2008 Audi Q7 Review

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The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

The 2008 Audi Q7 puts a sport-ute premium on its beautifully made interior, seven-passenger seating, and sedanlike acceleration.

TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Audi Q7 to write this comprehensive review. Our car experts also drove the 2008 Audi Q7 in Germany and in the U.S., to be able to deliver our definitive opinion on the car, to compare it with other cars in the class, and to help you decide whether it's the right car for you.

The 2008 Audi Q7 is the German automaker's first sport-utility vehicle. It was introduced in 2006 and hasn't fundamentally changed--and in many ways, that's just the right idea.

The brand's smooth, forceful 4.2-liter V-8 churns out 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque in the top models. Though it's been tuned for better low-end torque, the strongest impression the eight-cylinder leaves behind is the muted hammering it barks out above 4,000 rpm. The transmission is a six-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox, which does an invisibly good job of managing the power if you decline to use its sport-shift mode. Audi says this Q7 accelerates to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds and hits a top speed of 130 mph--solid for a 5,269-pound SUV.

A 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 is also available, and Audi promises it will accelerate to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds. Neither is great on gas; the V-8 is rated at 12/17 mpg, the V-6 at 14/20 mpg.

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An all-independent suspension and quattro all-wheel drive grant the Q7 comfortable, capable handling and 5,500-pound towing capacity. The Q7 also has a three-mode air suspension--sport, comfort, and automatic--that varies the damping of the vehicle according to conditions and the speed of the vehicle. It also raises the vehicle in off-road driving and lowers it at highway speeds. The Q7's power steering, with lovely effort and feedback, is hydraulically actuated.

The Q7's basic floor plan is a cousin of that which underpins the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, but the Audi can be ordered as a three-row, seven-seat model, unlike those utes. The Q7 body is all Audi, and confidently the best-looking of the trio. Sharp cutlines give athletic definition to the profile, and the body curvature on the rear end around the taillamps manages to look clean and simple when it's really a complex set of shapes. The body encases a cabin with three rows of seats and, Audi says, 28 seat/cargo configurations. That's because the third-row seats fold flat and the second-row seats move back and forth four inches to create more legroom, as well as fold flat. Audi says the cargo hold, with two seats up and two rows folded, leaves 88 cubic feet of space for ferry duty. (Six-cylinder cars will be offered without the third-row seat.)

The seating areas are pretty comfortable. The second row has plenty of legroom, while the third is predictably scant for adults--but even back there, the nearby trim panels have molded cup holders, and flipping and folding the seats into desired positions is an easy task even for 100-pound moms. And getting access to the area is no chore; the power-operated tailgate is skinned in lightweight aluminum.

Inside, the Q7 has a rich leather, suede, and wood interior with uncluttered lines. Leather seats are standard, along with automatic climate control, a power tailgate, the Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system, 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, and keyless entry. Major options include a cold-weather package with heated front and second-row seats and a heated steering wheel, as well as a rearview camera, a DVD navigation system, and four-zone climate control.

Audi stocks the Q7 with dual front, side, and curtain airbags, along with anti-lock brakes, stability and roll control. Rear side airbags are optional.

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2008 Audi Q7

Styling

The 2008 Audi Q7 defies SUV logic with its coupelike shape and its sumptuous interior.

The 2008 Q7 is all Audi, and easily the best-looking of a trio of SUVs from Germany that shares a common set of pieces. Sharp cutlines give athletic definition to the profile, and the body curvature on the rear end around the taillamps manages to look clean and simple when it's really a complex set of shapes.

“There’s no mistaking a Q7 in your rearview mirror,” ForbesAutos says, “with its V-shaped prow and enormous mesh grille bisected by a black bar.” The sport-ute’s “coupe-like roof arch” gives it a racy look, they say, and it looks best from the side. Cars.com says the Q7 “looks a lot like a tall, bulked-up wagon; it's about six inches longer and 10 inches taller than an Audi A6 wagon,” while MyRide.com points out that it is "more tasteful and elegant than either of its platform mates, the Porsche Cayenne or VW Touareg." They approve of the way the "horse-collar grille works...on this high-riding SUV, and...like the tapered greenhouse which maintains the familial resemblance with the Avant wagons." Car and Driver goes off the deep end when it describes the Q7 as a “doodle pad for the design department, wherein every detail from the roof rack to the load-floor molding has been sculpted, massaged, and polished until it delights everyone on the Christmas-card list.”

