The Car Connection Audi Q7 Overview
The Audi Q7 is the biggest crossover SUV in the brand's lineup. With seats for up to seven passengers, the Q7 has lots of space in addition to some of the latest technology offered by the Volkswagen Group.
In its first generation, the Q7 went largely unchanged from its 2007 introduction through its final year on sale as a 2015 model year. A redesigned Q7 arrived for the 2017 model year, carrying new styling, improved technology, and an updated powertrain menu. For 2018, it's mostly unchanged aside from a few additional standard features.
The Audi Q7 is the first among a slew of large SUVs that will ride atop similar structures underneath. The Q7 is distantly related to the Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne, and even counts the Lamborghini Urus in its family tree.
With the Q7, Audi competes with the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class and GLE-Class crossovers, the BMW X5, and the Volvo XC90.
MORE: Read our 2018 Audi Q7 review
The new Audi Q7
Audi introduced a second-generation Q7 for the 2017 model year.
The look is more like that of a tall wagon than a hulking SUV, and the new interior is the most luxurious and refined yet for any Audi crossover. The new platform lowers weight by a claimed 700 pounds. Audi initially made the Q7 available with the corporate 3.0-liter, supercharged V-6 that makes 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. A 2.0-liter turbo-4 joined the mix later, and a plug-in hybrid model will be part of the lineup.
Audi managed to make the Q7 slightly narrower and shorter overall while increasing cargo room and second-row leg room; head room has also been increased, and the Q7 continues to offer a third row of seats.
Audi has filled the new Q7's cabin with its latest technology. The interface uses a version of the Virtual Cockpit digital-instrument/infotainment combo first used on the TT, but the Q7 benefits from a second control screen located in the center stack. It also offers integration with iPhone and Android smartphones through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with the option to add Android tablets for back-seat passengers. This is the most advanced Audi infotainment setup yet, and should make its way into the rest of the brand's lineup shortly.
Audi has shown a plug-in hybrid version of the new Q7, dubbed e-tron, which uses electric motors and either a diesel or gas engine. The model may be offered here, but it's likely that a U.S.-bound e-tron would eschew the TDI engine for one that sips gasoline.
For its sophomore year, the 2018 Q7 is mostly unchanged. A proximity key with keyless ignition is standard, a Bose audio system now comes on Premium Plus models, and Prestige models have power door closers.
Audi Q7 history
Shown first as a concept vehicle, the Q7 was Audi's first SUV when it joined the U.S. lineup in the 2007 model year—although Audi had offered a higher-riding "Allroad" version of the A6 Avant wagon in prior years. The Q7 was expressly designed to appeal to sport-'ute shoppers.
Initially, the Q7 came with only a single powertrain: a 4.2-liter V-8 with 350 hp, all-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Still, it proved a major upgrade over the usual SUV handling—and most of all, the usual SUV styling, with its sleek side view.
In the 2008 model year, Audi addressed the fuel-economy shortcomings of the V-8 somewhat with a new 280-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 option—and then again in 2009 when it introduced a turbodiesel V-6 version of the Q7 capable of 17 mpg city, 25 highway, according to the EPA. A 333-hp version of the gas-powered V-6 was added later and the V-8 was dropped from the lineup.
In 2015, Volkswagen admitted diesel engines in this model illegally cheated federal tests and polluted beyond allowable limits. As part of unprecedented settlements with federal and state governments, Volkswagen agreed to buyback from owners diesel-equipped models of this vehicle. To determine eligibility for all affected Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi models, Volkswagen set up VWDieselInfo.com for owners. (Owners of affected vehicles can enter their VIN numbers to see if their cars are eligible for buyback.)
For 2015, three V-6 versions of the Q7 were available with the sweet-shifting automatic transmission delivering power to all four wheels and with an adjustable air suspension tuning the ride quality to near-ideal, as long as you stay away from the larger wheel options.
The Audi Q7 has been among the safest SUVs on the road. The NHTSA gave in 2011 the Q7 its highest ratings for front and side impact protection, and has also awarded the Q7 four stars for rollover resistance. The IIHS rated the Q7 as "Good" in front, side and rear impacts, and generally considers the 'ute to be one of the safest picks.