2018 Audi SQ5 3.0-T Prestige: It’s Stuffed By Cliff Leppke Advertising flatters. Venables Bell & Partners’ “The Decision” TV spot presents an Audi Q5 as good-taste mobility. It depicts a government witness, a man who in exchange for his testimony must become invisible. The fed’s protection plan includes a dreary suburban house and a bland Lexus CUV. Our stand-in hero takes one look at the CUV and declares he’ll take his chances. The ad cuts to the man at the helm of Audi’s lusty Q5. Want a bolder Q5? Get the SQ5; it’s stuffed. Ingolstat (Audi’s HQ) dropped a 354-hp turbocharged V-6 engine under Q5’s hood. Expect 0-60 mph in a scant 5.1 seconds. Furthermore, Audi beefed up the suspension with quick dynamic steering and 21-inch wheels. To enjoy its hot-rod demeanor, Audi larded it with creature comforts. I sampled the S sport package. The result is a potent machine that pampers passengers while hauling Whole Foods Market groceries. Its engine’s golden throatiness is courtesy of a “soundaktor.” There are two components: a transducer mounted on the firewall/cowl and a valve in the muffler’s pipe. The latter, lets the exhaust flow with a crackling bark. In dynamic drive mode, the sound embellishments thrill. Select automatic or comfort and the beast never roars. Audi’s exterior styling doesn’t scream potent. It does, however, provide an airy greenhouse with good views through the side windows framed by relatively thin pillars. The front’s large scoops are functional turbocharger intercooler inlets. Eco Surprise Despite its eager mill and premium-fuel appetite, the SQ5 has predictive fuel economy. This camera-based system, which sees traffic signs, halts the crossover for you. It does this if one sets the cruise control, exits an expressway, and forgets to apply the brakes when there’s a red hexagonal sign ahead. While this more of a life saver than an efficiency trick, it’s an example of the machine’s ability to intercede if you speed. I found the SQ5’s scolding behavior, which includes a green-foot icon that shines when Audi thinks your right foot should lay off the sauce, annoying. Steering effort is light and easy. The lovely leather-wrapped D-shaped steering hoop provides extra thigh clearance. Selectable drive modes let you vary steering effort, vehicle height and ride quality. Choose automatic or comfort and the shock absorbers permit more float. This is a godsend for cratered Wisconsin roads. Vehicle height is lowest in dynamic. The all-wheel-drive setup is rear-wheel biased. With the S-Sport package, it can send torque to one rear wheel, which should get you moving on slick surfaces. Unlike the Q5, the performance-oriented driveline doesn’t unhook the rear wheels for optimum fuel economy. Decoupling is buzz kill in a muscle machine. I observed 22 mpg overall. The EPA says: 19 city, 24 highway, 21 mpg combined. Audi’s bright configurable Virtual Cockpit is a digital instrument cluster. Gauge style and driving data such as Google maps or lane assist vary. Just press a button. The tachometer’s redline lowers, when the engine temperature is cold—a helpful reminder. Augmenting the VC is a color head-up display. This puts driving data on the windshield. Audi’s a touchpad lets you manipulate the media system’s seven-inch display. Like many laptops you can use one or two fingers to scroll through menus. It also senses your finger’s proximity and then displays, say, radio presents on the infotainment screen. Audi takes care of your backside with Nappa leather seats punctuated by diamond stitching. The front ones are supportive and the rear ones quite inviting. Carbon fiber and soft trimmings create a sporting driving environ. A multi-zone automatic climate system provides bi-level operation on sunny days—toasting your feet, while cooling your face. The richly carpeted cargo bay has LED strip lighting. An inflatable spare tire and 12-volt battery stow under the cargo floor. Audi stuffed rear body cavities with lots of insulation. This quiets rear tire patter. Aft-compartment buttons let you lower the rear for easier to loading. While the SQ5 lists at $54,300 for starters, the tested Mythos Black metallic over Magma Red interior fetches an additional $575. Add $4,200 for the Prestige package with dual-pane acoustic front side-window glass, 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, MMI touch, and top-view camera; $3,000 for the S sport package with red brake calipers, air suspension and sport differential; $1,800 for the Driver assistance pack; another $1,250 for the leather interior with leatherette covered console and door armrests; $1,150 for dynamic steering; $1,000 for the 21-inch wheel package and $500 for the carbon Atlas inlays. Destination is $975. The tab for Audi’s largess: $68,750. You noticed!