- Sophisticated look
- Interior doesn’t skimp on the details
- Overall performance
- Three-row seating
- Fuel economy (except TDI)
- Very heavy
- Pricey—V-8 model can top $80,000
The 2009 Audi Q7 is a good choice for those who want sophistication and style in an SUV but don’t need the overwrought off-road look.
The Audi Q7 was the first sport-utility vehicle from Audi, introduced back in 2006, though for 2009 it’s going to be joined by the smaller Q5. In addition, the Q7 gets a new, more fuel-efficient clean-diesel TDI model for the lineup.
Unlike most other utility vehicles at the time, the Q7 doesn’t lay claims on off-road enthusiasts or look ready to churn mud; its classy, stylish appearance hints of ruggedness, yet is decidedly urbane. Sharp cutlines give athletic definition to the profile, and the body curvature on the rear end around the taillamps manages to look clean and simple when it's really a complex set of shapes.
On the Q7, buyers have two different gasoline engines to choose from—a V-6 or a V-8—and a turbo-diesel V-6 is newly available. If gasoline consumption weren’t at all on our minds, our pick of the line would still be the smooth 4.2-liter V-8, which makes 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The engine doesn’t have the low-rev torque of many other SUV V-8s, but power swells with revs and it barks out a muted hammering above 4,000 rpm that’s great for passing or spirited driving. A 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 is standard; it has adequate performance but can feel a little wheezy moving the 5,000-pound Q7 with a full load. Audi says the Q7 accelerates to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds (8.2 seconds with the V-6) and hits a top speed of 130 mph. Neither is great on gas; the V-8 is rated at 12 mpg city, 17 highway, while the V-6 gets 14/20.
A good alternative that TheCarConnection.com recommends for those who balk at the mileage is the new 3.0-liter turbodiesel (TDI) V-6 in the model termed Q7 3.0 TDI. The clean-diesel engine has 221 horsepower and, more importantly, 406 pound-feet of torque, which makes it especially well suited for those who tow. Although the TDI doesn’t have the instantaneous throttle response of the V-8, it’s almost as quick overall.
The TDI engine is one of the cleanest diesels ever sold in the United States; it employs a new urea-injection system to help reduce NOx emissions, meeting U.S. emissions standards in all 50 states. Although official EPA figures haven’t yet been released, the company expects EPA ratings of 18 mpg city, 25 highway. It’s even better in real-world driving; TheCarConnection.com averaged 29 mpg in normal highway driving—using about half the fuel of the V-8.
Across the model range, a six-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox does an invisibly good job of managing the power if you decline to use its sport-shift mode. An all-independent suspension and quattro all-wheel drive grant the Q7 comfortable, capable handling and up to a 6,600-pound towing capacity. A three-mode air suspension—sport, comfort, and automatic—varies the damping of the vehicle according to conditions and speed. It also raises the vehicle in off-road driving and lowers it at highway speeds. The Q7's power steering has ideal effort as well as—unusual for an SUV—some feedback and a bit of road feel.
The Q7 has a very comfortable interior, available in either five- or seven-passenger configurations. The optional third-row seating is small but works for kids. The third-row seats fold flat, and the second-row seats move back and forth 4 inches to create more legroom, as well as fold flat. With two seats up and two rows folded, there’s 88 cubic feet of cargo space. The front bucket seats, upholstered in somewhat breathable leather, are very supportive for long trips, and there’s plenty of adjustability for all sizes, while the second row has plenty of legroom for adults. For second- and third-row passengers, the nearby trim panels have molded cup holders. Getting access to the area is no chore; the power-operated tailgate is skinned in lightweight aluminum.
The richly appointed interior, with leather, suede, and wood is smooth, elegant, and attractive, with a generally uncluttered appearance. Automatic climate control, a power tailgate, the Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system, 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, and keyless entry are all standard. Major options include a cold-weather package with heated front- and second-row seats and a heated steering wheel, as well as a rearview camera, a DVD navigation system, and four-zone climate control.
Dual front, side, and curtain airbags are standard on the Q7, along with anti-lock brakes, stability and roll control. Rear thorax side airbags—a feature that’s not widely available—are optional.