2021 Audi SQ5

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2021 Audi SQ5 Test Drive Review: Comfy, Quick, Charming

Performance SUVs are the flavor of the month, with the Audi SQ5 falling under this banner. Across nearly all luxury brands in America, the compact crossover is the best seller. Audi is no exception, with its Q5 lineup accounting for 25% of the company's annual sales. This is a product that Audi can't afford to mess up, which is why the Q5 family receives a facelift for the 2021 model year, including the sportiest variant, the SQ5.

With no dedicated RS model to be found, the SQ5 injects some sporty flavor to its Q5 underpinnings, including a more aggressive stance, a snazzier interior, and gutsy turbocharged V6 under the hood. In the past, the SQ5 has lagged behind rivals in terms of performance; both the BMW X3 M40i and Mercedes-AMG GLC43 outgun the SQ5's 349-horsepower engine, but Audi hopes that a recalibrated transmission and launch control system will help raise the excitement. Audi sent us a 2021 SQ5 Prestige for a few days to see how well the facelifted improvements stack up.

Read in this review:

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2021 Audi SQ5 Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 SQ5?

For the 2021 model year, the Audi SQ5 gets tweaked aesthetics courtesy of a slimmer grille and mildly updated front and rear bumpers. There's also a new design of 21-inch wheel option on offer, while Ultra Blue and District Green are new additions to the color palette. In addition, Audi has worked on performance, so although the engine carries over unchanged from the 2020 model, the new Audi SQ5 gets to 60 mph 0.4 seconds quicker than before. Adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera are newly standard features for all but the base trim.

Pros and Cons

  • Supple ride
  • Strong engine
  • Intuitive technology
  • Great build quality
  • Facelift looks more exciting
  • Cargo area not that big
  • Options can get pricey
  • Rear seats aren't massive
  • Rivals are more exciting to drive
  • Missing wow factor

What's the Price of the 2021 Audi SQ5?

The base price of the Audi SQ5 starts at $52,900 for the base model, before a destination charge of $1,095. Moving up from the Premium to the Premium Plus trim will cost you $57,300, while the top-tier Prestige model will set you back $62,500 before any options. Fully loaded, this model will carry an MSRP of almost $72,000.

Best Deals on 2021 Audi SQ5

2021 Audi SQ5 Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
3.0T Premium quattro
3.0L Turbo V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
3.0T Prestige quattro
3.0L Turbo V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
3.0T Premium Plus quattro
3.0L Turbo V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Audi SQ5 Trims and Specs

2021 SQ5 Exterior

2021 Audi SQ5 Front View CarBuzz
2021 Audi SQ5 Rear View CarBuzz
2021 Audi SQ5 Front Angle View CarBuzz
See All 2021 Audi SQ5 Exterior Photos


  • Length 184.3 in
  • Wheelbase 111.0 in
  • Height 65.5 in
  • Max Width 74.5 in
  • Front Width 63.6 in
  • Rear Width 63.3 in
  • Curb Weight 4,288.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Florett Silver Metallic +$595
  • Glacier White Metallic +$595
  • Mythos Black Metallic +$595
  • Daytona Gray Pearl Effect +$595
  • District Green Metallic +$595
  • Ultra Blue Metallic +$595
  • Ibis White
  • Quantum Gray

2021 SQ5 Performance

2021 Audi SQ5 Aft View CarBuzz
2021 Audi SQ5 Gauge Cluster CarBuzz
2021 Audi SQ5 Engine Bay CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

  • Engine
    3.0L Turbo V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrain

Handling and Driving Impressions

Audi claims it has recalibrated the eight-speed automatic transmission and launch control, dropping the SQ5's 0-60 mph time from 5.1 seconds to 4.7 seconds. In the real world, the Audi's conservative launch control gets it off the line with zero drama, making it feel less exciting than other systems. It's certainly quick, but the SQ5 doesn't pin the driver back in their seat. Once on the move, the optional air suspension takes care of rough roads, even in its Dynamic setting. The optional adaptive steering was once a major sore point for the SQ5, lacking any sense of connection to the front wheels. We are happy to report that Audi has finally delivered a more sensitive steering feel, though its BMW and Mercedes rivals still outclass it. Some cracks and pops from the exhaust give a sense of excitement, but they are still a bit too quiet to put a huge smile on the driver's face. A medium smile will have to suffice.

