2012 Audi Q5

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

of the 2012 Audi Q5. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Acceleration
  • Cabin materials
  • Towing capacity
  • Four-cylinder's gas mileage
  • Low cargo floor

The Bad

  • Inconsistent steering feel
  • Cramped backseat
  • Limited cargo room
  • Touchy brakes

Notable Features of the 2012 Audi Q5

  • Turbo four-cylinder or V-6
  • Six- or eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Standard AWD
  • Available Bang &amp
  • amp
  • Olufsen stereo

2012 Audi Q5 Road Test

Jennifer Geiger

I'm a fan of premium compact body-type crossover SUVs — compelling, small packages in which carlike agility, luxury and cargo versatility unite. The five-seat Audi Q5 blends these attributes well, and its sleek profile and attractive LED head- and taillights make the cute-ute look both elegant and sporty.

The 2012 Audi Q5 is the Goldilocks of the premium compact crossover class, offering a just-right blend of sporty road manners, comfortable driving dynamics, peppy power and plenty of cabin comfort.

The only change of note for 2012 is the addition of a new S line plus option package. It adds 20-inch titanium alloy wheels and black matte exterior trim. The hybrid model slated for 2012 has been delayed until 2013. 2.0T Premium and the V6-powered, uplevel 3.2 Premium Plus trims return for model-year 2012. I tested the 2.0T Premium. The Q5's main competitors are the BMW X3, Cadillac SRX and Infiniti EX35. See all of them compared here.

A Balancing Act of Sport & Comfort
Although competitors from BMW and Infiniti offer six-cylinder power for a similar price, the four-cylinder Q5 has no trouble keeping up. In fact, the turbocharged engine never feels slow. The 2.0T's 211-horsepower rating may seem lacking compared with the SRX (308 hp) and EX35 (297 hp), but the Q5's turbo makes up for it with 258 lb-ft of torque. It feels robust from a stop and competently delivers more power for highway maneuvers.

The Q5's eight-speed automatic transmission is alert overall, sometimes t...

I'm a fan of premium compact body-type crossover SUVs — compelling, small packages in which carlike agility, luxury and cargo versatility unite. The five-seat Audi Q5 blends these attributes well, and its sleek profile and attractive LED head- and taillights make the cute-ute look both elegant and sporty.

The 2012 Audi Q5 is the Goldilocks of the premium compact crossover class, offering a just-right blend of sporty road manners, comfortable driving dynamics, peppy power and plenty of cabin comfort.

The only change of note for 2012 is the addition of a new S line plus option package. It adds 20-inch titanium alloy wheels and black matte exterior trim. The hybrid model slated for 2012 has been delayed until 2013. 2.0T Premium and the V6-powered, uplevel 3.2 Premium Plus trims return for model-year 2012. I tested the 2.0T Premium. The Q5's main competitors are the BMW X3, Cadillac SRX and Infiniti EX35. See all of them compared here.

A Balancing Act of Sport & Comfort
Although competitors from BMW and Infiniti offer six-cylinder power for a similar price, the four-cylinder Q5 has no trouble keeping up. In fact, the turbocharged engine never feels slow. The 2.0T's 211-horsepower rating may seem lacking compared with the SRX (308 hp) and EX35 (297 hp), but the Q5's turbo makes up for it with 258 lb-ft of torque. It feels robust from a stop and competently delivers more power for highway maneuvers.

The Q5's eight-speed automatic transmission is alert overall, sometimes to the point of feeling busy, but it's generally responsive, with prompt kick downs. A hint of turbo lag delays acceleration at the start, but drivers should be able to acclimate.

Top fuel economy numbers expand this engine's appeal: The Q5 2.0T's EPA rating is 20/27 mpg city/highway. I drove 194 miles in an approximate 60/40 city/highway split and got 23 mpg. Cadillac's SRX is rated 16/23 mpg and the Infiniti EX35 is rated 17/24 mpg.

The Q5's ride and handling balance lends it a sporty feel. Though its ride is on the firm side, it's never jittery or uncomfortable. The payoff is sharp handling. The Q5 feels carlike and agile, with great roadholding even in fast corners. The X3 and EX35 match it for handling, but the Q5 absorbs bumps better.

In terms of steering, the Q5 is a mixed bag. It has speed-sensitive steering, so it feels light and over-boosted in low-speed maneuvers, then firms up at higher speeds.

Cabin Hits & Misses
High-quality leather and soft-touch plastics give the Audi Q5's cabin an expensive look and feel, but — and this is a big but — Audi's interior designers should go back to color class. Jet black and cinnamon brown simply do not get along, and confined spaces only amplify garish color combinations.

A subjective matter, you say? I usually agree, but every one of my passengers commented on it, including my husband, who's normally blind to such egregious fashion faux pas. The Q5 isn't the only victim; Audi does this in several of its vehicles. Luckily, there are a couple other color combinations to choose from, including light gray, beige and black. The only way to get the brown seats, however, is with the black interior. The rest of the cabin is tastefully trimmed in walnut wood.

Though loud to look at, the cabin itself is impressively hushed. Road noise is well-muffled, but the standard roof rails with removable cross bars induce some wind noise at highway speeds.

Front-seat occupants have ample room. The driver's comfort is further aided by a cushy, supportive front seat with standard 12-way power adjustment, including lumbar support.

The confines aren't as friendly in the backseat, where taller passengers will need more space. Legroom is tight, though the sliding and reclining seat helps; it's a rarity in this class. Although the optional panoramic moonroof is lovely, it shaves precious inches of headroom.

