Eight years is a long time to go without a major overhaul, especially for a luxury crossover in a class that's constantly evolving with new designs and competitors. But Audi's Q5, first launched in 2009, sold so successfully that it eventually became the company's best-selling vehicle in America. When it comes to tinkering with that kind of success, you tread cautiously. Which makes the 2018 Audi Q5 a measured, if overdue, arrival.
The new Q5 isn't a stylistic departure from its predecessor. The lines are bit crisper, tighter, narrower. The sheet metal now looks more spun from the larger Q7 crossover. But these subtle evolutions mask deeper changes under the metal. The Q5 now rides atop an all-new chassis based on the latest A4 sedan. It's longer, wider and taller, not by much, but enough to open up more room in the cabin for rear passengers and cargo loads. More significantly, the new chassis yields a far smoother ride than before, addressing a frequent complaint leveled against the outgoing model.
The standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine carries over, but it now offers more power. The Quattro all-wheel-drive system for which Audi is renowned also receives a major overhaul in the Q5, now transformed into a primarily front-wheel-drive system that can engage the rear wheels in less than a half-second when traction is required.
Significant changes also come with technology and driver-assistance features; the lack of the latter was also a knock on the previous Q5. This new model remedies the situation with available features such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and city-oriented automatic emergency braking at speeds up to 52 mph.
All of which makes the 2018 Audi Q5 worth the wait if you're looking for a premium crossover that can mix it up as equally on dry roads as those covered in snow or dirt. In this space increasingly crowded with alternatives from BMW, Cadillac, Jaguar, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz, the Audi Q5 remains a standout.
The 2018 Audi Q5 is available in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels. All trims come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (252 horsepower, 273 pound-feet of torque) joined to a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard.
Standard equipment on Premium trims includes 18-inch wheels, roof rails, a rear spoiler, automatic xenon headlights with LED running lights, LED taillights, rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors and a power liftgate. Inside you'll find push-button ignition, cruise control, leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar adjustment), auto-dimming rearview mirror, transmission shift paddles, a 40/20/40-split folding and reclining rear seat, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone connection, and an infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Automatic emergency braking for vehicles and pedestrians at speeds up to 52 mph (called Pre Sense City) is also standard.
Premium Plus models add a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, auto-dimming side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry, heated front seats with driver-seat memory settings, satellite radio, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Prestige models combine the features listed above with 20-inch wheels, noise-insulated side windows, a head-up display, ambient cabin lighting, a bird's-eye view parking camera, a Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system, a touchscreen navigation system, a Wi-Fi connection and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster display.
Premium trims can add the Convenience package (eight-way power seats, keyless entry, heated side mirrors and satellite radio); the Navigation and Telematics package (touchscreen navigation, Wi-Fi and digital gauge cluster); or a handful of stand-alone options including 19-inch wheels, heated front seats, panoramic sunroof and rear side airbags.
Options for Premium Plus trims include 19- or 20-inch wheels, touchscreen navigation, ventilated sport front seats, heated rear seats and heated steering wheel, the upgraded audio system, Wi-Fi and rear side airbags.
Heated rear seats and steering wheel and ventilated sport seats are also available on Prestige models, as are the rear airbags, aluminum or ash wood trim inlays, and an adaptive damping suspension. A fixed roof can also replace the standard panoramic sunroof on Premium Plus and Prestige trims.