Competes with: Acura RDX, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, BMW X3, Cadillac XT5, Infiniti QX60, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Volvo XC60
Looks like: The old Q5 had some edges buffed out
Powertrains: 261-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder; 362-hp, plug-in hybrid 2.0-liter four-cylinder; 349-hp, 3.0-liter six-cylinder (SQ5); seven-speed or eight-speed (SQ5) automatic; all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Fall
Audi’s redesigns rarely entail bold, sweeping gestures, but when it comes to the German brand’s Q5 compact SUV, why should they? We’ve said the Q5 has been among the best examples of its kind in a crowded class, and shoppers seem to agree: The Q5 outsold every other nameplate in Audi’s U.S. lineup in 2019. It’s no surprise, then, that the Q5’s biggest changes for the 2021 model year are technological rather than aesthetic.
Related: Audi Prices 2020 Q5 SUV and A8 Sedan Plug-In Hybrids
At a glance, the visual tweaks are all about smoothing out some of the Q5’s edgiest lines to give it a more athletic, rounded appearance than the previous incarnation. The grille has been separated from the hood and there’s a new headlight design with integrated turn-signal indicators now in the light housing (Audi’s Matrix LED headlights are optional). Reworked air intakes evoke the brand’s sportier S Line of vehicles. Out back, there’s a reworked diffuser and new taillight design, and wheel sizes range from 18 to 20 inches.
An optional Sport Plus Package exclusive to the PHEV includes an adaptive air suspension, 20-inch wheels with summer tires, front sport seats, S Line leather and other interior accoutrements. The SQ5 will get a different honeycomb grille and optional Black Optic Package, and two new colors are added for the hybrid and SQ5 for 2021: District Green and Ultra Blue.
The most noticeable difference for 2021 will be in the center console on the 10.1-inch touchscreen: MIB 3 (“MIB” being German for “Modular Infotainment Platform”) is Audi’s latest-generation multimedia system, purported to be 10 times faster than the outgoing MIB 2 system. It also has the ability to store up to six driver profiles in Audi’s cloud, which means that you could hop into your friend’s Q5 or a Silvercar loaner, pull up your profile and settle in to more familiar surroundings. Audi intends to roll MIB 3 out for the majority of its 2021 lineup, so expect for this to be more ubiquitous by the end of the year. An integrated toll module and wireless Apple CarPlay are newly standard; wired CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
While there are slight tweaks to the interior, including contrast stitching on leather seats and high-gloss black interior bits, the cabin mostly carries over — there are no changes to cargo space or seating dimensions.
Engine and Transmission
The Q5’s base turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine carries over with the benefit of some software tuning. That means it’s now good for 261 horsepower, ratcheting up 13 hp over the 2020 model; whether this affects fuel consumption compared with the 2020’s EPA-estimated 22/28/24 mpg city/highway/combined remains to be seen. The PHEV gets a 362-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and both four-cylinders are paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The SQ5, meanwhile, gets a 349-hp, 3.0-liter six-cylinder that comes with an eight-speed automatic.
Audi’s Pre Sense suite of safety tech comes with all Q5 models. Additional features newly standard for 2021 are lane departure warning, front and rear acoustic parking sensors, and a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist and a top-down camera system are standard with the Premium Plus trim.
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Pricing for the 2021 Audi Q5 starts at $44,295, while the Q5 PHEV starts at $52,895 and the SQ5 at $53,895 (prices include an unchanged $995 destination charge). What’s pending is how expansive the Q5’s U.S. lineup will get. No mention in the reveal was made of a high-performance RS Q5 variant the way the Q8 has, nor a “coupe”-derived Sportback version as there is with the E-Tron; for now, we can be sure only of the Q5 and SQ5 tentatively arriving at dealerships in the fall.
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