2017 Audi Q7

PHOENIX — The original Audi Q7 SUV has been around since 2007, when it was introduced to compete with Mercedes-Benz GLS, BMW X5 and Volvo XC90. But sales never approached those of the Mercedes or BMW offerings.  For 2017 Audi has completely redesigned the Q7. In the process, it shed some 474 pounds, an unusually huge amount for any vehicle.

The most significant contributor to the weight loss is the extravagant use of aluminum in the chassis and operational parts, as well as in the doors, hood and, body panels. Q7 is also shorter and narrower, but the cabin is longer, offering more head, shoulder and knee room.

There’s also more cargo room. The two rows of rear seats fold flat and disappear to a flat load floor, yielding 71.6 cubic feet of cargo space.

Under the hood is a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine delivering 333 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic transmission delivers the power, but we were frustrated with the shifter that on more than a few occasions left us struggling to find the right gear. The Q7 has a tow rating of 7,700 pounds, an impressive amount for a vehicle not built on a truck chassis. According to Audi, Q7 will go from zero to 60 in just 5.7seconds.

On the road, Q7 drives more like a luxury sedan than a SUV, thanks to six available drive modes including off-road, comfort, and dynamic. Still, it isn’t as sporty as the BMW X5.

Our Prestige trim-level model was equipped with optional four-wheel steering and adaptive air suspension that allows ground clearance to be raised nearly 2.5 inches.

Our test Q7 had a starting price of $54,800 but optioned up to almost $73,000, loaded to the roof with technology such as the full-color high-def 12.3-inch TFT “Virtual Cockpit.” A format can be selected to view a Geologized map in Panavision.

There’s also the optional infotainment and telematics package, with 4G LTE data, smartphone connectivity and wifi service to two entertainment tablets for the rear cabin.

Our Q7 also came equipped with the driver’s assistance package that included adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and high-beam assist. One system, the Vehicle Exit Assist, warns occupants if a bicycle is approaching before they open the doors.

Overall, the new Q7 is nothing short of an outstanding vehicle and a clear step up in luxurious first class materials, build quality and performance.

Vital Stats

Price: $54,800 - $64,300
Price as Tested: $72,875
Seating: Up to 7
Engine: 3.0-liter supercharged V6
Horsepower: 333
Fuel Economy: 19-City – 25-Highway

Fab Features

Stylish, comfortable and loaded with technology
Potent V6 engine
Luxurious, posh interior

— Jim Prueter