2018 Audi Q7 — The Armani of expertly crafted utility vehicles

By Jim Prueter

(September 11, 2018) Last year, for 2017, Audi completely redesigned its Q7 luxury flagship SUV. This is its first redo since being introduced for 2007. As we would expect, the 2018 Q7 is a carryover from that redesign and remains virtually unchanged, other than a few upgrades. These include Audi’s proximity-sensing Advance Key with passive entry, memory features, and push-button start, now standard on all Q7 trim levels.

The Premium Plus trim levels add a 3D Bose Surround audio system as standard equipment, and the top-spec Prestige model gains soft-close doors, adding to the luxury palette.

Since we first drove the new Q7, Audi has added a turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the base entry-level offering, which powers the 2018 Q7 tested here. The supercharged V-6 engine remains and is available on all three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige.

All Q7s come with standard power-folding three-row seating, Quattro all-wheel drive, panoramic sunroof, and are packed with advanced technology and safety features. Low-speed automated emergency braking is standard, but those seeking more advanced active safety features will find what they’re looking for in the Premium Plus and Prestige trims.

We were very impressed with the 3.0-liter supercharged 333-horsepower V-6 model that we drove last year. While we were impressed with the performance of the 2.0-liter 252-horsepower four-cylinder driven here, it didn’t move the hefty 5000-pound Q7 with the same spirited acceleration and poise as the supercharged V-6 power plant. Both engines are connected to an excellent eight-speed automatic transmission. However, you can save $6,500 by choosing the four-cylinder and will most likely be just as satisfied with its overall performance.

Should you tow a boat, camper or trailer, Q7 has an tow rating of 7,700 lbs. — impressive for a vehicle that isn’t built off a truck chassis.

Already one of the most pleasurable vehicles to drive, the Q7 feels more like a luxury sedan than an SUV given its six selectable drive modes, which include off-road, comfort and dynamic. If supreme ride and handling are must haves, you can move up to the Prestige trim level with an adaptive air suspension and chassis package that also includes four-wheel steering. It significantly improves comfort, handling and control. And, if deep snow or off-road driving is part of your travels, it can raise the ride height an additional 2.4 inches, and lower it an inch for better aero dynamics on interstate and highway travel.

Inside, the Q7 is exquisitely refined and tailored with premium leathers, wood veneers, and brushed metallic trim coverings. Our Q7 came equipped with the $2,000 Vision package with full LED headlamps, top-view camera system, and Audi’s excellent virtual cockpit that replaces traditional analog speedometer and gauges with an immersive 12.3-inch digital display. It also includes 4G LTE connectivity with Google Maps.

Consistent with most three-row SUVs, cargo space in the Q7’s back is skimpy when the third row is in use. We do like that the third row seats can be quickly raised or lowered via power controls, but we found flipping and folding second row seats to be a clumsy maneuver. But know that third-row space is tiny; only the smallest of kiddos will fit comfortably. With all three trim levels, you can open the rear liftgate with a touch of a button or by waving your foot under the rear bumper.

Audi’s newest MMI infotainment system is standard and quite easy to use, but you’ll have to first spend some time learn it. Graphics are excellent and redundant buttons are a welcome addition. Our test Q7 included the $4,000 optional Premium Plus package with MMI touch. The touch pad, located at the front of the center console just below the center stack, allows the user to write numbers and letters with a finger, instead of using the vehicle’s mouse knob or voice recognition feature.

For example, you can write the address of a destination for navigation and the system will recognize your writing. Make a mistake? Simply swipe your finger to the left and it will delete the error. The system will also auto fill, and everything you write will be on the navigation screen.

The Premium Plus package also includes key features like Smartphone interface, power tilt/telescoping steering column, LED interior lighting package, BOSE 3D Surround Sound and Audi’s pre-sense side and rear safety features. When the vehicle senses an emergency situation, it will automatically close the windows and sunroof if they are open, and tighten the seat belts for both front and rear occupants.

Outside, the Q7 is far from flashy; rather it is well tailored, like an Armani suit. Classy, with a seemingly perfect fit. At nearly 200 inches, it is a long vehicle, yet easy to drive and maneuver – something not found in most large full-size SUVs.

The Q7 is also a very safe choice for those who occupy both front and rear. In crash test ratings, the federal government’s NHTSA awarded it a top five-star rating. However, it lost its Top Safety Pick honor from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for 2018 because of their more stringent headlight requirement.

Overall, the Q7 drives more like a luxury sedan than an SUV, or its competitor the BMW X5, which has a sportier feel. The Audi’s drive and ride is silky smooth, more like a Range Rover. On the road the Q7, has a vault-like quietness, and everything you touch is soft with premium leathers. The virtual cockpit was a favorite feature along with its “scratch pad” for vehicle operations. Overall, it is one of the most technology intensive vehicles on the market today.

The Q7 makes a definitive case for the family luxury vehicle, with supreme comfort and advanced technology that will keep you safe.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $49,900 - $65,400
Price as Tested: $62,100
Powerplant: 2.0-liter 252-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder with an eight-speed automatic transmission
EPA Fuel Economy: 19-MPG City – 25-MPG Highway 21-MPG Combined on premium fuel
Seating: Up to 7

Crash Test Ratings: Overall highest possible five-star from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and “Good” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Built In: Bratislava, Slovakia

Competes With:
Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Lexus GX
Maserati Levante
Mercedes-Benz GLS
Volvo XC90

Fab Features
Luxurious cabin, comfortable seats
Virtual cockpit and advanced technology
Expertly crafted with supreme build materials, fit and finish