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2021 Audi Q5 First Test: The Popular Kid Gets a Fresh Wardrobe

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Audi Q5 Full Overview

Just before 2020 ended, we had the chance to drive the 2021 Audi SQ5, the sportier variant of the Q5 powered by a punchy V-6 engine. Like we noted back then, the SQ5 delivers the best of both worlds. It’s a comfortable SUV that’s great for everyday driving, but also more dynamic when the road turns twisty. Now, we’ve driven and tested the 2021 Audi Q5, the toned-down normal version that competes in the compact-luxury-SUV segment, one of today’s most popular. As you’d expect, then, the Q5 is indeed Audi’s most popular model, making up 25 percent of the brand’s sales, with the conventionally powered, non-S version responsible for most of that chunk (the balance includes not just SQ5s, but also Q5 PHEVs).

In order to be a popular player in one of the toughest segments, the Q5 has to bring plenty of goodness to the table, no? It combines attractive styling with a well-appointed cabin, all while keeping its prices competitive—something hard to find these days in the luxury game. For the 2021 model year, the Q5 received a midcycle refresh inside and out to bring more glamour and a bit more tech.

2021 Audi Q5: More Soft Than Sporty

As one would expect, the regular Q5 is toned down compared to the S variant, and that was notable during our time with this SUV. Powered by a 2.0-liter turbo I-4 with 261 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, the Q5 employs a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that sends power to all four wheels thanks to Audi’s Quattro system. The engine is mated to a 12-volt mild hybrid system that’s new for 2021, and which adds a combined 13 hp over the 2020 model.

That combination makes the Q5 a decent SUV on the road. The engine is lively, and while it lacks the push of a V-6, it feels completely adequate for an SUV this size. The one complaint we have is with the transmission taking too long to downshift, which we experienced mostly when trying to pass on the freeway. The engine also has a bit of turbo lag, which combines with the transmission issue to compound the sensation that it’s weaker than reality when trying to pile on speed or pass another vehicle at freeway velocities. When reaching a cruising speed, though, the Q5 is in its element.

Drivers can choose between five driving modes—Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. We spent most of the time driving in Auto, but even when we turned on Dynamic mode, the Q5 had the same laggy feel as in Auto or Comfort. Even so, at the test track, associate road test editor Erick Ayapana was able to go from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, which is a strong number. Pedal overlap causes the transmission controller to launch at about 3,000 rpm, after which gearshifts are much more immediate and aggressive, according to Ayapana. That may be the trick to get an eager start, but it’s not how you drive every day. Compared to a 2018 model, the 2021 Q5 was faster to 60 mph by 0.2 second, perhaps thanks to the mild hybrid system.

Overall, the ride is settled and comfortable. Whether you drive over harsh pavement or ruts, the suspension does a good job absorbing those imperfections before they get into the cabin. Even on twisty roads, the body is well controlled with little noticeable roll, but chief tester Chris Walton had mixed feelings during our figure-eight test, noting poor body control under braking and cornering. “The transmission, even in dynamic mode with S Drive, was not intelligent enough to hold second gear on the skidpad,” Walton added.

Besides increasing power output and (potentially) lowering the Q5’s acceleration time, the mild hybrid system also helps with fuel economy. For 2021, the Q5 delivers 23/28/25 mpg city/highway/combined, an increase of 1 mpg in city and combined ratings over last year.

2021 Audi Q5: Comfortable and Elegant

Inside, the Q5 blends a mix of premium quality and high tech. While it doesn’t have the same avant-garde interior aesthetic as do the Q7 or the Q8 (these have a two-screen infotainment/HVAC setup on the center console), the Q5 features a 10.1-inch touchscreen atop the dash. It displays Audi’s newest infotainment system—MIB 3—which is easy to use and fast to respond. The graphics are top notch, and the way everything is organized makes it easy to get around without having to dig through menus. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are wireless, and you can use voice commands to do unusual things like change the temperature or other settings in the car.

