First Drive: 2018 Audi Q5

New ute displays essence of restrained luxury.

by on Nov.03, 2017

The 2018 Audi Q5 compact utility vehicle is loaded with new technology while retaining its luxurious feel.

During the last decade, Audi has succeeded in delivering a series of carefully designed and artfully engineered vehicles that have never failed to impress rivals, automotive critics and motorists all around the world.

The German luxury carmaker has done it once again with the rollout of the 2018 Audi Q5, a smartly done compact utility vehicle that is packed with the latest technology. It also comes with ample power and nicely honed driving dynamics.

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The 2018 Audi Q5 also looks most presentable sitting at the curb with an exterior design that clearly indicates that it was meant to be put in motion. Making the exterior design of compact utility vehicle look interesting in today’s crowded market is a challenge and some come looking more like a delivery van than something you might like to drive for pleasure.

The exterior of the Q5 avoids the delivery van trap and invites the driver to climb behind the wheel and take it for a spin. But I suspect that not everyone will find the front fascia, with its wide grille face, particularly appealing. But the trapezoidal headlights give the front a singular appearance.

(Audi cutting $12B from budget to accelerate electrification plans. Click Here for the story.)

The new Q5 offers plenty of power as well as outstanding handling and performance.

The interior of the Q5 features what might be described as restrained luxury. The interior design is relatively austere but the materials are first rate and the combination, along with deft use of accents and ambient light, makes the interior very comfortable even when you’re sitting behind the wheel in traffic for an hour or two. The sound system is also first rate and the graphics on the navigation system are quite easy to read even for tired eyes and at night.

I was also most impressed by the Q5′s excellent driving dynamics during test drive, which was done on freeways and city streets in and around the southeast Michigan. The suspension, in keeping with its German heritage, is relatively taught for a small crossover vehicle but it also manages to keep the ride smooth and comfortable even while it maintains a tight grip on the road on the uneven surfaces that are all too common around southeastern Michigan.

The Q5′s handling is also better, in fact much better, than that found in the standard compact utility. The steering has a nice feel in the driver’s hand and is very precise but the electric power system never seems to take the wheel out of the driver’s hand. The four-wheel disc brakes with the anti-lock controls are also very good even in what might seemingly be an emergency type of stop.

The ride and handling in the Q5 is support by 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine, which combines turbo-charging and direct injection and an all-new seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. The dual-clutch transmission has taken its share of criticism but the Audi version certainly performs. It shifts smoothly and without hesitation has the situation, giving the vehicle a quick feel if you pull out to pass or accelerate from a standing start.

(Click Here for details about Audi’s executive changes.)

The interior of the new Audi Q5 keeps its usual level of high-end finishes while making everything easy to read and use.

The combination produces 252 horsepower and 273 foot-pounds of torque, which very good numbers for a small displacement engine. The Q5 also features Audi’s quite effective quattro, all-wheel-drive system and even with all-wheel-drive the combined EPA rating is 25 miles per gallon.

The 2018 Audi Q5 is one of eight Audis named a 2017 IIHS Top Safety Pick for its elaborate driver assistance technology. It is equipped with a standard front-crash prevention system that earns a “superior rating.”

The system includes standard Audi pre sense basic, which can help prepare the vehicle for impact by partially closing the side windows and sunroof and pre-tensioning the front safety belts, and standard Audi pre sense city, which helps detect cornering and stationary vehicles and pedestrians, at speeds of up to 52 mph. It can then initiate full braking when a potential collision is detected.

The Q5 also features other driver assistance systems Audi side assist and rear cross traffic assist, designed to help drivers navigate various hazards as well as blind-spot detection and lane departure warnings and LED headlights.

In addition, it comes with desirable features such as flat-bottomed steering wheel with controls, a power rear lift gate and Bluetooth connectivity, which means the driver can remain plugged into the world beyond the vehicle’s four walls even in open country.

(To get a first look at Audi’s new A7 Sportback, Click Here.)

Prices for the 2018 Audi Q5 start at $41,500 the $975 destination charge so this is not an inexpensive vehicle. But in terms of driving dynamics and overall comfort in what has become a very, very crowded and hotly contested segment it really is an authentic standout.

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