2014 Audi Q5 TDI
by John Davis
Americans have been slow to warm to the idea of economical diesel power for everyday passenger vehicles. Memories of failed diesels in the past, the specter of smelly truck stops, and the premium price of both the powertrain and fuel, have pretty much stopped widespread diesel adoption. That’s despite the fact that a straightforward turbo-diesel powertrain can improve fuel economy as much as a complex gasoline-electric hybrid. Now, however, prompted by new fuel economy mandates, diesels are finding their place in more passenger cars, pickup trucks, and utilities.
While some diesel adoption progress is being made at domestic brands, the Europeans continue to lead the way in marketing modern, clean running diesels. That’s not surprising as the majority of private vehicles sold in western Europe are diesel powered.
Volkswagen and their Audi luxury brand have been especially passionate about bringing diesels to America. Now, Audi offers a turbocharged clean diesel option in most of its family car and utility lines sold in America. Audi’s newest clean diesel entrant is a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, available in their flagship A8 sedan, medium weight A6, and coupe-roofed A7, along with seven-passenger Q7 and the five-passenger Q5 crossover utilities.
While we have instantly taken to Audi’s new boosted diesel V6 in everything we’ve tried it in, it is the Q5 that seems to be the perfect fit for the TDI. The Q5, Audi’s smallest crossover sold here for now, got a styling refresh just last year. So, the addition of the TDI this year is nothing short of icing on the cake.
In the Q5, the 3.0-liter turbocharged clean diesel V6 delivers the same 240-horsepower engine as in the A8, but with 22 lb-ft. of additional torque for a robust total of 428. Helping the high mileage cause is an 8-speed automatic transmission, and the combination is good for a towing capacity of 4,400-pounds.
As for fuel economy, Combined Government Fuel Economy Rating is 27 MPG. That compares to 21 MPG Combined for the 3.0-liter gasoline-fueled Q5, and 26 MPG for the four-cylinder Q5 Hybrid.
All Q5s come equipped with the same quattro all-wheel-drive formula found in Audi sedans and SUV’s for years, rear bias and all; and is as much about handling performance as it is about all-weather capability.
After its recent restyling, the Q5 plays the part of a truly a modern Audi, from the large Singleframe grille to the signature LED driving lights. You’ve heard our rave reviews before about current Audi interiors, and the Q5 does nothing to dampen our fondness for the high quality materials, simplicity of design, and ease of use of its many high tech features. Front seats are very supportive and comfortable, and there’s good room for three in the second row. Maximum cargo space is 57.3 cubic-ft. with the rear seats folded. As if this vehicle was not attractive enough, a panoramic sunroof is standard on the Q5 TDI.
We invite you to join MotorWeek for an exclusive roadtest of the Audi Q5 TDI on episode #3328 which begins airing nationwide on March 15, 2014. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable channel.
Obviously we like the Audi Q5 TDI. But, what about that price? Well, unfortunately, Audi is charging a $5,000 premium for the TDI, and that’s before the premium priced fuel. While less of an issue for Audi buyers than more modestly stickered brands, it still makes a diesel a choice that’s hard to justify on a financial basis.
Still, we love diesels, and think the 2014 Audi Q5 TDI is a star in styling, comfort, practicality, drivability, and fuel efficiency. That’s a five-way win that few rivals can even approach.