Early next year the all-new 2018 Audi Q5 arrives, completely redesigned from the ground up. Evolutionary in styling, it brings a host of new technologies for better performance and enjoyment behind the wheel.

Growing just slightly in size with a stretch of 1.3-inches and remaining largely the same weight, Audi’s mid-size Q5 comes to 2018 with an all-new body design that’s much in keeping with the all-new Q7 that launched last year.

This means crisper and straighter, yet more conservative lines overall, flanked with details a bit more chiseled and hard edged. The Audi single frame grille will be flanked by standard Xenon headlamps with optional LEDs that sport 16 individual bulbs each.

Alloy wheels will range from 17-inches all the way up to a whopping 21-inch size option with the S-Line trim, all wrapped in more pronounced wheel arches. At the rear, angled LED tail lamps are sharper in their design and give the new Q5 a more angular three-quarter view.

A 3792 pounds, the weight isn’t significantly different than before. The new body structure is made of lightweight high-strength steels with use of aluminum stampings for the hood and rear hatch, aluminum castings and extrusions for various suspension and chassis reinforcements. The result is a body shell 44 pounds lighter than before.

2018-audi-q5-4For North America, power will come from only one engine, the latest generation 2.0 liter TSFI turbocharged four-cylinder that comes mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. With both port and direct fuel injection it’s rated at 252 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque.

Available will be an all-new Quattro all-wheel drive system with what Audi calls “ultra” technology. The system like many newer all-wheel drivers defaults to front-wheel drive most of the time. If drive modes, driving behavior or traction conditions warrant, it locks a clutch and sends power also to the rear axle.

This provides increased fuel efficiency for most every-day driving conditions but can enhance handling feel on windy roads when you are driving aggressively and ultimately offer needed traction in slippery or rougher off-road situations.

No TDI diesel option will be available and a more powerful gasoline engine will have to wait until an SQ5 variant may be introduced.

The chassis and suspension too is all-new. Available will be a continuously damping and adjustable air suspension that can lower or raise the ride height on demand automatically depending on speed and driving behavior. It can also raise 1.8-inches higher manually to off-road mode when using the drive mode selector – just like it’s big brother the Q7.

As expected, the cabin will offer infinite color and material choices from mild to wild depending on the trim level selected. These can range from sumptuous leathers in luxurious tones with genuine wood grain to blacked out business with sueded leather sport seats in the S-Line.

While the standard Audi instrument cluster has old school analog dials, the new Audi virtual cockpit with its 12.3-inch TFT display and high-end customizable graphics will be available – a feature I thought was amazing and well thought out in our recent Q7 review.

Combine these new design and feature offerings with the latest in driver assistance and passive safety systems, the new 2018 Audi Q5 should provide the competition from both Germany and Japan a healthy rival in the marketplace.

The 2018 Audi Q5 goes on sale early in 2017 with pricing and final specs to come along closer to that time. We’ll bring you a far more detailed review soon when we get behind the wheel.