May 042015
 

2015-04-15 Q5

Once car prices pass the $40,000 mark, there should be little to complain about. Folks will pay at least that much for the 2015 Audi Q5 luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV). On a recent test drive in Austin, TX, there was indeed, lots to like, and a little not, about the elegant SUV.

The specific test model was the Q5 TDI quattro Tiptronic. Few manufacturers have remained as committed to selling diesel powertrains in the United States as Volkswagen, and the same goes for its luxury brand, Audi.

More refined than ever, diesels are quieter and cleaner, but efforts to dispel old sooty images remain a challenge. I literally forgot that I was driving a diesel and its impressive EPA estimated fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway made it so I didn’t need to pump more fuel. The fuel economy on the diesel even surpasses that of the Q5 Hybrid.

Elegant two-tone leather seats.

Elegant two-tone leather seats.

The powertrain includes a 3.0-liter V6 clean diesel engine with 240 horsepower and 428 lb–ft of torque, matched to an eight-speed Tiptronic engine with paddle shifters on the steering wheel for simulated manual shifting.

There is an average fuel economy calculator onboard to measure fuel efficiency, and once I found it using the Owners Manual (it was hidden behind the Tiptronic shifter on the steering wheel and attached to the windshield wiper wand), it showed my average mpg hovering at around 31.5.

As the name implies, the Q5 also came equipped with the quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. It reduces fuel economy a tad but provides added confidence on slick road conditions and improved driving performance. Introduced 35 years ago, it was the first permanent AWD system for passenger cars.

Q5 Dash (not test model)

Q5 Dash (not test model)

Another feature that made itself immediately apparent was the blind spot warning system, or Audi side assist, that flashes brightly on the side view mirrors. Surprisingly, this system, and many more, e.g. back-up camera, aren’t standard but available on the Prestige model that adds $7,500 to the price.

Standard safety features include the usual suspects, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and side curtain airbags, among others.

Available in five models, 2.0T, 3.0T, TDI clean diesel, hybrid, and SQ5, and three trim levels, all Q5s come with leather seats, tri-zone climate control, cruise control, an AM/FM/SAT radio with SD card reader and CD player, and power liftgate. Stepping up to the Premium Plus trim level adds Audi Connect that includes one of the first in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspots for up to eight passenger devices as well as Google Earth Mapping and real-time access to information.

2015-04-12 Q5cargoThe Premium Plus also adds a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, and Audi advanced key—keyless start, stop, and entry. The Prestige (the test model) includes all the above plus a rearview camera, Audi side assist, and MMI navigation plus with voice control and Audi connect.

With any SUV, versatility matters. The Q5’s 40/20/40 split rear bench folds easily. Once folded flat, cargo volume expands to 57.3 cubic feet. I had a chance to test this on the way to an event where I sold serapes as a fundraiser for the Center for Mexican American Cultural Arts in Austin.

The Q5 TDI offers excellent performance and fuel economy, but packaging to get features like a back-up camera that other brands include as standard, will force the price up very quickly. Pricing for the 2015 Q5 2.0T starts at $40,225. The as-tested price for the 2015 Q5 TDI that included several additional packages came to $62,025.2015-04-15 q5lic

 

Sí: Very quiet and refined diesel with impressive fuel economy.
No: Packaging sets too high a price for features that should be standard on a luxury vehicle.

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