It wasn’t long ago, 1980 to be exact, that Audi introduced the world to the “Quattro,” an everyday-drivable, all-wheel-drive rally car for the road. In successive years, Audi launched a plethora of models offering their trademark Quattro all-wheel- drive system, much to the delight of those of us living amidst inhospitable climates.
With the release of the 2012 Q5 2.0T SUV, Audi is hoping to continue their successes by offering a vehicle which provides a complete package of performance, utility and economy. After spending time with one, blasting through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, we have to say, the little SUV has completely won us over.
The 2012 Q5 2.0T is available in two trim levels, Premium and Premium Plus, both of which befitted with Audi’s Quattro all- wheel-drive system as standard equipment. Our tester was the well-equipped Premium Plus model, with a starting MSRP of $39,900. Included on our tester were standard features such as xenon headlamps with LED accents, Bluetooth, iPod integration, panoramic sunroof, and a power tail gate. For reference, a comparably-equipped 2012 BMW X3 xDrive 28i commands a far more ambitious $44,395.
The true hallmark of our tested Q5 was its turbocharged, 2.0-L, 211 HP, four-cylinder engine, mated to Audi’s brilliant, eight- speed automatic transmission. The combination is good, Audi says, for a 7.1 second 0-60 MPH run, as well as a 20/27/22 MPG city/highway/combined EPA rating. We found the Q5 to have had more than ample acceleration, with strong pull virtually right off idle, as well as through the rev range. Plus, we averaged over 24 MPG in mixed mountain driving, no easy task for any vehicle. Towing capacity, when properly equipped, is also rated at a very competitive 4,400 lbs.
The standard Quattro system, along with a light-effort, electronically-assisted power steering setup, worked well with the Q5’s independent suspension in traversing ever-changing mountain road surfaces, providing a consistently stable, compliant ride.
Though the light-effort steering was appreciated at lower speeds, we found it to have lacked a true semblance of road feel when piloting the compact SUV through corners at a more rapid pace. We would anticipate, however, that the setup should suit all but the most enthusiastic canyon-carvers just fine, during everyday use.
Interior comfort and amenities were superb, with the Q5 offering a typical, Audi-like blend of comfort and build quality. Buttons for the intuitive Multi Media Interface (MMI) controller were well-placed, easy to decipher, and possessed a substantial, quality feel.
The remainder of the interior was executed with a tremendous sense of ergonomic correctness, with nearly every switch falling perfectly at hand. The Audi’s passenger quarters were also blessed with more-than-adequate lighting, courtesy of the premium plus model’s standard panoramic sunroof, as well as an abundance of individual map lights and reading lamps. The heated front seats allowed for 38.1 inches of head room, 57.7 inches of shoulder room, and 41 inches of leg room, accommodating this driver’s six-foot, four-inch frame in total comfort. Rear seat occupants found a welcoming environment as well, with 37.4 inches of legroom, having allowed for the installation of three child seats across, which we deemed as the “ultimate test of size.”
The cargo area provided a substantial 29.1 cubic feet of volume (rear seat up), enough to house an umbrella stroller, two back packs, and a cooler full of drinks without issue. With the rear seats folded down, the cargo capacity grows to 57.3 cubic feet. Clad in monsoon gray paint, and contrasted by Audi’s signature LED front and rear lamp accents, our 2012 Audi Q5 2.0T was as stunning to look at as it was to drive. With Audi’s four-year, 50,000-mile, bumper-to-bumper warranty, as standard, we simply could not imagine a more practical premium crossover vehicle with which to navigate Colorado’s roads.
Daniel Buxbaum has had a life-long passion for all things automotive. Dan’s passion for automotive journalism recently secured him a position as customer service director and contributing writer for Parts & People, a multi-region automotive trade publication. Dan also writes for Examiner.com, maintains his own blog (straightlineconcepts.wordpress.com), and is an active member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP).