2009 Audi Q5

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2009 Audi Q5. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Acceleration
  • Cabin materials
  • Towing capacity
  • Gas mileage
  • Low cargo floor
  • Crash-test ratings

The Bad

  • Inconsistent steering feel
  • Cramped backseat
  • Limited cargo room
  • Touchy brakes
  • High base price
  • Improved but still flawed MMI system

Notable Features of the 2009 Audi Q5

  • All-new model
  • Smaller than the Q7
  • Standard AWD
  • Seats five
  • Updated media interface
  • Available Bang &amp
  • Olufsen stereo

2009 Audi Q5 Road Test

Kelsey Mays
Sharply styled and well-appointed on the inside, the new Audi Q5 is a controversial entry among premium small crossovers. If you're in the market for one, it's worth a test-drive — and my money says you won't come away feeling neutral about it.

Audi's ads pit the Q5 against the segment's granddaddy, the Lexus RX. It's an interesting tactic, because the RX has a reputation for reliable elegance. It's the vanilla ice cream — oh, hell, the Camry — of luxury SUVs. The Q5, on the other hand, is more like a pistachio-mint flavor. Some will love it, some will hate it. I'm leaning toward the latter, but I suspect it's because I never liked mint to begin with.

The five-seat Q5 comes in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. I drove a Premium Plus for a week. My colleague Joe Wiesenfelder logged a few hours in a range of Q5s at a press introduction earlier this year; read his review here.

Sharp Looks
Styled in the same vein as other recent Audis, the Q5 looks like a cross between the three-row Q7 and the smaller A4 wagon. (Compare them here.) It's an attractive marriage, particularly with the Q5's LED daytime running lights, which Audi has added — to compelling effect — on a number of models. On Premium Plus and Prestige Q5s, they sit above the bezels, sort of like eyebrows. The sinewy taillights, on the other hand, are a bit bizarre for my taste. Their resemblance to other Audi tailli...

Sharply styled and well-appointed on the inside, the new Audi Q5 is a controversial entry among premium small crossovers. If you're in the market for one, it's worth a test-drive — and my money says you won't come away feeling neutral about it.

Audi's ads pit the Q5 against the segment's granddaddy, the Lexus RX. It's an interesting tactic, because the RX has a reputation for reliable elegance. It's the vanilla ice cream — oh, hell, the Camry — of luxury SUVs. The Q5, on the other hand, is more like a pistachio-mint flavor. Some will love it, some will hate it. I'm leaning toward the latter, but I suspect it's because I never liked mint to begin with.

The five-seat Q5 comes in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. I drove a Premium Plus for a week. My colleague Joe Wiesenfelder logged a few hours in a range of Q5s at a press introduction earlier this year; read his review here.

Sharp Looks
Styled in the same vein as other recent Audis, the Q5 looks like a cross between the three-row Q7 and the smaller A4 wagon. (Compare them here.) It's an attractive marriage, particularly with the Q5's LED daytime running lights, which Audi has added — to compelling effect — on a number of models. On Premium Plus and Prestige Q5s, they sit above the bezels, sort of like eyebrows. The sinewy taillights, on the other hand, are a bit bizarre for my taste. Their resemblance to other Audi taillights is a stretch at best. Even the R8 supercar's taillights are more conventional.

Perhaps the Q5's most ordinary aspect is its dimensions. At 182.2 inches long and 74 inches wide, it sits squarely in the middle of its peers; middling, too, is its 38.1-foot turning circle. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard on most trims; 19-inchers are also available. Twenty-inchers come with an S-Line Package, which also includes more aggressive bumpers. Check out the pictures to see it.

And It Cooks
All trims have Audi's 3.2-liter V-6, which provides enough power to move swiftly from a stoplight or execute confident passing maneuvers on the highway. The six-speed automatic transmission upshifts smoothly and kicks down with little delay. Audi says the Q5 will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a sprightly 6.7 seconds, a figure that suggests more everyday oomph than the 2010 RX 350 and most other competitors. In my experience, the Infiniti EX35 feels a bit quicker, but keep in mind that small luxury SUVs as a group are amply powered.

Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard. The pedal is a bit grabby, not unlike the BMW X3's. Hit the brakes hard, and there's plenty of stopping power, but it takes practice to manage smooth stops.

