ground clearance, acceleration, comfort, luxury, quality). Maybe next year the plug-in hybrid can come close or surpass it. Update (Mar 26, 2017): Audi may offer to buy back my 3.0 TDI Audi Q5 if they cannot solve the diesel problems by December 2017. I would take them up on the offer if I could find another vehicle that performed equally or better than what I have for a similar price. I don't think there is one, if I want similar range (600+ miles), acceleration (6.2 sec 0-60 mph), fuel efficiency (30.8 MPG combined, down a bit because of the use of snow tires), road clearance (7.9 in) , turning diameter (38.1 ft), and combination of length and cargo space on an AWD car. I am very happy with this vehicle after 38,500 miles but I don't want the pollution stigma.
I have had my 2014 Q5 TDI for around 6 months now so feel comfortable writing a review. Overall it's a great car: it's fun to drive and it feels agile and sporty. The mileage is generally better than advertised: we took a 2,000 mile road trip this summer and with 4 people and luggage we averaged just under 37 MPG -- going through the Canadian Rockies. I liked this car better than the other smaller SUVs I test-drove (Lexus, Cadillac, BMW.) On the down side, the steering can feel remote and the center of gravity is definitely higher than my 2000 Mercedes E 320 sedan (or maybe I'm just used to it) I ordered all of the options, including the tow hitch, which made the car rather expensive.
Acceleration is terrific at any speed, torque equivalent is a big block V8. Gas mileage is outstanding. Getting calculated 37MPG on a long trip is common. I'm averaging 32.2MPG in 18,000 miles of ownership. Traction is outstanding with quattro. OEM Michelin Latitude's are ok, not great, so I think traction could be further improved with better tires. Shifting is smooth in all gears, although the shift from 1 to 2 only after the idle stop was engaged is the slightest bit rough. Interior materials are first rate, layout is very intuitive. MMI is very good, nav takes a few minutes to start up on initial startup, I really like the LACK of a touch screen nav system. Everything is controlled through the selector wheel and buttons, Hands are closer to the wheel, no stretching for the nav screen and less eyes off the road. Cargo capacity is ok, but you know that buying this vehicle - if you need a Suburban, go buy a Suburban. Audi's tend to be a bit more sporty than the Mercedes, and on par with BMW. Consequently the ride is never harsh, but a bit firmer than you may be used to coming out of a Merc, or certainly a Lexus, which places a higher priority of comfort over better handling. Having said that, this is a heavy vehicle and center of gravity will be higher than any sedan you compare it to. Comparing this size SUV to any other comparably sized SUV, it's hard not to like everything it offers. Price is a reflection of the technology, materials, and performance you get, which is to say, it doesn't come cheap. Comfort, room, performance, fuel efficiency, quality of materials, and build quality, Compare it to anything you like, you won't find everything this vehicle - as a TDI - delivers anywhere else.
TDI Premium Plus quattro 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbodiesel 8A)
This is my third update on a review posted shortly after I bought my 2014 Q5 TDI. I loved the car then and I still do today, despite Audi's diesel fiasco. Pros: 1. This is a very comfortable car to sit in on the commute and long hauls. The front seats are great unless you want to pretend it's a sports car, in which case they lack a bit of lateral support. The Q5 does its suburban transport function perfectly well and the panoramic roof glass gives it an airy feeling. Like all the Audis in my experience, the driver's sight lines are excellent. 2. The fuel economy has gone from outstanding to somewhat higher than that. In the same mixed driving pattern since purchase, I'm now averaging 31-33 mpg measured at the tank (the low end of that range in winter). High 30s with pure highway driving. For a 4400 pound truck with a 5000 pound towing capacity, that's supernatural. 3. About that towing capacity; I still haven't hauled any really heavy loads but the Q5 tows 1000 pounds of motorcycle plus trailer with barely any hit on fuel consumption. 4. Driving dynamics are very good within limits. Body roll is minimal for an SUV, the steering is reasonably quick and accurate without being nervous, braking effort is linear and absolute stopping power is good but not stellar. Ride quality is quite good, striking an excellent balance of composed cornering without too stiff damping. While I usually don't ask much of the engine and rarely spin it above 1800 rpm, when acceleration is called for at any speed that initial torque surge is amazing. 5. The Q5 is good in winter, particularly since I put on Nokian Hakkapeliitta winter tires (probably not needed but they provide more braking performance in snow). Excellent ground clearance, the wheel wells don't get packed up with snow and the traction control is effective without being intrusive. It would be nice to have a locking center diff but the Quattro is perfectly fine for most snow conditions. The defroster does a good job but it would help to have a windshield option as it does get packed up with snow and ice at the base and left side of the window. 6. VWAG finally has a plan to deal with the 3.0 liter diesel scam and it looks good. Last year I got a $500 debit card for any purchase and another $500 card to use exclusively at Audi dealerships. Now they're on the verge of recall the car to implement the fix, which appears to be limited to ECU reprogramming. We will have to see if this adversely affects performance or fuel economy with no third party reports yet, as far as I know. One cause for optimism is that a friend of mine with a Golf Sportwagen TDI had no degradation of mileage or performance after recent fix of his 2.0 liter I-4. Audi will also evidently give me something in the range of $7000 compensation with a smaller amount coming from Bosch. That will have a significant impact in cost of ownership (and might put me in a new Porsche Cayman or Corvette Grand Sport when I trade in my other car next year!). Cons: 1. The steering has poor on-center feel which is a bit irritating when I set out on highway driving although after a bit of time I stop noticing it. 2. While the stopping power is adequate, the initial brake feel is spongy. I much prefer brakes that have a strong initial bite and linear rise in stopping power, like those on my Audi S4. 3. The defroster is adequate but in very snowy conditions it would be nice to have a heated windshield base or heated washer fluid. 4. I would prefer to have engine stop start switch in a more intuitive position. The system itself is not bad; the engine restarts quickly and smoothly. But I only want to use it when I anticipate a relatively long stop, like arriving at a traffic light that has just turned red. So I am turning the system on and off multiple times in local driving but it's hard to find the switch without taking my eyes off the road. 5. The interior trim on the driver's side door and left front of the dashboard reflects sunlight on the instruments and windshield under some circumstances. It's an occasional minor irritation. Overall, it's hard to find much to complain about with this car!