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Face-Off: Audi Q5 vs. BMW X3

These two models set the standard for the luxury-compact-SUV category

The Audi Q5 (left) and BMW X3 are luxury compact SUVs

The Audi Q5 and BMW X3 are excellent examples of why SUVs have been eating into sedans’ popularity. At one time, a German luxury sport sedan was the epitome of the “I’ve made it” vehicle. But that's changed. Today, young professionals carry their aspirations—and their growing families—in luxury compact SUVs like the Q5 and X3.

More Luxury-Compact-SUV Road Tests

These two SUVs match up closely: They’re within an inch or two of each other in external dimensions, have identical overall fuel economy, and receive top marks in government and insurance industry crash tests. 

Does the Q5 or X3 perform better? Which is more enjoyable to drive? Which is easier to live with? To answer those questions, we take an in-depth look at these SUVs to compare how they fare in CR’s testing and determine which one comes out on top.

Audi Q5

The Case for It
We’re fans of Audi’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. In our tests, this smooth, responsive powertrain took just 6.8 seconds to accelerate the Q5 from 0 to 60 mph, which makes it much quicker than the X3. Plus, the Audi Q5’s 24 mpg overall ties it for top honors among its non-hybrid peers with the BMW X3.

The ride is firm and controlled, and the suspension does a very good job at absorbing bumps, particularly softening the bite of some of the harshest impacts.

We’d be happy to spend many hours riding in the Q5’s comfortable seats. The firm, well-padded cushions provide plenty of support, particularly the driver’s seat with its four-way lumbar adjustment. There is plenty of head, shoulder, and legroom in both rows.