Review: 2021 Audi Q5 is the best among luxury compact SUVs

The Audi Q5 is the German brand’s best-selling vehicle and competes in one of the hottest segments: the two-row compact luxury SUVs. Among its rivals are the BMW X3 BMW, -1.26%, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Acura RDX, Lexus NX and Volvo XC60 VLVLY, -0.24%. Those are all notable models, but the Audi Q5 has the products to match or improve in key areas. For one thing, it comes standard with four-wheel drive and offers one of the best combinations of premium amenities, high-tech features, safety systems, and practicality.

The 2021 Audi Q5 lineup also offers three tantalizing powertrains, including a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) and the performance-oriented SQ5.

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The Audi Q5 (European model) Audi

What’s new? The Audi Q5 receives a mid-cycle update for 2021 that includes more power for the standard engine, styling adjustments to the grille and rear fascia, and available OLED (organic light-emitting diode) headlamps. The standard Q5 45TFSI now includes the Advance line exterior, while the Q5 55 TFSI plug-in hybrid comes with the S line package. The SQ5 has a new 21-inch wheel option and the Q5 PHEV is offered in two new colors: Distinct Green and Ultra Blue. What we like Trio of great powertrain options Standard all-wheel drive Excellent combination of comfort and athleticism Convenient and premium transportation What we don’t like More expensive than rivals like Acura RDX, Lexus NX Some active driver assistance features have an additional cost of $ 43,300-62,500 (plus a $ 1,095 destination charge. Plug-in Audi Q5 is eligible for a federal tax incentive of up to $ 6,712) Fuel Savings The standard Audi Q5 is called the 45 TFSI and comes with a turbocharged engine 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. It has been upgraded for 2021 to generate 261 horsepower (13 hp more than last year) and 273 pound-feet of torque. Now it also uses a 12 volt mild hybrid system. The Q5 has an EPA rating of 23 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. It may interest you: What is it like to drive the Maserati Ghibli 2021? The Audi Q5 55 TFSI is a plug-in hybrid. It combines a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with a 14.1 kWh battery pack and an electric motor. Combined, the system generates 362 hp and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. It is rated by the EPA at 50 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) and 27 mpg combined. Thanks to its battery pack, this Q5 PHEV is rated to travel 19 miles on electricity alone. Both Q5 models use a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and all models feature Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system. The Audi SQ5 is the high-performance version of this luxury five-passenger SUV. It uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 that makes 349 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The EPA rates the SQ5 at 18 mpg city / 24 mpg highway / 20 mpg combined. Standard features and options The Audi Q5, Q5 PHEV and SQ5 come in three versions: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. A 2021 Audi Q5 45 TFSI Premium ($ 43,300) includes wood-inlaid leather trim, three-zone climate control, heated front seats, power liftgate, 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, keyless entry with push button universal remote control and starter for garage. Standard technology includes a 10.1-inch touchscreen with Apple AAPL, -0.60% integration with CarPlay and Android Auto, and a 7-inch controller display. The Q5 55 TFSI PHEV Premium ($ 51,900) adds the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit Plus digital instrument cluster, 19-inch wheels, and S-line exterior styling. The SQ5 TFSI Premium ($ 52,900) features the turbocharged V6 engine, 20-inch wheels, adaptive damping suspension and leather / Dinamica seats. The Audi Q5 45 TFSI Premium Plus ($ 48,100) adds Virtual Cockpit Plus, panoramic sunroof, 19-inch wheels, overhead camera, active lane keeping, and adaptive cruise control. The Audi Q5 55 PHEV Premium Plus ($ 55,800) also includes Audi’s Advanced Key (keyless entry and engine start) and deluxe pre-entry climate control. The SQ5 Premium Plus ($ 57,300) includes the above features, plus a heated steering wheel. The Audi Q5 45 Prestige ($ 54,000) adds ventilated front seats, navigation, head-up display, Bang & Olufsen audio system, and Matrix-styled LED headlights. The Audi Q5 55 PHEV Prestige ($ 61,700) and SQ5 Prestige ($ 62,500) add the same features as above. Lower trim options include panoramic moonroof, fabulous