For 2018, the Audi SQ5 is fully redesigned, receiving many of the same technology, feature and interior upgrades as the regular Q5. But it's the SQ5's engine that continues to be this model's biggest separator from the Q5. Last year's supercharged V6 has been replaced by a new turbocharged V6, and it should make the SQ5 even more of a blast to drive. It has the same horsepower as the previous V6 but produces 23 more pound-feet of torque, and power delivery is lower in the rev range, which makes the SQ5 even punchier.The SQ5's new air suspension system is a nice upgrade and helps keep this hefty SUV flat in corners while providing a better ride quality on rough city pavement.
Daily driving in a SQ5 is better this year, too. The biggest issue with last year's model was that it was starting to feel dated, and the competition had left it behind in terms of technology. This new SQ5 fixes all of that. Just like the regular 2018 Q5, the SQ5 is packed with all of Audi's latest and greatest infotainment and safety tech. On top of all the new technology, the SQ5 gets a welcome improvement in rear-passenger legroom and an all-new cabin.
If you're shopping for a luxury crossover with the spirit of a Euro sport sedan, the new SQ5 is a great choice.
2018 Audi SQ5 models
The 2018 Audi SQ5 comes in either Premium Plus or Prestige trim. This means every SQ5 comes very well-equipped. But there are still plenty of upgrades to be had in terms of luxury, technology and performance.
All versions of the SQ5 will get a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 good for 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers aren't a giant increase over the outgoing supercharged V6, but Audi says maximum torque is available much lower in the rev range. The SQ5 also comes with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Standard equipment highlights on the Premium Plus include 20-inch wheels, LED headlights, parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, an adaptive suspension, a power liftgate, three-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, 40/20/40-split folding rear seats, leather upholstery, a 7-inch touchscreen with Audi's MMI infotainment system, a 10-speaker sound system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Low-speed collision warning and mitigation, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are also standard safety features.
The SQ5 Prestige upgrades the SUV's technology with Audi's Virtual Cockpit gauge panel, a touchpad controller with handwriting recognition, a full-color head-up display, a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, a 8.3-inch touchscreen interface, a navigation system, a top-down parking camera system and extra soundproofing.
You can get those technology features as options on the Premium Plus. Audi also offers the S Sport package, which includes an air suspension system with adaptive ride-height and driving modes, an upgraded rear sport differential, and a special display mode for the Virtual Cockpit display, which includes a boost gauge and lap timer. A Driver Assistance package bundles adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and intervention, automatic high beams and speed limit info.
Other options include a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, manual rear sunshades, ventilated front seats, rear side airbags, diamond-stitched leather upholstery, and 21-inch wheels with summer tires.
The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Audi SQ5 (turbo 3.0L V6 | 8-speed automatic | AWD).
The turbo V6 is a touch slower than its competition, but it and the eight-speed automatic are so smooth and satisfying that you probably won't care. Stopping power is exemplary, and the braking system feels confident in emergencies. This is a capable and enjoyable machine.
With 354 horsepower, the SQ5's turbocharged V6 generates gratifying acceleration, including 0-60 mph performance of 5.3 seconds. That test result is quick but slightly slower than more powerful competitors. You'd only notice that difference on a test track, not in the real world.
Powerful brakes and summer tires make for confident behavior during simulated emergency stops. The ABS emits a fair amount of noise that might make an actual emergency more stressful for a novice driver, but the stopping power is there. Around town, the brakes are predictable and easy to modulate.
The flat-bottom wheel has comfortable grips and lots of assistance in the Comfort setting, which makes for easy quick steering inputs for when, say, you're in a small parking lot. We prefer the feel and precision that comes from the reduced assistance in the Dynamic mode. So both modes have merit.
True to the S part of its name, the SQ5 is nimble and enjoyable, offering welcome agility and control. Its summer tires deliver more handling potential than you'd need for a public road, and its stability control is less intrusive than the Q5's. These attributes make evasive maneuvers easier, too.
The SQ5 does an admirable job balancing sporty and luxury attributes. Its largely lag-free power delivery and smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic make for effortless cruising or passing, if needed. The stop-start system adds a slight hesitation off the line, but it can be disabled.
You'll find off-road and Allroad drive settings (one for speeds below 20 mph, the other above), hill descent control, and the ability to increase ride height if you've chosen the optional air suspension. The SQ5 is intended mostly for the occasional unpaved road and nothing more serious.
The interior delivers on the comfort you'd expect not just from a luxury SUV, but from an Audi. The supportive seats and quiet ride mean you can drive all day, and the optional adaptive air suspension delivers impressive ride control in spite of the available large-diameter wheels.
