2021 Audi Q5 gets more power, new look, and better technology

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Audi updated the Q5, its best-selling model in the United States, with a redesigned front end, more power, and new available rear lights that use technology television fans will be familiar with. It’s due out later in 2020.

Stylists tweaked the Q5’s front end with a light hand. The idea was to bring it in line with other recent additions to the Audi range, like the second-generation Q3, not to start from scratch and give it a completely new face. Its grille is wider and shorter, its headlights gain new lighting elements, and the air vents chiseled into the front bumper have a new shape. Out back, the big news is that OLED lights are available for the first time. That’s the same technology found in some televisions, and the company pointed out putting it on a car makes sense.

“In addition to perfect contrast, the benefits of digital OLED are a high level of homogeneity and minimal gap between the segments. Looking to the future, OLED is the perfect technology for executing personalized light design with a high degree of precision and extensive variability. This technology offers all sorts of opportunities for further development,” explained Stephan Berlitz, Audi’s head of development for light innovation.

Many of Audi’s lighting-related innovations (like its matrix-beam lights) have been illegal in the United States; OLED lights are an exception. They come standard on the range-topping SQ5 Prestige, and Berlitz’s comments suggest they’ll spread across the company’s line-up of models in the not-too-distant future.

Inside, the Q5 benefits from the latest generation of Audi’s infotainment system displayed on a 10.1-inch touchscreen. The software is compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay, and it allows users to receive over-the-air updates, including navigation if the buyer chooses not to purchase it when ordering the car. The digital, driver-configurable instrument cluster remains available, and the list of electronic driving aids grew with the addition of lane departure warning, parking sensors on both ends, plus Audi side assist with pre-sense rear.

Power for the Q5 comes from an updated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine turbocharged to 261 horsepower (13 more than before) and 273 pound-feet of torque. Quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission come standard; there won’t be a front-wheel drive base model. And, although fuel economy figures haven’t been released yet, the extra power shouldn’t have a negative effect on gas mileage because the Q5 gains mild-hybrid technology. Audi noted the 13 additional horses come from the engine, not from the added electrification.

Stepping up to the SQ5 unlocks a 3.0-liter V6 tuned to deliver 349 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Unchanged from 2020, these figures send the SUV from zero to 60 mph in a brisk 5.1 seconds. If you want to reach freeway speeds in, say, four seconds or less, you’re out of luck for the time being. Audi told us it often gets requests for an RS Q5 but it couldn’t comment on its chances of sooner or later reaching production.

The well-rounded plug-in hybrid model joined the range earlier in 2020. It carries on unchanged mechanically.

Manufactured in Mexico, the 2021 Audi Q5 will go on sale across the nation in the fourth quarter of 2020. Pricing starts at $43,300 for the entry-level variant and $52,900 for the SQ5, meaning they both cost exactly the same as the 2020 model in spite of the improvements made. Plan on spending $51,900 on the plug-in hybrid model.

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