Our Prestige model—the Prestige trim costs $10,700 over a base Q5—checked pretty much every available box, which included everything from the 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium audio system with 3D sound to Audi’s “virtual cockpit,” whereby a 12.3-inch display serves as the instrument panel and can show real-time Google Maps graphics. Our model also came with other goodies like a head-up display, a 360-degree bird’s eye view camera system, and a panoramic sunroof.

To maximize comfort, Audi also offers heated and cooled front cupholders, heated rear seats, heated and ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. The second-row seats fold almost flat in a 40/20/40 configuration, making it ideal to fit long items between the seats while maximizing passenger space.

And you’ll want to maximize the room, as interior space is one of the areas where the Q5 needs to improve. Second-row legroom is a tad tight for adults with long legs. At six feet tall, this author’s legs touched the back of the front seat with the driver’s seat set to his driving position. Though there weren’t any problems with headroom, the noticeable drivetrain hump also interferes with foot room whenever you have three passengers in the rear.

2021 Audi Q5: Safety Tech

Like some other luxury brands these days, the Q5 brings some standard safety systems but charges extra for others. Blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, and parking sensors are standard across the lineup, but adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist is only available with the Premium Plus and Prestige packages—the two (out of three) highest trims.

These safety systems work well enough on the highway, keeping the Q5 centered in its lane even when lane markings weren’t totally clear. We’d like to compare the Audi’s systems to those from BMW and Acura, which are among the tops in the segment, to see which truly stands out.

Is the 2021 Audi Q5 Worth It?

Our Audi Q5 Prestige checked out at $56,840, a pricey ask no matter how you look at it. That’s several thousand dollars more than a loaded Acura RDX or Lexus NX, but is in line with its loaded German counterparts. Should you have a tighter budget, the Q5 starts at $44,395, with the middle-tier Premium Plus package adding $4,800.

Despite the somewhat lazy-feeling powertrain, it’s easy to see why the Q5 is Audi’s most popular model. After all, most folks won’t stand on it like we do during our holistiic evaluations, and this compact luxury SUV serves up tons of amenities, a well-appointed cabin, and fresh styling that should continue to resonate with a lot of customers. The Q5 is far from perfect, but it does a lot of things well and we can’t see this newer version giving up much ground to BMW, Mercedes, Acura, and friends.

Looks good! More details?

2021 Audi Q5 Quattro Specifications
BASE PRICE $44,395
PRICE AS TESTED $56,840
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/261-hp/273-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,184 lb (53/47%)
WHEELBASE 111.0 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 184.3 x 74.5 x 65.5 in
0-60 MPH 5.7 sec
QUARTER MILE 14.4 sec @ 95.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 115 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.86 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.5 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 23/28/25 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 147/120 kWh/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.78 lb/mile

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Tesla Model S Plaid Fast-Charging and Range Test: How Far Can It Go?

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When the now popular Tesla Model S electric car was first introduced in 2012, there were no Superchargers available. Today, there are 25,000 Tesla Superchargers around the world, and with the Model S Plaid adopting a new powertrain, Tesla was able to re-design the battery to take advantage of the third-gen 250-kW Supercharger. Despite Tesla still using the 18650 form-factor cylindrical battery cells, these now have improved chemistry to deliver higher performance and durability. (This is the fourth major chemistry improvement since the first Model S.) With it newest 100-kWh battery pack, Tesla claims the Plaid can recover 187 miles of driving range in 15 minutes of charging at a V3 Supercharger. But just how realistic is that claim in practice? 

First, a little background on charging an EV in general. Many factors are in play to determine the charging performance, from ambient temperature to battery temperature to state of charge to charging station type. As a result, charging rates do vary in practice. Lithium-ion batteries have a certain working temperature range, typically 40-130 degrees Fahrenheit, and the higher end of the range is typically conducive to rapid charging. For an electric car that has sat unplugged overnight or in cold weather, charging time is prolonged. In a Tesla, when a driver puts a Supercharger into the navigation as its destination, the car preconditions the battery pack for rapid charging before it reaches the plug.  This helps to deliver a more consistent rapid-charging experience and eases congestion at charging sites. 

