2012 Audi Q5
Starting price: $35,600
Top: Available panoramic sunroof
MPG: 20 city, 27 highway, 22 combined
We're starting to drift out of the area where we can comfortably call these cars "efficient." For a vehicle of the Q5's space and heft, however, we'll make the exception.
"This fun-to-drive SUV was a pick in the 'Under $45,000' category in our 2012 Buying Guide," Edmunds.com's Clarke says. "Driving dynamics are rewarding, the cabin is gorgeous, the back seat is spacious and fuel economy with the turbo inline-4 is impressive."
As mentioned, VW really likes to load up its vehicles with standard features, but it goes all out for its Audi luxury marque. The Q5's 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, roof rails, eight-way power front seats (with four-way lumbar adjustment), tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and leather upholstery are the yawners in the group. Tri-zone climate control, a sliding and reclining 40/20/40 rear seat, a dash-mounted Multi Media Interface with 7-inch color screen and a 10-speaker sound system with CD/MP3 player, auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio are where the Q5 really starts to get interesting.
As for the panoramic roof, it's optional but it's stellar. The two-panel roof features a fixed rear panel over the passenger seats and a sliding front panel that tilts out and opens up like a standard model. A mesh wind deflector dampens the noise, but when the light gets too intense a power sunshade slides out to cast some shadow over the cabin. Not a shabby way to soak up the spring sun.