Sunday Drive: Some ‘Revolution’ in Colorado with a new Audi Q3
Our week with the updated Audi Q3 started at the Denver airport. We flew in to take part in the Rocky Mountain Driving Experience, which is presented by the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press organization. Journalists from the Intermountain West as well as manufacturers’ representatives converge on the Denver area each year for this one- to two-day event. The folks at Driveshop kindly provided us with the Q3 to use during our stay in the Denver area as well as our transportation back home to Springville.
We decided to make the drive home even longer and spend more time cruising mountain roads in the Audi by taking it down into southwest Colorado and to the town of South Fork that sits on the banks of the Rio Grande River.
The Q3 was the perfect size for us as we ventured out with only a couple of carry-on pieces of luggage in tow. We ended up purchasing a couple of extra blankets at a local Target as it looked like it would get a little chilly overnight at the higher altitude.
We ended up on backroads and byways for the entire day, with the adaptive cruise control in the Audi acting as an autopilot during the trip. Using a system like this on unfamiliar roads always seems like a much easier way to keep our speed in check.
The turbocharged 2.0-liter i4 engine that was connected to an eight-speed transmission kept the drive exciting as we could easily pass or get moving on the backroads we used. The S line trim gets quite a boost from the normal Q3 in horsepower, jumping from 184 to 228 in that department.
In our book, more is always better! The only complaint we had was a small lag in waiting for the turbo to kick in when we were at a dead stop, although the Q3 would sprint to 60 in a short seven seconds.
It took a little over four hours to get from Golden, Colorado, to South Fork, but the scenery and beauty of the Colorado Rockies was worth every minute of the drive. Upon arriving, we had tickets for a new experience called Revolution Rail, which was a form of biking on railroad tracks.
These folks have put together two- and four-person bike-like cars that run on railroad tracks. It was a great opportunity for us to literally bike on the rails 3.5 miles up the canyon along the side of the Rio Grande River. The entire trip took just under two hours. While coming back down the rails, we realized just how much we had peddled up a hill to get to the turnaround point; it took much less time coming down.
We fell in love with the interior of the Audi as it had places for us to put everything we needed and, more importantly, plenty of cup holders for water and other drinks. The entire dashboard is now a digital playground, with a 10.25-inch digital driving cluster and a 10.1-inch digital touchscreen infotainment system.
The great thing was that the navigation could be put in the center of the driving display, allowing Craig to glance down from the road to see the navigation instead of to the right. This was very helpful as we relied on the navigation to get to the unfamiliar locations we were visiting.
During our journey of more than 700 miles over five days, the leather-clad front seats of the Audi proved to be very comfortable. We were even able to use the included heating feature as it cooled off into the high 40s on Saturday morning. We took the opportunity to take a hike around the Big Meadows Reservoir, even getting off the pavement in the Audi for a time.
This was not the only time we got to challenge the SUV off-road as we headed on Colorado state Highway 149 to our next destination of Crawford, Colorado. The navigation sent us on a 25-mile dirt road adventure that appeared to be the quickest route. The Audi handled it all in stride, taking the bumps and jolts along the way while keeping us quite comfortable inside.
We ended up getting close to 11,000 feet in altitude as we crossed the Continental Divide at Spring Creek Pass (elevation 10,898 feet). Again, the Q3 had no problems getting up to speed and passing other cars. We really enjoyed having an instant elevation listed on the navigation in the Audi.
The safety features included with the Q3 are invaluable, especially on a long road trip such as the one we took. Having the front and rear parking assist along with the all-around view camera really came in handy after a long day’s drive. Sometimes, we just get tired and need that extra help when stopping for a break and then getting back onto the road. Those features saved us a couple of times when we were backing out of an unfamiliar parking space.
We were able to average just over 26 mpg on our trip, which was better than the EPA puts the Q3. However, that was with many miles of freeway and highway driving.
The Audi Q3 proved to be a wonderful vehicle to have for a road trip. It took us through mountains and desert and did it all without a hiccup. We even ended up going through Moab on the way home just to enjoy some Utah sun as it had rained on us a few times in the mountains.
Base price: $38,700
Destination charge: $1,195
Price as driven: $48,740