Inside, the 2008 Audi Q7 bears a rich, inviting cabin. “You haven't seen gorgeous until you've beheld the dried-herb sumptuousness of the Cardamom Beige interior,” Car and Driver says, while Edmunds simply calls it "sharp” and says it has a “superior interior design.” Cars.com feels “the cabin features first-rate materials and an attention to detail seen in relatively few mass-produced vehicles.”

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2008 Audi Q7

Performance

The 2008 Audi Q7 has good road feel, but even its V-8 engine is overwhelmed by its bulk.

The 2008 Audi Q7 might be a heavy car, but TheCarConnection.com finds that this big sportscar comes with great features and a growl that can seduce even the most critical drivers.

The brand's smooth, forceful 4.2-liter V-8 churns out 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque in the top models. Though it's been tuned for better low-end torque, the strongest impression the eight-cylinder leaves behind is the muted hammering it barks out above 4,000 rpm. 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.” The Audi “isn’t especially quick or athletic,” ForbesAutos admits.

A 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 is also available, and Audi promises it will accelerate to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds. Edmunds says “the 3.6-liter V6 is noticeably lacking in oomph.” In either version, Cars.com says “it'll be saddled with a lot of mass to haul around”—up to 5,500 pounds of mass to transport. Hence, neither Audi Q7 is great on gas; the V-8 is rated at 12/17 mpg, the V-6 at 14/20 mpg. A diesel version coming for the 2009 model year is expected to lift highway fuel economy into the mid-20-mpg range.

The transmission is a six-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox, which does a good job of managing the power if you decline to use its 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.”

“Standard towing capacity is 5,500 pounds,” ForbesAutos says. “A $500 tow package increases it to 6,600 pounds.” And though its quattro all-wheel-drive system is designed mostly for on-road use, the Q7 proves to be “extremely capable while driving off-road through a narrow forest trail in upstate New York,” they add. 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.

An all-independent suspension and quattro all-wheel drive grant the Q7 comfortable, capable handling. The Q7 also has an optional three-mode air suspension--sport, comfort, and automatic--that varies the damping of the vehicle according to conditions and the speed of the vehicle. It also raises the vehicle in off-road driving and lowers it at highway speeds. 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 Q7's power steering, with lovely effort and feedback, is hydraulically actuated. MyRide.com says it has "Sublimely fluid and linear steering with perfect assist levels" and yields a "comfortable ride both on and off the road." ForbesAutos feels “There’s certainly plenty of handling grip, especially with the huge, optional 20-inch wheels and tires. But the steering, while well-weighted, feels noticeably numb just off center, and this big Audi is reluctant to change directions quickly.” Cars.com contends “the steering wheel itself turns with relatively little effort and amazing smoothness, but the driver is deprived of any feedback.” Edmunds notes, “placed in 'Dynamic' mode, the vehicle can be hustled relatively easily on a curvy road.”

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2008 Audi Q7

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Audi Q7’s handsomely finished interior masks a small third-row seat and one or two unattended details.

The 2008 Audi Q7 has three rows of seats and, Audi says, 28 seat/cargo configurations—but not all seating positions are created equal, as reviewers from TheCarConnection.com and other respected sources found out.

The 2008 Q7 seats two in the front buckets, three across in the second row, and on most models, two in the third-row seat. “All but the base 3.6 Q7 come standard with a third row,” Edmunds explains, “providing either six- or seven-passenger capacity depending on whether the buyer selects second-row captain's chairs.”

