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October 05, 2009

New Car Test Drive: 2009 Audi Q5

By Thom Blackett

2009_Audi_Q5

There’s lots of talk in our society about what qualifies as too big versus too small, with the focus centering on large houses, famished starlets, and everything in between. May we suggest that folks simply shoot for a happy medium – a size that suits you and makes you comfortable. This appropriately-sized mentality is behind the development of a breed of vehicles dubbed crossovers, one of which is the 2009 Audi Q5. It provides a smaller alternative to Audi’s Q7 SUV, offers more utility than the Audi A4 wagon, and strikes a balance between the less spacious Mercedes-Benz GLK350 and the pricier BMW X3.

Shoppers interested in Audi’s newest utility vehicle can plan on laying out at least $37,200, which is about $9,000 cheaper than an Audi Q7. Of course, select a higher trim level, start adding on options like the Luxury Package, booming Bang & Olufsen sound system, or the MMI navigation unit, and that mid-$30,000s price will disappear sooner than a Krispy Kreme in a squad car. Our well-appointed tester rang up at nearly $53,000, but like all Q5s, played host to standard features such as leather upholstery, heated mirrors, stability control, six airbags, and a tire pressure monitor.

 

Buckled in and hoping to avoid the use of those last few safety items, we hit the roads of Southern California in our Audi, ultimately walking away with mixed impressions. To its credit, the Q5’s standard quattro all-wheel-drive system makes for impressive handling on twisty roads while not delivering an overly harsh ride around town, and the six-speed automatic transmission is blissfully smooth. Add to that comfortable seating and more rear leg room than its primary competitors, and all would appear rosy. But on the flip side of the coin are narrow rear seat foot wells, an optional MMI navigation system overwrought with complexity and lacking necessary simplicity, and top-notch materials offset by seemingly cheap bits used for primary dials and controls.

 

With that said, perfection is an elusive goal, and this miniature Q7 commits no major transgressions (aside from the frustrating MMI). As is, the 2009 Audi Q5 deserves the consideration of luxury crossover shoppers, especially those with a taste for driving excitement.

 

Specifications

Test Vehicle: 2009 Audi Q5

Base Price: $37,200

Price as Tested: $52,475

Engine: 3.2-liter V6

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

EPA Fuel Economy: 18 mpg city/23 mpg highway

NHTSA/IIHS Frontal Crash Ratings: 5 stars / Good

NHTSA/IIHS Side Impact Ratings: 5 stars / Good

Also Consider: BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, Volvo XC60

 

For more information see Road & Travel’s Audi Buyer’s Guide or visit audiusa.com.

 

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