Considering its power, the Q5 is also an efficient beast. Its gas mileage, at an EPA-estimated 18/23 mpg city/highway, leads all but the RX 350:

EPA Gas Mileage (city/highway, mpg)
AWD2WDFuel usage
2010 Lexus RX 35018/2418/25Premium recommended
2009 Audi Q518/23n/aPremium recommended
2009 BMW X3*17/24*n/aPremium required
2010 Cadillac SRX**17/2318/25Premium recommended
2009 Acura RDX17/22n/aPremium recommended
2009 Infiniti EX3516/2317/24Premium recommended
2010 Volvo XC6016/22n/aPremium recommended
2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK35016/2116/22Premium required
2009 Lincoln MKX15/2217/24Regular
2009 Land Rover LR215/22n/aPremium recommended
*With automatic transmission; 16/23 mpg with manual. All others have standard automatics.
**Per GM estimates using 3.0-liter V-6. Final EPA figures pending. Optional 3.6-liter V-6 estimated at 15/21 mpg; premium fuel recommended.
Source: Automaker and EPA data

Boaters, take note: The Q5's maximum towing capacity of 4,400 pounds leads its class. Most others max out at 3,500 pounds.

Love It or Hate It
My test car came with Audi's optional Dynamic Steering system. You'll love or hate it right away. Like BMW's Active Steering, it allows for easier turning at low speeds but firmer handling at high speeds — but it goes from one to the other in sudden, halting steps. Driving up a parking garage at 10 or 15 mph, the steering went from loose to firm with little change in actual speed.

The inconsistencies seem most pronounced when the Q5's optional Audi Drive Select system is in "Auto" mode. A $2,950 option in my test car, ADS adjusts the adaptive suspension, dials in steering characteristics and adjusts transmission performance and accelerator sensitivity. Auto mode comes between Comfort and Dynamic. The other two render a more consistent driving experience, particularly when it comes to steering, but Auto tries to mix the extremes. The result is anything but satisfying. I recommend sticking to Comfort or Dynamic — or, if you get Audi's Multi-Media Interface, using a fourth Individual mode, which lets you configure each of the settings yourself. Alas, ADS annoyingly resets to Auto every time you restart the Q5.

Handling is otherwise fine, with minimal body roll in Dynamic mode. Comfort mode has a bit more lean, and it introduces some floaty steering response over bumpy roads. Ride-quality differences, on the other hand, are harder to discern between the two. With my tester's 18-inch wheels, the ride wasn't bad overall — perhaps not as well-cushioned as the softish LR2's, but certainly better than the last X3 I tested. Wiesenfelder's Q5, in contrast, had 19-inch wheels and no ADS. He found the setup rather firm.

Road noise is relatively low, but I noticed some overhead wind noise with my test car's panoramic moonroof at highway speeds. The moonroof comes standard on most trims, and its mesh sunshade does zilch to help with noise abatement.

The Inside
Typical of most Audis, cabin materials are good, and consistently so. The plastics lining the dashboard match those along the doors and center console, with nary a cheap finish from knee to shoulder level. Audi appears to have done away with a recent materials gaffe, too: Recent models, including the A4 sedan and A5 coupe, place an expanse of dull-looking plastic between the navigation system and gauges. The Q5, praise be, does not.

Leather upholstery is standard. The front seats are comfortable, though the side bolsters are too minimal to hold you in on curvy roads. The standard 12-way power adjustment offers plenty of range for drivers of all sizes, as does the tilt/telescoping steering wheel. I'm not as thrilled with the other controls, though I probably hold a minority opinion on this. Audi's window switches, turn-signal stalks, A/C dials and such have always struck me as unsubstantial, almost flimsy. Compare them with the weightier buttons strewn across Acura or Lexus dashboards, and it will be clear which gets my nod.

Legroom in back is limited, certainly less than in the Q7. It's about as cramped back there as the GLK, another backseat-starved contender. The footwells are deep, but the cushions are too short for adult-sized thigh support, and a sizable center hump limits the space your feet have to spread out. Headroom, even with the panoramic sunroof, is fine. The seats slide forward and back and recline a few degrees, but folding them yields just 57.3 cubic feet of cargo volume, which is less than most competitors.