The premium compact crossover class is not the place you want to be shopping if you're looking for second-row legroom. With 37.4 inches of space, however, the Audi Q5 offers more legroom than the X3 (36.8 inches), SRX (36.3 inches) and EX35 (28.5 inches).

The 60/40-split backseat folds simply from the rear doors or from the cargo area. Folding it yields 57.3 cubic feet of space and an almost flat load floor. There's also a small storage compartment under the floor. Seats up, the Q5 has 29.1 cubic feet — more than the X3 and EX35 offer with the seats up and enough for a big trip to the grocery store. Its power hatch is a nice convenience, though it's available only in a pricey option package. This feature is optional on the SRX and X3 and unavailable on the EX35.

MMI: Made Me Insane
If you end up with a Audi Q5, book a few hours with the owner's manual to read up on Audi's Multi-Media Interface, which takes a lot of getting used to. Although I'm familiar with MMI, we still needed time to get reacquainted. The system absorbs and centralizes a lot of climate, audio and navigation functions, turning most simple tasks into multistep processes. For example, to change the radio presets, you'll have to drill through several menus. It left me longing for a simple button to push.

Physically, MMI's main control knob is ergonomically placed and doesn't require much of a stretch. The radio volume, however, is controlled via a console knob that's set far from the driver and requires an awkward reach. Thankfully, steering-wheel controls are standard.

The upside to MMI is its functions: The real-time weather and traffic data were helpful. The voice-command system understood "next coffee shop" and displayed several in my area. I selected my favorite one and got turn-by-turn directions.

All the caffeine in the world couldn't improve the navigation's functionality, however. Inputting an address requires twisting the console-mounted knob to find and select each number and letter. A touch-screen would really help. Getting lost and wandering into my destination would probably take less time.

To be fair, BMW's iDrive system in the X3 is similarly complicated. The EX35's touch-screen and simplified menu structure, however, are much more intuitive.

Features & Pricing
A base price of $35,600 gets you standard quattro all-wheel drive, brake assist, hill-descent control, dual-zone automatic climate control in front with separate rear controls, a tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, leather seats and surfaces, 12-way power front bucket seats and a cooled glove box.

The Premium Plus Convenience Package adds $4,300 to the sticker and features LED daytime running lights, auto-dimming and power-folding mirrors, front heated seats with driver memory function, stainless-steel exterior trim, a panoramic moonroof and a power liftgate. The $3,000 MMI Navigation Plus Package includes the multimedia system, HD radio and navigation with voice control, and a backup camera with parking sensors.

Audi's Advanced Key keyless entry system added $550, which brought my test Q5's final price to $44,800 after the $875 destination fee. Despite its hefty price tag, it stacks up well against similarly priced competition in this expensive class.

Safety
The 2012 Audi Q5 received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's highest score, Good, in frontal offset, side-impact, rear-impact, and roof-strength crash tests, making it a Top Safety Pick. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last rated the Q5 for the 2010 model year, before NHTSA's more stringent tests took effect for 2011.

Standard safety features include frontal and side-impact airbags for the front seats, plus side curtain airbags for head protection in the front and rear seats. Side-impact airbags for torso protection are optional for the backseat. As is required of all 2012 models, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. For a full list of standard safety features, check out the Standard Equipment & Specs page.

The Q5 offers several active-safety options, but they're not available across the entire lineup: A helpful backup camera comes only in an expensive package. (It's a stand-alone option on the X3, standard on the EX35 and standard on uplevel versions of the SRX.) Similarly, a blind spot warning system isn't available on 2.0T versions of the Q5.

The Q5 has a refreshingly easy Latch system for installing child-safety seats. Plastic, removable covers make finding the anchors a breeze (though I'd lose the plastic covers within a day). Click here to read our full Car Seat Check.

Q5 in the Market
With a base price of $35,600, the Audi Q5 may sound pricey, but if you're shopping in this segment you're not looking for a budget vehicle. The Q5's bottom line can escalate quickly, though, especially considering many features are available only in expensive option packages. Still, the Q5 2.0T is a relative bargain, given that the V6-powered Q5 3.2 Premium Plus starts at $43,000.

All-wheel-drive versions of the Infiniti EX35 and BMW X3 start at $37,200 and $37,100, respectively. The Cadillac SRX starts at $35,485, but all-wheel drive isn't available on the base model. Aside from the V-6 engines they offer, equipment levels at this price are similar, which really puts the Q5's base price into perspective. What sets the Audi Q5 apart is its balance of sport and comfort. It stands out as a stylish, fun-to-drive compact crossover with the luxury trappings buyers expect. Bonus: It also offers a little more passenger and cargo room than its competitors.

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Latest 2012 Q5 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.7)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.4)
Value For The Money
(4.2)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Top Car is the best place to buy cars

by Anna Aladzhyan from North Hollywood, CA on October 8, 2018

Me and my wife were shopping around to buy a new car for her after going to so many dealers we couldn?t find one that would fit our budget so as we were driving by we saw Top Car so we decided to give ... Read full review

(4.0)

Highly recommended!

by postman from Indianapolis on September 11, 2018

This is an excellent Compact Luxury SUV. It is safe and gets very good gas mileage for an SUV 27 Highway/20 City. It gets a top Safety Pick from IIHS in 2012 and a 2012 Total Cost of Ownership Award ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Audi Q5 currently has 5 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 Audi Q5 2.0T Premium

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Audi
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    5 model years or newer/less than 60,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    1 year/unlimited miles after expiration of new vehicle limited warranty or from date of sale if the new vehicle limited warranty has expired

  • Powertrain warranty

    N/A

  • Dealer Certification Required

    300-plus-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program 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