Bang & Olufsen BGOUF, -4.20% audio system, power fold-down auto-dimming side mirrors, heated steering wheels, memory driver’s seat, SiriusXM SIRI, satellite radio of -3.88% and rear window curtains. The SQ5 can be further updated with the Black Optic package with dark aesthetics and the S Sport package that includes red brake calipers, sport rear differential and adaptive air suspension. Also read: The 2021 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo could be the electric vehicle that does it all Safety All 2021 Audi Q5 models include Audi pre sense city, which includes forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking and a system that prepares the car for a collision by taking actions like closing windows and tightening your seat belts. Also standard are blind spot monitoring, which Audi calls “side assist”, and parking sensors, which are called “parking plus system.” The standard start on Premium Plus includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Jam Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. The 2021 Audi Q5 received a 5-star crash test rating from the NHTSA. The IIHS has yet to rate Q5 2021, but the 2020 model earned its highest rating of “Good” in all crashworthiness categories. Behind the wheel The Audi Q5 remains one of our favorite luxury compact SUVs. As with other Audis, the Q5 has a wonderful balance between athletic handling and comfortable ride quality. It just feels good to drive. Structurally, this Audi feels exceptionally tight, and the SQ5’s V6, aided by a twin-scroll turbocharger, has enough grunt to let you know there’s something special under the hood. The energy is delivered smoothly and linearly. Although there are paddle shifters behind the wheel of the SQ5, the 8-speed automatic transmission works well on its own. Audi says a basic Q5 will go from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds. The Q5 plug-in hybrid, at 5.0 seconds, is considerably faster, though still not as fast as the SQ5, which hits 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. Materials on all trim levels are top-notch and controls are easy to see and use. The virtual cockpit still looks futuristic, especially when paired with Google‘s satellite view navigation. Rear seat space is good for this class, as is rear cargo space. If you are a fan of quality audio for your music, make sure your Q5 has the Bang & Olufsen system. Other Cars to Consider 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC: Similar in price and available with rear or four-wheel drive, the Mercedes distinguishes itself with a sophisticated and luxurious cabin and various engine options. 2021 BMW X3: Another German luxury SUV that needs no introduction, the X3 also touts athletic manners and brand prestige. 2021 Acura RDX: Acura’s entry-level luxury SUV has a powerful engine, a full list of standard safety systems, and a lower price than the Q5. Lexus NX 2021 – Lexus’ entry into this segment also boasts great comfort, safety features, a hybrid version, and a lower price. Used Porsche Macan: Few cars say it arrived as a Porsche POAHY, -1.83%. The Macan touts famous Porsche handling with SUV practicality. See: The Most Popular SUVs On The Market Questions You Can Ask Is the 2021 Audi Q5 a Good Car? Yes. Indeed, the Q5 is a great choice among luxury 2-row SUVs, as evidenced by its bestsellers and industry awards. How much does the Audi Q5 cost? A new Audi Q5 starts at $ 43,300, before the destination charge. Will a new Audi Q5 be launched? This latest generation Q5 made its debut in 2018 and for 2021 it receives a mid-cycle update. Is the Audi Q5 worth the money? Yes, we believe so. While the Q5 is more expensive than an Acura RDX and Lexus NX, it is not only in line with the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC, but comes standard with all-wheel drive. Where is the Audi Q5 made? The Audi Q5 is manufactured in Mexico. Advice from Autotrader Any of the Q5’s powertrain options seem like a good bet, so follow your budget, heart, and needs when choosing between the efficient and powerful standard 4-cylinder plug-in hybrid or the higher-performance SQ5. We’ll note that while the plug-in hybrid is priced at $ 7,700 or $ 8,600 above the base 4-cylinder depending on the model, it is eligible for $ 6,712 in tax credits, which makes it even more attractive. Read next: What it’s like to drive the 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia As for the finish, we think the Premium Plus is a great bet. It brings recommended features such as Virtual Cockpit (standard on add-on), panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. This story was originally published on Autotrader.com.