The 2018 Audi Q5 looks set to follow in the tire tracks of its predecessor as the company’s top-selling vehicle. Every suburban road, it seems, is clogged with crossovers. And many of them are premium compacts, just like the Q5. But even though a classy crossover is a no-brainer, there’s something about the Q5 that raises it above the level of school-run status symbol.
There’s the immediately recognizable Audi style, naturally, that makes a virtue of restraint and hones it to perfection. There’s more of a family resemblance with the larger and still-fresh Q7, as well, which is no bad thing.
Beneath the surface is the same platform as the current A4 sedan, another recent newcomer. The foundation, then, is as refined as it is stable. It’s also a tad larger than before, to the benefit of rear passengers and the cargo area. And the technology that was sorely missing in the last Q5 is available in this model, such as Apple CarPlay, pedestrian detection and traffic-jam assistance (which helps with accelerating, braking and steering).
The sportier and similarly all-new 2018 SQ5 is reviewed separately.
What’s New for 2018?
Everything except for the name. This is the first model year of a second generation.
What We Like
High-quality interior; new look; engine; chassis; availability of new tech
What We Don’t
No hybrid version (yet); only the top trim is eligible for driver-assistance features; options are pricey
A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine propels the Q5 with 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed automatic transmission (with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, which a driver can choose to use or not) sends that drive to all four wheels. The intelligent all-wheel-drive system (known as Quattro) can decouple the rear axle to be more fuel efficient, but can send torque to both ends within milliseconds when necessary.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 23 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Audi Q5 luxury compact 5-seater crossover is available in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels.
The Premium ($42,475) has 18-inch alloy wheels, aluminum roof rails, fog lights, xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, heated side mirrors, heated windshield-washer nozzles, rain-sensing wipers, a powered tailgate, leather upholstery, wood inlays, 8-way power-adjustable front seats, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a self-dimming rearview mirror with a compass, push-button start, selectable driving modes (adjusting steering, transmission and throttle responses), leather seating surfaces, tri-zone automatic climate control, ambient LED cabin lighting, slide/recline rear seats with 40/20/40 split and fold, a rearview camera, a garage door opener, forward-collision mitigation, Bluetooth and Audi’s MMI infotainment system with a 7-in display, voice control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, 10 speakers, a CD player, two USB ports, two SD card slots and HD Radio.
The Premium Plus ($46,475) brings full LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, heated front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, a hands-free tailgate release, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rearward-collision mitigation, parking sensors front and rear, Wi-Fi and satellite radio.
The Prestige ($51,775) comes with the Virtual Cockpit, a 12.3-in configurable driver information screen replacing the usual instrument cluster. Plus a head-up display, dual-pane acoustic glass for the front-side windows, 20-in alloy wheels, simulated leather on the center console and door armrests, a top-view camera system, a 19-speaker 755-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system, navigation with handwriting recognition and an 8.3-in screen.
Several features in the higher trims are available as options lower in the order, including the upgraded MMI system. Other extras include ventilated front seats, rear-side window sunshades and a heated steering wheel.
The Prestige trim is eligible for a package of driver-assistance features that includes adaptive cruise control with stop/go and traffic-jam assist, active lane keeping, automatic high beams and road-sign recognition. An adaptive suspension is also available for this trim level.
Maximum cargo space is 60.4 cu ft. With the rear seats up, luggage area is 26.8 cu ft.
The Q5 features standard stability control, 4-wheel antilock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front side, full-length side curtain). Rear-side airbags are optional.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the new Q5 a maximum overall score of five stars, including five stars for front-impact protection and five stars in side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Q5 its highest rating of Good in every major category and named it a Top Safety Pick.
Behind the Wheel
The cabin is elegantly simple, pared down without being bland, using high-quality materials. It takes no time at all to become accustomed to the positions of the switches. And the feel of the controls is simultaneously classy and substantial.
There’s plenty of passenger space; rear legroom, which was already pretty good, is stretched by about half an inch compared with the previous Q5.
At reasonable cornering speeds, the Q5’s handling abilities seem more like those of a sport sedan than a compact crossover with a raised driving position. Push harder and understeer is inevitable but forgivable. No one buys a Q5 to chase motorcycles in the hills, after all. The vehicle’s true calling is to negotiate highways and patchy urban pavement with composure. For the most part, that’s exactly what it does. Those 20-in wheels will have a negative effect on ride quality, though. So if you’re considering them, test-drive them first.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Acura RDX — There’s no shortage of great contenders in this class, and the RDX is a perfect example. Offers a lot of equipment for the price.
2018 BMW X3 — Like the Q5, the X3 is all-new for 2018. Athletic, offers a choice of great engines and the quality of its interior is on level with the Audi.
2018 Lexus NX — As usual with Lexus, the NX has great build quality, decent equipment levels, strong resale values and tepid driving dynamics.
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 — Spacious, well stocked and luxurious.
2018 Volvo XC60 — Another all-new contender for 2018 with its own special style and a lot of standard-issue safety equipment.
At least the Premium Plus has blind spot monitoring, making this trim level the most reasonable choice. We like the Virtual Cockpit, as well, so that goes on our options wish list.