In front, “The seat servos into the posture of your choice,” Car and Driver says. “I was able to get comfortable in the Q7's leather front bucket seats,” Cars.com’s reviewer writes, “though very tall drivers might wish they could move farther back.” In the second row, “There's generous foot and legroom,” and “these seats recline and slide fore and aft.” ForbesAutos notes “a $1,200 'Luxury Six-Seater Configuration' replaces the center second-row seat with a storage console. “

“As with many vehicles in this category, the third-row seat is cramped and useful for children only,” Edmunds says. “Considering the Q7's size, this is a little disappointing.” MyRide.com calls the third row "a penalty box." In a comparison test, the Q7 ranked lowest at Car and Driver with the Cadillac Escalade, since “entry and exit are contortionist exercises in both of them.”

Cargo area is good, but not great. The third-row seats fold flat, and the second-row seats move back and forth four inches to create more legroom, as well as fold flat. Audi says the cargo hold, with two seats up and two rows folded, leaves 88 cubic feet of space for ferry duty. “The seats fold down into an intricately interlocked set of panels, as flat as the deck of a Nimitz-class carrier,” Car and Driver reports. “But you can’t erect them while standing at the tailgate,” ForbesAutos moans. “Instead, you’re forced to walk around to the rear side doors, which can be annoying.” The power-operated tailgate is skinned in lightweight aluminum, though, for easy access.

The 2008 Q7’s interior has good build quality and is made from fine materials. “Like other Audis, the Q7 is a model for high-quality construction and materials,” Edmunds says. “If you buy one for its luxurious interior alone, you won't be disappointed.” Cars.com says “the cabin features first-rate materials and an attention to detail seen in relatively few mass-produced vehicles.” ForbesAutos describes a cabin in which “aluminum trim is mated to a choice of three wood inlays: burr walnut, olive ash or dark, mahogany-like tamo.” Car and Driver sums it up: “Sometimes gorgeous is its own reward, and this is one of those times.”

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2008 Audi Q7

Safety

The 2008 Audi Q7 is as safe an SUV as you can buy.

The 2008 Audi Q7 scores extremely well in federal crash tests, with a laundry list of standard safety features.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Q7 its highest ratings for front and side impact protection. It also awards the Q7 four stars for rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) calls the Q7 a "Top Safety Pick."

Edmunds list the Q7’s safety features thusly: "antilock brakes, a stability control system with hill descent control and rollover detection, traction control, front occupant whiplash protection, side curtain airbags for all outboard passengers, and front-seat side airbags. Seat-mounted side airbags for the second row are optional.”

Audi also offers Side Assist, which activates a blinking light on the outside mirrors when objects appear in the blind spots, as well as adaptive cruise control.

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2008 Audi Q7

Features

To get all the bells and whistles on the Audi Q7 2008, be prepared to spend some cash--and some time learning how to use the MMI system.

The Audi Q7 is a nirvana of features, including the semi-bedeviled MMI controller.

Leather seats are standard in the 2008 Audi Q7, along with automatic climate control, a power tailgate, the MMI system, 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, and keyless entry. Cars.com adds that the base version includes “a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 12-way power driver's seat and bottle holders in each door.”

Major options include a cold-weather package with heated front and second row seats and a heated steering wheel, as well as a rearview camera, a DVD navigation system, and four-zone climate control. “The optional panoramic sunroof has three large panels that extend over nearly all three rows,” ForbesAutos reports. “The front panel slides open, while the rearmost panel can be raised at an angle.”

Edmunds echoes the concerns of other sources regarding Audi’s MMI. "Utilizing an LCD screen controlled by a knob and various menu buttons mounted on the center console and steering wheel, the driver can operate entertainment, climate, communications and navigation functions" through it. ConsumerGuide Automotive notes that the driver is faced with "numerous buttons and switches, despite the aim of the MMI system to reduce such clutter" and says that something as simple as changing the radio station could be "distracting and time consuming." Edmunds adds, “the system is effective at corralling the Q7's various features and is certainly more intuitive than BMW's reviled iDrive.”

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August 7, 2015
2008 Audi Q7 quattro 4-Door 3.6L Premium

Elegant, practical, and safe all wrapped in one.

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We purchased our 2008 in 2011. Shortly thereafter my wife was stopped at a traffic light and was rear-ended by a mid-sized Acura, which was traveling at 45-50 MPH. My wife suffered slight whiplash. The Q7... + More »
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