Automobiles have entered the era where top performance requires an electric motor. That fact is front and center with the new 2021 Audi Q5. The basic Q5 offers 261 horsepower, while the performance-trim SQ5 offers 349 horsepower. But to really get the performance, you want the Q5 e quattro plug-in hybrid with 362 system horsepower.
To top off the argument, the Audi PHEV also delivers 50 MPG-equivalent in combined city/highway electric/gas driving. Which is to say, you use no gasoline at all for up to 19 miles, and after that you get about 27 MPG on average.
That 19 miles of electric driving is the important part, because that's more than most of us commute to work and back. So, if you charge at home overnight, your daily commute might never use any gasoline at all. Most commuters will save a lot on fuel by switching to electric for the daily drive.
Charge time for Audi's 14.1 kWh battery pack is about 2.4 hours on a 240-volt Level 2 charger, or more like 22 hours if you use a standard 120-volt household outlet. However, that assumes a completely discharged battery, which is pretty rare in practice. Still, if you're going to spend over $50,000 on a plug-in hybrid, it makes sense to install a 240-volt charging station.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's take a look at the Q5 as a luxury vehicle. It's comfortable inside, with all the comforts and technology you expect from Audi. Heated leather front seats are standard at the Premium Plus trim level, along with real walnut wood inlays, panoramic sunroof, zone climate control, and a power tailgate. The touchscreen is a 10.1-inch-wide screen, and it shows a 360-degree view around the Q5 when backing up. A full set of driver assist and safety features are also included.
The Q5 is also a good-looking and functional SUV, with two rows of seating and up to 54 cubic feet of cargo capacity with the rear seats folded. You can also tow up to 2,000 pounds of trailer with the Q5, and this is just about the only area where the all-gasoline Q5 models will do more.
On the road, the Q5 PHEV really shines. The hybrid driveline means that engine power is available at the touch of the pedal, without any perceptible lag or build-up. Just hit the gas and the Q5 moves out smartly. As you would expect with any luxury model, it's quiet and smooth. Steering is precise and the brakes are crisp, while also helping to recharge the batteries.
To arrange a test-drive, visit any of our area Audi dealers. They can also help with information about installing your own charging station.
2021 Audi Q5 55 TFSI e quattro
Base price: $51,900
Price as tested: $60,740
Type: Compact SUV
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged plug-in hybrid (362 hp, 369 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 50 MPGe
Overall length: 184.3 inches
Curb weight: 4,619 pounds
Final assembly: San Jose Chiapa, Mexico
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