Most industry watchers agree that the compact luxury crossover utility vehicle has the most potential for solid growth over the next five years. It seems that even affluent buyers are worried about fuel prices, yet still want multi-purpose vehicles that maintain their image. So, enter the Q5, Audi’s first compact CUV. With numerous rivals like the Lexus RX and BMW X3 already so entrenched, the Q5 has its work cut out for it.
The 2009 Audi Q5 may be a late entry into the premium compact or small crossover race, but that gave designers plenty of time to prepare for its competition.

And, they needed it. Besides the BMW X3 and Lexus RX, the Q5 takes on the Acura RDX, Volvo XC60, Infinity EX35, Land Rover LR2, Mercedes Benz GLK350, and the Cadillac SRX.

Based on the A4’s modular platform, the Q5’s long, 110.5-inch wheelbase is nearly the same, but with a slightly more concise 182.2-inch overall length.

Styling is also in the family, but this time it’s the larger Audi Q7 that inspires.  Short overhangs and wide tracks give the Q5 a muscular stance, as well-drawn lines are a dichotomy of both graceful and razor sharp.

But the Q5 does have its own personality. Large xenon headlamps with LED running lights, bookend a slightly tamer grille than the Q7, giving this younger sibling an overall friendlier look.

Around back, is a curvy rear-view with a clam-shell aluminum hatch adorned by more LEDs as the whole package hunkers atop 18, 19, or 20-inch alloy wheels.

The almost mid-size, 5-passenger interior of the Q5 is yet another example of Audi’s special blend of sophistication, technology, comfort, and all-out style. It’s just beautiful with artful gauges and controls cementing a totally premium look.

The well-padded leather front buckets have standard 12-way power with multi-adjust lumbar support.

The Q5’s standard, tactile multi-function steering wheel manually tilts and telescopes.

There’s also a three-zone climate control system and an optional Panorama sunroof for a shot of Vitamin D from above.

Available high-end amenities include Bang & Olufsen audio, a rear-view camera, and 3D voice-controlled navigation with real-time traffic.  All handled by the new, third new generation of MMI - Audi’s central infotainment controller.

The split second row seating area is quite roomy with recline and slide seating, as well as a standard pass through.

Folding the bench nearly doubles the 29.1 cubic feet of cargo space to 57.3. Access to the low load floor is made even easier by an available power lift gate.

Under its hood, the Q5 is equipped with the brand’s well known 3.2-liter direct-injected V6. Here, output is 270-horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque.

With a six-speed Tiptronic gearbox with sport mode, and 40/60 rear biased Quattro all-wheel drive, towing capacity is a class best 4,400 pounds.

Then there’s the optional Audi Drive Select, which puts nearly every aspect of the Q5’s dynamics at the driver’s fingertips - steering, adjustable shocks, transmission, and throttle response.  With three pre-set modes- “Comfort”, “Automatic”, and “Dynamic”, comes a fourth called “Individual” for true customizable.

There’s also Q5’s ESP system with three distinct configurations: on-road, off-road, and roof cargo.

But just how does it actually perform? Well, we rate a 0 to 60 of 7.2 seconds, and a quarter mile of 15.6 seconds at 91 miles per hour, as pretty good for any crossover utility. The Q5 hooks up well off the line, feeling torquey throughout the run.  Shifts were firm, quick, and well-spaced.

Handling is the product of five-link front, and trapezoidal-link rear all-independent geometry.

Through the cones its A4 heritage is obvious. Quick turn ins, and nearly flat transitions, especially in “Dynamic” mode. There is a lot of heft to the Q5, yet it has the agility of a smaller CUV. Tires could be grippier, but overall, the Q5 is quite athletic while still maintaining a good level of ride comfort.

Four-wheel discs brakes with ABS and Brake Assist deliver short stops of 123 feet on average from 60. The Q5 was stable with nearly fade free results.

Thanks to direct-injection, Government Fuel Economy Ratings are good for its class, 18 city/23 highway, but on premium fuel.  Our real-world test loop yielded 21.2 miles per gallon.

Still, the Energy Impact Score for the Q5 is a fairly high 17.1 barrels of oil consumed per year.  Likewise a Carbon Footprint of 9.2 annual tons of CO2 emitted.

And, as impressive as the Q5 is, you do pay for it, $38,025 to start. Higher than all but the BMW X3.  And piling on the options will push it over 50k in a hurry.

If the predictions of a rapidly growing appetite for small, premium CUVs comes true, the Audi Q5 should easily garner more than it’s share. It may be late to the party, but it is able and willing to take on even the most entrenched rivals. Sporty, luxurious, beautiful, and practical, too. That looks to us like a recipe for guaranteed premium CUV success.




  • Engine: 3.2-Liter Direct-injected V6
  • Horsepower: 270
  • Torque: 243 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 7.2 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.6 Seconds @ 91 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 123 Feet
  • EPA: 18 MPG City/ 23 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 21.2 MPG
  • Energy Impact: 17.1 Barrels Oil/Yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 9.2 Tons/Yr