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Democratized safety-feature spread would enhance 2020 Audi Q5 and SQ5

2020 Audi Q5

2020 Audi Q5

What changes will make the 2020 Audi Q5 different?

Hopefully, what we urged Audi to do for the 2019 Q5: expand availability of key driver-assistance features beyond the costliest trim levels. Otherwise, expect little change to this popular premium-compact crossover SUV.

This second-generation Q5 launched for model-year 2018 and continues for 2020 as a five-seater available in luxury-oriented 2.0T four-cylinder-turbo form and as the high-performance turbocharged V-6 SQ5. The 2020 lineup will repeat the volume-selling 2.0T in base Premium, midline Premium Plus, and flagship Prestige grades. The SQ5 will return in Premium Plus and Prestige trim. Every ’20 model will again come standard with Audi’s traction-aiding quattro all-wheel drive (AWD).

The 2018 redesign brought an all-new structure, freshened styling, and updated features. It succeeded the first-generation Q5, which debuted for model-year 2009 and helped inaugurate the upscale compact-crossover class — today one of the industry’s hottest segments. That first Q5 was an instant hit, quickly becoming Audi’s top-selling vehicle. It also lent its understructure to the more expensive Macan crossover from Porsche, which, like Audi, is part of the Volkswagen group.

The Q5 is still Audi’s best-seller and strong demand for the second-generation model sent sales up 27 percent through September 2018. That was good for a solid second place in the competitive set, just behind Mercedes-Benz’s excellent GLC and ahead of such rivals as the Cadillac XT5, Acura RDX, BMW X3, and Volvo XC60.

Should I wait for the 2020 model or buy the 2019?

The only reason to wait would be to see if Audi liberalizes availability of key driver assists such as adaptive cruise control and lane-maintaining automatic steering. So far, this second-generation Q5 and SQ5 have offered those features only on the flagship Prestige models, and then only as part of a $1,800 Driver Assistance Package option.

Similarly, we’d urge Audi to make blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection standard instead of optional on the volume-selling Q5; these assists have been included on the SQ5. All 2020 Q5 and SCQ5 models will again come standard with autonomous emergency braking that can bring the vehicle to a stop to avoid a frontal collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian.

If you’re OK with the 2019 model’s safety-feature availability, there’s little reason to wait for the ’20. It’s a top-rank crossover and will look and perform like the ’20. It won’t cost as much, however, because you’d duck the inevitable model-year price inflation.

Will the styling be different?

Unlikely. Don’t expect an appearance facelift until model-year 2022, when the Q5s could well adopt some of the more streamlined look of Audi’s recently introduced fully electric e-tron crossover. The angular visage of the Q5/SQ5 would be softened slightly to improve aerodynamics. The grille would likely be a bit smaller while the headlights wouldn’t wrap as aggressively around the front fenders. The rear end would still have a squared-off appearance, but we would count on the lights spreading across the liftgate to provide more dramatic illumination.

Of course, the 2020 Q5 will remain a handsome crossover, with an understated look outside and a clean, contemporary design inside. The cabin will again boast outstanding materials quality and a sensible control layout. You’ll still have a choice of genuine woodgrain, carbon fiber, or aluminum accents. Expect classy leather upholstery to remain standard in the Q5 and a leather/faux-suede mix in the SQ5. Further upgrades will again include higher-quality Nappa hides that would look and feel at home in a vehicle that costs tens of thousands more.

The available Multi-Media Interface (MMI) infotainment system will again be another highlight. Notably responsive and intuitive, its laptop-style touchpad has support for basic handwriting recognition, which works surprisingly well for inputting navigation destinations.

Passenger comfort will remain near the top of the competitive set – impressive, given the Q5’s rather tidy exterior dimensions. In back, the split/folding bench seat will again slide fore and aft to benefit rear legroom. Headroom will remain very good, even beneath the housing of the panoramic sunroof that’s standard. Note that Audi should continue to allow you to order a Q5 or SQ5 without the sunroof; there’s no extra charge, but you won’t get a credit back, either. Cargo room will again run with the premium-compact-crossover pack at 26.8 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 60.4 with it folded.

Any mechanical changes?

It’s possible Audi plans to add a gas/plug-in electric hybrid variant to complement the pure-electric e-tron, but that wouldn’t happen before model-year 2021 or so. The ’20 will carry over the 2018-2019 drivetrains. All 2.0T grades would reprise a 2.0-liter turbocharged four with 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. It’ll again linke to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 2020 SQ5 will return with a 3.0-liter turbo V-6 with 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It’ll continue with a conventional eight8-speed automatic transmission.

