Almost Perfect: The 2018 Audi Q5 2.0T quattro S tronic

Front 3/4 view of 2018 Audi Q5 2.0T quattro S tronic
The 2018 Audi Q5 2.0T quattro S tronic.
Want to see a great example of the rapid progression in cars these days?  Check out the Phoenix Bureau's review of the 2014 Audi Q5 TDI quattro Tiptronic.  Compare the pictures in that review to the pictures in this one.  You may not think Audi's mid-size SUV has changed much in four years, but the pictures tell the story.  There's been a remarkable evolution of the design.

Now look at the technicals.  The '14 was a three-liter diesel V6 making 240 horsepower and delivering an EPA fuel economy estimate of 24 city/31 highway.  Our '18?  A two-liter turbocharged gasoline four with 252 horsepower and getting very close to what four years ago were remarkable diesel numbers for this size class...23 city/27 highway.

Rear 3/4 view of 2018 Audi Q5 2.0T quattro S tronic
2018 Audi Q5 2.0T quattro S tronic.
The 2018 Audi Q5 is classic Audi...cleanly designed, well thought-out, luxurious without being ostentatious, putting function and form on an equal plane.

Our tester was the 2.0T quattro S tronic...and yes, Audi spells "quattro" in all lower-case letters.  It's their full-time all-wheel drive system.

Given that I'd just swapped a $39,000 Chevrolet Equinox for this, the base price of $41,500 seemed overwhelmingly reasonable...but I am comparing a loaded Chevy to the base Audi.  The bottom line ended up being a $13,000 difference.

That $41,500 gets you 18-inch wheels, automatic stop-start, a space-saver spare tire, Audi drive select, a fine audio system, Xenon plus headlights, aluminum roof rails, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, a HomeLink garage door opener, driver information system, hill descent control, leather seating surfaces, power heated exterior mirrors, a power tailgate, Bluetooth, rain and light sensors, rear privacy glass, a sliding 40/20/40 second row seat with adjustable recline, three-zone automatic climate control with a digital rear display, a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles, eight-way power front seats with four-way lumbar support for the driver, ABS with brake assist, Audi pre sense Basic and City, electronic stabilization control, a vehicle immobilizer, anti-theft alarm and interior motion sensor, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights with dynamic turn signals, a rearview camera and tire pressure monitoring.

Stop there and you've got one heck of a nice SUV for $41,500.

Interior view of 2018 Audi Q5 2.0T quattro S
2018 Audi Q5 2.0T quattro S tronic interior.
But the press fleet folks at Audi didn't stop there.  Ours had options:

$575 for the Florett Silver metallic paint.

$4,000 for the Premium Plus package (Audi advanced key, full LED headlights, Audi connect CARE, staineless steel front door sill inlays, Audi side assist with pre-sense rear, a panoramic sunroof, heated, auto-dimming, power-folding exterior mirrors, high-gloss window surrounds, parking system plus, SiriusXM satellite radio, heated front seats with driver memory).

$2,600 for the Navigation package (Audi connect PRIME and PLUS), Audi MMI navigation plus with MMI touch and Audi virtual cockpit).

$1,600 for the 20-inch wheel package, which includes upgraded all-season tires.

$950 for an upgraded Bang & Olufsen sound system with 3D sound.

$500 for the Cold Weather package (heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel).

Before we do the math, let's address the headline: Almost Perfect.  There was one glitch, a minor but annoying one.  Our tester had Apple CarPlay, which is tremendous.  Anytime you put the car in reverse and activate the backup camera, or a parking alert lets you know of an impending connection with another object, that takes over the screen.  That's fine.  But when you put the car in drive or the danger has passed, the screen goes back to the menu prior to Apple CarPlay and won't let you actually select Apple CarPlay....you can click as much as you want, but nothing will happen.  Some online research indicates it's not just us...it's driving Audi owners crazy.  There's the workaround of unplugging and re-plugging your phone...but that can happen several times in a single drive, depending on other drivers' behavior, so it's not just annoying, it's a safety issue.  The idea is to connect the phone and not touch it from that point on.  Audi needs a fix for this and quickly.

Okay...now the math:  With $975 destination charge, the bottom line wound up at $52,700.  While that's not cheap, consider this:  The 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum we reviewed 15 months ago rang in at $55,155. Jeep Grand Cherokees can easily be optioned up into this price range.   A loaded Audi Q5 for less money than a Ford or a Jeep is a sweet deal.