2009 Audi Q5
    MSRP
    $37,200
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    2009 Audi Q5 Expert Review:Autoblog

    2009 Audi Q5 – Click above for high-res image gallery

    Quality costs. Ask a recording engineer. For the same money you'll burn on a pile of inexpensive, non-serviceable gear whose greatest virtue is that "it works," you could alternatively purchase one channel's worth of serious equipment. The trade-off is that the real kit sounds great all the time, while the cheaper stuff never does. Boiled down to their essence, they both do the same thing, but it's the quality of the components and the careful construction that make all the difference.

    It's the same thing with the 2009 Audi Q5. $50,000 will put your rump in vast automotive acreage, but for the same coin, the Q5's dimensions are tidy. Combating the "quantity equals quality" mindset, Audi has made the Q5 a standout. It's filled with luxury and comfort items, and put together with typical German fastidiousness. And out on the road, the Q5 chats you up with feedback that's – dare we say – sports-like. So has Audi managed to finally put the "sport" in Sport Utility?



    Photos copyright ©2009 Dan Roth / Weblogs, Inc.



    Styling-wise, the Q5 is unmistakably Audi. Without carefully looking, it could be mistaken for its larger Q7 brother, if only ran through a clothes dryer. Initial inspection led your humble narrator to believe that the Q5 shares its underpinnings with Volkswagen's similarly-sized Tiguan, when in fact, the Q5 is based on the A4/A5's Modular Longitudinal Platform. Relatively compact, the Q5's lines share the recent Audi family style, which suggests constant forward motion by playing light along the surface detailing in a raked manner; lower in front than in back, like a modern, Teutonic hot rod.



    The sculpted form is subtle and controlled, not over-muscled or gratuitously flared to look like some kind of U.N. Peacekeeping vehicle. The Q5 nevertheless blends in with the noise created by America's booming two-box pseudo-truck market. It's nicely styled and clean looking, but there's only so many places the form factor can go without being overly radical. Everyone knows what a Hummer looks like, and the H1, H2 and H3 share that style. The Q5, too, looks like an Audi crossover should, it's just a much less bold outpost of the styling world.

    Audi exhibits its typical restraint with brightwork, with an accent around the windows and brushed aluminum rails tracing the arc of the roofline. Wheels look like blades from some outsized food processor, with a design open enough to bare the calipers for binder-peekers. The batwing taillamps have a gestural motion to their cross-car arc, and finish the back end tidily. It looks like the lights out back hold the entire bodywork in tension, and it's just right. While the Q5 is not outlandish enough to be anything other than just another wagon in denial outside of Nordstrom, A6 drivers will give you that serious-looking nod and half-wave off the steering wheel rim when you drive by.



    Even if you aren't an Audi fan, you still might have a dippy smirk on your mug when Mr. Serious A6 offers up his faint acknowledgment, simply because the Q5 manages to be a heck of a lot of fun behind the wheel. The speed-sensitive steering feels heavy until you're traveling at highway speeds, although the wheel's rim isn't the chattiest of Cathies when it comes to feedback from the tires. Audi's 3.2-liter V6 has been to its choir classes and studied the Porsche Songbook for Six Cylinders well. Using the shifter's manual gate, you can hold the V6 at full bellow and enjoy its snarly, metallic growl. Of course, there's really no need to play with the shifter. When left to its own devices, the six-speed Tiptronic transmission makes the most of the engine's 270 horsepower in a quick, precise manner. The Q5's class-average 4,200 pounds will boogie when you push the accelerator down. The fleetness is even aided and abetted by reasonable fuel economy of 17/24 – not bad for something sticking up in the air and carrying all wheel drive.

    Bite the Q5 into a slice of trajectory change, though, and a mere three letters will comprise your initial impression: Wow. There's an actual, playful chassis under this thing. It'll hunker and let you adjust attitude slightly with the throttle and carve a line through your favorite backward-S curve in a way that very few vehicles of this type accomplish. Further, the athleticism underneath isn't gained in a Faustian bargain that trades away ride quality.



    Bumpy pavement is not smothered by excessive syrup in the springing, but events are mere blips on the scope. Railroad tracks are felt, dealt with and gone, all within the time it takes to traverse them. The Q5 is at once taut and cushy. There's never any bump-stop pounding or nautical swell-riding – it's a rewarding mix. Add the disciplined ride to the enthusiastic cornering, and it adds up to serious entertainment for the individual lucky enough to plant his or her backside in the supremely comfortable driver's chair. Our sampler carried Audi Drive Select, a system that allows drivers to toggle the Q5's responses between "Comfort" and "Dynamic." It didn't really seem to do much – shift points moved up a bit with Dynamic selected – so rather than push another button, we just left it in "Auto" most of the time.

