2021 Audi Q5 sharpens its style, adds a plug-in hybrid – Roadshow

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Audi Q5 is one of the automaker’s best-selling models. Thus, any adjustments to this car need to keep current owners interested while trying to thrust new consumers into the fold. In that sense, the 2021 Audi Q5 should do pretty darn well, because it takes enhancements from across the lineup and integrates them in a way that should definitely broaden the crossover’s appeal.

From a style perspective, nothing should seem all that revolutionary. Folks like to crack jokes about how most German cars from a specific OEM look the same, but that’s how design language works. The Q5’s new face is basically an average of the new fasciae seen on the latest generation of Q3 and Q7. It’s a bit more rectilinear, with some more interesting lines across the sides, but by and large, it’s an inoffensive design that looks sufficiently neat. LED headlights are standard, with higher trims receiving more versatile peepers with animations and more interesting turn signals.

The interior keeps it safe, too, adopting newer tech without radically upheaving the Q5’s pragmatic approach to interior design. Screens appear on the dashboard and in the gauge cluster, but that’s it: There are still separate physical controls for the climate system. If you’ve been in a previous Q5, this one should feel prtty familiar. Like before, the Q5 seats five people, but an optional second-row bench upgrade adds some versatility by way of a sliding function.  

Three variants of 2021 Q5 will be available in the US. The base model wields a 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline-4 gas engine that produces 261 horsepower (13 more than before) and 273 pound-feet of torque, coupled to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and standard all-wheel drive. A new 12-volt mild hybrid system is standard, too, although its main goal is improving efficiency — it’s not responsible for the power bump.

New for 2021 is a plug-in hybrid variant. This model sandwiches an electric motor between the 2.0-liter I4 and its seven-speed dual-clutch, boosting net output to 362 hp and 369 lb-ft. This model gets the S Line equipment package standard, which adds a dose of sporting pretension through different wheels, a unique grille and other small tweaks. An available upgrade package adds things like air suspension, bigger wheels, sportier seats and higher-end interior trims. It shouldn’t be too long before the EPA gets around to testing the new Q5, at which point we’ll have an idea of what range figures to expect from its battery.

At the top of the lineup is the SQ5, which is specifically positioned as the most engaging Q5 variant. Under the hood remains a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, which puts out 349 hp and 369 lb-ft, but it mates to an eight-speed automatic transmission that’s a bit better suited for the V6’s torque. Adaptive dampers are standard, with air available as an option. The SQ5 has the sharpest look of the bunch, with large wheels, more aggressive styling and — on Prestige-trim models — OLED taillights, which can change their brightness depending on how close a driver gets to the Q5’s bumper.

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Audi without a heapin’ helpin’ of tech, and don’t worry, the 2021 Q5 packs some new tricks. Standard on all models is a 10.1-inch touchscreen on the dashboard that rocks the latest iteration of Audi’s MIB infotainment system — think of it as a single-screen version of the dual-layer getup seen on more expensive models. Apple CarPlay is now wireless, and there’s a new integrated toll module that can potentially replace the silly transponder you have to carry around. A 12.3-inch screen can replace the gauge cluster on certain trims. There’s also a new “functions on demand” scheme that lets owners pay for upgrades after leaving the dealer: If you decide you want embedded navigation at some point, just pay for it online and it’ll beam to your head unit via over-the-air updates.

On the safety front, standard kit includes lane-departure warning, front and rear parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert, in addition to the usual good stuff like automatic emergency braking. Adaptive cruise control with a baked in lane-keeping function, as well as a surround-view camera system, are available on higher trims.

All three variants of the 2021 Audi Q5 are slated to go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2020. Fuel-economy and pricing information should be available closer to that time.

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