Any consistent reader of the Consumer Reports blog knows that when buying test cars, we try to do nearly all of the research and interaction with the salesperson(s) online. And while most domestic and Asian brands work well this way, it's harder when buying German cars. Why is this?
What we've found is there are fewer German cars sitting on dealer lots from which to choose. Their purchase procedure often involves buyers spec'ing what they want, and then waiting anywhere from six weeks to multiple months for their car to arrive. Since we want to test cars quickly, we often end up choosing from cars that are on their way to the United States and negotiate the price from there. Given the voluminous options on some German cars (Porsche, in particular), it can be a trying process to find a car that is equipped similarly to its competitors we tested.
But it wasn't a tough process to buy our new Q5. This compact sporty SUV has been popular since it went on sale with the 3.2-liter V6 engine. In our tests, it jumped to the top of its Ratings category, and it has stayed there despite some strong competition.
When Audi dropped in the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, this version of the Q5 became the hot seller. Want a 3.2-liter V6 and its 19 mpg overall fuel economy? You can take your pick from a whole number of them at dealers all over. But if you want a less-expensive, more frugal 2.0T...Well, you have to either wait, wait some more, or get lucky. Which is what happened to us.
Our unclaimed Ibis White Q5 with Cardamom Beige leather was somewhere between the factory and a European port when I started shopping for our test car. Maybe it was the color; maybe it was because it didn't have navigation. But whatever the reason, it was available and I snapped it up. Only two options: Premium Plus package (including Xenon lights, heated front seats, panoramic sunroof, and a power tailgate, among other features), plus all-weather floor mats and trunk liner. So far, simple.
But the sticking point in car buying is always negotiating the price, right? Not here. I got $500 off the MSRP of $41,075 (with delivery)! That's it. These little SUVs are hot commodities and dealers can--and do--get what they want for it.
So, sporting the turbocharged engine that we've liked in the A3, A4, and A5 and the new eight-speed automatic transmission, the Q5 is back into our test program. It's proven popular among the staff so far, with its keys among the first chosen each afternoon for the evening commute home. There should be no problem with accumulating break-in miles on the Q5, and it will likely enter formal testing any day now.