Hollis JohnsonPROS: It has a satisfying engine, sleek styling, luxurious interior, good cargo capacity, nifty handling seating for five, and a fantastic infotainment system.
CONS: It will cost you.
Let’s cut to the chase: the 2018 Audi SQ5 3.0T quattro tiptronic — that’s the vehicle’s full, grand name — is a superb SUV that costs a lot. But it will give you just about everything you could possibly want in this segment of the market.
The SUV seats four comfortably, five people in a pinch, and it has a good amount of cargo space. The vehicle has sleek styling and features one of the best infotainment systems around. The SQ5 also has reasonable fuel economy and drives great.
But it begins pricing at $54,300, and our tester tipped the scales at a healthy $65,800, once options were added. So you gotta pay to play.
Will you enjoy the playing? I kind of gave it away already, but read on for specifics:
Say “Howdy!” to the 2018 Audi SQ5. This is the second generation of the performance-oriented SUV.
Always one of my favorites, the SQ5 takes the pleasing Q5 and revs it up. By the way, just to cover it now, those rectangular chrome exhaust ports aren’t real — they’re a design element.
The SQ5 is the sportier version of the stalwart Q5. Audi has a higher-up performance division, but there’s currently no RSQ5. Which is fine because the SQ5 gives you pretty much all you need on the go-quick front.
It’s a bit more prominent in back.
The design has proven popular and has helped Audi carve out a space for itself in a field crowded with BMWs, Mercedes, Lexuses, Acuras, Infinitis, and Porsches (and more recently, Jaguars, Maseratis, Alfa Romeos, and Lamborghinis).
The rear end is as svelte as possible for an SUV that needs to be able to, for example, fit a bicycle. (I tested that out while I had the vehicle and was able to fit a two-wheeler back there with no problem.)
The SQ5 summarizes everything that the luxury SUV has become: it’s German, it looks sharp, and it has moderate offroad capability, but is really more about handing everyday driving in affluent zip codes. It’s built on a car-like crossover platform and for those who like a little pep under the gas pedal, it delivers.
The big change for the 2018 model was under the hood. The SQ5 loses the previous generation’s supercharged V6 and gets a 3.0-liter turbocharged mill.
There it is, tucked away under …
… fine Teutonic plastic.
A six-speed automatic transmission pipes 354 horsepower to the SQ5’s outstanding all-wheel-drive system. The Quattro setup favors the rear wheels, providing a more traditionally dynamic driving experience. But if you start to lose grip up front, the system will lend an assist.
Fuel economy, at 19 mpg city/24 highway/21 combined is deeply OK. You do pay a price for performance. Audi says you’ll be parting with over $3,000 extra in gas money over five years compared to what, say, a lowered-powered mass-market SUV would cost you.
Snazzy red brake calipers provide the stopping power and are part of a $3,000 S Sport package that also includes a jazzier adaptive-air suspension and a special rear differential. The Pirelli P-Zeros are more sporty than off-roady.
Let’s slip inside the very nice black interior.
It feels as good as it photographs.
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