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GIVE ME FIVE

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Nov 15, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

GIVE ME FIVE By John Grafman

I think it was Will Rogers that once said, "I never met an Audi that I didn't like." No, wait. That must have been me. The entire product range is so polished. Often the brand is associated with words like stylish, hi-performance, ergonomic, and affordable. Well, perhaps affordability is relative. Audi products are given high marks across the board by almost every media outlet too, and for good reason. Even the Q7, which can be considered the minivan of the line-up, is still a very solid transport. Rounding out the lineup is the new Q5 crossover. As every other manufacturer seems to have one it only seems natural that Audi has one too. This fits in nicely between the jumbo Q7 and A3/A4 Avant wagons. This completes the set; Audi has a product for every possible scenario imaginable. Recently the Q5 slightly edged out the Camaro as the most anticipated vehicle (source Yahoo). The average man/woman on the street is bound to ask if this Audi is really all that?

This is so much of what one thinks of in an Audi. Loaded up this is a practical substitute for a luxury car and a bona-fide competitor to the likes of a number of premium brands on a number of fronts. Alas, this doesn't provide as regal a feel as some of the higher end German products, nor does it offer the engaging feel of some of Audi's own products. This is something different and needs to be appreciated relative to its real competition, the Lexus RX, the VW Touareg, the new Cadillac SRX, Lincoln MKX, Land Rover LR2, and the BMW X3. Nice touches abound as standard features. At no additional cost are items like three-zone climate control, dual eight-way power front seats with four-way lumbar adjustability, wood, leather, tilt and telescoping steering column, heated, power side mirrors, light and rain sensors, and privacy glass. It's hard to resist the temptation of using this in the same manner that a Q5 owner would. So besides the typical short hops, taking the crossover up the Golden State Freeway towards Tejon Ranch from LA allows plenty of chances to explore just what this is made of. Overall, Audi has a nice formula to keep the driver happy. Surround the occupants with high quality, and tech features that make life more pleasurable. Providing a satisfying experience in the performance department is also part of the plan. The Q5 does follow in the footsteps of its brethren. The Q5 can offer a spirited drive for those that push it. One of the ways Audi accomplishes this is through adjustable driving settings of the Audi Drive Select, which can vary the functions of steering effort, throttle response, and suspension via a button on the dash. This can be set to either comfort, dynamic, auto, or individual. The individual setting allows the driver to mix and match the level of performance individually with each system rather than as a group. So, a driver can have the comfort setting for steering while adjusting the suspension for performance. Audi is the Burger King of cars, have it your way! The Quattro system that uses all-wheel drive and splits the power output 60 percent to the rear and 40 percent to the front not only doles up better performance, but it offers an elevated level of confidence as part of the deal. Road holding as a result is more sports car and less SUV or minivan-like. The Tiptronic 6-speed transmission is also included in this. But the very nature of SUVs and crossovers really don't beg to be taken out of the full automatic mode. This is especially true in this as the automatic works like a charm.

The 3.2-liter is smooth and is up to the job, as always. The optional Audi Drive Select ($2,950) allows for drivers to modify the performance to the 6-cylinder as they see fit. When the car is set in the comfort level, the engine response feels smooth, yet lacking when extra grunt is called for unless the gas pedal is mashed. But, in the Dynamic setting the story is completely different. The 270 horsepower, 6-cylinder can hold its own and gobble up the road when asked, even on fairly steep inclines. The Dynamic setting has vastly quicker response throughout the throttle range. The Dynamic name is not an over-statement, this is provoking driving that's bound to raise the eyebrows of many on the road. Is this the same as say the A4 when it comes to handling? It didn't feel like this is as nimble, but given the size of this it really isn't surprising at all. On the other hand, it isn't far from sedan-like reflexes. Part of that can be chalked up to the 4,244 pounds, which is far more svelte than most SUVs that are more akin to a tank. Also, this does provide taut comfort that is easy to live with and reassuring in behavior. This is additionally impressive given this can also pack in 29.1 cubic feet of luggage behind the rear seats, and with the second row folded this can swallow 57.3 cubic feet of your favorite toys or groceries. One of the sore points that cut into the ability of this people hauler for today's generation is the blind spot created by the A pillar and side mirrors. In a nutshell, the driver has to make a lot of assumptions due to the fact the lower driver's side front on US versions are obscured. While the rear view is enhanced by the mirror size, I am more concerned about what's in front of the car, much more than what is in the rear. The Q5 is able tow a load with 243 lbs of torque, but this does seem to be destined to tow kids around town much more than boats or trailers. There are more suited vehicles for dragging about watercraft or other toys. However this does come complete with trailer hitch pre-wiring should there ever be a need. Behind the wheel with the cruise control in place this does allow for a pleasant drive with a cabin that not only is well appointed, but also relatively quiet. Relatively is mentioned because while this isn't dead silent it's still obvious that this has a solid chassis. The other consideration is this has one helluva panoramic sunroof that turns the roof into a planetary observatory when the perforated sunshade is retracted. This in turn makes the interior much lighter, brighter, and gives the illusion of a larger space. It also retracts without noise or fuss. So for drivers that suffer from claustrophobia this is the perfect solution. However, this does allow the heat to transfer into the cabin. This is the automotive equivalent to a giant Pyrex dish.

