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Audi Q5 2021 First Look:


The popular Audi Q5 gets a slight makeover for the 2021 model year. At the same time, the company has revised output and upgraded the infotainment system. The three available powertrains include a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder in 45 TFSI trim, a turbocharged V6 producing 349 horsepower in the sporty SQ5, and a plug-in hybrid system in the 55 TFSI model. That last one offers a zero-emission range of just over 30 kilometres. 

For luxury SUV buyers who prioritize style and technology over driving verve, the 2021 Audi Q5 is a handsome choice with plenty to like. It looks good, treats its occupants right, and won’t seem out of place at the valet stand next to its rivals. Buyers can choose from regular and plug-in hybrid powertrains and the Q5’s chassis delivers a quiet interior and a refined ride—but rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, the BMW X3, and the Porsche Macan are sportier and more engaging to drive. The Q5 offers enough tech to rival your local Apple store, with a large infotainment display, optional digital gauge display, and a suite of available driver-assistance features. For 2021, the Q5 gains a little extra power and updated styling, but Audi’s not addressed its uninspired handling, so it remains a second-tier choice for driving enthusiasts.

What’s New for 2021?

Audi has given the Q5 a light makeover for 2021 to bring its styling up to date with the rest of the lineup. An updated grille, front and rear bumpers, new 18- and 20-inch wheel designs, and updated headlamps and taillights freshen its exterior appearance. Under the hood, the Q5’s standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder receives a 13-hp boost to 261 horsepower; a 12-volt hybrid system is now standard, but Audi says this doesn’t contribute to the Q5’s boost in horsepower. Speaking of hybrids, the plug-in hybrid model receives similar updates to the exterior styling and sports unique 19- or 20-inch wheels. It too sees a slight horsepower bump this year to 362-hp. A Sport Plus package is available for the Q5 PHEV which adds adaptive air suspension and summer tires, among other items. The 2021 Q5’s leather seats now come punctuated with contrasting stitching. All models receive a new 10.1-inch infotainment display with an updated version of Audi’s infotainment software and a host of driver-assistance features are now standard, including lane-departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, and blind-spot monitoring. All models also receive a wireless smartphone charging pad and an integrated toll-road payment transmitter.

Pricing and Which One to Buy:

Premium 45$44,395

Premium Plus 45$49,095

Premium 55$52,895

Prestige 45$54,995

Premium Plus 55$56,795

Prestige 55$62,6950$10k$20k$30k$40k$50k$60k$70k$80k$90k$100k

Audi distinguishes the Q5’s powertrains with the numbers 45 and 55, the former meaning the standard turbo four and the latter indicates the optional plug-in hybrid setup. We aren’t sure the PHEV is worth the cost of the upgrade, so we’d stick with the 45 models. Of those, the mid-range Premium Plus trim offers the best balance of features and price, and now comes standard with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance:

The 2021 Q5 features a standard 261-hp turbocharged four-cylinder, a seven-speed automatic transmission, and Quattro all-wheel drive. The turbo four provides plenty of punch to scoot the Q5 around town or blast down a highway on-ramp, and it is smooth, quiet, and mellifluous. The plug-in-hybrid variant adds an electric motor that increases output to a combined 362 horses and 369 lb-ft of torque, which Audi claims will improve acceleration. The luxury compact crossover’s suspension is well damped and imparts a stable feeling no matter the road or driving condition. The ride is smooth and controlled—with or without the optional adaptive suspension—even over pockmarked asphalt. The steering is accurate and lightly weighted but provides no discernible feedback from the front wheels. In the Dynamic drive mode, the steering feels heftier but still artificial. Pitch the Q5 down a twisty two-lane and it’ll handle it reasonably well, but a Porsche Macan will show you a much better time.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG:

The EPA estimates for 2021 Q5 will earn 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The plug-in-hybrid variant has a combined estimate of 27 mpg and an electric-only range of 19 miles. However, we can’t evaluate the real-world mpg of either Q5 until we run them on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen. 

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo:

The 2021 Q5 provides enough room for four adults to get comfy and offers plenty of upscale features, even on the base Premium model. The cabin is both quiet at speed and easy to get in and out of. Moving up through the three trim levels—Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige—nets more luxury features, including Audi’s slick Virtual Cockpit digital gauge cluster. When it came to seeing how many of our carry-on cargo boxes fit, the Q5 didn’t impress. It beat the smaller Macan, but only just and held 18 cases with the rear seats folded. The Q5’s rear seatbacks easily fold in a 40/20/40 fashion, however, providing flexibility that the Lexus RXdoesn’t have.

Infotainment and Connectivity:

Buyers of even the least expensive Q5 will enjoy an intuitive infotainment system displayed in a dashtop 10.1-inch screen. Most of the expected infotainment features are present and accounted for in the base Q5, including a Wi-Fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Things get much more interesting if you jump to the Premium Plus or Prestige trims, as they come with a reconfigurable digital gauge cluster that Audi calls Virtual Cockpit. It provides a wide, 12.3-inch view of the nav map plus selected media, phone controls, trip computer, speed, and tachometer, or a combination of these.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features:

The 2021 Q5 earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the last version that was evaluatedby the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) was not named a Top Safety Pick. The Audi also comes with standard driver-assistance technology, such as automated emergency braking and forward-collision warning. Other assists are available on the pricier models.

Key safety features include:

  •  Standard automated emergency braking with forward-collision warning
  • Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
  • Available adaptive cruise control

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage:

Audi’s warranty coverage for the 2021 Q5 is average, and many rivals offer longer coverage periods. Buyers of brand-new Q5 models can take advantage of a free service for their first scheduled maintenance visit at 10,000 miles. 

  • Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
  • Complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for one year or 10,000 miles

Driving standard:

Driver assistance features include:

  • Standard Audi side assist provides blind spot monitoring via LED indicators on the exterior mirror housings at speeds above 9 mph.
  • Standard Lane departure warning helps keep the driver within the driving lane, if the lane is about to be departed, through corrective steering intervention and adjustable wheel vibration at speeds above 40 mph.
  • Standard Audi pre sense rear (as part of Audi side assist) uses radar sensors in the rear bumper to help detect an impending rear-end collision, and can initiate preventative measures.
  • Standard Parking system plus helps make parking easier with front and rear proximity acoustic parking sensors, when the vehicle is in both reverse and drive, at speeds under 6 mph.
  • Standard Rear cross traffic assist (as part of Audi side assist and parking system plus) supports the driver when reversing out of a perpendicular parking space. Indicator arrows in the MMI® display can help inform the driver of approaching vehicles, and in critical situations, a warning tone and brake jolt can be applied, prompting the driver to fully stop the vehicle.
  • Available Adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam assist (now standard on Premium Plus trim levels) assists the driver with acceleration and braking, maintaining speed and following distance between speeds of 0-95 mph and during traffic jam situations between speeds of 0-40 mph.
  • Available Top view camera system (now standard on Premium Plus trim levels) uses four wide-angle 360-degree cameras to display the entire area surrounding, projected on the MMI® screen, allowing the driver to “see” around the vehicle to help with maneuvering in tight spaces.

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