Audi Q7 reflects balance between power, functionality

By Paul Borden

(December 13, 2018) Manufacturers of luxury SUVs tend to lean toward the performance side when it comes to the engineering and the design of their products, but aside from some issues with available storage space behind the third row, Audi’s Q7 hits the sweet spot between get-up-and-go and comfort/functionality.

The 2007 Q7 debuted as Audi’s first SUV, got a refreshing for 2010, and moved into its second generation as a 2017, where it is the company’s No. 2 seller for 2018 behind the smaller Q5 SUV just ahead of the A4 sedan.

Aside from a few niceties like keyless entry and start on all models, a premium Bose sound system on Premium Plus trims, and power-closing doors on the top-of-the-line Prestige model, it remains virtually unchanged for 2018.

One of two engine choices, a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder or a 3.0-liter turbo V6, power the Q7. Each is mated to an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters for manual gear selection.

The 2.0L is rated at a max 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, the V6 at 333/325, and mileage figures with Audi’s all-wheel-drive quattro system (standard across the line) are the same with either engine — 19 miles-per-gallon city, 25 highway, and 21 combined.

Pricing starts at $49,900 for the base model. V6 models start at $56,400.

Optional items like a Premium-Plus package (Audi MMI Navigation, LED interior lighting, Audi Connect PRIME and CARE systems, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bose 3D Surround Sound); a Driver Assistance Package (adaptive cruise control, active lane assist and high beam assist); and a vision package (including a surround-view camera and Audi’s virtual cockpit) ran the total to my vehicle for the week to $62,100 including $975 for destination and delivery.

A word here about the virtual cockpit. It allows the driver to reduce the size of the round display of the speedometer and tachometer to accommodate a pretty large map for navigation. It helps keeps your eyes directly on the road in front of you instead of having to sneak a peek to the right. You can keep the speedometer and tach in its usual size if a smaller map is all you need.

Standard features on my Q7 included roof rails, 8-way power adjustable front seats, leather seating surfaces, power folding third-row seats, power liftgate, three-zone automatic climate control, LED daytime running lights and LED taillights, and a multitude of safety features like low-speed collision assist and electronic stabilization with off-road mode.

The Q7 offers a very comfortable, quiet riding experience with occupants coddled with high quality materials throughout the cabin. Audi’s MMI infota
inment system is fairly easy to get the hang off, and the overall cabin ambiance shows Audi’s great attention to detail.

Seating for seven is standard on all models. The the third row is on the small side for adults, but first- and second-row seating is roomy and comfortable. A standard panoramic sunroof offers both tilt and sliding features along with a power sunshade.

The Q7 is very much an international vehicle. Most of the parts (39 percent) and the transmission come not surprisingly from Germany, but a healthy 33 percent are from Slovakia, which also is the final assembly point. The engine comes from Hungary.

What I liked about the 2018 Audi Q7: I love the “virtual cockpit” concept and frankly wonder why other automakers haven’t come u
p with a version of their own. (Caveat here: Maybe somebody has and I just haven't seen it.) It puts everything that you as a driver might want right in front of your eyes. The Q7’s entire cabin is flush with luxury and high quality materials, and the ride is comfortable and quiet.

What I didn't like about the 2018 Audi Q7: The seating in vehicles with three rows is pretty much always limited in the last row and that is the case with the Q7, which offers occupants less than 30 inches of legroom in the far back. Cargo space is decent behind that third row (14.8 cubic feet) but less than 38 cubic feet with the third-row seats folded.

Would I buy the 2018  Audi Q7? Yes. It’s hard to go wrong with any offering in this class, and the Q7 is one of best and competitively priced.