In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been on quite the roll the last four-to-six weeks when it comes to test driving quality SUVs both foreign and domestic.
But at the top of this list I’d place the 2018 Audi SQ5 3.T Quattro compact luxury SUV that has been updated inside and out, officially making it a second-generation model.
It drives and handles like a sports sedan, yet provides the space, versatility and off-road functionality of an SUV. Driving the SQ5 is truly having the best of both worlds.
Powered by a 3.0 TFSI V6 engine mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission, the combo delivers 354-horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque, transporting up to five passengers in unsurpassed comfort while achieving 24-miles-per-gallon fuel economy down the highway.
My tester included the top-of-the-line Prestige Package ($4,200), S Sport Package ($3,000), fine Nappa leather interior with diamond-quilt stitching ($1,250), and 21-inch wheel package ($1,000).
Talk about being spoiled. Prestige adds a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system with 775-watts of power delivered in 3D via 19 speakers; MMI navigation and virtual cockpit, ambient interior lighting package, top-view camera system and dual-pane acoustic front-side glass.
The Sport package dresses the SQ5 with red brake calipers, sport adaptive air suspension and a sport rear differential.
The exterior has been redesigned to feature enhanced lines including a flat, coupe-like roofline and pronounced wheel arches, which emphasize the standard Quattro all-wheel drive. A panoramic sunroof extends over both front and rear passengers providing much-needed light during dark, dank and damp Northwest winters.
There is improved leg and shoulder room for all occupants, and when the second-row seats are folded flat, more cargo space as well. There was plenty of room to transport my daughter’s Minnie Mouse-themed rocking chair to her classroom, with space leftover for my Sun Mountain golf cart, exercise bag and other assorted odds and ends.
Of all the Audi’s bells and whistles – and they are plentiful – my favorite was adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and traffic-jam assist. The system maintains a set distance from the vehicle in front, including braking and accelerating as needed. Between 0-40 mph, traffic-jam assist combines acceleration, braking and steering guidance, which can help reduce the stress of driving in congested traffic.
Another feature worthy of note is Audi drive select with five different modes – comfort, auto, dynamic, off road and individual. They allow drivers to choose the option that best meets their driving situation and handling preferences. I enjoyed dynamic and comfort the most.
When it comes to safety, the SQ5 provides automatic braking in emergency situations (front and rear), along with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assist, lane departure, anti-lock braking and electronic stabilization control.
The Audi SQ5 was the perfect vehicle in which to ring in the New Year in style. I resolve to own one some day. That may be more likely than a couple of others on the list.
Base Price: $54,300
Price As Driven: $65,800
Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.