The V3 Supercharger

In our testing, with a preconditioned battery pack and an ambient temperature of 71 degrees, the Tesla Model S Plaid needed 51 minutes to charge from 5 to 95 percent, which added 87 kWh. The latter figure indicates the usable battery capacity is about 97 kWh, with 3 kWh as a buffer. As shown in the charging curve, it indeed reached the 250-kW maximum V3 Supercharger rate and sustained that figure for the five minutes it took to charge from 10 to 30 percent. 

In order to take advantage of peak charging rate, showing up to a Supercharger with the Model S Plaid depleted to between zero and 5 percent of its full charge is the optimal starting point. After the peak, the charging rate gradually ramped down as the pack’s state of charge increased. (Imagine people rushing into an elevator: It’s easy when the elevator is empty, but as more people get in, it takes longer to let them find space to wiggle through.) If you’re on a road trip, 60 percent is a good point to stop charging the car and continue driving until you reach the next Supercharger. The reason is, after 60 percent, the charging rate begins to dip below 2 kWh per minute, so you may as well go to the next charging site, at least from a pure time standpoint. And hey, 18 minutes of charging time is good for another bathroom break. 

As for Tesla’s claim of adding 187 miles of range in 15 minutes of charging time, it is pretty dead-nuts accurate with a Model S Plaid. (At least with the standard 19-inch Tempest wheels.) However, this can only happen when you begin charging the car when it already has a low amount of juice remaining. And on a Model S Plaid with the more energy consumptive optional 21-inch wheels, you are looking at adding 167 miles of range in 15 minutes. 

Tesla Model S Plaid with 21-inch Arachnid wheels

SOC Time Recharged 

Energy

Recharged 

MT est range

(highway/city/)

Recharged

EPA 

est range

Recharged 

Drag Strip 

est range

5% to 30% 6 minutes +24 kWh 75/82 miles 84 miles 2.4 miles
5% to 55% 15 minutes +48 kWh 151/165 miles 167 miles 4.8 miles
5% to 60% 18 minutes +52 kWh 163/178 miles 181 miles 5.2 miles
5% to 70% 23 minutes +63 kWh 198/216 miles 219 miles 6.3 miles
5% to 80% 31 minutes +72 kWh 226/247 miles 251 miles 7.2 miles
5% to 90% 41 minutes +81 kWh 254/278 miles 282 miles 8.1 miles
5% to 95% 52 minutes +87 kWh 273/298 miles 303 miles 8.7 miles

Range: Dragstrip vs. EPA vs. MotorTrend’s Real-World Estimate

Manufacturers love to talk about their electric cars’ range to sell people on buying an EV, but in reality, range is heavily dependent on the way you drive, traffic, and weather conditions. The Model S Plaid with 21-inch wheels uses 2.5 percent of its battery to finish a quarter-mile run on a racing dragstrip, so in theory—we didn’t actually launch it repeatedly until its battery died—it has roughly 10 miles of range if used for 40 consecutive dragstrip runs. Tesla says the Model S Plaid with the 21s has an EPA-estimated 348 miles of range, and that is according to EPA’s conditions and using a mix of 55 percent highway and 45 percent city driving. See the range difference from different use cases there? 

We took the Tesla Model S Plaid on separate road routes for highway (70-75 mph) and city driving, then looked for the efficiency. We drove the car four times on each route, two times with air conditioning on and set to 72 degrees, and two times with it off and only the fan on.

With the ambient temperature below an average of 75 degrees, we saw 3.43 miles/kWh for city driving and 3.14 miles/kWh on the highway. Using the same EPA highway-to-city ratio, our theoretical measured range is 318 miles. 

Multiply the number with energy, and you can reveal the estimated range. For example, on a road trip, chances are you would drive mostly on a freeway or highway, so you’re looking at 305 miles of total range. However, in real life, chances are you are not driving from a fully charged pack to empty. Let’s say you recharged 72 kWh (from 5 to 80 percent): Expect about 226 miles of driving on a freeway at 70-75 mph. 

