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- Highs Smooth, strong turbo V-6, agile handling, upscale interior furnishings.
- Lows Mid-pack performance compared to muscled-up rivals, small back seat, limited interior storage.
- Verdict The 2018 Audi SQ5 SUV is quick, nimble, and exciting, but others in this high-performance class are all that and more.
As the ranks of compact luxury crossovers continue to grow—by our reckoning, there are now 21 offerings from Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, and several others—we continue to be surprised by how much fun we can have driving them. Into this mix comes the SQ5, which is all new for 2018 and the high-performance sibling of the already excellent Q5. It takes on a burgeoning subgroup of formidable performers in this segment, including the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and the Porsche Macan S, and one would hope it arrives ready to vanquish all comers to the throne. Unfortunately, when compared with the elite athletes at the fast end of this segment, the SQ5’s over-the-road performance is merely midpack. And its interior—while handsomely arranged, well appointed, and imbued with snazzy modern tech—neglects the comfort of back-seat passengers while coddling the driver and front-seat passenger. Taken as a whole, the SQ5 is a solid performance-luxury crossover and a thoroughly competent blend of comfort and agility. But as illustrated by our comparison test of the SQ5 and its talented rivals, the best players are simply that much better.
What's New for 2018?
The SQ5 enters a new generation this year, with top-to-bottom changes that include an all-new 354-hp turbocharged V-6 engine in place of last year’s supercharged V-6, an all-new chassis, standard adaptive dampers, and available air springs. Updated interior packaging means there’s a little more space for both passengers and cargo than in previous SQ5s, and exterior design tweaks including a revised front grille and a character line running the length of the car serve as differentiators between new and not-so-new models.
- Premium Plus: $57,875
- Prestige: $59,475
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The SQ5 keeps things simple with just one powertrain. Audi’s throaty turbocharged V-6 makes good power, and standard Quattro all-wheel drive puts that power to the road. This dynamic duo is let down occasionally by its eight-speed automatic transmission, which can be slow to trade out gears and sometimes serves up syrupy shifts. Nearly every car in the SQ5's high-performance SUV class is propelled by some version of a forced-induction 3.0-liter V-6 paired with either a seven- or eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The SQ5’s 5.1-second zero-to-60-mph run is objectively quick, but it’s not as speedy as the 4.3-second effort of the Mercedes-AMG GLC43. The components of the SQ5’s powertrain generally play well together. The engine feels smooth and strong throughout most of its range, and the eight-speed automatic shifts fluidly but sometimes imprecisely, as noted during a recent test. The SQ5 is gratifyingly quick and nimble, with an available torque-vectoring rear differential, a powertrain capable of sprinting the SQ5 quicker than some of our favorite sports coupes, and standard adaptive dampers that deliver both a smooth ride and genuine athleticism. We suspect that most buyers in this segment would be perfectly happy with the SQ5’s straight-line speed and its pothole-vanquishing ride, but uncompromising shoppers should stick with the Porsche Macan.
EPA fuel economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest and most accurate fuel economy numbers on current and older vehicles, we use the U.S. Department of Energy's fueleconomy.gov website. Under the heading "Find & Compare Cars" click on the Compare Side-by-Side tool to find the EPA ratings for the make, model, and year you're interested in.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The SQ5’s exterior may be a low key but inside, the standard sculpted sport seats with their available quilted-leather coverings leave no doubt as to this crossover’s upscale intentions. Heated 12-way power-adjustable front seats are standard in every SQ5, as are three-zone automatic climate control and Audi’s practical, attractive design. Other comforts will cost extra and can include heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, and additional leather trim for the front row. The SQ5 has a smaller cargo hold than several of its competitors, and interior cubby storage is limited, too. It’s still more than up to the daily tasks most drivers will demand of it, but it’s not a leader in the class.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Audi’s MMI infotainment system is one of our favorites to use. Its crisp display, logical layout, and intuitive controls make it a winner in our books. The SQ5’s standard infotainment offerings include two USB ports, three 12-volt outlets, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. By choosing the top Prestige trim level, drivers can enjoy premium features such as a Wi-Fi hotspot and Audi’s virtual cockpit system. Among other tricks, this upgrade to the gauge-cluster display provides a satellite street view of the directions from the MMI’s navigation system. Added USB ports for back-seat passengers would be welcome.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.