Curbside Rental Review: 2024 Audi Q5 – New Experiences Are The Zest Of Life

The planning was over, the day had arrived.  Standing at the baggage claim, the excitement of the imminent rental car lottery was overtaking me.  All that separated me from some unfamiliar new chariot was a short tram ride and going down a flight of stairs.  My excitement was considerable.

Upon arrival at the rental garage, my excitement level was hoisted upon hearing “Mr. Shafer, we are out of what you reserved.  Please choose a vehicle from the luxury aisle; the keys are in it.”

This rental company is now my favorite.  It is also author Jeff Sun’s favorite, who recently shared his Maserati win in the rental lottery.  It’s a shame this St. Louis based company has never used the enterprising William Shatner as a spokesman.  It would be a perfect fit.

Stepping over to the luxury car aisle (it was a short walk as opposed to, say, the economy cars; I wonder why) provided me with a choice of three unique models among the four vehicles present.

The black BMW 530e intrigued my wife until she saw the trunk.  The three of us pack heavily (there are extenuating circumstances about why), having two large suitcases, three carry-on bags, two backpacks, and my CPAP machine.  The trunk of that BMW was about the size of a credit card slot, so we passed.

There were two Audi A4 units awaiting a user.  As we were deciding between one of these and the Q5, my daughter requested the Q5 as her ability to see from the rear might be better.  So the Q5 it was.

It made me really happy I had price checked three days prior and was able to make a new reservation, for significantly less, to obtain better than my original “full-size, Chevrolet Malibu or equivalent”.  Then Enterprise upgraded me again.

As a quick aside, I drove a 2024 Malibu a few weeks before our departure.  It had 460 miles on the odometer when I got in.  It drove really odd, with the engine running the same speed regardless of my velocity.  Then it occurred to me…it has a CVT transmission.  Oh, joy of joys.

I digress.

Knowing absolutely zero about the Q5 has compelled me to perform research.  Thus, I now know the Q5 built on VW’s MLB platform, which is also found beneath a slew of other Audis plus the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus.  It also has seven actual gears in the transmission.

The Q5 comes in nine different permutations for 2024, there being three power outputs in each of three trim levels.  All are powered by a 2.0 liter four-banger (is there any manufacturer who does not have a 2.0 in their engine arsenal?) with the highest output level having the engine mated to a supplemental electric motor.

Running the VIN number for my rental through a decoder revealed I had the base Premium trim but with the mid-range output of 261 horsepower and 273 ft-lbs of torque.

Audi’s website claims the Q5 will do zero to sixty in 5.7 seconds and top out at 130 mph.  That is somewhat deflating as it seemed half my time in this thing was spent at speeds well below 35 mph due to heavy traffic, a wreck, and urban areas.  But I did stick the spurs to it a time or two and I don’t think Audi is exaggerating their acceleration claims by any tremendous lengths.  This little thing will scoot quite nicely.

Part of that is accomplished by gearing.  Once upon a time a differential ratio of 5.3:1 would have been for heavy duty trucks.  Not anymore.

A day or two into our nine day rental term, I told Mrs. Jason I doubted we’d see too many other Q5s floating around.  Wrong.  These things were everywhere, which makes me wonder how many were rentals and how many are privately owned.  The Q5 is Audi’s best seller, which injects a further degree of intrigue into my question as we were in a location having a heavy rental car market.

These were so thick on the ground I even followed its twin (down to the ski racks on the roof) into the Whole Foods parking lot.  Naturally, most were painted white.

Vehicles are like people, having a combination of endearing and irksome traits.  So let’s get the negative out of the way first.

The day after we picked this unit up a low tire pressure warning popped up.  It constantly announced its presence which would have been fine had there been a low tire, but there wasn’t.  I checked the tires daily and nothing was amiss.  Even a slow leak would make itself known over nine days time.

We parked in a parking garage for one of our journeys.  My parking spot was at the end of a row, with the last car parked along the perpendicular wall being quite near me.  I had parked, but thought it wise to pull up a bit further.  However, the safety nannies sprang into action and in their unrelenting wisdom vetoed any forward movement.

The nannies got cussed at many times, as they would squawk, squeal, and howl with every parking block, most curbs, and would protest if I tried to pull into traffic before they thought I should.  The existence of such nannies aren’t the fault of Audi, but the sensitivity could use some tweaking.

In a sense, the nannies were like the old fable of the little boy who cried wolf.  These nannies effectively worked themselves into a position of being ignored.

My other critique, before I jump into the positives, is about egress.  The side bolstering of the driver’s seat is welcoming, but made egress awkward.  To get out of the car, I had to climb over that bolster every time, letting myself slide to the ground.  If not done correctly, I would dental floss my posterior with that bolster – perhaps some would enjoy the experience, but I did not.  Being 5’11” tall with a 32″ inseam means I am not some outlier in the spectrum of physical size; in other words, I doubt I am alone with this.

I have not experienced this phenomena in other S/CUVs; perhaps it is the height of the bolster?

Yet the seat itself was one of the better qualities I found in the Q5.  Despite the side bolsters, the Audi has this amazing and seemingly impossible combination of firm seats that are insanely comfortable.  I could sit in these seats for any length of drive as could the other two I live with.

Another nice thing about this Audi is the triple zone air-conditioning.  We were in a warm climate.  My wife is usually chilled whereas I am the opposite.  Thus Mrs. Jason could set her thermostat for 78 Fahrenheit, I could set my thermostat at 68 Fahrenheit, and daughter, in the rear, could find some middle ground.  A multitude of other cars have similar systems, but this was our first time with a triple.

The Q5 was almost able to accommodate all of our luggage.  The cargo hold quickly filled with suitcases and backpacks went into the back seat.  Good thing there were only three of us.

Best of all is the driving experience.  Given the high traffic environment, any deep exploration of the Q5s limitations was about as realistic as finding gentility in a national political campaign.  That said, the Q5 is delightfully tossable, has terrific power, and its ride quality is very nice, particularly when set to “comfort” or “coddling” – whatever it was called.  Forget the “dynamic” or “sport” business…if one is going to get a luxury car, why spoil it with a choppy ride that does nothing but jostle your innards?  Think of it like a good bourbon and go for smooth.

The influence of Volkswagen in the Audi is inescapable and that isn’t a bad thing.  Overall, with this being my first time ever in an Audi, my take on it is Audi has taken all that is good in a Volkswagen (comfort, ride and handling, smooth drivetrains) and amped it up a notch or two.  That is worthy of praise.

Yet there is a brutal reality contained herein.  This rig stickers for nearly $50,000 and one can spec one out for over $70,000.  As one who doesn’t like spending money on vehicles, I can get an awfully nice Tiguan for a whole lot less and it will be equipped close enough in many regards – although one can get a Q5 with something other than an insipid black interior, unlike some trims of Tiguan.  Is the extra outlay for an Audi worth it?  That’s up to the buyer to decide, but Audi has obviously found something that resonates with buyers.  Or rental companies.

I enjoyed my time with this Audi.  While I cannot envision myself buying a Q5 it is completely understandable why someone would do so.


Related Reading:  2019 Audi Q5 review by William Stopford