Neither the ‘20 Q5 nor SQ5 is apt to leave you wanting for performance. The Q5’s turbo four provides more than adequate acceleration. It can be a tad lazy off the line, but after a car length or so, it’ll get to 60 mph in just under 6 seconds and furnish satisfying throttle response for merging and passing. At nearly a second quicker than the Q5 to 60 mph and with more thrust from any speed, the ’20 SQ5’s performance is right in line with the similarly positioned performance-tuned BMW X4 M440i, Jaguar F-Pace S, Range Rover Velar P380, and Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC43.

Stiff new competition from the likes of the F-Pace and, in particular, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, the Q5 is no longer among the class leaders for road manners. The SQ5 is, though, and both are more than plenty capable, with good grip and balance thanks to Audi’s well-sorted quattro AWD. Audi Drive Select, which allows drivers to set different throttle, steering, transmission, exhaust, and some suspension settings via the infotainment system, will return. Dynamic mode offers the best handling performance with little compromise to daily drivability. The Q5’s steering feels lifeless otherwise. Noise suppression will remain good, with the only noticeable sounds being the engines while you are accelerating.

Will fuel economy improve?

Don’t count on it. This is one area where Audi’s compact crossover falls short relative to the competition. Expect the 2020 Q5 2.0T to have an EPA rating of 23/27/25 mpg city/highway/combined and the SQ5 to rate 19/24/21 mpg. Both engines would continue to require premium-grade 91-octane gasoline.

Will there be new features?

Not likely; more probable is that Audi would expand the previously mentioned driver-assistance technologies to all Q5 models. With mainstream automakers such as Toyota making features such as adaptive cruise control standard on many of its products, it’s time for Audi (and other luxury automakers for that matter) to step up and do the same. Note that the Q5 2.0T and SQ5 Premium Plus and Prestige models mirror each other for standard and optional equipment.

Likely returning as standard on the 2.0T Premium would be autonomous emergency braking, leather seating surfaces, power front seats, tri-zone automatic climate control, LED daytime running lights, power rear liftgate, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and support for Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto.

Premium Plus grades would add a panoramic sunroof, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, hands-free operation for the power liftgate, heated front seats, driver-seat memory, full LED front lighting, and keyless access with pushbutton ignition.

The range-topping Prestige gains front- and rear-obstacle detection, 360-degree camera, imbedded navigation, high-end Bang & Olufsen audio system, head-up instrument display, and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, which replaces traditional analog gauges with a customizable digital display.

Will 2020 prices be different?

They’ll likely increase, especially if Audi makes more safety or convenience features standard.

Including an estimated manufacturer’s destination fee of about $1,000, estimated base prices for the 2020 Audi Q5 are $43,000 for the 2.0T Premium, $48,000 for the Premium Plus, and $53,000 for the Prestige trim. Estimated base prices for the ’20 SQ5 are $57,000 for the Premium Plus and $62,000 for the Prestige.

Among standalone options would again be various paint colors, interior trim pieces, and different wheel/tire combinations, all ranging from $500-$1,600. Thorax-protecting side-impact airbags for outboard rear-seat passengers would again be $350.

Expect the 2.0T Premium to again offer heated front seats for $500. Memory driver’s seat, keyless access, power-folding outside mirrors, and satellite radio would again be part of a Convenience Package, which could cost $900.

Onboard navigation would be bundled with the Virtual Cockpit for about $3,000 on the Premium and Premium Plus.

Heated outboard rear seats and steering wheel, ventilated front seats, and rear side-window sunshades would return as options on the Premium Plus and Prestige for $500-$1,450, depending on model. Nappa upholstery would return as a Prestige exclusive for about $1,250, but note that selecting this option prevents the use of ventilated seats.

Exclusive to the SQ5 would be the S sport package for $3,000, which adds red brake calipers, along with a performance suspension and rear differential. Audi’s Dynamic Steering could be added to this package for an additional $1,150.

When does it come out?

Anticipate a release date for the 2020 Audi Q5 and SQ5 in fall 2019.

Best competitors

Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Acura RDX, BMW X3 and X4, Infiniti QX50, Jaguar F-Pace, Range Rover Velar, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Porsche Macan, Volvo XC60

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]