ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: I had two days to check out the 2014
and came away extremely impressed. The first things you'll notice are the quickness and sound of this midsize crossover. It leaps off the starting line and makes a great noise with the supercharged V6. It sounded so different from everything else with a flat, growl from 2,000-6,000 rpm. It doesn't feel as quick as our dearly departed long-term S4, but for an SUV, it's quick.
The steering is extremely easy at speeds up to about 20 mph; after that it tightens up considerably. I think it's one of the best variable systems I've experienced. I love the feel of the flat bottom steering wheel in my hands, and it gives the interior a sporty look.
Elsewhere inside, the SQ5 had Audi's usual attention to detail. All the panel gaps were even and the touch points were soft, but not squishy. I did get annoyed with the movable armrest that kept sliding when I put weight on it. Love the giant sunroof.
The SQ5 is kind of a sleeper. The S moniker and big wheels are the only things that give it away as a speedster. Of course, after judicious application of the throttle, everyone will know.
It's a little tough to compare the SQ5 to anything else, though. The BMW X3 starts at $45,000 and comes with 300 hp, while the http://www.autoweek.com/article/20130329/CARREVIEWS/130329825 is $47,000 but is a little bigger. Cargo space in the X3 and SQ5 are almost equal but neither the BMW nor MB can match Audi's power.
This is a great vehicle for an Audi lover.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Crossover skeptics, prepare to be converted. The 2014 Audi SQ5 shows how it can -- and should -- be done. Extraordinarily comfortable, capable and spacious, I found myself more impressed with every mile we traveled together. The blend of performance and luxury is nigh well perfect, and the SQ5 is one of those few rather pricey vehicles that feel like it's worth every penny.
Outside, the SQ5 is typical Audi restrained elegance, with tailpipes, badging and wheels the only indication of the S-ness of this particular Q5. The attention to detail starts when you open the door: close it again. You'll want to keep doing it just because it sounds and feels so darn good…and you haven't even climbed in yet.
The cockpit offers a perfect mix of luxurious detail, like the chrome trim along the buttons and the gorgeous carbon-fiber inlays, yet the seats are firm and supportive and the fat, flat-bottom steering wheel lets you know there's fun to be had. From a practical perspective, rear-seat room is very good for a small crossover, and the reclining/folding seatbacks help rear passengers get comfortable. Width is good for large booster seats too, a sticking point on some narrower models -- the booster bases didn't cover the seat belt latches, making it easy for little hands to belt up without adult intervention. A standard power liftgate reveals a 30-cubic-foot rear cargo hold that would have no problem hauling a home center load or big hairy dog around.
About that fun: Comfort mode offers a nice mix of smooth ride for commuting; the gearbox picks the highest possible to save fuel, but the engine has enough low-end torque to offset the ratio -- there's power if you need it. Punch up dynamic mode and the SQ5 changes character, firming up suspension and steering and putting the shift programming in a much more aggressive mode. Paddles offer near-instant shifts if you choose to use them, but the Tiptronic software works great, too. There's even a pop on upshift and downshift to add aural excitement.
Bear in mind the SQ5 is not a tire-smoking track monster; that's what Audi's RS cars are for, and I've always kind of preferred the outstanding balance of the S models over their more aggressive RS counterparts. The SQ5 is a perfect extension of that line, delivering the kind of mechanically connected driving experience of an S4 to a customer who needs or wants a taller, larger vehicle.
Yes, it's a bit expensive for a compact crossover, but let's not forget these are the Germans. A judicious ticking of the option boxes could easily lop $5K off the sticker of our tester; for comparison shoppers, a comparably equipped BMW X3 would run right around $55,000 and even with the straight-six you'd be down 50 or so hp and lb-ft. Bring another $5k to the party to even look at an Grand Cherokee SRT8, and if you think the Lexus RX F-sport is a competitor…it isn't.
An outstanding piece of machinery, this SQ5, and without doubt my favorite sport crossover available today.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I agree that this 2014 Audi SQ5 is a really nice crossover. If I was in the market, this would be at or near the top of the list. And yeah, $60K ain't chicken food, but you know what? This car is worth the money. For what you get -- power, terrific build quality, good ride and handling (for a tall trucklet) -- it's priced appropriately in my opinion.
The car looks like a slightly meaner Q5 and I mean that absolutely as a compliment. This 3.0-liter supercharged V6 is about perfect in this car: Good linear, torquey acceleration but not overwhelming, smooth-shifting transmission, all-wheel drive security and good ride/handling balance. The steering is true (perhaps a little too light) and the ride perfectly acceptable. This is a much better driver in terms of involvement than a Lexus RX 350, for example. This car goes about its business with authority and yet is plenty comfortable for everyday driving like trundling around town or blasting down the freeway.
As for the interior, Audi does the best-looking, best-built interiors in the whole the car biz. This car continues that tradition. It's very nice inside, roomy and comfortable.
2014 Audi SQ5
Base Price: $52,795
As-Tested Price: $60,845
Drivetrain: 3.0-liter supercharged V6; AWD, eight-speed automatic
Output: 354 hp @ 6,000-6,500 rpm, 347 lb-ft @ 4,000-4,500 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,409 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 16/23/19 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 17.3 mpg
Options: Audi MMI navigation plus package including CD/DVD player with HD radio, Audi MMI navigation, voice control, color driver information display, Audi parking system with rearview camera, Audi connect with online services ($3,400); fine napa leather seats ($1,500); Bang & Olfusen sound system ($850); 21-inch five-double-spoke star-design wheels with summer tires ($800); carbon atlas inlays ($500); Audi side assist ($500); Monsoon gray metallic paint ($500)
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