Audi's Q7 is a performance SUV with quattro permanent all-wheel drive and a third-row seat to haul up to seven passengers.
It sports a bolder version of the signature Audi single-frame grille. The slope of the roofline to the rear and the curvy shape of the wraparound tailgate make the Q7 appear smaller and more coupe-like.
The Q7 offers two supercharged V-6 gasoline models and one clean-diesel model, with eight-speed automatic transmissions, priced from $47,700 to $60,900. The turbocharged 3.0-liter gas engines produce 280 and 333 horsepower and have EPA ratings of 16 mpg city/22 highway.
But for the best fuel economy, the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine, with its 240 horsepower and 406 foot-pounds of torque, brings 19 city/28 highway. For this review, I tested the diesel, and averaged 23.5 mpg, driving mostly on the highway and rural neighborhood roads.
My TDI Clean Diesel Q7 was Glacier White Metallic with chrome accents and a finely crafted black leather interior trimmed in brushed aluminum.
A sueded black Alcantara headliner with topstitching was an option, replacing the black fabric headliner that was part of the S Line package.
The S Line package included the brushed aluminum accents, distinctive front and rear bumpers and side valances, S Line badging and doorsills, S Line three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters, and headlight washers.
For 2014, the Q7 features standard Xenon-plus headlights and offers upgraded wheels. My Q7 had optional 21-inch, five-segment, spoke-design wheels mounted with summer tires.
Distinctive linear LED daytime running lights get the Q7 noticed from daylight to dark; and faster-illuminating LED taillights are designed to give vehicles behind more response time.
The adaptive headlights rotate up to 15 degrees as the vehicle turns into a curve or corner, really helpful in the country where there are few streetlights. My Q7 also had a corner-view camera system, part of an optional technology package that included adaptive cruise control.
The Q7 is versatile as well as attractive, with up to 72.5 cubic feet of cargo space and two rows of folding seats – 40/20/40 in the second row and 50/50 in the third row.
Folding the second row was simple using a lever on the side of the seat cushion. Folding and raising the third row was more difficult, requiring a long reach from the tailgate or the second row. With all the seats folded, the cargo floor was flat and wide enough for plywood or wallboard panels.
The second row reclined, moved fore and aft to allow passengers access to the third row bench seat, and had a pass-through to allow long narrow items to be loaded even with passengers in the second row. Cargo space behind the third row was limited to 10.9 cubic feet, still plenty of space for weekly shopping or luggage for an overnight trip.
The third row was suitable for children or small, nimble adults, in part due to the sloping rear roofline. Both rows of seats had anchors and tethers for child safety seats.
Audi includes lots of safety features: driver and front passenger frontal air bags and seat-mounted side air bags, side-curtain air bags for all three rows; first- and second-row outboard three-point seatbelts with automatic pretensioning; front and rear crumple zones; and active/passive rollover protection.
Active rollover protection recognizes an impending rollover – when the driver attempts to avoid an obstacle or turns a corner too quickly – and applies brakes as needed to resist, steers and adjusts the suspension where needed to keep the car as stable as possible.
Passive rollover protection, depending on the type and severity of a side-impact collision, triggers the appropriate protective device, which may be the belt pretensioner, or side and head air bags.
My Q7 was upgraded to the Prestige level with a $12,000 package. The package included four-zone climate control (two in the front, two in the second row), cooled front seats (with driver memory); Audi advanced key with pushbutton start; Audi side assist; manual side window and tailgate sunshades; power-adjustable steering column (with memory); auto-dimming power-folding, heated exterior mirrors; Audi MMI Navigation Plus with voice control; Audi parking system with rearview camera; Audi connect with online services; and deep-tint panoramic sunroof (with power sunshade in the front and manual sunshade in the rear).
The Prestige package comes with a Bose sound system, but ours was replaced by a Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system. The system provided excellent sound, even on the AM/FM bands, with 14 speakers and 1,001 watts. The system offered three sound focus choices – movie, front, and rear. The movie setting was amazing, with sound coming from every direction.
Audi Connect comes with Google Earth 3-D imagery for the navigation screen; and Wi-Fi hotspot and 3G connections for passengers allow two tablets to connect at the same time. The Google Earth image was very helpful for finding my way around unfamiliar areas where programming a destination would be impossible.
The Navigation Plus with MMI touch and voice control is essentially the nerve center of the vehicle, with access to navigation, interior functions, entertainment and ride dynamics. In the few days I had to experiment, I found the system somewhat cumbersome and confusing, with multiple steps needed to perform simple functions such as adjusting the temperature of the heated seats. Fortunately, Audi offers video tutorials for almost all vehicle functions or systems, and someone who has the car long-term would learn how to operate these features.
My tester also came with optional adaptive air suspension. The system offers five driving modes: comfort, dynamic, automatic, off road and lift. The first three are designed for driving on the open road, while the last two are for off-road driving.
Comfort is best for long-distances; dynamic provides a sportier driving experience with a lower ground clearance, which also reduces drag and improves fuel efficiency; automatic is best for everyday driving. Off road and lift raise the ground clearance height for negotiating rough terrain.
Storage in the Q7 was somewhat limited, with one open cupholder on the armrest at the driver's elbow and one covered cupholder behind the driver's elbow, a small tray under the armrest and a small cubby under the small tray. The glovebox was small and opened using a button beside the video screen. I found this to be puzzling, along with the location of the trip computer control switches on the wiper stalk.
The Audi Q7 is very attractive and gets lots of attention, comfortable for at least the front five passengers, easy to drive and powerful enough for whatever you need it to do. Q7 is pre-wired for a trailer hitch and can tow up to 6,600 pounds.
2014 AUDI Q7 TDI:
–Base price: $47,700
–Price as tested: $80,500
Prices exclude destination charge.
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Emma Jayne Williams' auto reviews appear in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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