The 2021 Audi Q5 is one of the smallest compact luxury crossovers inside, but considering that it’s been that way for two generations now and continues to be Audi’s best-seller, it seems like many buyers are willing to overlook it. Nevertheless, its limited cargo capacity is something to be aware of, especially if you’re planning on using the Q5 as a family hauler.
On paper, the Q5 has 25.85 cubic-feet of space behind its raised back seat. That seems OK, but this is one of those instances where a vehicle’s dimensions result in less usable space than the volume indicates. For instance, the Q5 can hold less luggage than a Subaru Crosstrek despite that apparently having 5 fewer cubic feet of volume.
There is more to the story than that, however, specifically related to the Q5’s sliding back seat. So let’s dig a little deeper.
This is the cargo area with the back seat slid to its most rearward position and the seatback in an upright but comfortable position. This particular model is the plug-in hybrid, but Audi says that makes no difference in terms of cargo capacity.
As with every luggage test, I use two midsize roller suitcases that would need to be checked in at the airport (26 inches long, 16 wide, 11 deep), two roll-aboard suitcases that just barely fit in the overhead (24L x 15W x 10D), and one smaller roll-aboard that fits easily (23L x 15W x 10D). I also include my wife’s fancy overnight bag just to spruce things up a bit (21L x 12W x 12D).
Here’s what I’m taking about in regards to dimensions: the Q5’s cargo area isn’t that deep, and the liftgate area is far more raked than it appears. So, you’re left with a triangular prism-shaped area at the rear behind your bags that’s not particularly useful.
Now, I usually do this test with and without a cargo cover in place. Unfortunately, Audi did not include the cargo cover in this press vehicle. Nevertheless, it’s pretty obvious that it wouldn’t do well with the cover in place.
The tallest bags would likely not be able to fit on their sides under the cover, which means I likely would’ve been left with a meager haul like this …
Again, I can’t know for sure, but that’s pretty pathetic. At best, it could perhaps hold the same number of bags as its smaller Audi Q3 sibling under its cover.
OK, let’s throw away the phantom cargo cover.
In order to fit the largest bags, I needed to stand the two midsize bags up, which impeded vision. More to the point, I usually don’t have to in compact crossovers. The fancy bag probably would’ve fit as it did in the GLC, but it would’ve been tight and impeded vision even more.
Nevertheless, the Q5 does have that aforementioned trick up its sleeve: the sliding back seat.
You can see how much is gained here.
There, moving the seats all the way forward allows everything to fit AND leaves extra room for the plug-in hybrid’s giant charge cord bag. More on that at the end.
At this point, the Q5 has transformed its cargo area into one of the most voluminous in the segment, bettered only by the Acura RDX.
Ah, but there’s of course a catch.
Goodbye legroom! While you may be able to carry the luggage of five people, you won’t actually be able to bring them along. Unless everyone’s really short. Or kids in forward-facing child seats.
So, is this good or bad for the Q5? Ultimately, this versatility is a great thing. Not everyone routinely needs the biggest vehicle around, but being able to expand capacity on occasion is certainly helpful. You could also slide only part of the 40/20/40-split seat forward to gain some extra cargo space while still leaving room for people in the back.
However, the fact remains that space is indeed limited relative most competitors. To me, that makes the Q5 a better choice for single folks or couples without kids. As an owner of the similarly sized Audi Allroad wagon, I know we run out of room awfully quickly and need a roof carrier for longer journeys with our infant son (especially if the dogs come along). The same would be the case for the Q5.
Oh, and finally, that cord bag. It’s gigantic, and like most other plug-in hybrids based on regular internal-combustion vehicles, there’s no good place to keep the thing. No storage under the cargo floor (that’s filled with batteries) let alone a frunk (that’s filled with engine). As such, you’re left carrying around this thing.
At least Audi thoughtfully designed it to strap into the cargo area latches using carabiners. Also, do you really need to carry this cord around? The answer is no. This is a plug-in hybrid, so you never have to charge the thing. Should you find yourself away from home, left this giant bag behind and don’t have access to a dedicated charger, the Q5 can operate forever as a regular hybrid. That’s literally the advantage of a plug-in hybrid versus a full electric car.