All three versions are V-6s, but each is distinct for power output and for fuel. The two gas-powered V-6s share a 3.0-liter engine block and a supercharger, but outputs differ. On base Q7s, the engine spins out 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, good for a 0-60 mph time of 7.8 seconds and with the new eight-speed automatic, good for fuel economy of 16/22 mpg, Audi says. While this version effectively replaces Audi's old V-6, the more powerful version is the successor for the Q7's old V-8 engine option. The more precocious six turns in 333 hp--just as it does in the A6 and S4 sedans--and it drops 0-60 mph times to 6.9 seconds, while fuel economy checks in at the same levels as the low-power edition. We've been unable to score a test drive either of these models, but a scan of competitive reviews reveals the expected plaudits for straight-line performance--with some reminders that Audi's supercharged V-6 emits some grumbles that aren't entirely in keeping with the high-pricetag mission.
On a parallel track is Audi's 3.0-liter diesel V-6. It twists out 225 hp but a huge 406 pound-feet of torque, which helps keep acceleration within range of the gas versions. Audi says it's good for 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, while fuel economy gets a boost to 17/25 mpg. It doesn't have the quicker throttle response of the V-6s, but highway passing power is strong and there's very little noise to let on that it's a diesel. With its fuel economy, a driving range of 600 miles per tank of fuel is within easy reach.
When ride and handling are factored in, the Q7's more nimble feel and standard all-wheel drive pitch it even more into the crossover camp. Its power steering has ideal effort and weight--a highly unusual trait in an SUV--and it even has more feedback than you'll find in some passenger cars. The Q7 is fitted with an independent suspension, which teams up with adjustable air shocks for capable and comfortable handling. In Comfort, the Q7 glides over freeway bumps; in Dynamic mode, it's a surprisingly eager carver, though much stiffer in resisting bumps and grinds that might be better left on mute.