The Car Connection Audi Q7 Overview
Audi's Q7 is a large, luxury crossover with capacity for up to seven passengers.
In its first generation, the Q7 went largely unchanged from its 2007 introduction through its final year on sale, in the 2015 model year. A redesigned Q7 arrived for the 2016 model year, carrying new styling, improved technology, and an updated powertrain menu.
With the old Q7, Audi gained a bigger companion to its Avant wagon models, one with more all-weather capability. The Q7 has shared those traits with the vehicles sharing its platform in the past—the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg—even though those vehicles come only in five-passenger configurations.
The new Q7 is the first from a new architecture that will spawn replacement SUVs at other VW Group brands.
The Q7 competes with the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class and GLE-Class crossovers, the BMW X5, and the Volvo XC90.
MORE: Read our 2017 Audi Q7 review
The new Audi Q7
Audi has introduced a second-generation Q7 for the 2017 model year.
The look is more like that of a tall wagon than a hulking SUV, and the new interior is the most luxurious and refined yet for any Audi crossover. The new platform lowers weight by a claimed 700 pounds. Audi will initially make the Q7 available with the corporate 3.0-liter, supercharged V-6 that makes 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. A plug-in hybrid and 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder may be available later.
Audi managed to make the Q7 slightly narrower and shorter overall while increasing cargo room and second-row legroom; headroom has also been increased, and the Q7 continues to offer a third row of seats.
The Q7 will again share its platform with the Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, and is the basis for the new Bentley Bentayga, as well as the upcoming Lamborghini Urus.
Audi has filled the new Q7's cabin with its latest technology. The interface uses a version of the Virtual Cockpit digital-instrument/infotainment combo first used on the TT, but the Q7 benefits from a second control screen located in the center stack. It also offers integration with iPhone and Android smartphones through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with the option to add Android tablets for back-seat passengers. This is the most advanced Audi infotainment setup yet, and should make its way into the rest of the brand's lineup shortly.
Audi has shown a plug-in hybrid version of the new Q7, dubbed e-tron, which uses electric motors and either a diesel or gas engine. The model may be offered here, but it's likely that a U.S.-bound e-tron would eschew the TDI engine for one that sips gasoline.
Beyond that, Audi is rumored to be planning its first high-performance Q7 variant, which could be called SQ7. Such a model would offer a V-8 TDI engine with twin electric turbochargers. There's no word on whether it would come to our market, however.
Audi Q7 history
Shown first as a concept vehicle, the Q7 was Audi's first SUV when it joined the U.S. lineup in the 2007 model year—although Audi had offered a higher-riding "allroad" version of the A6 Avant wagon in prior years. The Q7 was expressly designed to appeal to sport-'ute shoppers.
Initially, the Q7 came with only a single powertrain: a 4.2-liter V-8 with 350 hp, all-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Still, it proved a major upgrade over the usual SUV handling—and most of all, the usual SUV styling, with its sleek side view.
In the 2008 model year, Audi addressed the fuel-economy shortcomings of the V-8 somewhat with a new 280-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 option—and then again in 2009 when it introduced a turbodiesel V-6 version of the Q7 capable of 17 mpg city, 25 highway, according to the EPA. A 333-hp version of the gas-powered V-6 was added later and the V-8 was dropped from the lineup. In November 2015, the EPA notified Audi that its 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine illegally cheated emissions tests in the U.S. and the automaker pulled the engine from its lineup. It's unclear if the turbodiesel will return to the U.S., although parent-company Volkswagen has said that it is working toward a fix for the engine.
For 2015, three V-6 versions of the Q7 were available with the sweet-shifting automatic transmission delivering power to all four wheels and with an adjustable air suspension tuning the ride quality to near-ideal, as long as you stay away from the larger wheel options.
The Q7 may share some of its running gear with other Audis, but its high ground clearance and quattro all-wheel drive pairs it most closely with the Audi Allroad.
The Audi Q7 has been among the safest SUVs on the road. The NHTSA gave in 2011 the Q7 its highest ratings for front and side impact protection, and has also awarded the Q7 four stars for rollover resistance. The IIHS rated the Q7 as "Good" in front, side and rear impacts, and generally considers the 'ute to be one of the safest on the road.
Audi has tested the waters with more powertrains for the Q7—a planned Q7 Hybrid displayed at the 2005 Frankfurt auto show, and bigger V-8 and V-12 diesel versions—but none have been confirmed for sale in the U.S.