The seats are as supportive as they are attractive, providing welcome comfort for all-day driving. The side bolsters help keep you in place during cornering but aren't intrusive during the commute. Plenty of adjustments, including four-way lumbar, ensure all occupants can find their ideal position.
Despite the sporty intentions and massive 21-inch wheels, the SQ5 makes no sacrifice when it comes to ride quality. The optional adaptive air suspension takes the credit. It's firm and taut when you're in the Dynamic setting, but it's soft and compliant for normal driving. An excellent balance.
Noise & vibration
The SQ5 does an admirable job of only letting in the important sounds. You don't hear much in the way of wind, tire or road noise. You can adjust the loudness of the engine, which in its most dynamic setting adds a low-rpm thrum under moderate acceleration and the occasional pop from the exhaust.
The system is quiet yet powerful, and you don't need to make adjustments as you drive along. The vents are easy to adjust and provide good coverage. Unfortunately heated and ventilated seats are separate options. Welcome features such as a heated steering wheel and rear window shades are included.
The SQ5 earns high marks for interior functionality, making it a solid workhorse for a family — and a sharp-dressed one at that. The minimalist design is easy to understand, the space is plentiful and easy to access for front and rear passengers, and the outward visibility is excellent.
Ease of use
The cabin layout and primary physical controls make sense. You don't have to hunt around to accomplish basic tasks. One potential annoyance is how the shifter requires you to press a button to enter Park, and not push forward like most transmissions. It's something you learn after a few drives.
Getting in/getting out
The tall door openings make for good head clearance, while their short length means they don't need to swing out wide in parking lots. Opting for the adaptive air suspension lowers the ride even farther (by 1.2 inches), reducing the step that occupants need to make to access the interior.
A wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustments make it easy for drivers of most widths and heights to find their ideal setting. The steering wheel doesn't obstruct the gauge cluster, and though the pedals are not adjustable, most drivers won't need to compromise their arm and leg positions.
The interior sports generous interior measurements that make this SUV seem roomier than its compact designation. Front passengers have plenty of space, and the rear seats offer generous legroom. The width of the back seat will accommodate three larger adults, but they might complain.
Large windows and narrow roof pillars make for excellent outward visibility. Along with the outward view, big sideview mirrors and a standard rearview camera with a proximity system take the guesswork out of parking. The optional and configurable full-color head-up display only shows what you want.
A consistent Audi strength. With rare exception, every component of the interior relays a sense of high quality. Optional upgraded leather and stitching make this luxury vehicle feel as if it's in another class entirely. The switches and interior controls have a satisfying click and weighting.
A family will find plenty of interior storage solutions, with cargo volume that's expected for the class. We like the addition of the adjustable load height that comes with the optional air suspension, and the 4,400-pound tow rating should satisfy the needs of most owners.
The decently sized door pockets and center console should accommodate most items. We like how the tray under the armrest slides back and forth; it holds a phone or two. The cupholders sit just behind the entertainment controls, so they may be more difficult to use if you have a tall drink.
The SQ5 offers 26.8 cubic feet of storage space behind second row and 60.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, which is typical for this kind of vehicle. When equipped with the air suspension, you can raise or lower the rear of the vehicle with a button located in the cargo area to make loading easier.
Child safety seat accommodation
The outboard rear seats have easy-to-find LATCH and tether anchors, while the middle seat has a single tether anchor. The location and layout of these seats earned the Q5, which is fundamentally the same as the SQ5 in this regard, a Good rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
With a 4,400-pound maximum tow rating, the SQ5's capability ranks among the best of the segment. Models equipped with an air suspension have a trailer tow setting that activates automatically with the factory-installed hitch. Owners with aftermarket hitches must select this mode manually.
When outfitted with all the options, the clear and vibrant displays look wonderful. Alas, they prioritize aesthetic appeal over functionality, so it can take a bit longer to learn the ins and outs of the system's logic. Some phone integration features are surprising in their absence, too.
Audio & navigation
The optional navigation system and digital gauge cluster look fantastic, but after interacting with them you realize that they rely more on fancy graphics than user intuitiveness. Switching through menus is quick, but it takes some time to learn the system's logic.
We appreciate standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, but the lack of a touchscreen makes operation clumsier than what you'll find from competitors. The integration isn't as deep either. Navigation prompts don't display on the HUD or gauge cluster as they do in other vehicles.
The available adaptive cruise control system takes all the frustration out of stop-and-go highway traffic, and we like how you can configure how aggressively it slows the vehicle down. The available top-view camera system makes parking easier, and the blind-spot monitoring system is effective.
Audi's voice recognition does fine, but you'll likely want to use your smartphone's system. Unfortunately, the voice prompt button on the steering wheel doesn't work with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, so you have to use a workaround. Other vehicle entertainment systems do this better.
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