    On the topic of button pressing: There's entirely too much of it in the Q5. Simple things have extra steps added. Just try and change the fan setting successfully on the first try. Putting multiple functions on the same set of interface hardware can be a good idea, but Audi's execution is maddeningly overthought. MMI can be inscrutable and distracting instead of returning on its promise of streamlining operation, too. There are a lot of buttons bristling on the center console, as well as Audi's habitually bad placement of the audio volume knob there, and a torpid start/stop button. Admittedly, the non-standard location of the volume knob allows the passenger easy access, and the driver's thumb has its own volume control on the steering wheel spoke. At least it all looks nice, especially the navigation screen and clean, legible gauges.



    Lending an airy feel to our test car – while also increasing the weight and raising the center of gravity – was an optional panoramic glass roof covering most of the ceiling. Trying to operate the overly complex human-car interface in any modern Audi may have you picturing that roof as an escape hatch when the machines go awry. Tech is the new thing, though, especially for luxury European makes, and the Q5 is right in line, with lots of menu-driven functions an excellent integration of iPods and even twin SD card slots right on the dash. The rest of the car is joyfully straightforward. Safety subsystems are there to dazzle and delight. Audi Side Assist lights little orange telltales in the side mirrors to warn you of a motorist occupying a blind spot. Optional rear-side airbags offer more pillow when you ignore that car, too, supplementing the already comprehensive list of safety and occupant protection equipment.

    Comfort is good in all seating positions, though the roofline's arc may tickle the pompadour of taller occupants. Child seats are easily mounted with well-located LATCH anchors that don't require a search party to find. Materials throughout are high quality, and everything you touch feels damped, padded or buffed to a set of careful specifications. Since it is really just a gussied-up wagon, the cargo space is important. Stroller-bound parents may have some trouble fitting today's oversized kid hardware – there's not enough width for some items to fit any way other than diagonally. Outright space is available elsewhere, though, and the Q5 has enough room in the back for the day-to-day use most owners will give it. If hauling stuff and passengers is your game, the Q5's belly is going to fill up real fast, though.



    So what's the bottom line – does the Q5 have the same goodness as a transformer-balanced Class-A microphone preamp? We think it does. Good, expensive hardware always has some kind of undefinable mojo that makes the output of its efforts flat-out brilliant, and that's what the Q5 feels like. The cockpit could use some de-complication, as it's the equivalent to a piece of audio gear's front panel controls, but once you figure out the Q5's deep function set, it becomes all the more endearing. Out of the box, it's simply the best driving crossover in its class, and Audi has put it all together with its typical careful execution. For now, it's the segment's ringer if you can afford it.


    Second Look: Audi Q5 3.2 Quattro

    With the glut of new premium small crossovers hitting the market as of late (Volvo XC60, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Cadillac SRX etc.), this reviewer wasn't prepared to enjoy the Q5 experience as much as he actually did. While Audi sedans have consistently been at or near the top of the sports/luxury heap, its Q7 big brother didn't properly prime us to drive the baby Q. It isn't that the Q7 is awful, mind, it just doesn't feel chock full of clever engineering like the rest of its four-ringed compatriots – it's absolutely huge on the outside, less so on the inside, and only moderately entertaining to drive. So, if you've got it in your head that the Q5 is merely a Shrinky Dink'd Q7, get that out of your head right now.

    As Roth correctly points out, the Q5 is easily the driver's car of the entry-level premium CUV niche, and you notice it right from the off – particularly when specced out with Audi Drive Select, whose variable ratio steering is clearly more heavily weighted than its contemporaries. ADS allows one to tweak both the quickness and the heft of the helm, but even at its lightest setting, it's simply more direct than the others we've sampled. That's not to say that it's not a bit synthetic in feel (it can add weight suddenly at low speeds) or that it's the last word in feedback, but it does a better job than similar systems and the added resistance helps one feel more in control. In fact, it adds a feeling of solidity and security to the whole vehicle, as does the rear-biased Quattro all-wheel drive.

    In contrast to Roth, however, this author is significantly less critical when it comes to MMI. While the infotainment system has its ergonomic challenges, familiarity beyond a week of driving helps facilitate ease-of-use greatly, as does the voice activation capability that understands normal conversational terms. And latest generation's updated navi graphics are both fun and helpful. Most of us would just assume abandon the all-in-one ICE solution adopted by Audi and its chief German rivals, but MMI doesn't strike yours truly as any less rational a solution than BMW's iDrive or Mercedes-Benz's COMAND system.

