- Sportier, more carlike look and feel
- Finely detailed cabin
- Innovative rear-wheel steering
- Best tech features limited to top trim
- Third row not all that usable
- Potentially very expensive
The 2017 Audi Q7 gets a rakish new sport-wagon look, a finely detailed, tech-savvy interior, and serious chassis advancements underneath—including a dramatic weight loss, available rear-wheel steering, and a plug-in hybrid version.
Most models with a third row really put a damper on most kinds of driving enjoyment, whether that be zigzagging through tightly mountain-road esses, or just maneuvering through the parking lot of your local supermarket.
The 2017 Audi Q7 is the rare exception to that. As the new, second-generation version of this full-size crossover, an eager powertrain, some sophisticated steering and suspension engineering, a lighter-weight body structure, and a lowered center of mass go a long way toward helping this seven-seater feel more planted and confident in corners, as well as more maneuverable everywhere else.
In retrospect, the Q7 was a true trendsetter, eschewing all the rugged, truck-influenced cues in favor of a look that’s always looked far more like a tall sport-wagon than a traditional SUV. While many of its crossover peers have been either playing catch-up or looking for new, faux-rugged directions for styling, the 2017 Audi Q7 appears to take on a look that’s even more sport-wagon-influenced than before. It’s a familiar look and profile, but with a somewhat more chiseled look to the details, a more prominent beltline, and a roofline that looks "canted back." Up front, it gets a brighter take on the corporate "Singleframe" grille, with thick crossbars and a little more sculpting—plus DRLs that are arrow-shaped.
Inside, the Q7 takes on a horizontally oriented instrument-panel theme, contrasted with a cockpit-like layer of controls just ahead of the driver. The shift knob and center console have been cleaned up yet finely detailed, with the Multi-Media Interface (MMI) touchpad and controller now has haptic feedback and is located just ahead, in an even better location than before. Directly in front of the driver there's a version of Audi's Virtual Cockpit, a sophisticated display on its own, while a standalone screen atop the dash can stow away when it's not needed.
Structurally, the big news is that the Q7 is now built on a multi-material design that uses more ultra-high-strength steel, as well as aluminum castings—and aluminum, exclusively for the front fenders, doors, hood, and hatch. That helps save nearly 500 pounds versus the outgoing version.
The Q7 will launch with only one powertrain: a 3.0 TFSI supercharged gasoline V-6, rated at 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. A short time later there will be versions with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, while both a new TDI diesel Q7 as well as a Q7 e-tron quattro model (with more than 30 miles of range on a charge and 0-60 mph times of under six seconds) are likely to arrive next model year.
Each of those powertrains incorporates an 8-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual control, and there’s a driving dynamics system that now works with the optional adaptive air suspension for up to seven drive programs, including allroad and lift/allroad modes. Underneath, the Q7 now has five-link front and rear suspension designs. Top models in the lineup have a new all-wheel steering system that can turn the rear wheels up to five degrees (to counter the direction of the front wheels during parking, or turn gently with them at higher speed), while a sophisticated adaptive suspension can access up to 9.3 inches of ground clearance (raised 2.4 inches), access more wheel articulation, and lower the body by as much as 1.2 inches from normal at highway speeds.
Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system normally sends 60 percent of power to the rear wheels, but it can send up to 70 percent to the front or up to 85 percent to the rear. The Q7 isn't a purpose-built off-road rig by any means, but it has the means for making its way up slippery trails and through deep snow.
The 2017 Audi Q7 is slightly shorter (1.5 inches) and narrower (0.6 inches) than its predecessor, but the cabin itself is longer and there’s more headroom (there's some dimensional magic, through a thinner seat design and a lower cargo floor allowed by the new rear suspension design). It’s fitted an array of "premium acoustic insulation" to keep the Q7’s reputation for quietness and a refined ride.
While the 2017 Audi Q7 has received the highest IIHS' "Top Safety Pick+" honors and it offers a very strong complement of advanced safety features, as well as a highly engineered modern passenger cell and a full set of standard airbags. And a suite of available active-safety features can help avoid accidents entirely; examples include one that will keep you from backing into traffic, help you avoid pedestrians, keep you at a safe following distance, or even keep you from opening your doors into cyclists.
The Q7 is a technology powerhouse in terms of features; its Virtual Cockpit display system in front of the driver and its MMI infotainment system at the center screen both have their own powerful T30 NVIDIA graphics processors, for example, and Audi has brought in better voice controls and integration with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Other feature highlights include a full stop-and-go adaptive cruise-control system, a trailer assistant, a head-up display, and a 1,920-watt, 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. In back you can opt for up to two Audi tablets with 10.1-inch screens, allowing those in back to have access to media, navigation, and some vehicle functions.
Official EPA ratings for the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, paired with the 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, are 19 mpg city, 25 highway, 21 combined.