2015 Audi Q5 TDI 30 MPG First Drive Review

The luxury SUV with 428 lb-ft of torque that gets 30-plus mpg

Jun 9, 2015
Photographers: Trevor Reed, Kim Abendan
We recently had the opportunity to spend some time behind the wheel of the ’15 Audi Q5 TDI, a crossover powered by a 3.0L V-6 clean-diesel engine that makes 240 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. While the experience of owning the diesel-powered German SUV doesn’t come cheap (the base price is $47,000 and our “as tested” price is $52,775), it’s a blast to drive and returned an average fuel economy of 29.38 mpg during our time at the controls. This impressive number was achieved even though we couldn’t help being heavy on the throttle to play with the torque—along with driving on steep and winding mountain roads, getting stuck in heavy traffic, and taking the quattro all-wheel-drive-equipped Q5 on an off-road adventure. Here is what we learned during our time with the oil-burning luxury SUV.
Photo 2/23   |   The unibody design of the Q5’s chassis feels stiff and secure whether it’s being driven on- or off-road. This design—along with a multi-link front and rear suspension setup, precise electric rack-and-pinion steering, and full-time quattro all-wheel-drive—combines for a sporty and comfortable driving experience.
On-Road Manners
Spending time driving on potholed city streets and narrow mountain roads proved to us the Q5 TDI has a super-tight structure; sporty, smooth-riding suspension; and precise steering. The ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic is an excellent transmission, which seems to always be in the right gear to deliver enough power and, when asked, will quickly downshift to maximize the 428 lb-ft of torque that comes alive at just 1,750 rpm. Our only complaints about the design would be the wind noise that makes its way through the huge panoramic sunroof’s glass (even when the sunshade is closed) and the side mirrors that occasionally block out oncoming traffic—especially on twisty roads.
Photo 3/23   |   2015 Audi Q5 TDI Diesel Off Road Front Driver Side
The Q5 is high-tech, with available electronic amenities that include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; built-in, 3G-powered Wi-Fi for up to eight devices at the same time; navigation with 3D Google Earth mapping; and real-time traffic information and emergency alerts. Unfortunately, the controls for the navigation/audio system are complicated and mounted way back in the center console between the armrest and gear shifter, with only a small volume/fast-forward/rewind knob on the passenger side. When the Q5’s transmission is in Drive, the shifter blocks access to it, leading to some close contact with your passenger’s leg, which can be uncomfortable—unless you’re into that sort of thing.
The interior is very high-quality, with brushed aluminum trim, fine grain ash natural wood inlays, and excellent craftsmanship throughout. You won’t find any wrinkles in the leather or flubs in the stitching like you will on many domestic diesels, and we never heard a rattle or squeak. With that being said, the center armrest can be infuriating with tilt-and-slide adjustment that can unexpectedly slide directly into the area just above the cupholders. Luckily, we had a sealed water bottle in place when it happened to us, but it could have caused a messy guillotine chop-and-spill if a tall fast food cup had been there (and all the audio/navigation buttons and shifter are directly in front of where drinks could be liberated from their containers). The center console storage is also very small, with room for just a few items, but the rear seats fold down easily to provide a large maximum interior storage of 57.3 cubic feet.
Off-Road Capability While the Q5 is considered a soft-roader with its independent front and rear suspension and full-time all-wheel drive (without a Low range), we wanted to see what it could do in the dirt. The large amount of torque makes climbing steep hills feel effortless, and the traction control works well at preventing wheel spin—although the all-season tires are a bit slippery in the dirt. Using the hill descent control function on the backside of the hills created some unnerving noises as the brakes were activated and the tires scrabbled for traction, but we were able to get back to the flat land without ever touching the brake pedal. At first, we worried the noises were the low front air dam hitting the ground, but the Q5 managed to stay level and never touch the dirt, even when we put the wheels into some decent-sized ruts to test the articulation of the suspension. This SUV really shines while driving on washboard dirt roads, where it soaks up the bumps and glides over terrain that would rattle your bones in a 1-ton diesel. We think you should have no problem using the Q5 to travel to a cabin or other remote destination that requires navigating unpaved roads. It should be even more capable if you decide to order Audi’s Adaptive Damping Suspension option and slap some all-terrain tires in place of the standard all-season rubber.
Photo 10/23   |   The Q5 TDI is both comfortable and capable off-road, as long as you don’t expect it to perform like a Jeep Wrangler JK. The ample torque, stiff chassis, and precise suspension allow the SUV to be as capable as the low ground clearance and all-season tires will allow.
