- Stylish exterior design
- Elegant interior
- Carlike ride and handling
- Gas mileage isn't great with the supercharged V-6
- It's heavy, and feels like it
- Prices can rise quickly with options
The 2013 Audi Q7 is a premium, lavishly-appointed three-row utility vehicle with great on-road manners and capability, plus towing ability--without the off-road style or pretense.
The Audi Q7 is a luxury crossover that focuses on comfortable seating for the whole family, as well as its on-road manners.
Not that you're likely to need much in the way of off-road capability, anyway, of course. On-road, the quattro all-wheel drive will tackle harsh conditions with grace. Don't let the extra size of the Audi Q7 compared to the related Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne fool you; if anything, the extra wheelbase improves ride quality and composure while maintaining (most of) the relative nimbleness for a large SUV.
From the curb, the Audi Q7 is an attractive, elegant vehicle, without any of the rock-crawling, safari-driving pretensions you'll find elsewhere. Crisp lines and smooth surfaces combine for a look that's adult and sophisticated with being stodgy. Inside, you'll find one of the best interiors in the class, with rich leather, suede, and wood creating a warm and refined environment. The controls are largely sleek and uncluttered, though the climate and audio controls can be a bit daunting at first glance.
Carrying forward 2011's reshuffling of the Q7's powertrains, the 2013 model offers no V-8, replacing it with a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 in two power levels. The base engine is rated at 280 horsepower, providing strong acceleration and throttle response, while the upgraded model offers a stout 333 horsepower, improving both acceleration and response. A V-6 TDI diesel, rated at 240 horsepower and 407 pound-feet of torque, is also available, and with its solid 19/28 mpg city/highway, it's a great alternative to the gasoline burners--and plenty of fun to drive, too. Audi's quattro all-wheel drive is standard on all models of the Q7.
While you might not rate handling as a top consideration for a full-size SUV, the seven-passenger/three-row Q7 is very capable. A firm but comfortable ride comes from a four-wheel independent suspension and careful tuning, plus an air ride system that allows the driver to dial in sport, comfort, and automatic modes to suit the conditions. Tow ratings up to 6,600 pounds are available with the right equipment, making it easy to tow the boat or jet skis to the lake as well.
Inside the Q7's cabin, the well-designed and beautifully appointed interior isn't just pretty--it's comfortable, too. The front seats are well-suited to longer-legged occupants, with plenty of thigh support, and the second row is adult-sized as well. A large panoramic sunroof brightens the interior, keeping the rear of the Q7 from inducing claustrophobia. The third row is best-suited to children, though, with less leg room than you'll find elsewhere in the SUV. Both the second and third rows fold down, opening up a total of 88 cubic feet in cargo space, accessed by a power-operated tailgate. The one caveat of the large load space is the relatively high cargo floor.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) scores the essentially identical 2012 Q7 with top marks of "good" in front and side impact crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn't crash tested the Q7 yet. In addition to the good IIHS marks, the 2013 Audi Q7 offers a full suite of safety equipment, being one of the only vehicles in the class to offer rear side thorax airbags. Other available safety equipment includes a lane-departure warning system, rearview camera, and blind-spot warning.
While the Audi Q7 is well-equipped even in base trim, a set of available upgrades can bring the SUV into true high-end premium territory, including an available Bang & Olufsen audio system--complete with tweeters rising magically from the dash on startup--plus Audi's internet-connected MMI interface with navigation, Eoogle Earth, local search, and WiFi hotspot capability.