    All-in, the Q5 is a clever (if costly) tool that we can see being very easy to live with on a daily basis – both as family men and women – and as enthusiasts.

    –– Chris Paukert



    Photos copyright ©2009 Dan Roth / Weblogs, Inc.

    New compact crossover SUV seats five.

    Introduction

    Audi Q5 is an all-new crossover derived from the recent A4 and A5 line. As with the Q7, Audi came to the SUV party fashionably late but came well equipped. 

    The 2009 Q5 comes with a gasoline V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmissions; both gas-electric hybrid and diesel variants remain possibilities a few years in the future. All-wheel drive, with which Audi has arguably as much experience as any car company, is standard, as are a full suite of passive safety systems (only rear side airbags are standard; you may not want them with children) and an advanced stability control system that alters performance when the roof rack is in use. 

    True to name, the Q5 has five seats, and the rear seats offer the recline-and-slide functions that until now have oddly been the purview of less-expensive class crossovers. Cargo volume is substantially greater than the A4 Avant, the Q5 will tow a minimum 900 pounds more than anything else in this class, and EPA ratings are among best in class. 

    Styling inside and out is typical Audi, and the cabin has few peers for the combination of function, style, materials and finish. There is no obvious cost-cutting here: what looks like leather, wood or aluminum is; the passenger gets the same 12-way power seat the driver does; and three-zone climate control is standard. 

    Features and electronics rise with price, which ranges from $38,000 to $56,000 or more when fully loaded. Features include: heated front seats; panorama sunroof; iPod interface; Bluetooth/HomeLink; Xenon headlamps and LED running lamps; power-fold auto-dimming mirrors; programmable power tailgate; driver memory system; 18-, 19-, and 20-inch wheels; navigation with 3-D graphics, voice recognition, rear camera, real-time traffic and weather; Bang & Olufsen stereo and Advance Key. 

    The Q5 competes with the Acura RDX, BMW X3, Infiniti EX35, Land Rover LR2, Lexus RX350, Mercedes-Benz GLK350, and Volvo XC60. 

    Lineup

    The 2009 Audi Q5 comes with a 270-hp 3.2-liter V6, six-speed automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive with automatic electronic differential locks. Mechanical systems and passive safety features are identical across the range, which includes Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige models. 

    Q5 Premium ($37,200) comes with leather upholstery, three-zone climate control, aluminum roof rails with cross bars, heated power mirrors, sliding/reclining/folding rear seat, LED rear lights, privacy glass rear tint, tow hitch prep, 18-inch alloy wheels, 12-way power front seats, wood d├ęcor inlays, 10-speaker Audi Concert radio with Sirius, and a trip computer. Optional on Premium are rear side airbags ($350), heated front seats ($450), panorama sunroof ($1450), music interface for iPod ($300), Bluetooth/HomeLink package ($700), metallic paint ($475), and a Symphony radio upgrade ($250). 

    Q5 Premium Plus ($41,500) also includes xenon headlamps and LED running lamps, auto-dimming mirrors with power-fold outside mirrors, a programmable power tailgate, driver memory system, Audi Symphony radio with music interface, Bluetooth and HomeLink. Premium Plus options include the rear airbags and metallic paint, 19-inch wheels, wider 20-inch wheels with 255/45 performance tires, MMI navigation plus with rear park assist and camera ($3000), S line package ($2950) with 20-inch wheels and tires, headlight washers, sport steering wheel with shift paddles, brushed aluminum trim, black headliner, and S line grille, side valances and bumpers. 

    Q5 Prestige ($48,200) adds 19-inch wheels, park assist, rear camera, Bang & Olufsen sound, MMI navigation plus and Advance Key. Options include special paint, rear side airbags, and the S line package ($2150), Drive Select ($2950), 20-inch wheels ($800), and side assist ($500). 

    Safety features include standard frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, electronic stability control, ABS, EBD, and all-wheel drive. Safety-related options include rear side airbags and Audi side assist. 

    Walkaround

    The first word mentioned in every Audi Q5 presentation we've seen is stylish; there's nothing really ground-breaking in the Q5's appearance although they have done a few things differently. As you'd expect it looks much like its big-brother Q7, has Audi's familiar full-height grille face, and Audi notes a drag coefficient of 0.33; that's good for a relatively short, upright shape but as usual, no mention of frontal area (an important part of the equation) was made. Wind noise won't become an issue at U.S. highway speeds, but it will take more fuel to push this through the air than an A4 Avant (wagon) for instance. 

