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2011 Audi Q5 2.0 T Quattro

Sunday, February 20, 2011; 9:00 AM

Bottom line: It's time to get real. Prestige absent value is about as valid as a $2 million mortgage carried by a family with a $200,000 annual income . . . before taxes. It makes about as much sense as getting a bonus for making an accurate hunch that the family carrying that mortgage will default on the loan. Enough!

Ride, acceleration and handling: This SUV beats the Porsche Cayenne S in ride and handling. It's left in the dust behind the Cayenne S in acceleration. So what? In the snow, the Q5 2.0 T Quattro moves just as fast and with as much agility.

Head-turning quotient: I'd take the looks of all things Audi over most things Porsche - the Porsche Panamera sedan being a possible exception - any day. That includes the Q5 2.0 T Quattro.

Body style/layout: Unitized body construction; front engine, all-wheel drive; four side doors and rear liftgate (power operation optional).

Engine/transmission: The SUV, like the A4 Quattro sedan, comes standard with a turbocharged, direct-injection (gasoline) 2-liter in-line four-cylinder engine with electronically controlled, variable valve lift and timing for better fuel economy (211 horsepower, 258 foot-pounds of torque). The engine is mated to an optional eight-speed Audi Tiptronic transmission - replete with high-low gear selection and hill-descent control - that can be operated automatically or manually.

Capacities: There are seats for five people. Cargo capacity is 29.1 cubic feet with rear seats up and 57.3 cubic feet with rear seats folded. The Q5 2.0 T Quattro can be equipped to tow a trailer weighing 4,400 pounds. The fuel tank holds 19.8 gallons of gasoline. Premium fuel is required.

Mileage: I averaged 25 miles per gallon on mostly snow-compromised highways carrying a payload, onboard weight, of about 400 pounds.

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear), anti-lock brake protection, emergency braking assistance, electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability and traction control, and side and head air bags.

Price: Base price is $35,200. Dealer's invoice price on that model is $32,736. Price as tested is $44,600, including $8,525 in options (Deep Sea Blue pearlescent paint, eight-speed Audi Tiptronic transmission, high-intensity discharge headlamps, power liftgate and onboard navigation with backup camera) and an $875 destination charge. Dealer's price as tested is $42,365.

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