2018 Audi Q5 Driving Impressions

The Audi Q5 is poised when cornering, with excellent stability at high speeds on the freeway. Its handling inspires confidence. Steering is light and feedback is limited, however, so it’s no canyon carver. It’s designed for comfort, not sport.

The optional Drive Select system has four modes, Auto, Comfort, Sport, and Individual, which change the steering, transmission, and throttle responses.

While most manufacturers are increasing the number of gears in their automatic transmissions, in pursuit of fuel mileage, the Q5 drops a gear, from eight speeds to seven. Yet efficiency improves by two miles per gallon to an EPA-rated 23 mpg City. It still gets 27 mpg Highway, for an EPA-rated 25 mpg Combined. Bottom line is that fuel economy is improved significantly while power is increased substantially.

We couldn’t feel much difference in the dynamics in a Q5 with the available adaptive dampers. But even set in the firmest mode, and with 20-inch wheels, the cabin was still serene and isolated.

On hard-packed washboard and through deep sand, we found the Q5’s suspension kept the ride surprisingly smooth on the washboard, and the Quattro Ultra all-wheel-drive was unfazed by the sand.

The SQ5 uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 making 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, and a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic. It can accelerate from zero to sixty in 5.1 seconds. An available rear mechanical limited slip differential sends power to the outside wheels in corners, which helps the SQ5 feel more nimble, despite its 4400 pounds. The SQ5 comes alive in Dynamic mode.

The standard air suspension lowers the normal ride height of the SQ5 to 7.0 inches, a bit less than the 8.2 inches of the Q5. And it’s adjustable, so the car be raised for rugged terrain (or steep transitions in town) or lowered for freeway. The ride suffers with the optional 21-inch wheels, however. We found the 20-inch wheels offered a much better ride.

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