    Q5 shares lineage with the A4 and A5 lines, bit it is four inches wider than an A4, nearly nine inches higher and about 10-percent heavier than a comparably equipped A4 wagon. Relative to others in its class it is wider than most (Land Rover's LR2 is narrower), average in height (the LR2 and Volvo XC60 notably taller, the Infiniti EX notably lower) and longer than the LR2 but shorter than the Lexus RX. 

    Audi's signature LED running lights are standard on Premium Plus or Prestige cars and make the front more distinctive than most; all Q5's use LED lamps in back. Those rear lights are all in the hatch that wraps around the sides so they won't get damaged loading anything; conversely there will be no section of taillight showing while loading things at night. 

    Character lines are similar to those on every front-engine Audi, with the upper one soft through the doors and tightly creased at the rear, and the upswept line from front wheel center through the lower doors. The rear door opening marks the leading edge of the wheelwell but insulation is sufficient your slacks won't get covered in muck sliding in and out. 

    A variety of wheels are used and many appear directional; most people will not notice all the detail on the first glance. Regardless of size, all wheels are alloy and relatively easy to clean. 

    Aluminum roof rails and the cross bars that go in them are standard on every Q5 and the rated roof rack load of 220 pounds is higher than many. Leave the cross bars out until you need them because one, they generate some wind noise, and two, because the electronic stability program algorithm changes with the bars installed. 

    Interior

    The Q5 cabin is what we have come to expect from Audi, stylish design that won't appear faddish in a few years' time, plenty of features and first-rate assembly and materials. It's no secret that other companies use Audi interiors as a benchmark, and not that hard to reason why. 

    Every Q5 comes with leather seating surfaces and what looks like wood or aluminum is genuine. While a loaded top-line model comes with more amenities, the basics of appearance, comfort, and function are equal on the entry model. If you have to have a gee-whiz or state-of-the-art gadget you will need a high-line model, whereas seating, cargo room, towing, quiet, and performance are all very similar across the range. 

    Power seats are standard with 12-way adjustment for both front occupants and heaters on most versions. A three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel with thumbwheels and switches for redundant control has good tilt/telescope range so every driver should find a good, comfortable position. Outward visibility is quite good and the rear wiper clears virtually all the glass you see through, but some short drivers may find the large mirrors (from the Q7) create a wide, front pillar to look around. The door sill is narrower than many so it doesn't feel like you're climbing in, more like a step sideways. 

    Most interior storage is in the glove-box and larger door pockets (each will hold a 1-liter bottle), with smaller spaces in the console. Trim panels or wood, aluminum, or a combination of those grace the doors, dash, and wrap over the sides of the center console where they might be vulnerable to scratching (don't let the carwash vacuum from just one side). The light-hued headliner adds spaciousness but the S Line trim makes it black. 

    Instruments use clear white-on-black markings with fuel and coolant gauges nesting to the side of big speedometer and tachometer; the big gauges have 0 right at the bottom so you may have to recalibrate if you're not used to 60 mph being shown as a needle pointed due left. The display directly ahead of the driver gives data for clock/calendar, trip computer, odometer, gear requested and gear engaged, audio source, and on navigation cars upcoming turning instructions. 

    The center dash is angled very slightly toward the driver with audio controls below the vents and dual-zone climate control below that. For many controls a rotary knob varies the parameter chosen by the buttons surrounding it; there is a lot of flexibility in the climate system and it's easy to get to. Every Q5 comes with an AM/FM/CD sound system; the Premium Plus includes an upgraded Symphony system with 6CD changer and SD card, and the optional-on-Premium-model iPod integration that works with any Gen 4 iPod with a connector dock. On cars with MMI, the iPod is fully controllable through MMI. Prestige models use a superb sound system from Bang & Olufsen with half a kilowatt of power driving 14 speakers. 

    A conventional shifter offers manual mode up/down shifting though we prefer that on the driver's side of the shift lever, and the parking brake is operated through a switch to the shifter's left. 

    Cars with navigation get the first application of Audi's third generation MMI (multimedia interface) system that offers more features than earlier versions but is still easy to work with. The voice-recognition system has been improved and will accommodate simple statements like 'I need gas' or 'find food' as well as accept address input for the navigation; all result in a choice of offers and when you select one it does the route guidance. It also offers Sirius links to real-time traffic info, weather and so forth. 