The SQ5 excels in comfortable cruising over raw performance. It's more of a straight-line highway runner than a back road companion. Through the corners, the air suspension eliminates a fair bit of body roll, but the SQ5 always feels less athletic than its S badge implies. In its Comfort mode, the SQ5 rides beautifully and cocoons its occupants in quiet and restrained luxury. If comfort is a main concern, the SQ5 outclasses both its BMW and Mercedes rivals. But if comfort is more important than driving dynamics, why not just get a standard Q5?

2021 SQ5 Interior

2021 Audi SQ5 Dashboard CarBuzz
2021 Audi SQ5 Steering Wheel Details CarBuzz
2021 Audi SQ5 Front Chairs CarBuzz
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Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 41.0 in
  • Front Head Room 40.2 in
  • Rear Leg Room 37.8 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.7 in

2021 SQ5 Trunk and Cargo Space

2021 Audi SQ5 Second-Row Seats CarBuzz
2021 Audi SQ5 Trunk Space CarBuzz
2021 Audi SQ5 Trunk Space with Seat Folded CarBuzz

2021 SQ5 Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    12 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ Unlimited Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: Is the 2021 Audi SQ5 A Good SUV?

As a facelift, we'd call the 2021 SQ5 a success as it looks more dramatic, drives better, and delivers more performance. However, the Q5 underpinnings still lack the sporty character found in some of the SQ5's rivals, keeping it from being our favorite. Both the BMW X3 M40i and Mercedes-AMG GLC43 will outperform it and deliver more fun in the process. However, the Audi excels in comfort, so perhaps it can carve out a niche with buyers that want speed without a jarring ride.

If it were our money in this segment, we'd probably spend it on the BMW or the Mercedes, though Audi hasn't completely lost the battle to its rivals. The Q5 plug-in hybrid delivers 362 horsepower, beating out the SQ5 and easily outclassing the X3 PHEV. With federal tax credits, it's cheaper than the SQ5 and it delivers 19 miles of electric driving range. In the Q5 family, we think the plug-in hybrid model hits the sweet spot of performance and comfort.

What Audi SQ5 Model Should I Buy?

The SQ5 starts at a reasonable $52,900, but can get pricey in a hurry. That's why we'd keep it conservative by opting for the middle Premium Plus trim at $57,300. From there, we'd add the 21-inch wheels and Black Optic Package for $1,600, some snazzy Ultra Blue metallic paint for $595, the Warm Weather Package with heated and ventilated seats for $600, and Navigation for $1,500. As-described, the SQ5 would cost $62,690, undercutting our Prestige trim test car by nearly $10,000.

Check out other Audi Q5 Styles

2021 Audi SQ5 Comparisons

Porsche Macan Porsche
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Audi SQ5349 hp19/24 mpg$56,500
Porsche Macan 261 hp19/25 mpg$57,500
BMW X3 248 hp23/29 mpg$46,200

2021 Audi SQ5 vs Porsche Macan

The Porsche Macan is available with a very similar setup to that of the SQ5. This is if you choose the Macan S, but although the engine is also a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, here it produces a little less, with 348 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. This model is also fitted with Porsche's seven-speed dual-clutch auto, which has proven to be much more intelligent and quick to respond than the auto found in the SQ5. Despite that fancy Porsche badge, pricing is very similar, and you get the advantage of incredible handling - something that the SQ5 is less interested in than overall comfort. However, since it's a Porsche, you'll pay extra for a number of desirable features. We'd recommend the Macan S for the keen driver and the SQ5 for those who simply want a quick and comfy luxury crossover.

See Porsche Macan Review

2021 Audi SQ5 vs BMW X3

BMW offers the X3 in full M guise, but that's a vehicle that is leagues above the SQ5, both in terms of performance and price. Buyers looking for a sporty luxury crossover in this price range will be better suited to looking at the X3 M40i. It comes with BMW's impressive 3.0-liter turbocharged B58 straight-six, here developing 382 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque. It's coupled with a brilliant eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF that blends smooth shifts with sharp responses. Besides being quicker in a straight line, the X3 M40i is also more spacious, with 28.7 cubes of volume behind the rear seats and a total of 62.7 cubes with said seats folded down. It's also a remarkable machine in the corners, although not as brilliant as something like the Porsche Macan. On paper and in the real world, the X3 is certainly the better choice, but you do have to pay extra for it: this model costs over $56,000 before options.

See BMW X3 Review

2021 Audi SQ5 Video Review

Check out some informative Audi SQ5 video reviews below.

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