Three powertrains all deliver good performance in the Audi Q7, but we have a favorite that's probably also on many green-car shoppers' must-drive lists.
Every Q7 is powered by a V-6, but gas versions get supercharging and two different output levels from the same 3.0 liters of displacement. The base version produces 280 horsepower, which Audi says will push that Q7 to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, thanks to a new eight-speed automatic. A more powerful version with 333 horsepower effectively replaces the Q7's old V-8 option; it's good for a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds, though it has the same gas-mileage ratings as the less powerful version. With either, the strong acceleration comes with an engine note that sounds just a bit graunchier than the old V-8 and its silky-smooth notes. We've driven the powertrain in other Audis, but not yet in the Q7--we'll report back when we've spent some time behind the wheel.
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.