Skip to main content

Audi’s updated Q5 receives extra power, better infotainment, and OLED lights

Audi is focusing on expanding its range of electric vehicles, but it’s not forgetting about the gasoline-powered models in its portfolio. It updated the Q5, its best-selling vehicle in the United States, by giving it a new-look design that includes OLED rear lights, fitting a better infotainment system, and giving the entry-level model a power boost.

Up front, subtle visual changes distinguish the 2021 Q5 from the outgoing model. It wears a grille that’s thinner and wider plus a new-look bumper. Stylists gave the rear end a nip-and-tuck, too, and some versions of the SQ5 receive OLED tail lights split into three six-segment tiles. OLED technology is normally associated with televisions, computer monitors, smartphone screens, and other digital devices, but offering it in 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,” said Stephan Berlitz, Audi’s head of development for light innovation.

Audi’s new MIB 3 infotainment system is displayed on a bigger, 10.1-inch touchscreen installed on top of the dashboard. It packs a redesigned processor that offers 10 times more computing power than before, so the system responds to input more quickly. The outgoing Q5’s rotary controller was sent back to the parts bin, and interior designers carved out an additional storage bin in its place. That means the Q5 follows the rest of the Audi range’s shift towards touch-only controls, but voice recognition is available for those who’d rather not poke a screen.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and an integrated toll module come standard, and every Q5 offers lane departure warning, parking sensors on both ends, plus Audi side assist with pre-sense rear. Upmarket trim levels are available with a digital, driver-configurable instrument cluster called Digital Cockpit in Audi-speak and a 360-degree camera.

Q5 buyers have three powertrains to choose from. The entry-level model packs a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that’s turbocharged to 261 horsepower (13 more than before) and 273 pound-feet of torque. The TFSI E variant also receives a 2.0-liter turbo four, but it gains an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and the seven-speed automatic transmission. The system’s total output checks in at 362 hp. I drove it in 2020, and I was impressed by its acceleration, its useful technology, and the smooth, quiet driving experience delivered by the hybrid system.

Audi pegs the TFSI E’s zero-to-60-mph time at 5.1 seconds. Motorists who want even quicker acceleration can select the range-topping SQ5, which swaps the four-cylinder for a 3.0-liter V6 rated at 349 hp and 369 lb-ft. of torque. It hits 60 mph from a stop in 4.7 seconds, a 0.4-second improvement over the 2020 model. Quattro all-wheel drive comes standard regardless of how many cylinders are under the hood.

Due out across the United States in the fourth quarter of 2020, the 2021 Audi Q5 carries a base price of $43,300 before options and the mandatory destination charge are added to the bottom line. Next up in the hierarchy is the plug-in hybrid model, which is priced at $51,900, followed by the SQ5 with a $52,900 price tag.

Editors' Recommendations

Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
The biggest changes to Audi’s all-new Q5 go beneath the surface
Audi Q5

Audi’s U.S.-bound RS3 sedan may be the brand’s biggest Paris Motor Show news, but the German automaker also introduced its next generation Q5 among Parisian festivities.

The Q5 luxury compact crossover has been on sale since 2009 and despite some minor tweaks since then, it has yet to receive a full makeover. A cursory glance at this all-new generation might miss the biggest changes, but there are several updates beneath the evolutionary design.

Read more
Audi’s next generation Q5 will get a new range-topping RS version with 400 HP
2016 Audi SQ5 TDI Plus

New details are rolling in about Audi’s next generation Q5 crossover, including word of a range-topping RS version.

Development of the redesigned compact crossover is well on its way and test mules have been spotted with slightly larger bodies than the current model and new styling borrowed from the second generation Q7. Speaking of the Q7, it’s new MQB chassis will be the basis for the next generation Q5 as well, contributing to a weight loss of about 220 pounds. The Porsche Macan will also loan its suspension components to the new Q5.

Read more
EV vs. PHEV vs. hybrid: What’s the difference?
BMW X5 PHEV charge port

When sizing up options for your next car, you may be figuring out whether to get an electric vehicle, only to discover there are a bunch of variations to consider -- not just hybrids, but plug-in hybrids, extended-range electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles are just some of the other categories. The depths of EV jargon run so deep that we wrote an entire EV glossary, but for now let's zero in on the difference between electric vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids. These options blend old tech and new tech in a way that's often practical, cheaper than an EV, and still more efficient than an old-school gasoline car.
What is an electric vehicle?
An electric vehicle skips the internal combustion engine found in most traditional cars in favor of an electric motor. This allows EVs to operate without needing gasoline. Instead, they're powered by an electric battery that will need to be charged regularly, either at your home or at a charging station like a Tesla Supercharger. The Ford Mach-E, Kia EV6, and Rivian R1S are all popular examples of modern EVs.

The electric motor works by way of a rotating magnetic field. Inside the motor, three electromagnets surround a free-floating rotor, which spins based on which magnet is attracting it most. That rotor in turn produces power to the wheels of the car and pushes it forward and backward. Regenerative braking reverses the relationship and turns motion into electricity. While you're slowing to a stop, the force of the turning wheels spins the rotor and generates a charge via the electromagnets in the motor, which in turn goes up into the battery for storage. If you're curious, you can dig into the nuts and bolts of how an electric vehicle works.
What's the difference between a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid?
In short, a hybrid primarily relies on gas with an electric backup, while a plug-in hybrid relies on electric power with a gas backup.

Read more