The interior is appointed in leather, fabric, metal trim and wood inlay, and plastic that feels appropriate for a luxury crossover. The use of wood inserts look rich, but the size of the canvass (plastic door panels and dash) could use either slightly more wood or other material to help offset it just a tad more. Oddly, the front doors don't really seem to line up properly with the dash, almost if the dash was set too rearward. While this isn't a deal breaker for most, once it's spotted its hard not to focus on it. This is a shame as so much of this is top-flight. From the tight gaps in the interior plastic that VW/Audi is known for to the comfy carpet in the cargo area that welcomes Louis Vuitton bags with the same security as it does a bag from the local grocery. The rear door/hatch is closable with a button on the lower part of the open door. Although I don't think having this is a major necessity as gravity is our friend, this does offer options equal to the competition. The Premium Plus option package ($4,300) includes the previously mentioned panoramic roofs. Other options in this group include Xenon headlights with LEDs, garage door opener, heated front seats, Bluetooth, driver side seat memory, iPod audio interface, up rated audio and CD changer, stainless steel trunk edge and door sills, and a power tailgate. The Audi MMI Navigation Plus package ($3,000) comes with assorted tech features like voice controlled nav, color driver information system, and a rearview camera and Audi's advanced parking system that deftly projects the crossover's rear trajectory. For the one behind the wheel this is a mix of cool feature, or for some, a handful of distractions. Two of those are the adjustable settings that are on the left stalk that displays on the dash as the Driver Information System/trip computer that is standard. The other is the satellite radio, viewable on the center console. A multitude of adjustable setting can be controlled via the MMC, including usage of a cell phones capabilities, such as the contact list. This is both easy to read and use. The audio system is one feature that's bound to get the biggest workout. One of the slick capabilities of the system is that it can actually display what is on another satellite radio channel, without the need to set the tuner to that channel. This allows the occupants to pre-screen the music. So if artists like Boy George, George Michael, or even Michael Jackson aren't your cup of tea, it no longer posses an issue. Perhaps that's what Audi wants to really emphasis. However, mile after mile the Q5 brings us nothing but sweet music. Just as it should be.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT A well-refined entry to the crossover field, but needing a little more in the personality department. Find more at www.audiusa.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2009 Audi Q5 Price: Base $37,200, as tested $ 48,275 Engine type: Direct injection 3.2-litre V6, DOHC, 4 valves/cylinder, continuous camshaft adjustments, aluminum block and heads EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 18/23 Horsepower: 270 @ 6,5000 rpm Torque: 243 lb.-ft @ 3,000 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / all-wheel drive Transmission type: Automatic with "Tiptronic" feature, with DSP and sport shift program Wheels and tires: Front: Standard: 18 x 8 cast alloy (standard), 19 x 8 or 20 x 8.5 cast alloy (optional), 235/60/18 (standard) 235/55/19 or 255/45/20 (optional) Rear: 18 x 8 cast alloy (standard), 19 x 8 or 20 x 8.5 cast alloy (optional), 235/60/18 (standard) 235/55/19 or 255/45/20 (optional) Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Brakes: Front: n/a Rear: n/a Electronic Stability Program (ESP), ABS Overall length: 182.2 inches Overall width: 74 inches (82.2 with mirrors) Overall height: 65.1 inches Curb weight (lbs): 4,244 0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds Top Speed, mph: 130 (limited)

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