$10,872 - $14,292

2011 Audi Q5 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Audi Q5 was new.


Performance: 8.8

In the performance arena, the 2011 Audi Q5 receives nothing but high marks from the automotive press. Test drivers praise its confident handling and optional Audi Drive Select, which allows drivers to balance comfort and performance by offering comfort, auto and dynamic options. The Q5 comes standard with 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that’s new for 2011. If you want the sportier and more powerful 3.2-liter engine, you’ll have to upgrade to the Premium Plus trim, which starts at $42,500 – $7,300 more than the base trim.

If you can’t pay nearly $43,000 for that option, reviews say you shouldn’t fret. They love the base 2.0-liter engine and say it’s nearly as powerful as the 3.0-liter V6 engine that comes with the base BMW X3. What else does the Q5 have going for it? A reviewer-praised standard all-wheel drive system and a base engine with the highest fuel economy ratings in the class.  

  • "Being in Los Angeles, I am the only one on the AutoWeek staff who is not currently wading through waist-deep snow, cursing the weather. So why is it that I am driving this perfectly capable all-wheel-drive Audi SUV? Because it's fun to drive on dry pavement, too." -- AutoWeek
  • "But if the fuel economy fails to impress, the rest of the Q5 experience does not. As we’ve already mentioned, the 2.0T’s acceleration is more than acceptable." -- Car and Driver
  • "In reviews, we've found that the Audi Q5 strikes a remarkably satisfying balance between performance and comfort." -- Edmunds
  • "Slipping behind the wheel of the Q5 2.0T is a pure joy. The suspension is stiff and sporty without ever being overly harsh. The eight-speed Tiptronic transmission is lightning fast and very smooth. Acceleration is more than adequate, both from a standing start and at highway speed. There's a bit of turbo lag when you punch the gas, but not enough to be truly annoying." -- BusinessWeek
  • "And when outfitted with its category-exclusive "Audi drive select" feature - highlighted in the Favorite Features section of this review - the 2011 Audi Q5 offers an even more dynamic personality." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The 2011 Audi Q5 has two engine options. The base model comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It makes 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. By comparison, the 3.2 liter V6 engine, available with the Prestige and Premium Plus trims, produces 270 horsepower and 243 pound feet of torque. The 3.2-liter V6 is more powerful, and test drivers have nothing but positive things to say about this option’s performance, but they also say that the 2.0-liter engine is fantastic. If you want to save $7,300, go for the 2.0-liter. Not only will you have smaller monthly payments, but you’ll also have higher fuel economy ratings of 20/27 mpg city/highway. The 3.2-liter engine averages much less – 18/23 mpg city/highway – but these ratings are still some of the highest in the class, especially when you factor in the standard all-wheel drive that comes with both models.   

If you’re considering the 2011 Q5, you’ve probably looked at the BMW X3. Reviewers have too, and say the Q5’s base 2.0-liter engine is nearly as quick as the 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder that comes with the base X3, the xDrive28i. While the xDrive28i makes 240 horsepower – 29 more than the base Q5 – it also starts at about $37,000 and according to the EPA, it averages 19/25 mpg city/highway, making it more expensive up front and in the long run.

  • "Like the 2.0-liter turbo four, the eight-speed automatic transmission also is new to the Q5 for 2011. It’s the same basic box of gears found in the BMW 7-series, Rolls-Royce Ghost, and Audi A8 and A5, among others. It upshifts with a swiftness and confidence that remind of Audi’s S tronic dual-clutch automatic, particularly with the throttle matted. Nonsequential up- or downshifts even eight to two can be executed manually, although you have to be a little deliberate about it, with more of a whap whap whap than a whapwhapwhap." -- Car and Driver
  • "As a result, the base model Q5 is nearly as quick as the more expensive V6-powered rivals: Audi says the 2.0T accelerates from zero to 60 in 7.1 seconds, compared with 6.7 seconds for the Q5 3.2 and X3 xDrive28i." -- BusinessWeek
  • "Paired with a new eight-speed manually selectable Tiptronic transmission, the 2.0T delivers V6 like performance with impressively frugal fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Luxury cars have seldom been known for their high fuel economy, and SUVs have also never been known for being frugal with gas. Put the two together and you have a recipe for fuel consumption that would make an oil executive put a down payment on a second yacht. Bucking this trend, though, is the 2011 Audi Q5. Notable this year for the Q5 is a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers only a couple mpg less on the EPA driving cycles than the Audi A4 Avant wagon. Even the Q5 with its available, more powerful V6 is pretty good on gas." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

After test driving the 2011 Audi Q5, automotive editors report that the Q5 has one of the most balanced and refined suspensions on the market: Steering is light enough for highway and city driving, but is still quick and direct when they test the Q5 capabilities at higher speeds.  

One reason why the Q5 handles so well is because of Audi Drive Select, which is optional on the Prestige Trim. If you add this feature, you’ll pay $54,000, which is expensive for this class. If your budget can’t handle that price tag, don’t worry. Reviewers say drivers will be completely satisfied with the base model’s handling and braking capabilities. You’ll also save $14,500.

  • "The steering is quick and direct and the 235/60R-18 Dunlops grip the dry California roads with near-elastic glee." -- AutoWeek 
  • "The steering is accurate and nicely weighted, and body control is quite good for a tall wagon. At the same time, the ride is supple enough to please those who couldn't care less about handling." -- Edmunds 
  • "In a tight parking lot, you want a lot of steering assist and response. When bombing down the autobahn, you want little boost and subtle directional changes. With Audi dynamic steering, the Q5 has variable assist and variable ratio, delivering the best of both worlds. The system can even provide minor steering corrections in extreme situations, reducing the need for electronic stability program intervention." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The brakes offer good feel, as does the steering. The Q5 turns in with eagerness and never complains when you feel like hustling, with any understeer easily sorted out by a touch less throttle and the Quattro all-wheel-drive system." -- Car and Driver

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