The Audi Q5 is the bestselling vehicle of the German brand and competes in one of the hottest segments: two-row compact luxury SUVs. Its rivals include the BMW X3
Mercedes-Benz GLC, Acura RDX, Lexus NX and Volvo XC60
Those are all notable models, but the Audi Q5 has the goods to match or better them in key areas. For one, it comes standard with all-wheel drive, and it provides one of the best blends of premium amenities, high-tech features, safety systems and practicality.
The 2021 Audi Q5 lineup also offers three tempting powertrains, including a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and the performance-oriented SQ5.
The Audi Q5 receives a mid-cycle update for 2021 that includes more power for the standard engine, styling tweaks to the grille and rear fascia, and available OLED (organic light-emitting diode) headlights. The standard Q5 45TFSI now includes the Advance line exterior, while the Q5 55 TFSI plug-in hybrid comes with the S line package. The SQ5 has a new 21-inch wheel option, and the Q5 PHEV is offered in two new colors: Distinct Green and Ultra Blue.
What we like
- Trio of great powertrain choices
- Standard all-wheel drive
- Terrific blend of comfort and athleticism
- Practical and premium transportation
What we don’t
- Pricier than rivals such as Acura RDX, Lexus NX
- Some active driver-assist features cost extra
$43,300-62,500 (plus $1,095 destination charge. Audi Q5 plug-in is eligible for up to $6,712 federal tax incentive)
The standard Audi Q5 is called the 45 TFSI and comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. It has been improved for 2021 to make 261 horsepower (13 hp more than last year) and 273 lb-ft of torque. It also now uses a 12-volt mild hybrid system. The Q5 is EPA-rated at 23 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined.
You might like: What’s it like to drive the 2021 Maserati Ghibli?
The Audi Q5 55 TFSI is a plug-in hybrid. It pairs a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with a 14.1 kWh battery pack and electric motor. Combined, the system makes 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. It is rated by the EPA at 50 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) and 27 mpg combined. Thanks to its battery pack, this Q5 PHEV is rated to travel 19 miles on electricity alone.
Both of these Q5 models use a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, and all models include Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The Audi SQ5 is the performance version of this 5-passenger luxury SUV. It uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 that makes 349 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. The EPA rates the SQ5 at 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined.
Standard features and options
The Audi Q5, Q5 PHEV and SQ5 come in three trims: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige.
A 2021 Audi Q5 45 TFSI Premium ($43,300) includes leather upholstery with wood inlays, three-zone climate control, heated front seats, power liftgate, 18-in wheels, LED headlights, keyless entry with push-button start and universal garage remote. Standard tech includes a 10.1-in touchscreen with Apple
CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and 7-in driver display.
The Q5 55 TFSI PHEV Premium ($51,900) adds the Virtual Cockpit Plus 12.3-in digital instrument cluster, 19-in wheels, and S line exterior design.
The SQ5 TFSI Premium ($52,900) brings the turbo V6 engine, 20-in wheels, adaptive damping suspension and leather/Dinamica seats.
The Audi Q5 45 TFSI Premium Plus ($48,100) adds the Virtual Cockpit Plus, panoramic sunroof, 19-in wheels, top-view camera, active lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control.
The Audi Q5 55 PHEV Premium Plus ($55,800) also includes the Audi advanced key (keyless entry and engine start) and deluxe pre-entry climate control.
The SQ5 Premium Plus ($57,300) includes the above features, plus heated steering wheel.
The Audi Q5 45 Prestige ($54,000) adds ventilated front seats, navigation, head-up display, Bang & Olufsen audio system and Matrix-design LED headlights.
The Audi Q5 55 PHEV Prestige ($61,700) and SQ5 Prestige ($62,500) add the same features as above.
Options on lower trims include a panoramic sunroof, the fabulous Bang & Olufsen
audio system, auto-dimming and power-folding side mirrors, heated steering wheels, memory driver’s seat, SiriusXM
satellite radio, and rear window shades. The SQ5 can be further upgraded with the Black Optic package with darkened aesthetics, and the S Sport package that includes red brake calipers, sport rear differential and adaptive air suspension.
All 2021 Audi Q5 models include Audi pre sense city, which bundles forward-collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, and a system that prepares the car for a collision by taking actions such as closing windows and tightening seatbelts.
Also standard is blind-spot monitoring, which Audi names “side assist,” and parking sensors, which is calls “parking system plus.”
Standard beginning on Premium Plus trims adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam assist and lane-keeping assist.
The 2021 Audi Q5 has received a 5-star crash-test rating by NHTSA. The IIHS has yet to rate the 2021 Q5, but the 2020 model scored its top rating of “Good” in all crashworthiness categories.
Behind the wheel
The Audi Q5 remains one of our favorite compact luxury SUVs. As with other Audis, the Q5 has a wonderful balance of athletic handling yet comfortable ride quality. It just feels good to drive.
Structurally, this Audi feels exceptionally tight, and the SQ5’s V6, aided by a twin-scroll turbocharger, has just enough growl to let you know there’s something special underhood. Power is delivered in a smooth and linear fashion. Although there are shift paddles behind the SQ5’s steering wheel, the 8-speed automatic works just fine on its own.
Audi says a base Q5 will go from 0-60 mph in just 5.7 seconds. The Q5 plug-in hybrid, at 5.0 seconds, is considerably quicker, though still not as fleet as the SQ5, which hits 60 mph in only 4.7 seconds.
Materials in all trim levels are top-notch and controls are easy to see and use. The Virtual Cockpit still looks futuristic, especially when paired with Google satellite-view navigation. Rear-seat room is good for this class, as is rear cargo room.
If you are a fan of quality audio for your music, make sure your Q5 has the Bang & Olufsen system.
Other cars to consider
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC—Similar in price and available with rear- or all-wheel drive, the Mercedes distinguishes itself with a sophisticated and luxurious cabin, and several engine choices.
2021 BMW X3—Another German luxury SUV that needs no introduction, the X3 also touts athletic manners and brand cachet.
2021 Acura RDX—Acura’s entry-level luxury SUV has a powerful engine, a full roster of standard safety systems, and a lower price than the Q5.
2021 Lexus NX—Lexus’ entry in this segment also boasts lots of comfort, safety features, a hybrid version and a lower price.
Used Porsche Macan—Few cars say you’ve arrived like a Porsche
The Macan touts Porsche’s famous handling with SUV practicality.
Questions you may ask
Is the 2021 Audi Q5 a good car?
Yes. In fact, the Q5 is a great choice among 2-row luxury SUVs, evidenced by its sales success and industry awards
How much does the Audi Q5 cost?
A new Audi Q5 starts at $43,300, before destination charge.
Is there a new Audi Q5 coming out?
This latest generation Q5 made its debut in 2018, and for 2021 receives a mid-cycle refresh.
Is the Audi Q5 worth the money?
Yes, we think so. While the Q5 is more expensive than an Acura RDX and Lexus NX, it is not only in line with the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC, but comes standard with all-wheel drive.
Where is the Audi Q5 made?
The Audi Q5 is made in Mexico.
Any of the Q5 powertrain choices look like a good bet, so follow your budget, heart and needs when choosing between the standard 4-cylinder, efficient-and-powerful plug-in hybrid or the higher-performance SQ5. We will note that while the plug-in hybrid is priced $7,700 or $8,600 above the base 4-cylinder depending on model, it is eligible for $6,712 in tax credits, making it all the more appealing.
As for trim, we think the Premium Plus is a great bet. It brings recommended features like the Virtual Cockpit (standard on the plug-in), a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.
This story originally ran on Autotrader.com.