Among the true gems of the large crossover utility vehicles on the market now is the Audi Q7, a seven-passenger model that not only can haul the family and a lot of “stuff,” but also can be quite fun to drive.
After a year’s hiatus in 2016, the Q7 returned to the lineup for 2017 with a major redesign, its first since its introduction for model year 2007. It launched with just a single engine offering – a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 with 333 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque, connected to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.
With that engine, the 2017 Q7 starts at $54,800 (plus $950 freight) for the Premium model, and also comes in Premium Plus ($58,800) and Prestige ($64,300) trims.
Now, a new entry-level model has been introduced, starting at $49,000 ($49,900 for 2018) for the Premium trim or $53,000 for the Premium Plus. It features a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine with 252 horsepower and 273 foot-pounds of torque, also matched with an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic.
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This is the Q7 model we tested for this report, and even though we haven’t driven the Q7 with the V-6 engine yet, I can tell you that the 2.0-liter engine provides more-than-sufficient power for everyday driving.
It also offers marginally better fuel economy than the V-6, at 20 mpg city/25 highway/22 combined – versus 19/25/21 for the V-6. Both engines come with direct fuel injection, which helps improve fuel economy.
Audi’s Quattro fulltime all-wheel drive is standard, and even for those who don’t regularly drive on snow or ice, the Q7’s all-wheel drive is still a valuable asset, especially on dry, curvy roads such as those found in the Hill Country. It’s also good to have when the rains come down – offering great traction on wet roads, even if the moisture isn’t in frozen form.
In good weather or bad, though, the Q7 is a delight to drive, and it’s one of the best choices out there among the current crop of SUVs designed for heavy duty family hauling.
The Tiptronic automatic transmission has a manual-shift feature for sportier driving, but you can leave that alone and let the gears shift on their own if you don’t want to fool with it.
The Q7 is based on the same architecture as the Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, as Audi and Porsche are both owned by Volkswagen. The Touareg is about 11 inches shorter than the Q7, and can accommodate only five passengers, while the Q7 comes with a third row of seating and can handle up to seven.
Interior space has increased, with more headroom, legroom and shoulder room in the second and third rows.
There is a split tumble/folding 35/30/35 second-row seatback with fore/aft and seatback angle adjustments. There are five child-seat mounting points (three pairs of anchors and tethers in second row, two pairs in third row). The third-row seat has a 50/50 split-folding seatback with electric fold and return.
Our test vehicle came with the Premium Plus package ($4,000), which added the Audi Advanced Key with pushbutton start; the MMI touch-operated navigation/audio system with smartphone integration, AM/FM/HD/CD radio with 10 speakers, satellite radio, and two USB ports; Audi side assist with pre-sense rear aid; electric tilt/telescopic steering column; heated/auto-dimming features for the outside mirrors; and an LED interior lighting package.
An available Luxury Package with Valcona leather includes individual contour front seats with ventilation and massage functions, an extended Leather package, Alcantara headliner and power soft-closing doors.
Standard is a dual-panel panoramic sunroof with tilt and slide, along with a power sunshade.
The all-wheel-drive system of the Q7 does not offer low-range gearing for serious off-road driving. But it’s fine for snow and ice, limited off-road driving, and performance-style handling on those twisty country roads.
Other standard safety features on all models include electronic stability control with traction control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, and rear acoustic parking sensors.
At highway speeds, the cabin of the Q7 is quiet, and the ride is cushy – but not to the point where it adversely affects handling. The vehicle steers and handles more like a sport sedan than an SUV.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2017 Audi Q7
The package: Premium, midsize, seven-passenger, four-cylinder or V-6 gasoline-powered, all-wheel-drive, five-door sport utility vehicle.
Highlights: Audi’s large SUV got its first major redesign for 2017, and a new four-cylinder turbo engine has been added to complement the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6.
Negatives: Third row seating is tight for adults.
Length: 198.9 inches.
Curb weight: 4,776 pounds (2.0T).
Engines: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder; 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, both gasoline.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual shift.
Power/torque: 252 HP./273 foot-pounds (2.0 engine); 333 HP./325 foot-pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; roof-mounted side-curtain, all rows.
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Cargo capacity: 15 cubic feet.
Trailer-towing capacity: 4,400 pounds.
Fuel capacity: 22.5 gallons/premium unleaded recommended (2.0), premium unleaded required (3.0).
EPA fuel economy: 20 city/25 highway/22 combined (2.0); 19/25/21 (3.0).
Major competitors: Lexus GX, Mercedes-Benz M-class, Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Land Rover Discovery, Range Rover Sport, Acura MDX, Lincoln MKT, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Traverse.
Base price range (2017): $49,000-$64,300 plus $950 freight.
Price as tested: $58,725, including freight and options (2.0T Premium).
On the Road rating: 8.7 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer's suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.