Admit it: the 2018 Audi Q7 is an ultra-luxurious minivan for those who cringe at the thought of sliding doors.
That’s not damning Audi’s 7-passenger hauler in the least. Instead, it’s a huge compliment in that it does exactly what minivans do—only with more pampering. It’s hard to imagine ever wanting more, let alone needing more, from a vehicle. Sure, it’ll move seven passengers in comfort and safety just like a Nissan Pathfinder or Honda Pilot that costs half as much, but the Q7 stands out for its terrific attention to detail.
It pampers at every opportunity: beautiful materials spread about its cabin, what’s arguably the most advanced infotainment system ever fitted to a car, and a suspension that suppresses the roughest urban terrain you’re likely to encounter while still providing something approaching thrills on a curvy road.
Perfect, no. The Q7 ultimately remains devoid of the kind of personality you’ll find in some of the brand’s more enthusiast-oriented options. We recently spent a week behind the wheel of a well-outfitted Q7 Premium Plus with the optional 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. The verdict? We’re ready to place an order.
Light, but not on luxury
The latest Q7 popped onto the scene last year as a 2017 model, a long overdue replacement for the first Q7 that lasted nearly a decade. Its tall wagon looks are evolutionary and unassuming yet thoroughly modern. They hide a structure that’s largely made from aluminum, which saves around 500 pounds over its predecessor despite the inclusion of far more high-tech comfort and convenience features.
2018 Audi Q7
The difference is immediately notable in the way the Q7 drives. It’s a big crossover at a hair under 200 inches from bumper to bumper, but its relative svelteness snakes its way through traffic nearly as well as the brand’s much smaller Q5 five-seater. Our tester was fitted with the standard suspension setup that disciplines unruly pavement with a firm hand. On the range-topping Q7 Prestige, Audi will gladly sell you another $4,000 worth of optional air suspension—but we’re not sure it’s worth the coin unless you plan to tow regularly.
Steering is light and accurate, if a little reluctant to return to center when pushed hard through a twisty canyon road. Around town, where Q7s will spend most of their time, it makes easy work of evasive maneuvers around errant shopping carts doing their best to spice up parking lots. The 3.0-liter V-6 delivers refined, predictable thrust at any speed and any elevation. We took our test car up a Colorado mountain pass and found excellent pulling power with little other than a fast sweep of the speedometer needle to indicate any change in speed.
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Its interior remains silent even as velocity approaches triple digits, a clear reminder of this crossover’s Autobahn heritage. The Germans build cars for Germany, but it turns out that buyers over there have big families to truck around just like we do. To that end, the Q7 absolutely pampers for four and is certainly acceptable for more passengers.
The rear seat’s outboard positions offer stretch-out room that nearly mirrors the captain’s chairs up front. Even row three, accessible at the tug of a lever that flops down the second row’s bench, is tolerable for adults for short distances. Where the Q7 really stands out over less-pricey rivals is in its attention to details, however. Even the third row is swathed in classy materials that are snapped or screwed into place with a substantial feel. Our tester’s glossy wood trim wouldn’t be out of place in a Bentley—or adorning a Steinway, for that matter.
Check the right boxes on your Q7’s ordering chart for the Vision Package ($2,000) and you’ll wind up with LED headlights and a beautiful high-resolution screen that replaces its conventional analog gauges. This user-configurable screen, which Audi brands as its “virtual cockpit” is worth every penny for its ability to display stunning high-resolution Google Earth imagery. Taking a lesson from Apple, Audi has presented tremendous information in a way that’s easy to digest while on the go. There’s even a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot so passengers can stream Netflix directly to their iPads.
These high-tech features do demand a monthly subscription, however. It's a reminder, like the rest of the Audi Q7, that you get what you pay for.