Used Car Reviews

Used Vehicle Review: Audi Q5, 2009-2015

Vehicle Type

Luxury crossover

The Q5 was highly rated for sporty handling, pleasing performance, all-season traction, and exceptional torque and fuel mileage when fitted with the TDI engine.

Taking a place beneath the Audi Q7, the Q5 offered up numerous gas and diesel engines, Quattro AWD and signature Audi styling elements in abundance. With five seats, a sporty stance, a sporty driving experience, and no shortage of selection via features, option packages, and upscale content, the Q5 attracted shoppers from all walks after efficient crossover performance, luxurious capability, and all-season driving confidence.

Look for heated leather, navigation, xenon lights, memory seating, panoramic sunroof, MMI central command console, powered tailgate, and plenty more. An electric parking brake, intelligent key, three-zone climate control and an instrument-cluster-mounted computer were all on board, and premium stereo systems could be specified as well.

Notably, Q5 offered the Drive Select interface -- which alters various vehicle systems at the click of a button to dial the Q5’s feel in anywhere from a stiff and planted sports car to a light and lazy luxury cruiser. Custom settings can be assigned to an Individual mode, too. A glance back at your correspondents test drive notes of a 2014 model reveal that the Bang and Olufsen stereo system is magnificently bright, vibrant and precise in its playback of virtually anything, and that the forward-looking radar-guided cruise control is among the smoothest and most intelligent I’d ever used.

The Q5 was highly rated for sporty handling, pleasing performance, all-season traction, and exceptional torque and fuel mileage when fitted with the TDI engine.

Engines / Trim

Look for a gasoline 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine, a gasoline 3.2L V6, a gasoline 3.0L supercharged V6, and a diesel-burning 3.0L turbo V6.  Automatic transmissions packed up to eight gears, and paddle-shifters were available. The Q5 “TFSI” gets the 2.0 engine, while 3.2 and 3.0T badges are worn by models with the 3.2L V6, or the supercharged 3.0L unit, respectively. The Q5 TDI was the diesel powered variant.

What Owners Like

Owners rave about the xenon lighting system, the great balance between performance and efficiency, the comfortable seats, a slick navigation system, a refined powertrain, and the confidence of Quattro AWD on all surfaces.

What Owners Dislike

Gripes are few and far between, but those listed almost all relate to the hefty learning curve of the MMI media interface.

Here’s a look at some owner reviews.

The Test Drive

Start by confirming proper operation of the cruise control, the climate control (especially the air conditioner), and the MMI multimedia interface. Note that a fussy MMI system may be in need of a hard reset, or some new system component, so be sure to investigate any non-functionality. Remember to try the command dial in all positions, several times, ensuring all control-knob detents work as expected.

Confirm that the sunroof works as expected, and is riding properly in its tracks. Any failure to open or close, quickly and smoothly, could be a sign of trouble. Further, confirm that the carpeting in the footwell areas is dry too. If that’s not the case, a sunroof drainage system leak may be to blame.

If the model you’re considering has the start-stop system, which shuts the engine off in certain situations while the Q5 is at rest, be sure to note its operation on your test drive—and to come to a complete stop to engage the system as many times as possible on a test drive. Here’s a discussion in an owner’s forum about problems with the system, which range from failure of the engine to restart, to warning messages, to the requirement to shift to Park and then back to Drive before moving off again. Any funny business relating to the start-stop system needs to be checked out by an Audi mechanic ahead of your purchase.

The transmission in your potential used Q5 should shift smoothly, invisibly, and without any lag or delay when throttle is applied. If that’s not the case, updated software, available from your Audi dealer, may be the solution.

When determining which Q5 to choose, remember that in other applications, the 2.0T engine has some well-documented issues with water pumps, timing chain tensioners, oil consumption and valve-gunk. If you’re set on a used Q5 model with this engine, be absolutely certain to have an Audi mechanic check it out, front to back, after explaining these concerns. If your budget allows, the TDI model is an excellent choice – provided a mechanic clears the fuel delivery system, coolant system and engine management computer and sensor network with a clean bill of health. Note that models with the 3.2L V6 should be checked for signs of coolant leaks, and the 3.0T engine should be checked for signs of premature water-pump failure. In any case, the ECU scanned for a ‘misfire’ trouble code, especially on units with the 2.0L turbo engine. If one is present, talk to a dealer mechanic about valve-gunk removal.

Another note regarding powertrains: as most of the available Q5 engines utilize forced induction, they’re great candidates for a non-factory computer flash to increase boost pressure for added performance. Though this is fun, non-factory boost levels may damage or reduce the lifespan of all affected components, and void the warranty of the model you’re considering. Most shoppers should avoid a Q5 that’s running modified engine management software.

The Verdict

Q5’s easily identified issues seem to outweigh its luxury experience as a used-car buy. A healthy model with a mechanical thumbs up, and in particular a TDI-powered unit, should provide access to a world-class crossover experience with an eye for efficient performance.

A list of recalls.

Crash Test Scores

IIHS: Top Safety Pick (2013)
NHTSA: 4/5 Stars (2014)