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- Highs Numerous standard interior features, well-balanced ride, surprisingly fuel efficient.
- Lows Passenger volume and cargo space is lacking, bland exterior design, falls short to its rivals in terms of performance.
- Verdict The SQ5 displays great balance between driving dynamics and comfort, proving its worth in a competitive class.
The SQ5 is a competent, well-mannered compact luxury crossover that admirably balances both quickness and comfort, but falls short of its competitors because they are that much better. Many of those competitors—such as the Porsche Macan and the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 coupe—continue to impress us by how much fun they can be to drive, as we learned in our comparison test. Unfortunately, the SQ5's performance on-road isn't quite as dazzling as some of its competitors; neither the fastest nor the most luxurious, the SQ5 falls squarely in the middle of the pack. The interior is very much in the same place—while it is still well appointed, pragmatic, and filled with rich materials—it could use an update.
What's New for 2020?
The 2020 SQ5 comes standard with the Convenience Plus package, which includes wireless phone charging, a signal booster (which wirelessly couples your phone to the car antenna for better reception), as well as front and rear parking sensors and high-beam assist. There is also a new Driver Assistance package that offers adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Of the three available trims, the top-drawer Prestige possesses enough standard equipment to justify its price. Standard in the Prestige is Audi's Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, adaptive suspension, navigation, and a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. Shoppers interested in one of the lower trims will be pleased to know that the powertrain is identical in all SQ5s.
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The SQ5 keeps things simple with 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 change gears and sometimes serves up syrupy shifts. The SQ5's 5.1-second zero-to-60-mph run is objectively quick, but it's not quite as speedy as the 4.3-second effort of the GLC43.
With its accurate, firm steering, there's plenty of fun to be had tossing the SQ5 through the twisties, especially if equipped, as our test vehicle was, with the optional torque-vectoring rear differential. Even entry-level SQ5s have a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system that can direct up to 85 percent of the available torque to the rear wheels. The SQ5's ride is comfortable—a compliment in this class—but a little too soft for true performance driving. 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 10Best-winning Porsche Macan.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The SQ5's EPA fuel-economy ratings aren't particularly impressive, but most competitors have similar numbers. Also, the SQ5 outperformed said numbers in our real-world highway fuel-economy test. Our Prestige test vehicle delivered an impressive 28 mpg highway over the course of 200 miles at a steady 75 mph, outpacing even the Cadillac XT5 which offers nowhere near the same amount of performance as the Audi.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The SQ5's exterior may be a little dull, but inside, the standard sculpted sport seats with their available quilted-leather coverings leave no doubt as to this crossover's upscale intentions. Heated, 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.
We fit the same six carry-on boxes into the SQ5's 27-cubic-foot cargo area as we did in the Macan's 18-cubic-foot luggage compartment. Call that an impressive result for the Macan or a disappointing one for the SQ5, but either way, it puts the Audi near the bottom of its class for real-world carrying capability.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The SQ5's standard infotainment offerings include two USB ports, three 12-volt outlets, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. By choosing the top Prestige version, 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, so drivers never need to guess whether they're on the right track. This is a little gimmicky in a world where nearly everyone's pocket holds a GPS-equipped smartphone, but it's a trick that (for now) places Audi a cut above the competition. Added USB ports for back-seat passengers would be welcome.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2017 Audi SQ5 earned a four-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but it wasn't named a top safety pick from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS.) Audi provides several collision-avoidance technologies as standard in this model, with more driver-assistance features available to those who are willing to pay for them. Key safety features include:
- Standard front and rear automated emergency braking
- Standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
- Available adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Audi's warranty coverage tracks closely with that of most competitors, but it doesn't provide any complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance