The Audi Q7 is back for 2017, after taking 2016 off and being fully redesigned for the first time since it debuted for 2007.
The second generation of this midsize seven-passenger SUV brings benchmark connectivity, infotainment, and driver-assistance technology, along with revised styling, more room, improved fuel economy (lightweight construction), lots of new technology features, and a new four-cylinder turbocharged engine.
Styling changes include a more wagonlike profile featuring sharper-looking details, a slightly sloped roof, and an imposing angular grille. The interior is totally redesigned, too, with cues and technology from the luxurious Audi A8 sedan.
Available new technology allows the Q7 almost to drive itself – it at least allows the driver to relax a little – by maintaining speed and distance to vehicles ahead, staying between lane markings, automatically slowing upon entering a turn, and reading speed limit signs and adjusting vehicle speed accordingly.
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Luxury is improved with high-quality interior materials, outstanding comfort, and availability of the latest easy-to-use infotainment technology.
The new turbocharged four-cylinder brings improved fuel economy, while a reduced curb weight of a few hundred pounds helps boost fuel economy for the V-6, as well. While the 2.0-liter I-4 has a lower price tag, expected MPG is similar to the 3.0-liter V-6 – 20 mpg city/25 highway, and 19 city/25 highway, respectively.
Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with Audi’s quattro full-time all-wheel drive and an energy-recuperation system with start/stop technology. The 2.0 produces 252 horsepower, while the 3.0 produces 333 horsepower.
Q7 is available in three trim levels – premium, premium plus and prestige – priced from $49,000 to $65,000. Contents, colors, interiors, and available packages vary depending on the trim chosen.
All trims are offered with the V-6. Premium and premium plus are also offered with the I-4. The premium may also be upgraded with a premium plus package for $4,000.
Nine exterior colors are available, with as many as eight interior colors and combinations, four trims with silver or black and oak or walnut, and wheel choices from 19- to 21-inch – all depending on the trim level chosen, some at additional cost.
Audi Q7 is mildly angular, without heavy creases or deep grooves except for the lower door edge/rocker panel area, which is highlighted by brushed metallic trim with a quattro stamp. The hexagonal black grille is outlined in silver with five notched silver horizontal slats.
Silver trims the front fascia vents, the window openings, and the trapezoidal exhaust outlets. Silver-painted ground effects finish the rear bumper. The headlights and taillights feature angular Tron-like signatures.
I drove a very attractive premium, base price $49,000, in ink blue metallic ($575) with nougat brown leather seating and high gloss black/terra brown walnut wood inlay on the doors and across the dash ($350), riding on 19-inch silver painted, chiseled five V-spoke wheels wearing all-season run-flat tires ($1,000), topped by silver alu-optic roof rails.
The driver’s seat and front passenger seat were heated and eight-way adjustable, with driver four-way lumbar and memory. A 35/30/35-split second-row folding seat and 50/50-split power-fold third-row seat allowed lots of versatility in seating and cargo hauling.
For a long road trip, the front seats were amazingly comfortable, and second-row passengers had plenty of head and legroom (38.8, 38.8 inches), with room to slide fore and aft and recline slightly. The second row folds and tumbles forward to allow access to the third row, although we didn’t have passengers back there. That seat is better suited to children or smaller adults. With the LATCH system, Q7 can hold up to six child seats.
We did fold the seat to haul luggage and beach stuff with a button in the cargo area or two by the second-row seats. Cargo area behind the third seat is small at 14.8 cubic feet, increasing to 37.5 cubic feet with the seat stowed flat. Folding the second row flat results in 71.6 cubic feet of available space. These numbers are a little small compared with other three-row SUVs.
An MMI AM/FM/HD/CD radio with 10-speaker Audi sound system, satellite radio and USB (x2) Audi music interface kept us entertained. The MMI system supported navigation plus with MMI touch, included in a premium plus package along with an Audi advanced key, Audi connect PRIME & PLUS, connect CARE, Audi smartphone interface (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), Wi-Fi hotspot, Audi side assist with pre-sense rear, electric tilt/telescopic steering wheel, heated auto-dimming power-folding exterior mirrors, and customizable pinstripe LED interior lighting (with a high-tech look and feel).
Navigation had multiple controls – a rotary/push/tap knob, vocal, and handwriting recognition on a touch pad. I found the system complex and frustrating, with a need to consult the owner’s manual more than once. I have tested enough vehicles and navi systems to be able to intuitively program and locate functions, but Audi’s was not intuitive. I did, however, very much like the Google Earth map image and the fact that the 7-inch color driver information display screen could be opened up to show another map image directly behind the steering wheel.
MMI Touch also had controls for several other functions, including the radio/media, and Bluetooth telephone.
Connect PRIME & PLUS, and CARE are emergency and driver-assistance telematics, including SOS call, online roadside assistance, stolen vehicle locator; Google Earth and voice search, over-the-air map data updates, semi-dynamic route guidance with INRIX XD traffic; fuel prices, travel info, parking information, Audi music stream, internet radio, Twitter; geofencing, speed alert, curfew alert, car finder, remote lock/unlock, vehicle status report and more.
Side assist with pre-sense rear is basically blind spot warning with the addition of a warning for a fast-approaching vehicle from the rear in the adjacent lane. Standard pre-sense city scans the road up to 328 feet, warns the driver if a collision is possible, and starts to apply the brakes.
Pre-sense basic uses information from various systems to detect unstable driving conditions, then it initiates measures to protect occupants – pre-tightening seatbelts, closing windows and sunroof, and activating hazard lights. Controlled application of the brakes helps prevent skidding and further collisions.
My Q7 had a dual-pane panoramic sunroof with electric sunshade, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera with front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, garage door opener, and height-programmable power tailgate.
A Vision package ($2,000) included LED headlights, Audi virtual cockpit (configurable gauge-cluster display), and a surround-view camera system (very helpful when maneuvering the Q7 in tight quarters or around curbs, ditches, and flowerbeds).
Rear side air bags ($350 package) supplemented Audi’s abundant safety features, including front seat-mounted side air bags, head-curtain air bags, active and passive rollover protection, and front and rear crumple zones. Audi Q7 receives high marks in safety from IIHS.
Heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and all-weather mats were included in a cold weather package for $500.
The Audi Q7 is surprisingly nimble for its size, confident in curves and turns, with a smooth ride and quiet cabin. It’s capable and elegant in one attractive package.
A properly equipped four-cylinder is capable of towing up to 4,400 pounds. Fuel efficiency isn’t bad either, for a seven passenger SUV – I managed 23.5 mpg driving mostly on the highway for my long road trip.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.