Last week was the one year anniversary of me acquiring my Audi Q5. As my car search series was immensely popular – I believe at least 10 people read it – I feel like I owe those fans a one year update.
Aside from some minor quibbles, I am still deeply in love with my Audi. It isn’t perfect, but it is still a pretty fantastic ride.
It is mostly an around town vehicle, and it handles that nicely. Indy’s roads are crap, so the suspension has taken some hits from potholes and other infrastructure failures. But it still rides nicely. It is a delight to occasionally find a stretch of newish pavement with a generous speed limit so I can enjoy the smoothness of the ride. Even after a year its speed can surprise me, and I’ll look down and see I’m going a lot faster than I thought.
The only true road trip I’ve taken in it was to Nashville last fall. Engaging the adaptive cruise control along with the other driving aid/safety features made for an exceptionally easy trip. L and I have two basketball trips coming up and I’m looking forward to driving those.
One of the biggest reasons for moving to a smaller vehicle was for improved gas mileage. I’m pleased to report that I continue to average between 7–9 more miles per gallon compared to my Tahoe or Suburban. On our trip to Bloomington last week I was getting between 31–32 mpg in the short stretches when I could get it above 70 mph. Around town I’m almost always right at 23 mpg. The Chevys checked in around 16 in the city and in the low 20s on the highway. That difference somewhat mitigates the fact I’m pumping premium fuel into it.
I mentioned some quibbles. Most of those are purely personal choices which you have to deal with no matter what car you drive. My biggest frustration is with the way Audi handles technology, or at least the back end of it. The user interface for the entertainment and other electronic systems are great. But connecting to Audi’s online services is truly a nightmare. I was never able to get connected last year, as the system was down for weeks, so I gave up. When I was in for service last week the dealership couldn’t get me connected even though the system was available. I got a call Monday that I should be good. I am finally able to log in and connect my account to the car. But the features of that service are not all flowing through. Apparently this is not unusual for Audi. Hell, their main website sucks and my dealer’s is a nightmare to navigate. They make great cars but need to partner with Apple or someone to get their tech on point.
I’ve had some of the electronics flake out on me a couple times. Once, while driving, all my doors unlocked, the windows rolled themselves down, and the warning indicator for every electric system came on. I could still drive normally and safely, but the central display kept scrolling through those warnings without pause. When I found a parking lot, I pulled off the road, turned the ignition off, waited a few minutes, then turned it back on. Everything came back on normally. I guess I just needed to reboot. I wonder if it runs on Windows 95 or something.
I’ve had the automatic braking system slam my car to a halt twice. Once it was when a car pulled in front of me from the neighboring lane at a red light. I saw the car coming but the system engaged the brakes before my foot hit the pedal, which was great. Another time it engaged while I was making a left hand turn and there was no traffic or other obstacles in my way. That was concerning. I’ve also found that system checks out if it is raining too hard. Which makes sense. If it can’t get a good signal you don’t want it stopping you because it thinks sheets of rain are another car.
I hate that you can’t check your tire pressure at any time. The car will only send you a warning if it believes a tire is low. And if someone servicing it doesn’t reset the system, it will throw a warning at you a couple days later. That happened last week on our way to Bloomington. Between games I went and bought a pressure gauge and checked all the tires. They were fine. Because the dealer had failed to tell the system the pressures had changed after rotating the tires, the computer thought at least one of them was low. Super annoying.
I turned off a few of the safety features, notably lane assist. I found it to be far more aggressive than the one on my Chevys. Where the Chevy system would ease you back to center if you got close to a lane marker, the Audi yanks you back. Worse, in conditions where lanes widen out and markers disappear, at an exit ramp for example, it can get confused and fight you from keeping your intended path. I don’t think it’s actually dangerous, but it feels dangerous when it fights you.
I’ve had some issues with the rear lift gate. The dealer told me the struts that brace the gate needed to be replaced. The repair is under warranty, which is cool. What is not cool is that the parts have to come from Germany and may not be here for weeks.
Speaking of that, I certainly got my Audi at the right time. I did not know that car carrier that sunk in the Atlantic a couple months back was carrying 4000 Audis. The sales guy I talked to said he had a client who had been waiting a year on an e-tron and it was now sitting on the bottom of the ocean. Then they had another ship go through a terrible storm last month that damaged over 40% of the vehicles it was bringing to North America. I read a couple weeks back that Audi is also delivering some vehicles without certain features because of the microchip shortage. I know these problems aren’t unique to Audi – well, losing cars in the Atlantic isn’t universal – but it is still nice to have one rather than be waiting on one.
My girls would tell you they wish the Audi was a little bigger. The back seat is wide enough, but the hump created by the drivetrain makes whoever sits in the middle really have to squeeze in if they are sitting three across. We solve that by usually taking S’s Grand Cherokee if all five of us are riding together.
All relatively minor issues. One year in the Q5 remains my favorite car I’ve ever driven.