    The hard-disc drive allots 30GB solely for navigation data; check with your dealer regarding the cost of updating the data. It now uses and nVIDIA chip for 3D graphics so once you're into a metropolitan area on the 200-yard-or-smaller scale it shows buildings and landmarks as 3D structures. 

    The rearview camera with the system shows predictive backing for backing straight into a space or backing into a parallel parking spot. It's a great feature that adds safety and convenience. 

    Rear seats are split 60/40 with the wide side behind then driver, partially recline, have three adjustable headrests, and slide back and forth about 4.5 inches; with the front seats back all the way that negates knee room but does make an easier reach to a child seat or more cargo space with shorter occupants in front. The center seat position does not have an anchor for the back tether on a baby seat. Room is typical of the class and will fit a couple of adults, but the roof sides by the panoramic sunroof takes more than an inch off headroom and will limit head space for taller passengers. A fold-out armrest with pop-out cupholders does not rest on the seat cushion, leaving extra thigh space, the rear seat has its own warmer/cooler climate control, and side windows don't quite go down flush in the door. 

    Rear seats may be dropped by a single-lever pull at the side doors or hatch, and the aluminum hatch is easy to use and powered on higher line models. The cargo area is nicely finished and has a solid fiberglass cover that is quickly removed; four tie-down rings in the floor secure heavier items. Under the floor a one-piece bin surrounds the spare tire, ideal for storing a couple of iced beverages, wet hiking gear, and so on. The cargo floor is about 28 inches off the ground for easy loading, and the trailer hitch is 13.5 inches center to ground. 

    Driving Impression

    The Audi Q5 drives much like an Audi compact sedan or wagon. It feels like a taller, heavier, firmer A4 wagon with a different engine note because only the A4 sedan and not the Avant is offered in North America with a V6. The forward view is better because of height, the rear view not as good because of the higher seats and larger roof pillars. 

    Audi's 3.2-liter direct-injection V6 sees use in many models and is well sorted out. With 270 hp at 6500 rpm and 243 lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm it is fairly flexible but does it best work higher up in the rev range. And it's very happy and smooth here, sailing right past the 6800-rpm marked redline on multiple occasions. Lexus' engine might feel more refined and insulated, the Acura RDX's turbo four a bit coarser and not so linear, and the inline sixes in BMW's X3 and Land Rover's LR2 aren't quite as powerful but they are as smooth and deliver a more sonorous note. A Q5 with driver will reach 60 mph from rest in less than seven seconds, which should be more than adequate, and EPA ratings are good although the class is within one or two mpg in most cases. 

    The six-speed automatic transmission does exactly what it should when it should, and spirited drivers or those stuck in heavy-but-moving traffic will do better in sport mode by notching the lever sideways. In sport or manual mode it rev-matches downshifts for quick-but-seamless gear changes, yet shifts are never jarring enough to upset the car or occupants. For manual choices just tap the lever forward (upshift) or backwards; the S line package includes shift paddles on the steering wheel. 

    All-wheel drive, dubbed quattro after the Audi coupe that started it about 30 years ago, is standard on every Q5, with nominal power delivery favoring rear drive at 60 percent. In combination with the A4's new layout, this makes the Q5 feel more like a rear-drive car; it doesn't feel like a rear-drive but it doesn't feel like a front-drive either, and only an X3 comes across as feeling better balanced than a Q5. The all-wheel drive is active all the time, includes differential locks for low-speed, very low-traction situations, and requires nothing of the driver except for an understanding that it does not repeal the laws of physics; it's still the same set of tires, brakes and steering connecting your car to the ground. 

    Because it weighs more, tows more and has larger wheels, the Q5 rides firmer than an A4 wagon, noticed mostly on bad road surfaces where moderate bumps have a more pronounced effect on the rear end; it seems to ride best with a mild load in the back. On every other surface it rides well, not as stiff as an RDX or X3, not as soft as an RX, probably closest to an EX or XC60. It takes to winding roads and sweeping bends very well and confidently; even if an RX could match the pace it would not be in its zone doing so. 

    Steering effort is on the heavy side at parking speeds but nicely lightens with speed while maintaining road feel. The Q5 doesn't exhibit a lot of body roll (a little will keep drivers more aware) and responds admirably in maneuvering. Stability control stays absent until it is needed and engages smoothly; it can not be turned off entirely but does have an off-road level that allows a bit more tire locking to build up snow or sand in front of the tires to stop better, and a little more leeway on dirt roads or paved surfaces you know better than the car. 

