2015 Audi Q5 review with video

The basics:

Base price: $42,600 + taxes
As tested: $60,200 + taxes
Highway fuel economy: 7.5 L/100 kms (diesel engine), 8 L/100 kms (2-litre gas engine)
City fuel economy: 10 L/100 kms (diesel engine), 12 L/100 kms (2 litre gas engine)
Competition: Acura RDX, BMW X3, Lexus RX, Mercedes GLK, Volvo XC60
Made in: Germany (soon to be Mexico)

The Q5 has been bringing grins to Canadian drivers since 2009. This latest version of Audi’s mid-sized, sport SUV has been with us since 2013. While Audi has been adding a little feature here and there, it has gone largely unchanged. In fact, this review might as well be for the 2016 Q5 too. No big changes are expected until the 2017 or even 2018 model year when Audi will bring its re-imagined Q5 to North America. Right now, the Q5 is still made in Germany and the brand’s quality rating has been on a steady climb upward. But the new Q5 will be made in Mexico in a new facility that’s being built there right now. While Audi is saying that the staff at this new facility will be mostly German until it can iron out any early kinks, taking a look at this tried, tested, fun and safe little SUV in its current incarnation wouldn’t hurt either.

2015 Audi Q5Performance: This eager little pocket rocket is Audi’s best selling vehicle in Canada. Couple the Q5’s extra bit of ground clearance with the company’s infamous Quattro all wheel drive system, and it’s little wonder. It’s a winter driving fiend! 4 powertrain options are available in the Q5: a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder gasoline engine, a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder diesel engine, a 3.0-litre 6-cylinder gasoline engine and a hybrid Q5 to round it out. According to Glenmore Audi who gave us our tester for the day, 80 per cent of owners buy either the smaller gasoline engine or the diesel while the remaining 20 per cent of sales are divvied up between the larger TFSI gas engine or the hybrid. Having done a lot of driving in the 2.0-litre turbocharged gasoline version out on Vancouver Island (my parents own one), I can say that little engine is more than willing to zip around the windy, mountainous country 2015 Audi Q5roads out there. The tester vehicle that I had for the day in Calgary was coupled with the diesel, and (surprise, surprise) it was smooth, quiet and sporty – just as you’d expect a Volkswagen or Audi diesel to be. And even though I wasn’t being entirely light-footed on my drive around town, I was getting around 9 litres per 100 kms. One of the big things that makes the Q5’s performance so silky is its transmission. It’s a very smart and smooth eight speed automatic that shifts seamlessly and at just the right moment. Depending on who you ask, the Q5’s firm ride is either a positive or a negative. I really like it because, despite its higher ground clearance, it doesn’t bob its way through corners like so many other SUVs. The stiffer suspension keeps it feeling composed and sporty even at higher speeds. The downside is that you’ll feel those potholes and speed bumps a lot more than say a vehicle like our day-to-day driver, the Volvo XC70. Choose your poison.

2015 Audi Q5Interior: This is very much a European interior. The lines are clean and simple. The seats are firm and supportive. My parents’ base model Q5 was nearly $20,000 less than the diesel tester we took out. But even the base model’s interior doesn’t feel like some skeletal entry level version that no one would want. It has heated leather seats, USB and bluetooth connectivity, LED headlights and a power tailgate.

A couple of beefs from the driver’s seat include some very large side mirrors. If the driver’s seat isn’t perfectly adjusted, particularly for shorter people, the mirrors can create a blind spot that makes seeing traffic or pedestrians difficult. The other issue is Audi’s central entertainment system which isn’t a touch screen and not very intuitive. It took me a good long while to get acquainted to. The Q5 could do well with a more user friendly touch screen.

2015 Audi Q5Our standardized Family Wheels trunk test revealed some very decent rear cargo capacity. Meanwhile, the second row of seats can slide forward or backward to create even more cargo room if your second row is empty or loaded with shorter passengers. Putting a rear-facing child seat in the second row created some pretty tight quarters for front passengers. Not great for longer drives but for quick jaunts around the city, it would be passable. Once kids are out of their child seats, the rear leg room in the Q5 is very good and my family comfortably fit four adults in their Q5 for a long road trip recently.

Safety: The Q5 is a top safety pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety with the best possible results in all categories. Other safety features include Audi’s all wheel drive system which, unlike many other brands, stays active at all times – even when the vehicle is travelling at highway speeds. Audi’s Quattro system has 60 per cent of power going to the rear wheels, 40 per cent of power going to the front wheels at all times to create a balanced driving feel. But that distribution changes if any wheel slippage is detected. Adaptive cruise control ($1700) and rear side airbags ($500) are options that need to be purchased regardless of the trim level you choose.

The takeaway: Even though it’s not a brand spanking new version of the Q5, Audi has a zippy about-towner on its hands here. It’s also more than capable at handling a winter drive out to the mountains both comfortably and safely. You can certainly get more Acura for your money but the resale value on the Q5 is solid and it’s just a really fun, well-built vehicle for getting around. Having had a chance to drive both the 2.0-litre gasoline engine and the 3.0-litre diesel engine, I’d pocket the $7,000 difference and go for the smaller gas option. It’s still very capable and peppy and its fuel economy numbers aren’t that different than the diesel. It’ll be interesting to see how build quality changes when production of the Q5 moves to Mexico. But for now, the Q5 is a solid, capable little workhorse that’s worth a look.

Family Wheels pros: top safety marks, fun to drive regardless of the engine you choose, good cargo capacity for a mid-size SUV
Family Wheels cons: tight fit with a rear-facing child seat, central entertainment system isn’t intuitive, large side mirrors create a blind spot, firm ride may not be for everyone
Family Wheels target: families with 1 to 2 kids, ideally out of rear-facing child seats
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4/5

Family Wheels rear passenger score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 4/5
Family Wheels driveability score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4/5
Family Wheels value score: 3.5/5

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