2021 Audi Q5 55 Plug-In Hybrid Engine May Be the Best in the Q5

Many of today’s plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are the most powerful and most fuel-efficient examples within their model ranges, and this says a lot about the progress of vehicle electrification. For example, Audi’s updated 2021 Q5 SUV lineup, with its new PHEV variant, the Q5 55 TFSI e, packs the most power, and a balance of performance, fuel efficiency and luxury puts it in a convincing place in the lineup. Although the sportiest variant is still the SQ5 – but only just.

Starting at $52,995, the PHEV version of Audi’s luxury compact crossover slots between the $44,395 Q5 45 TFSI and $53,995 performance-oriented. Regardless of the powertrain, all 2021 Q5 cars have a more angular design for their headlights and front and rear bumpers, as well as an updated grille that’s more cohesive with the brand’s newer models. The net effect ties the Q5’s design elements together better than before, giving it a fresh, but not overly aggressive, aura when parked on the curb.

Audi introduced last year’s Q5 plug-in, and the 2021 combines a 248-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a 141-hp plug-in hybrid electric motor to produce a peak output of 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. With a standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive, Audi says the Q5 PHEV should hit 60 mph in a fleet 5.0 second — just 0.3 seconds slower than the SQ5’s 349-hp 3.0-liter turbo V-6.

Even with the addition of 550 pounds of hybrid battery and engine block, the Q5 55 TFSI e is fast in its class. It won’t rearrange your internals when you hit the throttle, but it will remind you that instant electric torque is a great thing when used correctly. The Q5 PHEV feels just as at home on the open road as it does around town. Its ride is steady and polished even when it’s pavement anyway, and it bends gracefully because of its size. But as with most electrified cars, you’ll notice their extra weight with increased dynamic loads.

The lithium-ion PHEV battery with a capacity of 14.1 kWh of usable energy gets an EPA rating of 19 miles for electric driving. If that sounds modest, it’s too much, as Audi voluntarily lowered the sticker value from the 29-mile mark the Q5 earned during EPA testing. While in electric mode, the Q5’s already quiet interior becomes noticeably quieter. The battery can be recharged in less than 2.4 hours via a 240-volt level 2 charging station, according to Audi, but it takes much longer if you plug it into a conventional 120-volt wall socket. Compared to the Q5’s standard EPA rating of 25 mpg combined, the PHEV gets a 27 mpg rating after the battery is depleted and 50 mpg with it in the mix.

Inside, the cabin of the Q5 continues to demonstrate the exemplary build quality we’ve come to expect from Audi. The updated MIB 3 infotainment system behind the standard 10.1-inch touchscreen is high tech and well integrated. But we did notice some delay in its response to commands, and we still acclimated to the lack of a rotary control knob for our earlier MMI setup. Wireless Apple CarPlay is now available, but Android Auto connection requires the use of a cord. The higher trim adds to Audi’s excellent 12.3-inch digital display Virtual Cockpit and its ability to deliver sharp full-width map data. Our main disappointment with our example was the standard eight-way power-adjustable front seats, which we struggled to find a comfortable position in during longer periods behind the wheel.

The Q5 55 TFSI e is available with the standard Audi Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige option packages, the latter of which pushed the plug-in price to $62,795 with heated and ventilated seats, head-up display with traffic sign recognition and a premium Bang & Olufsen stereo. Audi notes that the federal and local tax credits have the potential to significantly lower the PHEV entry point, limiting its cost-plus than the standard Q5 and making the SQ5 a much more expensive offering. For Q5 shoppers who can take advantage of its electric range, the powerful performance of plug-ins and luxury trims can strike just the right balance.

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2021 Audi Q5 55 TFSI e

Vehicle Type
Front engine, 4WD, 5-passenger, 4-door

Base price
$52995

POWERTRAIN
Turbocharged and Intercooler DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4, 248 horsepower, 273 pound-feet; Permanent Magnetic DC Motor, 141 HP, 258 lb-ft; combined output, 362 hp, 369 lb-ft; Li-ion battery pack 11.3 kWh

transition
7-speed dual-clutch automatic

Dimensions
Wheelbase: 111.0 in
Length: 184.3 inches
Width: 74.5 inches
Height: 65.3 inches
Passenger size: 99-103 feet3
Payload size: 26 feet3
curb weight (grandfather East): 4,650 lbs.

performance (grandfather he is)
60 mph: 5.0 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.7 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph

Fuel economy by the Environmental Protection Agency
Pool/city/highway: 25/29/27 mpg
Gasoline + Electric: 50 mpg
EV range: 19 miles

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