- Rides comfortably on rough roads
- Quiet at highway speeds
- High-quality materials inside the cabin
- Cargo capacity beats some competitors
- Plenty of available features
- Not the best option in the class for dynamic performance
- Ranks at the back of the pack for fuel economy
- Tight rear seating for adults
- Less-than-ideal infotainment control placement
As the smaller sibling to Audi's popular Q5 compact crossover, the 2017 Audi Q3 has the qualities you'd hope to get from any Audi. You'll be quite comfortable driving it, and the cabin is quiet and crafted in high-quality materials. You get plenty of features for your money, too, at least relative to the more expensive Q5. But whether the Q3 is the best subcompact luxury crossover for you might depend on a few other factors.
Though the subcompact Q3 is relatively new for us in the United States (it debuted for the 2015 model year), it's actually been on sale in other countries for a few years before that. This older heritage shows up in a couple areas you might not immediately notice. For instance, the lower trim levels feature the automaker's outdated MMI interface instead of the USB connectivity found across the rest of the Audi lineup. It's a similar story under the hood. The Q3 has one of Audi's older turbocharged four-cylinder engines, and the resulting performance and fuel economy are disappointing.
There are a few other subcompact crossovers that we suggest you also consider. High on the list is the 2017 BMW X1. It offers a larger interior full of the latest technology, plus a sportier driving experience and better fuel economy. The 2017 Lexus NX 200t is another option with superior power and rear seat room, and you can get it with more of the latest advanced safety features as well. Or check out the 2017 Mini Countryman if engaging handling and seemingly endless customization possibilities appeal to you. Overall, the 2017 Audi Q3 might still win you over with its value and good looks, but it's ultimately not as well-rounded as some of its luxury subcompact crossover competitors.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
For 2017, the Audi Q3 has a new Premium base trim level.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Audi Q3 is a subcompact luxury crossover available in three trim levels: the new entry-level Premium, the midrange Premium Plus and the top-of-the-line Prestige. All three are offered with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive (a.k.a. Quattro in Audi-speak).
Standard features on the debuting Premium base model include 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, automatic headlights and wipers, a panoramic sunroof, roof rails, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power and heated front seats (with four-way lumbar), a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a USB charging port, and a 10-speaker sound system with satellite radio and a CD player.
Premium Plus models start there and add unique aluminum trim, power-folding outside mirrors, a power liftgate, keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and Audi's proprietary digital music interface with a Lightning (iPhone) adapter cable.
The Prestige starts with all of the above and adds 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, Audi's S line styling cues, a blind-spot warning system, a navigation system with online services, and a 14-speaker Bose audio system.
An optional Convenience package for the base Premium trim level adds keyless ignition and entry and the digital music interface. The navigation system is optional for both the Premium and Premium Plus trims.
A Sport Plus package available on Prestige models adds 19-inch alloy wheels, Audi Drive Select (adjustable drive modes for steering and transmission), paddle shifters, and front sport seats with extendable thigh support. A Sport Interior package is the same but excludes the 19-inch wheels. The Premium Plus can be equipped with the Prestige's 19-inch wheels.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The cabin of the 2017 Audi Q3 is very nice, with styling and materials that seem worthy of the Audi brand. In keeping with the sporting nature of the automaker's lineup, the interior has a distinctly sports car feel thanks to sharp-looking gauges, metal accents and a center stack that's slanted toward the driver.
When it comes to ergonomics, the Q3's otherwise well-considered layout loses points for climate controls that are awkwardly located low down, in a spot in front of the shift lever. The single large knob that's used to move through the menus of the MMI system is also curiously located higher up on the dash, which can make for an uncomfortably long reach. The other glaring omission is the lack of a USB port for feature-rich smartphone integration, something that's pretty common these days.
Up front, occupants will enjoy roomy accommodations with well-shaped seats that provide firm support. In back, the seats themselves are fine, but the lack of available legroom — 31.1 inches as compared to 36.1 inches in the Lexus NX 200t — means they're realistically only suited to young children.
When it comes to hauling stuff in addition to people, the Q3's cargo hold offers just 16.7 cubic feet of capacity behind the rear seats. With those rear seats folded down, cargo capacity expands to a more reasonable 48.2 cubic feet.
Standard safety equipment for the 2017 Audi Q3 includes stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, front and rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera. The Technology package adds a blind-spot monitoring system.
During Edmunds braking testing, an all-wheel-drive Q3 came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, about average for the segment.
In crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2017 Q3 received the highest rating of Good in the small-overlap and moderate-overlap front-impact tests. It also earned a Good score for the side-impact, roof strength, and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Every 2017 Audi Q3 comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine rated at 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. It's matched to a six-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the 2017 Audi Q3 checks in at 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway), which is below average for this class of vehicle.
In Edmunds testing, an all-wheel-drive Q3 accelerated to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds, a slow time compared to direct rivals such as the BMW X1 and Lexus NX 200t.
You'll like the 2017 Audi Q3's ride quality. Even with the larger 19-inch wheels, the Q3's soft suspension delivers a smooth, quiet and fuss-free experience on the highway. This is the Q3 at its best, though. When going around turns, the Q3 exhibits a fair amount of body roll, which, in combination with overly light and numb steering, makes it less fun to drive than other popular subcompact luxury crossovers. It's worth noting that the optional Sport package doesn't include any suspension changes, so all Q3 models will exhibit this same weakness.
When it comes to engine performance, the Q3 is no more than adequate. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine has a nice, refined feel to it, never drawing attention to itself with undue noise or vibration, but acceleration is disappointingly lackluster for a luxury-branded vehicle.
When it comes to luxurious interior design and a smooth ride, the 2017 Audi Q3 delivers. You'll also like how this baby Audi's sharp styling mimics that of the more expensive Q5. But read more to learn how the veteran Q3 stacks against newer rival crossovers.