Intro: While the Audi name may bring to mind road-faring sedans, it's also the home of the popular Quattro full time all-wheel drive system. Introduced to the rally-racing scene almost 30 years ago, the Quattro system has become the standard barer for Audi's drive train engineering. Now in its third year of production, the 2011 Audi Q5 compact SUV has proven to be the perfect place to employ this time tested all-wheel drive technology.
The Q5's outline evokes a smaller version of its Q7 brethren with a dominant front grill array underscored by a sculptured lower fascia and flanked by aggressive swept back LED headlights. The Q5's 18-inch wheels and dual exhaust suggest an SUV, whose primary duties may lie on winding roads and city streets. But rest assured, this is an able compact that can venture off-road, with standard hill-descent control, almost 8 inches of ground clearance, and the ability to traverse nearly three feet of water.
PERFORMANCE: The new base engine for the Q5 is a 2-liter turbocharged inline4, sending 211 horsepower and 258 pound feet of torque through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Carried over from 2010 is the available direct-injected 3.2-liter V6 sending 270 horsepower, 243 pound feet of torque to a 6-speed automatic. Both engines route power to Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive.
FUEL ECONOMY: Here are the highest and lowest EPA estimates for fuel economy:
FEATURES: Audi's reputation for delivering world-class interiors is well maintained with the Q5's standard leather seating, and an interior outfitted in chrome and woodgrain accents. The 60/40 split-fold rear seats give way to ample cargo space.
The dual panel sunroof with power retracting sunshade is standard on the up-rated Prestige trim and optional on the Premium trim. The Prestige model also adds Audi's MMI multimedia interface with voice controlled navigation, backup camera, and a DVD player all as standard equipment.
SAFETY: Standard safety equipment on the Q5 includes 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, electronic brake force distribution, a full array of front and side impact airbags and an innovative electronic stabilization program that utilizes sensors within the standard roof rails. These sensors factor in any weight added to the roof rails, and the stabilization program recalculates for a new center of gravity.
PRICING: Base MSRP for the 2011 Audi Q5 is $35,200. A V6 model starts at $42,500. The Q5 is backed by a 4-year, 50,000-mile powertrain warranty.
SUMMERY: The 2011 Audi Q5 has taken nearly 3 decades of Quattro technology and blended the best attributes of a wagon and an SUV, to create a capable and versatile compact SUV, with handling that's as sharp as its styling.