2014 Audi Q5 TDI Review
Audi's wagon-on-roids gets TDI'dNo Comments
he 3.0 liter TDI in the Audi Q5 is so good, in fact, that it makes us not even mind driving a crossover, and that's saying something.
Diesel Done Right
Diesels are making a comeback in the United States, and that's a good thing. Diesels are more efficient than gas engines, they give more torque, and they don't even smell bad anymore. The Big Three are beginning to offer diesels in a few models, but they've got a ways to go before they can go head-to-head with VW/Audi's TDI technology.
The 3.0 liter TDI in the Audi Q5 is so good, in fact, that it makes us not even mind driving a crossover, and that's saying something. And for people who like crossovers, it's hard to imagine what they could possibly want that the Audi Q5 doesn't offer. It has tons of space, a comfortable cabin, and it's competitively priced. Plus it gets 31 mpg on the freeway, which is nothing to sneeze at.
The TDI engine in the Q5 makes a respectable 240 horsepower, but with 425 lb.-ft of torque, this baby takes off like a rocket. As a rule, crossovers don't perform as well as cars, but the Q5 TDI is about as carlike as it gets (it doesn't hurt that the Q5 shares a platform with the A4).
Technically speaking, the Q5 is a 'compact' crossover, which only goes to show how preposterous the entire crossover/SUV segment is. For anything this big to be called 'compact' is surely some kind of joke, but the Q5 does have a lower stance than many crossovers, which probably accounts for its superior handling.
Also, VW/Audi knows a thing or two about suspensions, and the dynamic front and independent rear suspension on the Q5 give it a solid, sporty feel that's missing from just about every other crossover on the market.
The all-wheel-drive is nice in foul weather, and the eight-speed automatic is virtually invisible - exactly the way an automatic transmission is supposed to be. And the mpg numbers are impressive indeed. With 24 city and 31 highway, the Q5 TDI offers just about the best mileage possible in a vehicle capable of hauling 4,400 pounds.
The Q5 is, by nature of being a crossover, not particularly attractive. Like all crossovers, the proportions are odd and the whole thing seems bulbous and overdone. Our tester came in Glacier White Metallic, which we definitely wouldn't recommend - white rarely flatters any car's appearance, especially one that has this much surface area on view.
Also, the garish and tacky TDI sticker on the side doesn't help, but that's not something consumers need to worry about, since that's not available (or desirable) to consumers.
Audi's take on luxury is very spartan, but equally tasteful. The interior of the Q5 is a very pleasant place to spend some time. Between the ample greenhouse (we're talking windows here, not hothouse) and the panoramic sunroof, it's certainly a very bright place, but there's also plenty of visibility, which isn't always the case in crossovers.
The 8-way power seats are nothing short of brilliant, and the driver's seat features a 4-way lumbar control that pretty much guarantees that you can find the exact seating position that makes you never want to get out of the car.
With a decent sound system and one of the more user-friendly infotainment interfaces on the market, plus 3-zone climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, there isn't much to complain about, luxury-wise, unless you find Audi's minimalism to be insufficiently showy.
Utility-wise, there's ample leg room in the back seats, and best of all, the rear seats recline, so your passengers can actually be comfortable, which is rather important for a vehicle like this that's built to carry passengers.
Audi has done the near-impossible with the Q5 - they created a crossover that we could actually see ourselves owning. Unfortunately, we have no need for all that space and all that bigness, but for anyone who does, the Q5 should definitely be at the top of your list come car-shopping time.
Engine: 3.0-liter TDI V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, full-time 4WD.
Power Output: 240 horsepower / 425 lb-ft torque
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg (city) / 31 mpg (hwy)
Price: $46,500 (base) $51,445 (as tested)
Features: Audi MMI Navigation, AM/FM/SAT/CD audio with SD card reader and USB, rear-view camera, power tailgate, 19.5-inch wheels, electronic stability control.