Audi Q5 Vs. Lexus RX 350

by James Rutter

The 2013 Lexus RX350 dominates the mid-size luxury sport utility vehicle market for good reason. Lexus' RX350 leads the field in sales, and has received a number of accolades, including US News and World Reports' top SUV of 19 comparable SUVs in its luxury mid-size SUV class, as well as best in value and best in family friendly value among two-row SUVs. However, the Lexus faces a number of competitors in this class, including the 2013 Audi Q5, which garnered US News and World Reports' top ranking in luxury compact SUVs, first in family friendly value for compact SUVs, second in luxury crossover SUVs and third in luxury SUVs with two rows.

Trim Levels

For the 2013 model year, Lexus added a four-door “F Sport” trim level to its popular RX350, which it offers as an all-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive four-door. Audi also sells the four-door Q5 in a number of trim designations. These trims include the base-level “Premium,” or the “Premium Plus,” with either a 2.0-liter or 3.0-liter engine; the “Prestige Hybrid,” which is only available with the 2.0-liter engine; and the top-end “Prestige.” Prices for the RX350 range from $39,660 for the FWD to $47,350 for the F-Sport model. Audi sells the Q5 starting at $35,900 for the base-level Prestige, and $50,900 for the Prestige Hybrid.

Drivetrain

Lexus offers one engine for both trim levels of the RX350: a 3.5-liter V-6. This engine produces 270 horsepower and 248 foot-pounds of torque. The base trim level couples this engine to a six-speed automatic, while the F-Sport trim uses an eight-speed automatic that drivers can also shift manually. A base model RX350 comes with FWD, with AWD as an upgrade. AWD is standard in the F-Sport model. Audi sells the Q5 with a choice of three engines. The base Q5 Prestige uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, which buyers can upgrade to a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine in either Prestige or Premium Plus trims. Audi’s Prestige Hybrid employs a gas-electric hybrid version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. All five trim levels feature Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive and use an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift. The power output of Audi’s engines vary, from 211 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque in the 2.0-liter, to 245 horsepower from the hybrid engine, to 272 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque in the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6.

Fuel Economy and Performance

Fuel economy varies slightly between the base RX350, the AWD RX350 and the F-Sport, ranging from 18mpg city/25 mpg highway to 18mpg city/24 mpg highway and 18mpg city/26 mpg highway, respectively. The fuel economy in Audi’s Q5 ranges from 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway for the 2.0-liter turbo to 24 mpg city/30 mpg highway for the 2.0-liter hybrid to 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway for the 3.0-liter supercharged V6. While the RX350 and the Q5 earn comparable gas mileage, in terms of performance, US News and World Reports notes that the RX350 deserves credit for its smooth, comfortable ride, while the Q5 excels at handling and offers the sportier option. All trim levels and drive configurations of the RX350 reach the same top speed of 112 mph. An RX350 F-Sport and the FWD base model accelerate from 0 to 60 in 7.7 seconds, while the AWD base goes from 0 to 60 in 7.8 seconds. A 2013 Audi Q5 with the 2.0-liter engine accelerates from 0 to 60 in 7.0 seconds and achieves a top speed of 130 mph, while a Q5 with the 3.0-liter engine reaches the same top speed and speeds from 0 to 60 in 6.0 seconds.

Safety

Both the RX350 and Q5 provide many of the same safety features. Each offers antilock brakes and traction control, and both have front impact, side impact and head airbags, and rear side impact and head curtain airbags. The RX350 receives a top rating of "Good" in front-impact, side-impact and roof strength from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Audi's Q5 also earns the IIHS' top scores in these safety ratings.

About the Author

Since 2005, James Rutter has worked as a freelance journalist for print and Internet publications, including the “News of Delaware County,” “Main Line Times” and Broad Street Review. As a former chemist, college professor and competitive weightlifter, he writes about science, education and exercise. Rutter earned a B.A. in philosophy and biology from Albright College and studied philosophy and cognitive science at Temple University.