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Audi is no stranger to the crossover game, having the Q3, Q5 and Q7 models in its fleet. Nestled mid-pack is the Q5, a midsize crossover that blends the best of a luxury sedan with the high-riding, AWD nature of a SUV. The Q5 aims to please, offering three engine options and a hybrid model, along with three trim level choices and enough tech to make Bill Gates look old school. Included in the powertrain mix is the potent 3.0-liter TDI, bristling with 428 pound-feet of torque and a very un-crossover-like highway fuel economy rating of 31 mpg.

The Q5 got its start back in 2009. Sales started off slow here in the U.S., likely thanks to the sour economic times, but has grown steadily year by year. A facelift for 2013 helped boost sales by more than 11,600 units over 2012. That mid-cycle refresh brought an upgraded interior with refined controls and better materials, along with a revised exterior with upgraded lighting.

Things have pretty much stayed the same since then, with the Q5 enjoying sales of more than 40,000 units in 2014. To get an idea of how the Q5 is holding up, I spent a week with it. And more specifically, my tester was the TDI version, complete with its stump-pulling torque and quattro AWD.

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  • 2015 Audi Q5 TDI - Driven
  • Year:
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  • Transmission:
    eight-speed auto
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
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  • Displacement:
    3.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6.5 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    130 mph
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; AWD
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:


2015 Audi Q5 TDI - Driven Exterior
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2015 Audi Q5 TDI - Driven Exterior
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2015 Audi Q5 TDI - Driven Exterior
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The Q5 has a smart, tidy exterior with all the standard features normally found on an Audi. The large trapezoidal grille dominates the front while displaying the four rings logo. LED-incrusted headlights shine bright during the day, then switch to xenon bulbs at night. Fog lights help illuminate the road in inclement weather.

The Audi’s side profile is similar to many crossovers out there. Its tall windshield meets the roof just over the front occupants, before sloping rearward into the hatch. Chrome trim helps brighten up the Q5’s windowsills and rocker panels, along with the roof rack rails. The chrome continues onto the double-spoke, 19-inch wheels.

Out back, the Q5 employs intricate LED taillights that follow the shape of the hatch. The bumper features more lighting elements as well. Down below, twin chrome-tipped exhaust pipes bellow out the melodious baritone voice of the TDI V-6.


2015 Audi Q5 TDI - Driven Interior
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2015 Audi Q5 TDI - Driven Interior
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2015 Audi Q5 TDI - Driven Interior
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Open the driver’s door and you’re greeted with a well-appointed cabin that’s trimmed like a professional athlete in a tailored suit. Its overall appearance is simple yet luxurious – all without being overly ostentatious. The controls are placed in typical Audi places, with the center console being the hub of the driver interface. Nearly every aspect of the vehicle is controled here. The start button, emergency brake, gear shifter, and of course the Audi MMI interface are all at home here.

A well-appointed cabin that’s trimmed like a professional athlete in a tailored suit.

Audi doesn’t skimp on passenger comfort either. Front occupants are treated to heated and cooled seats. Rear passengers get their own air vents, along with adjustable seatbacks for a more enjoyable ride. The optional panoramic sunroof is surprisingly huge, offering tons of light into the mocha brown and black cabin. The glass top pops open over the front row, providing a respectable amount of space in which to hang from while cruising down the Vegas strip.

From a usability standpoint, the cabin works well in most cases. The driver’s gauge cluster is easy to read and the infotainment system becomes easier to use over time. Yes, it does have a small learning curve. I did have issues getting comfortable in the front seat. I couldn’t seem to get it adjusted just so, with most of the issues centering around the lumbar support. I finally got it set a few days into testing.

The Q5 lives up to its crossover usability as well. Drop the 60/40 folding rear seats forward and the cargo bay opens up quite nicely. Even with the seats up, there’s plenty of room for a weekend’s worth of luggage.


2015 Audi Q5 TDI - Driven Exterior
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Idling away under that Moonlight Blue metallic hood is Audi’s 3.0-liter V-6 TDI. The longitudinally mounted engine is comprised of a cast-iron block an aluminum cylinder heads, giving it a good power-to-weight ratio. The turbo spools early in the engine’s power band, making an amazing 428 pound-feet of torque from 1,750 rpm though 2,250 revs. Horsepower peaks at 3,750 rpm and lasts till the 4,000 rpm redline. At full tilt, the oil-burner pumps out 240 horses.

