Midsize Luxury SUV Best Buy of 2019
- Second-gen Q7 blends great style with European flair
- A supremely refined blend of sport and utility
- Virtual Cockpit dash is a feast for the eyes
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard
- Pricing starts at $63,075 (including $975 destination charges) | Price yours
- On sale now | See Audi Q7 models for sale near you
Although the second-generation Audi Q7 isn’t the newest competitor in the luxurious 3-row SUV segment, this 7-seat German still has what it takes to be named KBB’s Midsize Luxury SUV Best Buy of 2019.
The competition -- from the likes of the Acura MDX, Buick Enclave and Volvo XC90 -- is formidable, but the Q7 wins us over with its quality, luxury, style and utility, all backed by a sublime level of refinement. While the Acura has expected Honda reliability, the Buick has a cavernous minivan-like interior, and the Volvo has a slight edge in technology, none of these luxury SUVs is as well rounded as the Q7.
A Beautiful Interior
Open the Q7 door and you’re in for a treat. The overall look is modern, with gray leather seats that look hard but are comfortable and supportive, a perfect place from which to admire the handsome architecture of the Q7’s dash. Although this Audi SUV’s display screens aren’t quite as large as those of, say, the Volvo XC90, the overall interface in the Q7 is unmatched, particularly with regard to navigating menus in the center display. What’s more, the high-resolution TFT gauges of the Audi Virtual Cockpit (part of the optional Vision package) exude high quality. “Virtual Cockpit” is Audi’s name for a super vivid instrument display that shows either a traditional gauge set or a full-width map using either a typical format or one with topography sourced from Google Earth. If you haven’t seen it before, Virtual Cockpit is a feast for the eyes.
In the second row of the Q7, legroom and headroom abound, the former aided by scalloped front seatbacks that create extra knee space. The rear seats are heated, and in addition to a pair of drink holders in the fold-down center armrest there are air conditioning controls and two power plugs on the rear of the center console. All that’s missing are USB ports for rear passengers to charge their phones. Pull-up rear sunshades are a nice touch, as is B-pillar trim narrowed at the bottom to help people with large feet exit the Q7.
The Q7’s 3rd-row seat, a split 2-seat bench with an adjustable backrest, is best suited for kids, but we like how it folds flat via electric switches. While it’s clear that the Q7 has prioritized 1st- and 2nd-row comfort and space over that of the 3rd row, access to the rearmost bench is good, thanks to a tumble-folding 2nd row that splits 35/30/35.
Although the Audi Q7 is available with a 333-horsepower 3.0-liter V6, we opted for a 2.0T Quattro Tiptronic model fitted with a 258-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 and priced at $63,075. Interestingly, both Q7s get identical EPA fuel economy of 19 MPG city/25 MPG highway/21 MPG combined. To us, though, the 2.0T works just fine, saving the buyer about six grand yet still moving the 4,696-pound Q7 with a relaxed grace. The only time it feels small are those rare situations when the driver must wait for turbo boost to arrive.
When it does, it does so smoothly, endowing this aluminum-block 16-valve engine with a healthy 273 lb-ft plateau of torque that lasts from 1,600 rpm to 4,500 rpm. All the while, the 8-speed automatic shifts with an electronically managed precision while sending power to all four wheels via the Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Of note: The Q7 3.0T has a tow rating of 7,700 pounds, versus 4,400 for the 4-cylinder Q7 2.0T.
Abundant Standard Equipment
The Q7 wouldn’t be considered a luxury SUV without a lot of standard equipment. Luxury appointments include a huge panoramic sunroof, pushbutton start, a power tailgate, four-zone climate control and Xenon headlights, plus heated 8-way front seats, a Rock Gray leather interior, beautiful wood inlays and a power-folding hatch.
Our particular Q7, a Galaxy Blue Metallic 2.0T, also had a slew of options. The priciest, Premium Plus, is a $4,000 package that includes MMI Navigation, Audi Connect and a power tilt/telescope steering wheel (with memory). Also on our test Q7: a Driver Assistance package ($2,400) that includes adaptive cruise control (with traffic jam assist) and active lane assist, plus a Vision package ($2,000) that includes the Audi Virtual Cockpit, full LED headlamps and a top-view camera system.
Apart from its abundant hardware, timeless style and European refinement, the Audi Q7 is just plain fun to drive. It’s long and lithe, profiting from Audi’s significant weight reduction efforts with the second-gen Q7. What’s more, the Q7 is quiet inside, and the suspension tuning is spot-on, with enough body control for good fun on winding roads but plenty of suppleness for a comfortable cross-country drive, aided by electric-assist steering with a pleasant natural feel. Power from the 2.0T is ample, feeling especially good in the 40-to-60-mph range commonly experienced while merging onto the freeway. While we wish the 2.0T offered better fuel economy than the V6-powered Q7 3.0T, the 4-cylinder engine is 240 pounds lighter than the six.
Sealing the Deal
Today’s choices in the midsize luxury SUV market abound, but only the 2019 Audi Q7 has risen to the top and earned the distinction of being named KBB’s Midsize Luxury SUV Best Buy of 2019. At once attractive, practical and modern, the Q7 exudes luxury without broadcasting it. And even though it has a higher MSRP than other midsize luxury SUVs, it feels a class above those competitors. What’s more, Audi resale values are improving, and the 2019 Q7 has received a 5-star Overall Vehicle Safety Score (the best there is) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Congrats, Audi Q7, on a job well done.
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