What it is: The Q3 is Audi's compact crossover SUV that first premiered as a 2012 model. It is the smallest crossover in Audi's Q family of vehicles, but still is large enough to seat five people and handle some cargo in the rear hatch area. The Q3 is comparable in size to a Toyota RAV4, but half a foot longer than the Chevy Trax which is on the shorter side of the compact crossover segment.
The exterior looks just like the other cars from the Q line, and you would be hard-pressed to notice the differences between the larger Q5 and a Q3 if you saw them driving down the street together. My test model was equipped with the Prestige package which gives you 19-inch wheels, LED headlights and tail lights, S line exterior trim (think sport trim), BOSE Surround Sound, a power tailgate, MMI Navigation plus, and a few other visual touches. For $4,900 the Prestige trim really does elevate the Q3 into a luxurious experience that a discerning Audi shopper would expect. 
All Q3s are equipped with the same 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine that produces 200 horsepower, which is plenty of oomph to get the relatively small vehicle around. The Q3 comes with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (Audi's quattro system). My test model came with the quattro system which made for an excellent driving experience, but it's not really needed for driving in Texas without the nasty winter weather it excels in. 
The competitors for the Q3 are the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Lexus NX, and they are all really good vehicles. The Q3 and the X1 are the safer choices in my mind, but I think that my personal preference goes with the Lexus NX, although it is a few thousand more expensive. Its more extreme design also likely resonates better with me. All of the choices are within a few thousand dollars of each other, so they are all worth test driving. 
Mileage: 20 city/23 combined/28 highway 
Price: $34,625 base price. $41,975 as tested
Upsides: Quiet interior, great base features
Downsides: None
Wrap-up: If you are downsizing from a Suburban or other large SUV, the Q3 is probably too big of a step down. It's a great choice, but is not designed to deliver an SUV-like experience. You need to think of the Q3 as a car that has been stretched into a taller version and gets you a little bit higher off of the ground. The current generation of luxury compact crossovers all deliver a great experience, but the Q3 excels if you are looking for a quieter and smoother ride. 

Wilson Calvert
Author: Wilson CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist / Director of Operations
I am a long-time Houstonian and am obsessed with cars, soccer, traveling, bourbon and airplanes. I write a regular car review column for The Tribune and travel articles a few times per year.

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