The engine just pulls all the way to redline.

Mated to the engine is an eight-speed automatic transmission. The smooth-shifting unit makes sure the diesel stays within its power band. Despite the gap between peak torque and horsepower, there’s no sign of power loss or of a dead spot. The engine just pulls all the way to redline. During hard acceleration, redline does come quickly, making the run to 60 mph necessitate the shift into third gear – at least – before the clock stops at 6.5 seconds.

Tire spin is nearly non-existent thanks to Audi’s sure-footed quattro system. This permanent AWD system routes 60 percent of power to the rear wheels and 40 percent to the front, giving the Q5 a sportier feel in the corners. When slippage occurs, power is directed to the wheels with the most grip.

Despite having boatloads of torque, the Q5 TDI achieves an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. In my testing, I averaged around 27.5 mpg during mixed driving and up to 34 mpg over a 300-mile highway jaunt. Best of all, the 19.8-gallon fuel tank gives the Q5 TDI more than 600 miles of cruising range.

Driving Impressions

As you can watch in the video, the Q5 handles well for a crossover. Interestingly enough, my Q5 came wrapped in a set of Continental CrossContact winter tires. Though the average mid-day temperature during testing hovered around 80 degrees here in Central Florida, the tires performed admirably. There were a tad noisy and felt a bit soft in corners. I certainly suspect that a set of proper all-season or summer performance tires would make the Q5 a surprisingly nimble machine.

Outward visibility is good in all directions, except for the moderate blind spots created by the large side mirrors. But their large size does help eliminate any rearward blindspots, as does the blindspot warning system.

In real-world use, the TDI provides ample acceleration, especially under moderate throttle with mid-range revs. The power surges on as the turbo generates boost. Lag is present but is not a hindrance.

Perhaps the best part about the TDI is its ability to hide itself. I’d venture to wager the average person would not know he was driving a diesel. It’s only until the rpm gauge is seen, the “low sulfur diesel fuel only” sticker is spotted on the dash, or the fuel door is opened, revealing the “diesel”-printed cap and the DEF fill port, that the truth becomes obvious. Diesel clatter is barely noticeable, even standing beside the Q5. Turbo whoosh is completely masked. To say the least, NVH levels within the Q5 TDI are low.


2015 Audi Q5 TDI - Driven Exterior
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Foregoing all the options will get you into a Q5 for $39,300. That’s for the “base” Premium trim package and the 2.0-liter TFSI engine. My tester was a mid-grade Premium Plus edition. With the added TDi powertrain and $7,700 worth of options, its total price came to $55,625. That’s after including the $925 destination fee as well.


2015 BMW X3

2015 BMW X3 High Resolution Exterior
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Though the nomenclature doesn’t line up, the X3 is the Q5’s closest competitor from BMW. Size-wise, the pair are a close match and offer many of the same features. Where things start to differ is under the hood. The X3’s turbodiesel option is a 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder, offering only 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. That’s a far cry from the TDI’s 240 horses and 428 pound-feet. Price wise, the BMW is a bit cheaper than the Audi, starting at $39,325 but only cresting to $45,825. Adding options will raise the price, but the BMW still undercuts the Audi in the finance department.

Read our full review here

2015 Mercedes GLK-Class

2015 Audi Q5 TDI - Driven
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The GLK-Class is Mercedes’ answer to the luxury crossover question. It offers all the tech and comforts you’d expect from the three-pointed star, while offering two engine options. The standard 3.5-liter gasoline V-6 offers 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, while the available BlueTEC diesel offers 200 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque from its 2.1-liter, twin-turbo four-cylinder. The GLK is a bit smaller than the other competitors, but some buyers might find that attractive for more urban environments. Prices start at $37,900 for the GLK350 and $39,400 for the diesel GLK250 BlueTEC.

Read our full review here


2015 Audi Q5 TDI - Driven Exterior
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All told, the Q5 TDI offers plenty of luxury and technology wrapped in an attractive shell and finished off with good driving dynamics and surprising fuel economy.
The Q5 might be a bit pricy when compared to the BMW and Mercedes, but the added benefits it offers might be worth the extra scratch to some customers. At least for those planning long roadtrips, the Q5 offers the added benefit of 34 mpg on the highway.

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    • Starts getting pricy
    • Learning curve for the MMI infotainment
    • Starting to look outdated
Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
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