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  • 2011 Audi Q5 2.0T Quattro Tiptronic

    Posted on August 25th, 2011 jwoodman

    Elegance, Performance and Luxury in Smaller Crossover

    by Jim Woodman

    2011 Audi Q5 2.0T

    I just had the wonderful opportunity to drive the 2011 Audi Q5 Quattro Tiptronic for a week through New York and some of the New England states. I was curious to see how its new base engine for 2011 – a turbocharged 2.0 liter 4-cylinder dynamo found in many other Audis – and smaller cargo area would work for a family of five.

    My wife and three boys – ages 12, 10 and 6 – would put the Q5’s seating and cargo capacity to a stern test.

    For those that may recall, the Audi Q5 was one of our ALV finalist vehicles for Luxury Onroad for 2009. When it was introduced in ‘09 as a smaller crossover alternative to the Q7 – and mainly to compete with the Mercedes GLK and BMW’s X3 – I was convinced it could be my next car. Of course, somewhere a few extra bundles of cash would have to fall my way as the Audi is certainly one of the pricier options when looking at smaller crossovers.

    Body and Styling

    From the time they introduced the Q5 a few years ago for model year 2009, I was a huge fan of its bold styling and luxurious interior. It’s just small enough to maneuver around city traffic like a sedan – which came in extremely handy in New York City – yet large and sporty enough to classify as an SUV or crossover.
    Inside the Audi I found a very sharp-looking cinnamon brown interior that exudes luxury and comfort. Our test vehicle was outfitted with a panorama sunroof – the boys loved watching rain hit the sunroof glass on the day we drove through torrential showers – and all the creature comforts you’ve come to expect in a luxury vehicle nowadays.

    We had 12-way front power seats, three-zone climate control, light and rain sensors, heated exterior mirrors and a host of other convenience items. One option I’ve clearly grown accustomed to – and unfortunately lacking on my test vehicle – was a rear backup camera or sensor. Call me spoiled, but these cameras and sensors are incredibly helpful when parking in tight spaces.

    V6 Option

    Of course you can opt for the 3.2 Premium Plus with V6, 19-inch wheels and headlight washers and S-Line exterior trim that also delivers a rearview camera and much more. The 3.2 also sorts you out with Audi MMI Navigation Plus, which is a full center-console-mounted MMI (Multi Media Interface) featuring navigation system, rearview camera, digital music storage, voice controls, HD radio and CD/DVD player.

    Our Audi “concert” sound system included a satellite radio and in-dash CD player that, while it worked very well, was still an Audi entertainment system which, for me, has always been non-intuitive and confounding. Yes, you can choose to see functions in the center console or the steering wheel console, but Audi tends to get a little too cute with the features. For example, I set up the Bluetooth capability for my iPhone, which was easy and straightforward, but if anybody called me the screen option would change in the steering console and not change back to where I had set it after the call ended.

    Cinnamon brown interior showing navigation

    The satellite radio also cut in and out in many wide-open areas. I don’t know if this is a New England phenomenon, as this doesn’t happen in California, but it seems to me they’d have that sorted out in such a populated part of the country. Electronics, satellite radio integration, Bluetooth connectivity and iPod mounting are certainly one area many foreign automakers take a back seat to the American carmakers.

    Powertrain and Performance

    The big news for 2011 is that the Q5 is now outfitted with the 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder as its base engine. The 2.0T comes standard with all-wheel drive and a turbocharged 211 horsepower engine that delivers 258 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is also standard and estimated fuel economy is 20 city and 27 highway.

    I never felt any need for more power as the turbo engine was incredibly responsive at all speeds. The driving range was also phenomenal, as we’d easily get about 500 highway miles per tank. That’s a long way between fill-ups. For me the fuel economy, for what can arguably be considered a small SUV is really outstanding. While we were consistently getting mileage in the mid to high 20s on the highway, most competitor SUVs with gas-hungry V6 engines will be lucky to get you just over 20 mpg.

    Handling was excellent, especially the day we drove through heavy rain on crowded New York freeways. Even going through puddles and curves, I never once felt the vehicle was in any danger of hydroplaning or losing traction.

    Safety Features

    Safety features include driver and front-passenger front airbags, driver and front-passenger seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, 3-point safety belts with pretensioners/load limiters for all five passengers, active and passive rollover protection, LATCH system for child seats, side-impact protection, front/rear crumple zones, anti-theft vehicle alarm system and rear child safety locks.

    In fact, with top “good” ratings in every test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Audi Q5 rates a top safety pick for midsize luxury SUVs.

    Cargo and Roominess

    One of my initial concerns was that the Q5 might be too small for my family of five and our luggage to tour New England. It actually was no problem at all. We were able to get two large suitcases and two smaller ones with assorted bags all within the rear cargo area. I especially liked that a privacy flap covered the cargo area after shutting the rear hatch. It would not have been a good idea to park the vehicle with our luggage in plain view through the rear window. Many SUVs don’t have this feature and it almost advertises you to be a smash and grab victim.

    If you’re in the market for an SUV or crossover, but don’t need more than a five-seater and like the idea of a more compact sporty looking vehicle, the Q5 might be just your ticket.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Audi
    Model: Q5 2.0T Quattro Tiptronic
    Year: 2011
    Base price: $35,200
    As tested: $38,975
    Horsepower: 211 Hp @ 4300 rpm
    Torque: 258 lbs.-ft. @ 1500 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: 7.0 seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: Yes
    Off-road: No
    Towing: Yes
    Fuel economy: 20/27 mpg city/highway

     

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