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No Yoke, the Refreshed Tesla Model S Ditches the Round Steering Wheel Entirely

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  3. No Yoke, the Refreshed Tesla Model S Ditches the Round Steering Wheel Entirely

It’s yoke or nothing for buyers of the updated electric sedan.

Despite it appearing in images pulled from Tesla’s own website, as well as making cameos in a handful of the automaker’s test cars, a traditional round steering wheel is not in the cards for the refreshed Model S electric vehicle. Instead, the brand is committing to the funky yoke-style steering device that the updated luxury sedan debuted with, which looks much like a normal steering wheel sans the upper rim. For those with a knack for pop culture, think of the steering setup used by Knight Rider‘s K.I.T.T.

Admittedly, we rather like the design of Tesla’s new tiller (admit it, it looks cool), however, we were left underwhelmed by its execution after a week of living with a so-equipped Model S Plaid. This was especially true when driving at lower speeds where the car’s quick, but not quick enough, 14.0:1 steering ratio made it difficult to complete near-full-lock turns without awkwardly fumbling for the device’s (purposely) missing upper rim out of habit. 

We’ve heard a variety of reasons for Tesla’s decision to fit every variant of the new Model S (and presumably the similarly updated Model X SUV), ranging from the company’s hope to improve visibility to the car’s gauge cluster to its desire to create a better Autopilot experience, but we have yet to hear any rumblings that the automaker has any plans to offer a traditional steering wheel as an alternative to the yoke. 

Sources within Tesla revealed the steering wheels seen fit to aforementioned 2021.5 Model S prototypes were strictly there for engineering purposes. Nevertheless, it’s clear Tesla has the resources and capability to build and offer a more traditional steering wheel for the updated Model S. While the revised EV is currently offered exclusively with the yoke, it’s possible a more typical steering wheel may find its way to the car’s cabin as an optional feature in the future. After all, Tesla moves quickly and the brand may simply decide to fast-track production of a full-rimmed steering wheel for the refreshed Model S if enough customers find the yoke more charming in theory than in practice.

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You Can Buy Ken Block’s Menacing 1977 Ford F-150 Hoonitruck

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  3. You Can Buy Ken Block’s Menacing 1977 Ford F-150 Hoonitruck

The 914-hp, Ford-GT-engined Ford pickup premiered in Gymkhana 10.

The widebody F-150 pickup truck premiered in Gymkhana 10, where the tire slayer wreaked havoc through Route 66 in Shamrock, Texas. He topped off his tire-slaying tour by drifting around a drove of artfully staged rusted vintage cars. But the career highlight of this custom Ford F-150 came when it conquered the allegedly most dangerous road in China, the Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road located within Tianmen Mountain National Park.

Peeking through the hood is a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 EcoBoost pulled from the Ford GT Le Mans race car. The modified engine develops 914 horsepower and 702 lb-ft of torque, routed to all four wheels via a Sadev six-speed gearbox. The customization includes a tube frame chassis and military-grade aluminum bodywork, finished in the signature matte black and gray color scheme. It has a carbon fiber dashboard, Recaro race seats, FordPass remote start, and a backup camera.

The raucous Hoonitruck comes fitted with a uniquely designed set of Fuel Block forged beadlock wheels painted in gloss white and rides on ST/KW suspension. Because the widebody flares make the pickup truck just over 79 inches wide, an issue during transportation. Detroit Speed in Mooresville, North Carolina, designed the Hoonitruck to be highly modular. If any problem arises or in case of an accident, the truck can be taken apart and rebuilt on-site.

Detroit Speed built the hardcore F-150 pickup from the ground up, and it reportedly cost upwards of $1.5 million to bring to fruition. LBI Limited is handling the sale, and the asking price is a mind-boggling $1.1 million—a decent discount, we suppose? Additional parts included in the listing are an extra 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine, wheels, body panels, and suspension components.

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