2021 Audi Q5 test drive and review: Just right

Audi’s 2021 lineup is jam-packed, with more than thirty vehicles between A, Q, R, S, RS, SQ and TT models and variants. And the best-selling model in the whole range is the Q5, which I would not have thought at first glance. Then I spent a few days behind the wheel of a 2021 Audi Q5 45 TFSI quattro (a long name that Audi tells me is EPA regulated), and it made sense to me.

There’s a reason midsize SUVs like the Q5 have become so popular over the past few years — it’s the Goldilocks phenomenon. Not too big, not too small, but just right.

The Q5 is a sharp-looking crossover that conveys the Audi design language well, while maintaining its individual character within the lineup. It has an expressive face, with the LED headlights staring alongside the large Audi single-frame grille, and all the horizontal sporting elements emphasizing the width. The body is distinguished by clear character lines, and the greenhouse resembles a protective shell. The rear features large, bold taillights. Overall, a very sleek and modern look from the torso to the back with an exceptional fit and finish everywhere you look

Inside, things are similarly elegant and modern. While the Q5 is packed with technology, it maintains an uncluttered look. Buttons, switches and knobs are cleverly grouped and separated by function, and there is a very satisfactory unity of design. There is real authenticity to the materials, with real wood, real metal, and polished surfaces. The 10.1-inch infotainment screen floats at the top of the center console, where it should be in the driver’s line of sight. The second row is nicely fitted as well, with standard leather seating surfaces throughout.

A new feature, the Integrated Toll Module (ITM) is standard on all Q5 models. It’s a compact transponder compatible with most US toll road services – a great upgrade from bulky Velcro transceivers to your windshield.

The Bang & Olufsen 3D Premium Premium Sound System with 19 speakers and a 16 channel / 755 watt tweeter is available on Premium Plus models and standard on Prestige. Wireless Apple CarPlay is included, and it works like a charm.

Thanks to smart packing, there’s 25.85 cubic feet of space behind the second row; Fold the second row down, and you can haul up to 54.06 cubic feet of cargo behind the first row.

There’s a fair amount of legroom in the second row (38.0 inches) and plenty of headroom (37.7 inches) and shoulder room (56.5 inches). Two adults can comfortably sit behind the adults in the first row, and a third adult can sit on shorter rounds when absolutely necessary. The front passenger and driver are treated to a pair of very comfortable and supportive Audi seats with a wide range of adjustments, heating and ventilation in Prestige models.

The front row has a pair of cup holders and several nooks and crannies for phones, change, chargers, and junk. The center console armrest rises to reveal a small storage box. Reflecting its uncluttered design, everything inside works well and has been cleverly designed.

The Q5 is a fun crossover to drive. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder direct-injection engine produces 261 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, and uses a seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission with standard quattro all-wheel drive, capable of producing a 0-60 mph stretch of 5.7 seconds in Road to a top speed of 130 mph. The Q5 uses velocity-sensitive electromechanical steering, and has a wider-than-expected turning diameter of 39.4 feet. This can come as a surprise during the first drive if you try to maneuver vertical parking (as it should), but it quickly becomes an unfamiliar problem. Four-wheel independent suspension is standard, with five-link settings front and rear. Maneuverability is good, with a slightly stiff sporty position that balances comfort and the feel of the road. Body roll is minimal and controlled, and braking is powerful and predictable.

The Q5 is equipped with six airbags, anti-lock braking system with brake assist, Audi basic pre-emptive occupant protection, low-speed collision assist, child safety locks in the rear doors, electronic stability control with off-road mode, electronic vehicle stability, anti-theft alarm , interior motion sensor, LED daytime running lights and LED taillights, LATCH connectors on the outside rear seats, rear view camera, and tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

Available driver assistance features include Audi advanced key, Audi pre sense rear, Audi side assist with rear cross traffic assist, parking system plus, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, park assist, traffic sign recognition and a top-view camera the system.

The 2021 Audi Q5 45 TFSI quattro is available in three trim levels: Premium (starting at $43,300); Premium Plus (starting at $48,100); and Prestige (starting at $54,000). There’s also an Audi Q5 55, a hybrid version of the Q5 (adds about $8,000 to the Q5 45 price), and a high-performance SQ5 (adds about $8,500 to the Q5 45). If you are in the market for a luxury compact crossover, you should also drive a Porsche Macan, Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class, BMW X3, Lexus NX, Acura RDX, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Lincoln Nautilus, Cadillac XT5, and others in this Popular category.

The Audi Q5 45 TFSI quattro has a lot to do with it. Pleasant driving experience, superb technology, and overall quality look and feel, it’s a convincing car – no wonder it’s the best-selling in Audi’s impressive lineup.

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