By KBB.com Editors
Audi's Q7, now in its fifth year of production, is one third of Volkswagen's trinity of uber-capable SUVs, sharing its basic architecture with Volkswagen's Touareg and Porsche's Cayenne. But that was then, this is now. Both VW and Porsche have aggressively freshened their offerings for 2011, while Audi retains the same basic platform (with three rows of seating) as it had at launch. And that platform was regarded as overweight and inefficient then; the Q7's disconnect with the competitive environment today is made even more striking. It does, however, benefit from new powertrains. The 3.6-liter V6 and 4.2-liter V8 available in 2010 are jettisoned, and replaced by two variants of one 3.0-liter supercharged V6. Those powertrains, in combination with Audi's 3.0-liter TDI diesel, provide the Q7 with a relevance it didn't possess with an overworked V6 or thirsty V8.
If you enjoy the Q7's clean exterior, well-executed (like all Audis available in the U.S.) interior, three-row capability and standard all-wheel drive, you'll enjoy the Q7. And your decision to commit to the Q7's 5,200 pound curb weight is made more palatable by the new V6 and improvements in both city and highway EPA ratings.
Typically, those interested in a European "feel" also reflect a European sensibility. And that sensibility will more typically steer them to the station wagon (and Audi builds some sterling examples). Audi's mid-size Q5 has proven extremely popular, and we suspect its positive reception has cost the Q7 some customers.
Having received a mild exterior freshening in 2010, this year's changes are highlighted by two versions of the 3.0-liter V6 engine (272 horsepower in Premium and Premium Plus, 333 horsepower in S Line Prestige) and the addition of an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic. This, along with a few equipment and cosmetic tweaks, sums up the changes to an aging platform.
Driving Impressions Despite standard all-wheel drive, with a performance-oriented 40:60 front to rear bias, the Audi Q7 will never be confused with one of Audi's sedan-based station wagons. A high center of...gravity and the aforementioned two-and-a-half-ton curb weight prove vexing, even with all-independent suspension, communicative steering and an appropriately rigid body structure. With all that, the ability to carry both you and an extended family will typically necessitate some compromise, and while not as nimble as an Audi sedan the Q7 offers so much more in tactile feedback than comparably priced American SUVs, and certainly more refinement than the off-the-rack minivan. As noted earlier, the adaptive air suspension is most definitely a win, both on-road and off.
quattro All-Wheel Drive
At this point in Audi's recent history, quattro all-wheel drive is fully integrated into the carmaker's DNA. And when you combine quattro's performance dynamic with all-season attributes, you're hard pressed to conjure a better asset to an upright, over-spec'd SUV.
3.0-liter TDI Diesel
With all of the negative ink generated by the general media in the U.S., Audi and Volkswagen continue to make a compelling argument for the modern diesel powertrain. With 3.0 liters Audi's clean diesel generates 225 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, while delivering you to sixty miles per hour from a standing stop in just over eight seconds.
You simply can't fault Audi on its design execution inside. And here - in 2011 - we see significant enhancements. Every Q7 features hand-picked wood inlays, along with heated 12-way power front seats. Since its introduction the Q7's trump card has been its three-row packaging. And while that third row is marginal for even small adults, the Q's additional interior length provides a bonanza for those that are activity-oriented. With the second and third rows folded flat - which don't require removal of the headrests - you'll enjoy a full 72 cubic feet of cargo area. And if equipped with Audi's accessory bike rack, two bikes can be transported inside the car standing upright, an option that provides those bikes with better security - and doesn't impact your miles-per-gallon (often the case with roof-mounted transport). And did we mention the 28(!) possible seating combinations?Exterior
You can't deny the Q7's visual force, from its signature Singleframe grille to its tapered hatch at the rear. The windshield is aggressively raked, while the greenhouse - which won't be confused with the parent company's Microbus - is sufficiently generous to provide adequate visibility. Relatively short overhangs front and rear communicate both the Q7's rear-wheel drive bias and some semblance of off-road credibility. Also of note: The availability this year of 21-inches of alloy wheel; just the thing for getting in touch with your inner Dub. While judgments on exterior design are almost always subjective, the Q7 - in the absence of a significant design update - is looking dated when compared to its Cayenne and Touareg siblings, which look and feel more athletic.
To the Audi team's credit, there is no such thing as a poorly equipped Q7. Even in base Premium trim, the Q features standard quattro all-wheel drive, 18-inch alloy wheels, power and heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, Audi music interface (intelligent integration of iPod and iPhone), leather seating surfaces, Bluetooth prep, power tailgate and HomeLink. Standard safety features balance the active (your ability to avoid an accident) with passive (the ability to survive an accident). Active elements include all-wheel drive, ABS and electronic brake force distribution, while passive safety is reinforced with a host of airbags, including Sideguard side-curtain airbags protecting all three rows of seating. Of note: Standard equipment levels on the TDI are slightly higher than those of the base 3.0 TFSI V6.
If an SUV is intended to convey an adventurous spirit, the adventure will be enhanced with the Prestige S Line trim. Motivation is improved by the V6's 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, all the better to propel the Audi's 5,400 pound curb weight (with options). The S Line also includes a Warm Weather Package featuring four-zone climate control and rear side window and cargo shades. For your ultimate adventure, equip your Q7 with adaptive air suspension. Electronically controlled, it continuously adapts the suspension to its on-or-off-road environment, while its adjustability will secure over nine inches of ground clearance. Finally, Audi's MMI Navigation plus offers a 7-inch screen, color driver information system, real-time traffic, navigation and telephone functions.
For the 2011 model year, three is the magic number: Three powertrain choices, each displacing 3.0 liters. The base 3.0-liter supercharged V6 develops adequate horsepower and torque while providing a highway mpg figure of 22. Opt for the S Line Prestige trim level and that same displacement nets 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, while achieving 0-60 in under eight seconds. Finally, the 3.0 TDI, while delivering less hp, generates 406 pound-feet of torque - and 25 miles per gallon on the highway. Efficiency, of course, is helped in no small party by the newly available 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Now, if they can only remove approximately 500 pounds of vehicle weight.
3.0-liter V6 Supercharged
272 horsepower @ 4750 rpm
295 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22
3.0-liter V6 Supercharged
333 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
325 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/22
3.0-liter Turbodiesel V6
225 horsepower @ 3750 rpm
406 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25
By Kevin (MI) on Thursday, March 07, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, great mileage, beautiful truck."
Cons: "Brake job at 50,000 miles was expensive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I waited years for Ford, GM or Chrysler to put a small diesel into an SUV (something smaller than an Excursion). I finally gave up waiting and bought the Audi Q7 with the 3.0 liter TDI. I love this truck. Even though it weighs around 5,500 lbs, I always get 21-23 mpg in town and high 20's- 30 mpg on the highway. It will get in the low 30s if you do not exceed 65 mph. This is a great vehicle for a long trip - the 26 gallon fuel tank means 700 miles between fuel stops on the highway. I've pulled a trailer from Michigan to Denver with no issues - the torque from the turbo-diesel is incredible. If I had to replace it today it would be with another Q7 diesel or the Cayenne diesel."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Raul (FL) on Saturday, February 09, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,377overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Tasteful, safe, lifestyle vehicle"
Cons: "Repair cost are high without warranty"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I selected the Audi Q7 TDI due to lifestyle changes. I live in Tampa, FL and work in Jacksonville, FL and commute between the two cities on the weekends. So on any given week I clock close to 600 miles. It's also a vehicle which looks good when driving up to the valet attendant at any upscale hotel. Soccer moms that like to drive with girlfriends for lunch at a local outdoor bistro when the kids are at school will be very pleased with this vehicle. I traded in my 2012 Audi Q5 3.2L Premium S Line for the 2010 Q7 TDI. The Q5 although had very good performance but limited cargo and not very comfortable for larger persons. Sitting 3 teenagers in the back also proved to be somewhat cramped. My primary criteria for the purchase of any vehicle is its safety rating. The Audi Q7 has an outstanding safety rating. As it pertains to my lifestyle I required more cargo room, driving comfort for larger individuals, comfort for longer distances, and the ability to tow at least two large Harley Davidson motorcycles or a boat. Some other considerations were having a vehicle that I could use for camping or to drive onto sand on any Florida beach. The Audi Q7 TDI met all of my requirements. In my opinion, the Porche Cayenne and the Mercedes BlueTech SUV were too "pretty" for someone with an outdoor lifstyle. The X5 Diesel was also considered but the MPG were not as good and with a slightly higher price tag. My very first weekend of ownership I drove from Jacksonville, FL to South Florida via I-95 and back up the West Coast via I-75, thru Alligator Alley, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Ocala. I choosed to travel via the Ocala country roads to get a feel for handling the small hills and curvy roads which led me back to Jacksonville, FL. That was about a 1200 mile weekend getaway. The entire trip was very pleasant and the handling was very good. Yes, it a bigger vehicle and one should not compare this vehicle with your previous sedan, an older model SUV of a different make, or a sports car. It's not a vehichle to break the sound barrier but a vehicle to enjoy. Consider the TDI (Diesel) model since the fuel is no more expensive, and many times less expensive, than 93 Octane. I'm 45 years old and have owned Porche, BMW and various Audi models. My take for anyone that is trying to make a decision on any car is too choose based on your actual lifestyle and budget. All cars do well with proper maintenance. So drive what you like and if you wish to own a luxury brand and your budget does not allow for it then consider buying Certified Pre-Owned for greater warranty. Certified Pre-Owned vehicles offer great value and will certainly make your financial advisor or your significant other happier knowing that you have made a sound decison. Good luck on your selection. - Raul"
14 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Q7 Fan (CA) on Friday, January 04, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Totally worth the price."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This luxury SUV is not only beautiful inside and out, it handles incredibly well, has great power and is doesn't feel like you are driving a bus. The technology in the SUV is state of the art with cameras, voice navigation,heated steering and seats and a bunch of other gadgets. The panarama sunroof is wonderful."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Jkim (CA) on Wednesday, November 21, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty, Reliable, Great Looking"
Cons: "Small 3rd Row Seating, Gas Guzzler"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I love my 2008 Q7. I drive the 3.6 and it has been very reliable. With any German car it is all about maintaining the car. I have not had any serious issues just minor ones from normal wear and tear. I have the SLINE with 21" wheels so teh ride isn't too smooth but I am willing to sacrifice the ride quality for looks!"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Foot (CA) on Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to Drive, and great Attention Grabber"
Cons: "It Costs to be the Boss"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This vehicle is everything and more than what I expect in a luxury vehicle. Since I have driven a vehicle from Mercedes, Lexus, BMW, Range Rover and now Audi. Audi by far blows the competition away I love my audi. I own the TDI prestige with air suspension, this is the smoothest ride ive experienced and my wife likes the air suspension so that she can raise the vehicle to drive higher. Mileage is dream come true for and SUV I live in N. CA and took road trip to S.CA (6hour) drive and averaged 30mpg in an SUV. I cant wait to play in the snow in it to see how well the quattro handles. I do not mind paying the maintenance fees because I enjoy what I am paying, value protecting my vehicle, and that pleasure matters most to me."
By Jpat0973 (OH) on Friday, August 24, 2012
I owned and sold this car
Reason: quality, ride, fit - My approximate mileage is 55,000
Pros: "good looks"
Cons: "noisy, quirky, slow, poor quality, high maint cost"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"To put it nicely, I would choose a different vehicle. I owned this car for a year and was astounded at the technical, engineering, quality and performance deficiencies in this car. The ride quality was below what I would expect for an entry level SUV. Every crack or ripple in the pavement could shake a filling out of your teeth. I get "sport" suspension- this was something else. Every seem, seat joint and panel in the interior rattled when you hit a bump- which obviously was often. The MMI system controls are clumsy and far too attention grabbing to be safe. They are also located directly in front of the cupholders yet have no gusseting to prevent the smallest of spills to fry the entire MMI system that runs every feature in the car. There are numerous engineering flaws- one example is the sun roof drain tubes often become deformed and leak into the dashboard and spare tire compartment (which is where the power amp to run the car is located- a $5000 repair that they will not cover). The heated windshield washer tubes still freeze if it's under 20 degrees F. It's extremely noisy. Maintenance is in some other world from the rest of the luxury market. Routine maintenance is double that of a Mercedes- basic service (glorified oil change)is $450 and 20K mile service (oil change plus plugs and wires...plugs and wires???) is upwards of $700. Seat leather was becoming loose and shiny. In summary, this wouldn't have met a Hyundai owner's expectations. I'm astounded that there are so many glowing reviews...was this their first luxury SUV and they don't know what they're missing??? I switched to a MB GL450 and it is everything the Q7 should be."
19 people out of 25 found this review helpful