For luxury SUV buyers who prioritize style and technology over driving verve, the 2021 Audi Q5 is a handsome choice with plenty to like. It looks good, treats its occupants right, and won't seem out of place at the valet stand next to its rivals.
Buyers can choose from regular and plug-in hybrid power-trains and the Q5's chassis delivers a quiet interior and a refined ride—but rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, the
Audi has given the Q5 a light makeover for 2021 to bring its styling up to date with the rest of the lineup. An updated grille, front and rear bumpers, new 18- and 20-inch wheel designs, and updated headlamps and taillights freshen its exterior appearance.
Under the hood, the Q5's standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder receives a 13-hp boost to 261 horsepower; a 12-volt hybrid system is now standard, but Audi says this doesn't contribute to the Q5's boost in horsepower.
Speaking of hybrids, the plug-in hybrid model receives similar updates to the exterior styling and sports unique 19- or 20-inch wheels. It too sees a slight horsepower bump this year to 362-hp.
A Sport Plus package is available for the Q5 PHEV which adds adaptive air suspension and summer tires, among other items. The 2021 Q5's leather seats now come punctuated with contrasting stitching.
All models receive a new 10.1-inch infotainment display with an updated version of Audi's infotainment software and a host of driver-assistance features are now standard, including lane-departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, and blind-spot monitoring.
All models also receive a wireless smartphone charging pad and an integrated toll-road payment transmitter.
Audi distinguishes the Q5's power-trains with the numbers 45 and 55, the former meaning the standard turbo four and the latter indicates the optional plug-in hybrid setup.
We aren't sure the PHEV is worth the cost of the upgrade, so we'd stick with the 45 models. Of those, the mid-range Premium Plus trim offers the best balance of features and price, and now comes standard with Audi's Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display.
The 2021 Q5 features a standard 261-hp turbocharged four-cylinder, a seven-speed automatic transmission, and Quattro all-wheel drive. The turbo four provides plenty of punch to scoot the Q5 around town or blast down a highway on-ramp, and it is smooth, quiet, and mellifluous.
The plug-in-hybrid variant adds an electric motor that increases output to a combined 362 horses and 369 lb-ft of torque, which Audi claims will improve acceleration. The luxury compact crossover's suspension is well damped and imparts a stable feeling no matter the road or driving condition.
The ride is smooth and controlled—with or without the optional adaptive suspension—even over pockmarked asphalt. The steering is accurate and lightly weighted but provides no discernible feedback from the front wheels. In the Dynamic drive mode, the steering feels heftier but still artificial.
Pitch the Q5 down a twisty two-lane and it'll handle it reasonably well, but a Porsche Macan will show you a much better time.
The EPA estimates for the 2021 Q5 and Q5 PHEV haven't been released yet, but the 2020 Q5 earned estimates of 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
The plug-in hybrid is rated at 25 mpg city and 29 highway for 2020, with a combined gas-electric rating of 65 MPGe. Its 14.1-kWh battery pack also allows an EPA-rated 20 miles of pure-electric driving range.
The 2021 Q5 provides enough room for four adults to get comfy and offers plenty of upscale features, even on the base Premium model. The cabin is both quiet at speed and easy to get in and out of.
Moving up through the three trim levels—Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige—nets more luxury features, including Audi's slick Virtual Cockpit digital gauge cluster. When it came to seeing how many of our carry-on cargo boxes fit, the Q5 didn't impress. It beat the smaller Macan, but only just and held 18 cases with the rear seats folded.
The Q5's rear seatbacks easily fold in a 40/20/40 fashion, however, providing flexibility that the Lexus RX doesn't
Buyers of even the least expensive Q5 will enjoy an intuitive infotainment system displayed in a dashtop 10.1-inch screen. Most of the expected infotainment features are present and accounted for in the base Q5, including a Wi-Fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
Things get much more interesting if you jump to the Premium Plus or Prestige trims, as they come with a reconfigurable digital gauge cluster that Audi calls Virtual Cockpit. It provides a wide, 12.3-inch view of the nav map plus selected media, phone controls, trip computer, speed, and tachometer, or a combination of these.
While the 2021 model hasn't yet been tested, the 2019 Audi Q5 earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It missed a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) due to headlamps that failed to meet that agency's guidelines.
The 2021 Q5 offers standard
Standard automated emergency braking with forward-collision warning
Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
Audi's warranty coverage for the 2021 Q5 is average, and many rivals offer longer coverage periods. Buyers of brand-new Q5 models can take advantage of a free service for their first scheduled maintenance visit at 10,000 miles.
Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
Power-train warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
Complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for 1 year or 10,000 miles.