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- Highs Comfortable ride, surprisingly fuel efficient, abundance of standard interior features.
- Lows Disappointing real-world cargo capacity, ho-hum exterior design, top competitors have better dynamics.
- Verdict The SQ5 strikes a careful balance between sporty and comfortable, making a strong showing in a tough class.
As the ranks of compact luxury crossovers continue to grow—by our reckoning, there are now more than 20 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. 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-oriented 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 2019?
The 2019 SQ5 gains a trim level, expanding the lineup to three distinct models: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. The new base version comes standard with LED exterior lighting and heated power front seats.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Of the SQ5's three versions, the top-level Prestige garners enough equipment that we think it's worth the splurge. All SQ5 models share the same powertrain, so drivers who opt for the less expensive model won't miss out on any of the SQ5's substance. Standard features in the Prestige trim include Audi's Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display, navigation, a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, and an adaptive suspension.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Likes: Great exhaust note, standard all-wheel drive, surprisingly compliant ride.
Dislikes: Slow-shifiting automatic transmission, not as quick as similarly powered rivals, cornering attitude not as sharp.
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 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, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: Upscale interior features, high-tech infotainment system, cool available digital gauge display.
Dislikes: No rear-seat USB ports, disappointing cargo space.
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.
The SQ5's standard infotainment offerings include two USB ports, three 12-volt outlets, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. 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.
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.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have tested this new generation of the SQ5, but the Q5 on which it is based did well in both agency's battery of tests. 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 provides just one year of complimentary scheduled maintenance compared with the five years of maintenance offered by the Jaguar F-Pace.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for 1 year or 10,000 miles