That is, the Q5 isn’t a standout example of excellence (even in SQ5 guise), nor is it the bare minimum of automotive expectations, but it is a damn fine vehicle. And you shouldn’t accept anything less in your day-to-day.

You shouldn’t expect anything less than the Quattro AWD (which is just as much a safety net as it is a performance feature at this point) to the driver assistance technology, all the way down to the quality of materials used in the interior and the detail in the infotainment displays. We’re at a point now where if you buy a new car and it doesn’t have an AWD model or any of the aforementioned add-ons, you’re being short-changed. The majority of the population owns smartphones made of materials that immediately make it feel like a luxury product, that contain displays that can play movies in incredible definition, send you notifications of your heart rate, daily steps, order your food and hail you a ride. And that’s all from something that fits in your pocket — it stands to reason we should expect a similar level of tech and luxe from something that fits snuggly in a garage and, of course, for which you pay a considerable premium.

The same goes for the SUV’s performance. The Q5’s maximum torque is 273 lb-ft and comes on fully at 1,600 rpm. It’s no supercar, but it’s not exactly an anemic econobox either — it’s just the right amount of power right where you need it in daily driving. Anything less and you’ll be left wanting.

Now that assisted braking is to become mandatory by 2022 (much like when ABS went from a luxury option to mandatory) and traffic-safety assist tech is nearly standard on many cars, buyer satisfaction has begun to lay in the details and extras, not the base car. Soon cheap plastics, clumsy console layouts and interior design won’t be tolerated at all, regardless of price point. Brushed aluminum, open pore wood inlays and the softest leather will be the bar for the lowest of entry. And if you want that luxury as standard now, the Q5 is your barometer.

Conversely, Here’s the Luxe End of the Spectrum

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