30-Plus MPG
The EPA fuel economy ratings for the ’15 Q5 TDI are 24/31/27 mpg city/highway/combined. We had no trouble meeting or exceeding these numbers during our 347 miles with the SUV. The first driving section we recorded included navigating through busy city traffic and taking trips on some steep mountain roads on the west side of Los Angeles, with a resulting 25.34 mpg. After our next fill-up, we traveled at highway speeds to an off-road area where we spent a few hours in the dirt, then had more time on the open highway, which led to an average of 30.65 mpg. The last section of driving was, again, mostly highway, but also included gridlocked city traffic where we allowed the automatic start-stop function to shut off the engine every time the Q5 came to a halt (for our best fuel economy of 32.71 mpg). Altogether, the TDI returned a more-than-respectable average of 29.38 mpg, which means a total range of more than 550 miles per 19.8-gallon tank shouldn’t be hard to achieve. That economy, along with the clean ULEV2 emissions ratings and the high level of build quality should put the ’15 Audi Q5 TDI at the top of the list for buyers shopping for a small and sporty luxury SUV with plenty of diesel power.
Photo 14/23   |   With the engine cover removed, we were able to get an up-close look at the single variable-geometry turbocharger mounted in the valley of the engine. It uses variable vanes to minimize lag at all rpm levels and uses a close-coupled exhaust catalyst that’s mounted directly to the turbo for optimal performance, even at start-up.
Pros & Cons
Pros: Terrific fuel economy, great torque delivery, and luxury build quality all around.
Cons: Large forward blind spots caused by mirrors, lack of interior storage, and complicated media/navigation system that’s hard to use while driving.
Our Take: This diesel SUV is well made and gets great mpg—but comes with a high sticker price.
Specifications
Vehicle: 2015 Audi Q5 TDI quattro Tiptronic
Engine
Displacement: 3.0L (2,976cc)
Configuration: V-6
Power: 240 hp at 3,750 to 4,000 rpm
Torque: 428 lb-ft at 1,750 to 2,250 rpm
Bore x stroke: 3.27x3.60 inches (83x91.4mm)
Head material: Aluminum alloy
Block material: Compacted graphite iron (CGI)
Compression ratio: 16.8:1
Valvetrain: DOHC four valves per cylinder
Fuel system: 29,000 psi common-rail with eight-hole piezo injectors
Induction: Single variable-geometry turbocharger
Aftercooling: Air-to-air intercooler
Emissions rating: ULEV2
Emissions equipment: Cooled exhaust gas recirculation, close-coupled diesel exhaust catalyst, diesel particulate filter, and selective catalytic reduction
Mechanical
Transmission: ZF 8HP55 eight-speed automatic transmission
Drive type: Full-time all-wheel drive
Steering type: Electric rack-and-pinion
Steering ratio: 15.9:1
Turning circle: 38.1 feet
Front suspension: Multi-link independent setup with stabilizer bar
Rear suspension: Multi-link independent setup with stabilizer bar
Braking system: Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes
Front brake diameter: 13.6 inches
Rear brake diameter: 13.0 inches
Wheels: 19x8.0 inches
Tires: 235/55/R19 All-Season
Weights and Capacities
Oil capacity: 6.8 quarts
Fuel capacity: 19.8 gallons
Curb weight: 4,475 pounds
Exterior Dimensions
Overall length: 182.6 inches
Overall width: 74.6 inches (82.2 with mirrors)
Overall height: 65.2 inches
Wheelbase: 110.5 inches
Front track: 63.7 inches
Rear track: 63.5 inches
Ground clearance: 7.9 inches
Interior Dimensions
Seating: 5 people
Headroom: 39.4 inches (38.1 inches with sunshade closed)
Front legroom: 41.0 inches
Rear legroom: 37.4 inches
Front shoulder room: 57.7 inches
Rear shoulder room: 56.4 inches
Luggage capacity: 29.1 cubic feet (57.3 cubic feet with second-row seats folded down)
Pricing
Base price: $47,000
Optional Equipment
-Technology package: $4,000
-CD/DVD player with HD radio
-Audi MMI Navigation Plus with voice control
-Color driver information display
-Parking System Plus with rearview camera
-Audi connect with six months of online service
-Audi Side Assist
Bang & Olufsen sound system: $850
Destination charge: $925
Price as tested: $52,775
Warranty Coverage
New vehicle limited warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles
Maintenance: 1 year or 5,000 miles
Corrosion perforation: 12 years
Roadside assistance: 4 years
Parts Content Information
U.S./Canadian parts content: 0 percent
Major sources of foreign parts content: Germany 55 percent/Hungary 30 percent
Final assembly point: Ingolstadt, Germany
Transmission country of origin: Germany
Engine country of origin: Hungary
NHTSA Crash Test Ratings
Overall: 4 stars
Front driver: 4 stars
Front passenger: 5 stars
Front side: 5 stars
Rear side: 5 stars
Rollover: 4 stars
IIHS Crash Test Ratings
Moderate overlap front: Good
Side: Good
Roof strength: Good
Head restraints and seats: Good
Front crash protection: Advanced (with optional equipment)
EPA Emissions Ratings
MPG: 7
Smog rating: 5
CO2: 5 (385 grams of CO2 per mile)
EPA Fuel Economy Ratings
City: 24 mpg
Combined city/highway: 27 mpg
Highway: 31 mpg
Observed Fuel Economy
City and mountain roads: 25.34 mpg
Highway and off-road: 30.65 mpg
Highway and gridlock traffic: 32.71 mpg
Test average: 29.38 mpg

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