Leave it to Audi to make SUV’s that satisfy a number of desirable features, functions along with solid German build. Audi’s Quattro (AWD) SUV line-up in particular includes the Q3, Q5, Q7 and Q8, the latter is the top, most luxurious trim model.
We were privileged to test the next to the top Q7, a three-row, seven passenger SUV that is loaded with the ultimate in high-tech features including an eye-grabbing Virtual Cockpit with high-resolution twin digital displays and digital gauge cluster. But that’s not all. How about an Adaptive Air Suspension and all wheel steering to go along with the Quattro AWD. To say the Q7 was fully loaded, is an understatement.
Q7 is offered in five variations. The Q7 45 TSFI Premium and premium Plus come standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder with 248-hp and 273 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 19/25 mpg when coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The Q7 55 TSFI is offered in trim levels of Premium, Premium Plus and tested Prestige. The latter is powered by a 3.0-liter V6 generating 335-hp and 369 lb/ft of torque through an 8-speed auto trans with start/stop engine technology.
Upon slipping into the Q7’s luxurious cockpit, your eyes immediately go to the pair of large digital displays on the vertical stack. An upper 10.1-inch touchscreen offers hand writing and voice recognition that serves a myriad of tasks including Bose audio, rearview/sideview/360 view cameras, 4G LTE Wi-Fi through connect PRIME connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto plus Google Earth 3D navigation and many more. Not on the touchscreen is a Heads-Up-Display showing speed and posted speed limits.
Below it is an 8.6-inch touchscreen for HVAC controls. The touch images are large and easy to use. Our only gripe here is that to turn on the heated steering wheel you have to first select Home, Vehicle and Climate icons, then the heated seat icon. A pressure switch on the steering wheel would be easier and quicker.
A wireless phone charger is embedded within the console box however, it doesn’t allow appreciable small item storage.
Q7s’ console houses a stubby transmission shifter with a “P” switch for park. That could take some getting used to especially if coming off a traditional console mounted shifter that gets pushed fully ahead for Park gear. Included too are paddle shifters.
There are selectable driving modes of Offroad, Allroad, Comfort, Auto, and Dynamic through Audi’s drive select system.
Leather front seats are heated/cooled (they get hot quickly) and are sumptuously padded with sensible lateral support. They complement the tri-zone automatic climate control.
The digital gauge cluster is amazing. Audi managed to combine a host of features, functions, warnings and alerts (including a vehicle exit warning of oncoming traffic) plus the usual speedometer, tachometer and normal operating gauges within it.
A mere 18-inch step-in into the comfy heated second row seats allow a third passenger as the transaxle hump is relatively low and flat on top for a foot rest. They then flip fold forward to access the third row of seats that are mainly for youngsters. Both second and third row seatbacks power down and up via two sets of switches, one below the “B” pillar in back of the second row and a set in the cargo area.
With the third row upright, there’s 14.2 cubic feet of cargo space that measures 19 inches deep, 46 wide and 29.5 wide. Flip them and space increases to 35.7 cubic feet for 44.5 inches of depth. Fold all two rows and cargo space expands to 69.6 cubic feet for 76 inches of loading depth.
Beneath the cargo floor is a bin that houses the Bose amplifier and a tire inflator pump with no extra space for small item storage.
With the Adaptive Air Suspension, ride height can be raised 2.4 inches for mild off-roading or deep snow, or lowered an inch for more aerodynamic highway driving.
And speaking of driving, shod with tall 21-inch all-season Continental run-flat tires that put down a 9.5-inch wide footprint for sure-footing in snow and inclement weather, Q7 rode ever so quietly, smoothly and felt more like a full-size rather than a midsize SUV. It handled superbly and exhibited no body lean in sharp turns taken at speed. Turn the steering wheel a mere inch either way and the nose pointed 10 degrees respectfully. With the all-wheel steering, parking is a breeze in the tightest parking places.
Power wise, the 3.0L V6 in the Q7 exhibited robust power and torque that felt more like a V8 under the hood despite its 5,071-pound curb weight. Coupled to the 8-speed auto transmission, Audi says this beautiful boat can do 0-60 in a respectable 5.7 seconds. And with start/stop engine technology, Q7 earned EPA mileage ratings of 17 city and 21-highway mpg.
Q7 received a full five stars for the governments front/rear seat side crash ratings and four for rollover.
With an extremely long list of standard features and safety items plus a panoramic sunroof, the Prestige Package ($10,400) included 14 items the most significant air suspension and multi-view camera systems, power soft closing doors and more.
Other options included: Black Optic package ($1,750); Orca Black metallic paint ($595); cold weather package (750); towing package ($750) plus delivery ($995), took the base price of $60,800 to $76,040. Yes, it’s a lot of money, but it’s a lot of AWD SUV.
While the midsize SUV market is vast, the Audi Q7 is an exception that goes above and beyond the competition.
Q7 comes with a 4 year/50K mile limited warranty; 12-year corrosion protection and 4 years of roadside assistance coverage.