    The Q5 is also the first vehicle where fitting the cross bars for the roof rack changes the thresholds for the stability system; you can carry 220 pounds on the roof safely but the system doesn't have to be programmed assuming the roof is always loaded. If you push the limits enough to engage ESP you will notice a difference; we were able to sail around a bumpy parking lot handling course with no ESP action (bars off) but with the bars on, but no load, a same-speed sweeping bend of smooth pavement had the ESP cycling. 

    Q5 comes with disc brakes all around, backed up by various electronic aids for the most effective braking. Do not mistake these for some other systems that will apply the brakes if you fail to recognize and impending collision; at least for the time being Audi presumes you can watch where you're going and press a brake pedal. Regardless of any state legal requirement, we would use a trailer brake controller when towing any trailer more than 500-750 pounds with a Q5. 

    Tire choice always has an effect and the Q5 is no different. It offers three wheel sizes and multiple tires from at least three brands. The standard 18-inch wheel is best for bump absorption, comfort (and, likely, replacement cost); the 18-inch wheels are the best choice if your roads are rough and you don't like to spill your coffee. In our opinion the 19-inch wheel and Michelin combination produced the best blend of quiet, comfort and grip, and they probably wear well; it's a good choice outside pothole havens. Q5s are available with wider, 20-inch wheels and a summer performance tire, yet the only ones we saw were shod in Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires, a long-wearing, all-season performance tire frequently found on 2WD police vehicles. The added width and low profile deliver the most grip, but ride comfort and noise are the price you pay. We think the 20-wheels are largely chosen for cosmetic reasons and they would be our last choice. 

    Audi Drive Select, an optional system, affects vehicle dynamics. The system changes how quickly the steering responds and how it feels, how the engine reacts to gas pedal application, suspension damping, and when and how quickly the transmission changes gears. Drive Select has preset modes of Comfort, Dynamic, and Sport, and you can customize your own setting, perhaps making a snow mode of fast steering response for impending slip-and-slide, mild engine and transmission response to minimize wheelspin, and soft suspension damping for lots of wheel travel over berms and banks. We haven't tested it on the Q5, but we have found Audi Drive Select works well on the A4 and A5, which share their basic architecture with the Q5. 

    Noise is well controlled on the Q5. The engine is heard under hard acceleration but not objectionable, and a little road noise seeps in from behind on 20-inch wheels over rough roads. Wind noise comes primarily from the mirrors and roof cross bars, but you have to be doing better than 70 mph to find it. 

    That's one of the small problems with the Q5. The quiet ride and machinery mean that if you're not used to sitting that high, and you're not used to the speedo needle pointed due west at 60 mph, then you may not notice how easy it is to creep well past any speed limit, be it a country road or open interstate. That lack of fatigue pays dividends in driver comfort and attentiveness, but the Q5 will still warn you when you've driven for hours and should take a break. 

    The Q5 carries an inflatable spare tire and on-board air compressor because all-wheel drive and towing work better when all four tires are the same size. Having a spare means heavier, more expensive, harsher riding run-flat tires are not needed and trip delays are minimal. 

    The tow rating on any Q5 is 4400 pounds, or 900 pounds more than its closest competitor, and this rating applies with the Q5 fully loaded, not with just a driver or two occupants and a suitcase on board. The hitch itself is an accessory but all necessary cooling and pre-wiring is already in place. That's a fairly light trailer, such as personal watercraft, snowmobiles and light boats. 

    Summary

    The Audi Q5 is a credible player in the growing compact premium crossover market. It is competitive in every way and leads in towing, a primary factor in stepping up from wagon or minivan to utility. Audi faithful will find it a logical, familiar, fulfilling step if they want to sit higher or go further off-road than an A4 Avant but don't need the size or seven seats of the Q7. 

    G.R. Whale filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report from Los Angeles. 

    Model Lineup

    Audi Q5 Premium ($37,200); Premium Plus ($41,500); Premium ($48,200). 

    Assembled In

    Ingolstadt, Germany. 

    Options As Tested

    metallic paint ($475); side assist ($500). 

    Model Tested

    2009 Audi Q5 Prestige ($48,200). 

    *The data and content on this web site is subject to change without notice. Neither AOL nor any of its data or content providers shall be liable for errors in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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    Read 2009 Audi Q5 3.2 Premium 4dr AWD quattro Sport Utility reviews from auto industry experts to gain insight on the Audi Q5's drivability, comfort, power and performance.
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