Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Thursday, 21 September 2017 07:37

2018 Audi Q5 hits the sweet spot for luxury SUVs

One thing about Audi that no one can deny: No matter what size or shape of luxury vehicle you are seeking, they probably have you covered with a solid option. That’s true not only for the sedans (where the A series runs from the A3 to A8, with multiple models in each number), but also in the SUV lineup, where you can opt for a compact Q3, a full-sized Q7, or the middle child, the Q5 -- which I recently had a chance to test.


In essence, the 2018 Audi Q5 can be described as the Q7 minus a bit of length and the third row, which is a good thing considering how well the Q7 does everything.

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Inside, the key question in these midsize SUVs is whether the back seat is actually comfortable. Good news here is both rows of the Q5 are roomy, with impressive legroom for the class. Seating is high-end and comfortable, storage is adequate, and you get attractive wood trim designs up front.


The exterior of my test vehicle was the usual stunning Audi white (Ibis white to be exact), which is a sight to behold and a unique look that instantly identifies the brand. And the design -- while not overly bold -- is supremely classy and elegant. This is a juxtaposition when compared to the more bold and dramatic designs on competitors such as Lexus.

If I had to pick a word to describe the design of the Audi Q5, it would be clean. You can tell a lot of effort went into making sure this vehicle is one that people want to drive and want to have in their driveway.

Lexus’ lineup has become increasingly bold-looking in recent years, particularly up front in their grille designs. But does the drive offer that same bold feel?


If you’re talking about the F Sport models they offer, absolutely. I recently tested a 2017 Lexus RX 350 F Sport, which isn’t your typical grocery-getter luxury midsize SUV, and I’m back with a full report.

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Inside, the looks are typical for Lexus -- lots of refined, comfy, high-end materials, plus the extra wide, multi-paneled infotainment system screen to greet you.

Outside though is where things get interesting on the RX. It’s a bold and aggressive design for a luxury SUV, by any measure -- even moreso on the F Sport version -- and puts out a strong attitude before you even step in the vehicle. It’s a bold contrast against more stodgy SUV designs you’ll see from German automakers like Audi, Benz and BMW. And sales of the RX  show that this type of bold design is a hit with the public.


Inside the RX is still cozy, with a heated leather steering wheel, but the seat itself was at times not comfortable due to its crunched sport setup.

The F Sport package is what stands out here too, including:
-- 20-inch F Sport aluminum alloy wheels
-- F Sport tuned suspension with front and rear performance dampers

-- F Sport exclusive aluminum pedals

-- F Sport unique exterior trim

-- Chrome dual exhaust

This package not only affects the looks, but makes for a more engaging drive.

If I were to say the words “midsize sedan”, there are probably some bigger names that would come to your mind than the Mazda6. But as Goliath once found out, bigger is not always better.

Having driven pretty much every midsize sedan on the roadways, from Camrys and Accords to Fusions and Malibus, I find they all have their strong points (reliability for some, design for others) but most of them can’t claim to be a vehicle that I could call truly enjoyable to drive. I can say that about the 2017 Mazda6t.

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The Mazda6 seats five passengers comfortably -- two in front and three in the rear.

Its exterior isn’t what I’d call visually stunning, but I can say it’s among the better looking sedans in the class, including an understated but classy looking grille design.

Inside, the leather-trimmed seating in my test vehicle was quite high-end, better than I thought I would get in a Mazda, and heated seats were also included, along with a moonroof. The design of the tech setup was also very intuitive, but more on that later.

 

Since coming back into the U.S. market in 2011, the FIAT brand has maintained a small niche presence here, maintaining roughly one-quarter of one percent of total market sales. That’s mainly due to the fact that the small, sporty cars that they sell more rapidly in Europe and elsewhere are less likely to be chosen in the land where bigger is usually better and SUVS are all the rage.

But that doesn’t mean that the brand is giving up; in fact, they’re hoping to nudge in on the U.S. tastes with a couple of larger models. I recently tested the 2017 Fiat 500X, a compact SUV, and the 2017 Fiat 500L, an extended wagon-like 500 comparable to a Kia Soul and some Mini models, and I’m back with a full report.

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