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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
a hearty, sexy growl
Car and Driver
acceleration is brisk" in TDI
Audi's threesome of engine choices gives the Q7 a wide appeal, particularly to green-minded shoppers.
The base engine is a 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6. According to Audi, it accelerates to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds and tops out at 130 mph, with fuel-economy ratings of 14/20 mpg. Edmunds warns "the 3.6-liter V6 is noticeably lacking in oomph." Likely, it's because as Cars.com explains, it's "saddled with a lot of mass to haul around"-up to 5,500 pounds. The next step up is a smooth, swift 4.2-liter V-8 that kicks out 350 hp. Though it's thin on low-end torque, it barks out a muted engine growl that's a great soundtrack for spirited driving. Cars.com says, "The V-8 engine moves the Q7 capably despite the SUV's substantial bulk, and there's fluid power for high-speed acceleration and passing." With it, the Q7 accelerates to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds, but fuel economy falls to 12/17 mpg. Even with more power, the Audi "isn't especially quick or athletic," ForbesAutos contends.
The third choice? Audi's turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 diesel. It has 221 hp but 406 pound-feet of torque, which puts it performance between that of the other options-and its fuel economy at 18/25 mpg. It doesn't have the quick throttle response of the V-8, but highway passing power is strong and there's very little noise to let on that it's a diesel. Automobile observes that "the ample torque made the big Q feel ready to accelerate at any moment," while Edmunds says the diesel is a bit quieter than the other engines: "Background noise levels measure a decibel or two lower than the V8 when cruising at freeway speed," they report. Automobile predicts you should be able to go 600 miles on a tank, "so you'll want to be sure to hit the restroom before you leave."
Across the 2010 Q7 lineup, Audi installs a responsive six-speed automatic with a sport-shift mode. "The transmission features a manual mode and adapts to driving style," ForbesAutos observes. "For instance, if a driver is accelerating aggressively, the transmission will downshift sooner and hold gears longer for stronger acceleration." Edmunds reports "the six-speed automatic transmission is also not the smoothest in the world, providing a jerky response when accelerating slowly." The transmission mates to the Audi quattro all-wheel-drive system. It's designed mostly for on-road use, but with quattro, "up to 65 percent of engine power can be sent to the front wheels or 85 percent to the rear wheels by means of the self-locking center differential," Cars.com explains. "Standard towing capacity is 5,500 pounds," ForbesAutos says. "A $500 tow package increases it to 6,600 pounds."
The Q7's power steering has ideal effort-pretty unusual for an SUV-with some feedback and a bit of road feel. MyRide says it has "sublimely fluid and linear steering with perfect assist levels" and yields a "comfortable ride both on and off the road." Cars.com contends "the steering wheel itself turns with relatively little effort and amazing smoothness, but the driver is deprived of any feedback." ForbesAutos feels "the steering, while well-weighted, feels noticeably numb just off center, and this big Audi is reluctant to change directions quickly."
Ride and handling are far above the SUV norm, since the Q7 is fitted with an independent suspension and all-wheel drive, which team up for comfortable, capable handling. The Q7 also uses air shocks for a choice of driving modes (sport, comfort, and automatic) that lifts and lowers the vehicle for driving extremes-off-roading, high-speed interstate runs. Edmunds notes, "placed in 'Dynamic' mode, the vehicle can be hustled relatively easily on a curvy road."
The Cars.com reviewer "spent most of my time switching between the softest available setting, Comfort, and the tautest, Dynamic. In Dynamic mode, the ride is so firm you might find yourself wondering if the suspension is damping anything at all; all bumps and holes in the road are keenly felt."
The 2010 Audi Q7 counters its bulk with big V-8 power or massive diesel torque; handling's a cut above the standard SUV.