Cargo Volume (cu. ft.)
Behind 1st rowBehind 2nd row
2010 Lexus RX 35080.340.0
2009 BMW X371.030.0
2009 Lincoln MKX68.632.3
2010 Volvo XC6067.430.8
2010 Cadillac SRX61.229.2
2009 Acura RDX60.627.8
2009 Land Rover LR258.926.7
2009 Audi Q557.329.1
2010 Mercedes GLK35054.723.3
2009 Infiniti EX3547.418.6
Source: Automaker data

Updated Multi-Media Interface
Audi's optional Multi-Media Interface, a contemporary to BMW's iDrive and Mercedes' Comand systems, is in its third generation in the Q5. It's a big improvement. The knob controller now incorporates a short joystick — really, more of an additional knob that crowns the main MMI knob — that enables easy map scrolling without having to input east/west and north/south axes, as the prior MMI required. The graphics are first-rate, and there's a nifty bird's-eye view that shows lots of three-dimensional buildings. Sort of like your own little SimCity. (Nerd alert? Guilty as charged.)

Improved as it is, though, MMI still leaves a lot to be desired. There are too many intermediary screens involved in accomplishing as simple a task as activating the seat heaters or viewing a map. Approach a tricky part of your route, and the map doesn't pull up an intersection inset with specific turning points, as Lexus and several others do. Street labels are few and far between, and the labels that do appear sit on a horizontal plane with arrows pointing to their corresponding streets. Comand, iDrive and most others orient their labels on the same plane as the streets — as does a regular paper map.

Safety & Features
With excellent scores in front, side and rear crash tests, the Q5 has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Standard safety features include six airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system. Click here to see the full list. Torso side-impact airbags for the rear seats are optional, as is a blind spot warning system. Baby-toting parents will appreciate the well-marked Latch child-seat anchors with flip-up plastic covers in the outboard rear seats.

The Q5's $37,200 starting price is a bit steep — of its nine major competitors, five are priced lower and one, the XC60, has the same price. At least the price includes all-wheel drive, which five competitors list as optional. Standard features include 18-inch wheels, power front seats, leather upholstery and three-zone climate control. The Premium Plus trim runs $41,500, while the Prestige runs $48,200. At the top of the pyramid, features include a panoramic moonroof, heated seats, a power tailgate, keyless access, a navigation system and a Bang & Olufsen stereo. (The Bang & Olufsen stereo, I should add, has been positively stunning in the other models I've heard it in.) Audi Drive Select ($2,950) and the S-Line Package ($2,950 on the Premium Plus, $2,150 on the Prestige) are stand-alone options.

Check every box, and the Q5 will run about $55,000.

Q5 in the Market
Here's my prediction: The Audi faithful will embrace the Q5 for its unique, um, personality. Maybe even a number of other luxury-SUV shoppers might be persuaded along the way. For me, the Q5 is too much an acquired taste. So was the recently redone A4, but its wealth of user-friendly features, uncommon efficiency and relative value tipped the scales in its favor. The Q5 doesn't have as many things going for it to get me past my test car's variable-ratio steering. Or the brakes. Or cabin controls. It's a crossover worth checking out, but after five minutes you'll either want to take it home — or head straight to the cross-town Lexus dealership.

Send Kelsey an email 



2009 Q5 Video

Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the 2009 Audi Q5. It competes with the Acura RDX and Infiniti EX35.

Latest 2009 Q5 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(4.5)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

I LOVE AUDI Q5

by Kelly L. from Spotsylvania, VA on June 4, 2018

It is AMAZING, I LOVE it! I purchased my Q5 May 2018 and I must say I am more than pleased. The comfort is outstanding, handles extremely well, so many features on this vehicle. If you test drive one ... Read full review

(5.0)

Great Car

by Aekara from Chicago IL on May 4, 2018

Reliable , comfortable. No major issues sunroof screen fllimze and very expensive to replace. Original rims are ugly and interior could be better. 3.2 engine isound and runs good. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2009 Audi Q5 currently has 5 recalls

NHTSA Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2009 Audi Q5 3.2 Premium

NHTSA rates vehicles using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Overall Rollover Rating
4 Star
Driver's
5 Star
Passenger's
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Driver
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
5 Star
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Audi

Program Benefits

Comprehensive 300+ point dealer inspection, 24/7 roadside assistance including towing and trip interruption reimbursement, 1 Year/Unlimited Miles Audi Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty coverage, transferability of the Audi Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty to a subsequent private owner, and CARFAX® Vehicle History Report.

  • Limited Warranty

    1 Year / Unlimited Miles

    1 Year/ Unlimited Miles Audi Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty features 1 Year / Unlimited Miles of warranty coverage after the expiration of the new vehicle limited warranty or from the date of sale if the new vehicle limited warranty has expired and coverage honored at over 300 Audi dealerships service centers throughout the U.S., total confidence is yours as you take the road less traveled.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 300+ point inspection.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Q5 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker