Boasting a remake that trims over 700 pounds while upping fuel economy by 26 percent, the all-new 2016 Audi Q7 made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Slightly smaller on the outside, the second generation of Audi's range-topping 7-passenger crossover SUV offers more passenger space and cargo volume than the current vehicle. Beyond an enhanced conventional powertrain lineup that will include the Q7 e-tron Quattro - Audi's first to match plug-in technology with a diesel - this premium hauler also boasts a host of new tech touches and driver assists. 

The key to slashing mass on the 2016 Audi Q7 by more than 716 pounds centers on its new modular longitudinal architecture. Audi's new second-generation structure matches ultra-high-strength steel with aluminum - the latter now accounting for 41 percent of the body - in a way that makes the Q7's core far stronger and more rigid while being lighter. The Gen II Q7's chassis shares the same steel/aluminum makeup as its body, a refinement responsible for 220 pounds of the vehicle's overall weight reduction. A new 5-link design at both axles improves dynamics and ride comfort and can be further upgraded with options that include a more responsive adaptive air suspension and new 4-wheel steering that turns the rear wheels by up to five degrees to increase cornering agility while reducing the turning circle by 3.3 feet.    

More fuel efficient performance 

Here in the U.S., the new Audi Q7 Quattro will launch with a 3.0-liter/268-horsepower TDI turbodiesel V6 and a 3.0-liter/329-horse TFSI supercharged gasoline V6. Both will be backed by an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic that now integrates the Quattro's self-locking center differential creating a system that's significantly lighter and more compact than the separate transfer case in the current Q7. It also offers better overall performance, and can transfer up to 70 percent of the available torque to the front axle or 85 percent to the rear. Confirmed for Europe but yet-to-be finalized for America, the Audi Q7 e-tron Quattro pairs its 3.0-liter/255-horse TDI V6 with a 126-horse electric motor mounted in an 8-speed Tiptronic. Fed by a 17.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack, it will give Audi's groundbreaking diesel-electric e-tron nearly 35 miles of pure EV operating range. The system cranks out 369 total horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque while returning the U.S. equivalent of 138.4 MPGe. Audi also has a 2.0-liter/248-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder in hand that could one day become the Q7's base motivator in this country; but it, too, has yet to be confirmed. 

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Visually, the new Q7 makes an elegant evolutionary statement punctuated by its more substantial yet sophisticated take on the signature Singleframe grille with framing elements extending to the redrawn headlamps - xenon, LED or Matrix LED, depending on trim and market. Crisper edges and smoother body contours are set off by more prominent fender arch treatments and a wraparound liftgate, while new underbody fairings help clean its overall aero profile, whether in base or sportier S line trim. 

Virtual cockpit bows

Inside, the 2016 Audi Q7 boasts a more contemporary design highlighted by the firm's new Virtual Cockpit setup introduced on new Audi TT which includes a centrally mounted monitor that rises up from the center of the dash. Beyond a significant reduction in the number of buttons and switches, the new Q7 features an enhanced MMI operating system with touch controller that now offers audio and haptic feedback. The remake also brings more conversational voice recognition, available 3D audio systems from Bose and Bang & Olfusen, smartphone integration with Google Android Auto and Apple CarPlay plus a new rear-seat entertainment system with single or dual 10.1-inch removable Audi tablet screens that can connect via the on-board LTE Wi-Fi to the MMI navigation plus system. The cabin itself has more head, leg and shoulder room in virtually all seating positions and an easier-loading cargo bay accessed via a standard power hatch or available gesture control activation.

The new Audi Q7 also steps up its selection of driver aids. Standard or optional features include everything from Active Cruise Control and Lane Assist to a Navi-linked predictive efficiency assistant, night vision, cross-traffic warning and trailer assistant. Arriving in U.S. showrooms late this year or in early 2016, pricing, packaging and EPA figures for the 2016 Audi Q7 will be announced closer to its on-sale date.

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