Car review: 2021 Audi Q5 offers luxury features but little space

Audi's commitment to the crossover segment is indisputable. The German automaker builds 15 different incarnations of the crossover/sport-utility-vehicle, ranging from the diminutive Q3 to the beefy Q8. Sporty, hybrid and all-electric versions can be found across the board. People who are looking for a European luxury crossover or SUV are assured of pinning down the right size, style and price by exploring the Audi line.

We've been test-driving crossovers and SUVs, from the smallest and most economical to the biggest and most expensive for many years, but our experience with Audis was limited to four-door sedans – until we took delivery of a Q5, Audi's compact crossover. It encompassed everything we've always liked about Audi sedans, with the added benefit of a high driving position and maximum utility.

With a base price of $43,300, the Q5 is a good value in the luxury-crossover segment. Our Q5, equipped with the $4,800 Premium Plus package and $1,500 navigation system, had a sticker price of $53,040.

The Q5, assembled in Mexico, competes with the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Volvo XC60, Genesis GV70, Lexus NX300, Jaguar E-Pace, Cadillac XT5 and Lincoln Nautilus.

We've always preferred European-style crossovers, which feature sporty performance and handling – sometimes at the expense of comfortable riding qualities. American, Japanese and Korean crossover designers tend to focus on riding comfort. Audi attains both in the Q5, which delivers a smooth, quiet ride and crisp handling.

The Q5 is luxurious even at its base level. Its standard features include leather upholstery, heated front seats, power liftgate, three-zone automatic climate control, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. For the full luxury experience, the Premium Plus package adds satellite radio, adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof and several other flourishes.

The Q5's interior is nearly flawless in terms of seating comfort, style and materials quality. Nevertheless, we detected a couple flaws. Space for small items is limited, and the radio-station control was sluggish. Lowering the second-row seat backs was easy but did not leave a flat loading surface, and often required moving the front seats forward to lower the rear seat backs fully. Finally, knee room in the second row was on the tight side.

More Information

2021 Audi Q5 45 TFSI quattro

Price: $53,040
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline Four, 261 horsepower, 273 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Ground clearance: 8.2 in.
Weight: 4,079 lb.
Suspension: multi-link front and rear
Wheels: 20-in. alloy
Tires: P255/45R20 all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 25.8 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 54 cu. ft.
Maximum towing capacity: 4,400 lb.
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gal.
Fuel economy: 23 mpg city, 28 highway
Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline

We tried most of the drive settings and found the throttle response was best in dynamic mode, without significantly compromising fuel economy. The Q5 is rated at 23 mpg city, 28 highway – good numbers for a two-ton crossover, though the manufacturer requires the use of premium unleaded gasoline. The Q5 is powered by a 2.0-liter, 261-horsepower turbocharged inline Four.

One of the Q5's strengths is towing capacity. The Q5 can pull 4,400 pounds. But its cargo capacity is modest, at a maximum of 54 cubic feet, compared with the XC60's 63.3 and the X3's 62.7.

The Q5 has compiled excellent crash-test scores – five stars across the board in government crash tests, and a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Brookfield, Conn.