I Test-Drove the Audi SQ5 in an NYC Downpour—Here’s How It Performed

audi sq5 review

What you should know about public transportation in New York City: When you’re a Brooklynite who’d like to visit Manhattan on a weekend, it’s nearly impossible. (There are train repairs! And train delays! And trains that are out of service full stop!) That’s why I jumped at the chance to test-drive the Audi SQ5 for a weekend and enact what otherwise would have felt like a grand plan: Schlepping my toddler to the Upper West Side to visit the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. (For reference, on a day when the subways run smoothly, that kind of endeavor can take an hour or longer on the train. No thanks.)

And so we went. The only thing we didn’t anticipate? A colossal you-might-need-to-pull-over-on-the-side-of-the-road-level downpour. It was an unexpected test of the car’s maneuverability—and a crucial one. Here’s how the Audi SQ5 performed all-around.

The price: The 2020 edition of the Audi SQ5—a sportier version of the Q5—starts at $52,900 for the Premium level. We tested the Prestige, which costs $60,650 and comes enhanced with features like Audi’s own active lane assist (more on that later), beyond the base features.

The interior: In a word, it’s sleek. The interior, with its leather upholstery and ample legroom, feels both luxe and comfortable at the same time—and our toddler loved the panoramic sunroof included in this particular model, a feature that was extra entertaining in the pouring rain. This car is less spacious than your average SUV, but it also doesn’t feel like a boat when you’re driving it down the highway (a win for anyone on the fence about fully transitioning to this class of vehicles). Also worth calling out: the heated seats. Definitely a perk on a bone-chilling day. For the driver (me!), they warmed up instantly, and—part of the souped-up version—the back seats also included this feature.

The on-the-road handling: Back to the weather. Like I said, it was raining so hard, we almost canceled the trip. (Even in a car, we’d have to hike a handful of blocks in the rain to the museum—no fun!) But, instead, we grabbed the stroller rain cover and a couple of umbrellas and hit the road. (Admittedly, there wasn’t as much trunk space as I might’ve liked, but everything—including our travel stroller—did fit easily into the back.) As anyone who’s driven the FDR—the highway that runs parallel to Manhattan’s east side—knows, it’s not for the faint of heart. In the pouring rain, it feels like you’re taking your life into your own hands as taxis zip in front of you, centimeters from your bumper.

It’s for that reason that I was grateful for the Audi’s side assist and pre-sense features, particularly as sections of the road flooded out. (Of course, you’re still the one at the wheel making decisions, but the indicator lights alerting you to another vehicle’s approach are extremely welcome on a low-visibility day.) It was also nice to see how well the automatic wipers worked to clear the water off the windshield.

Other features worth calling out: Torrential rain aside, the ride was smooth. My son even dozed off en route—although the melodic sounds of a downpour might do that to a person. Still, the car handles easily and delivers that extra bit of “oomph” when you need it most, a credit to the car’s sportier details ... and, OK, all that extra torque and horsepower, too.

My final take: This isn’t a regular SUV; it’s a cool SUV. Its sportier features and heated seats make it fun to drive around, and overall, I liked it. Do I wish it had more trunk space? Of course. Should I also learn to pack less? Without question.

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Rachel Bowie

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...
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