2010 Audi Q7 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 9, 2009

The 2010 Audi Q7 tames the SUV bad-boy image with subtler looks, diesel fuel economy, and good on-road performance.

TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the Audi Q7 to write this Bottom Line road test from hands-on experience. The companion Full Review brings you a conclusive look at other opinions from around the Web. Editors at TheCarConnection.com compare the Q7 with rival sport-utility vehicles as well, to help you make the best purchase decision.

The first sport-utility ever from sports-sedan specialists at Audi, the Q7 returns for the 2010 model year with a refreshed exterior and a touched-up cabin-and a new smaller stablemate in the Audi Q5. Part of a joint product plan with the Volkswagen Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne, the five- or seven-seat Audi A7 is offered with a choice of V-6, V-8, and diesel V-8 engines and comes standard with all-wheel drive. Priced from $47,725 for the V-6, the Q7 diesel costs $51,725 and the V-8, $61,825. The competition includes the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, and Lincoln MKT.

A subtle, elegant approach defines the Q7. It's not a brutish off-roader in the Land Rover vein, nor a monster truck like the bling-encrusted Cadillac Escalade. The Q7's fastback shape is classy and stylish, with only a high ground clearance to give away the off-road appeal. Audi's huge nose-to-ground grille dominates the front end, while sharp cutlines define the curvy body and athletic profile. The clean look-it's actually a complex sculpture-integrates new LED taillamps, new headlamps and front and rear bumpers, and two-tone or body-color skirts, depending on the model chosen. The Q7's richly appointed interior wears leather, suede, and wood well. It's tightly integrated and attractively styled, with a generally uncluttered appearance save for some of the minor switches.

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. The smooth, swift 4.2-liter V-8 kicks out 350 hp, and though it's thin on low-end torque, it barks out a muted engine growl that's a great soundtrack for spirited driving. With it, the Q7 accelerates to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds, but fuel economy falls to 12/17 mpg. 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 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.

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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.)

Across the 2010 Q7 lineup, Audi installs a responsive six-speed automatic with a sport-shift mode. The Q7's power steering has ideal effort-pretty unusual for an SUV-with some feedback and a bit of road feel. Ride and handling are far above the SUV norm, since the Q7's fitted with an independent suspension and all-wheel drive, which team up for comfortable, capable handling and a big 6,600-pound towing capacity. 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.

In both the five- or seven-passenger versions, passengers in the Audi Q7 will find wonderfully supportive seats in the front two rows. The leather-covered front bucket seats are supportive enough for long rides, with plenty of adjustability for all sizes of people. The second row has adult-sized legroom and headroom, but three across won't be happy after more than an hour or so. There's an option for third-row seating; it's small, but it's large enough for children. The third-row seats fold flat, and the second-row seats move back and forth 4 inches to create more legroom. The rear two rows also fold flat to open up a significant 88-cubic-foot cargo hold. Accessing that cargo is no chore; the tailgate is power-operated, and it's crafted in aluminum.

The Audi Q7 is among the safest SUVs on the road. 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) rates the Q7 as "good" in front, side and rear impacts, and calls it a Top Safety Pick. Dual front, side, and curtain airbags are standard on the Q7, along with anti-lock brakes, as well as stability and roll control. Rear thorax side airbags-a rare feature on any vehicle-are optional, as are a rearview camera, a lane-departure warning system, and a blind-spot warning system.

The Audi Q7 slots above most of Audi's vehicles in mission and size-and price-so its standard-equipment list is long. Every Q7 has automatic climate control; 18-inch alloy wheels; a power tailgate; cruise control; and keyless entry. Audi's Multi Media Interface also is standard, and this year's version is significantly updated with a joystick controller, integrated real-time traffic from Sirius XM, and 3D mapping displayed on a larger, high-resolution LCD screen. Major options include a cold-weather package with heated front- and second-row seats and a heated steering wheel; a DVD navigation system; and four-zone climate control.

8

2010 Audi Q7

Styling

The 2010 Audi Q7 breaks from the sport-ute pack with its sleek outline and its rich, detailed interior.

The first sport-utility ever from sports-sedan specialists at Audi, the Q7 returns for the 2010 model year with a refreshed exterior and a touched-up cabin-and a new smaller stablemate in the Audi Q5. Part of a joint product plan with the Volkswagen Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne, the five- or seven-seat Audi A7 is offered with a choice of V-6, V-8, and diesel V-8 engines and comes standard with all-wheel drive. Priced from $47,725 for the V-6, the Q7 diesel costs $51,725 and the V-8, $61,825. The competition includes the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, and Lincoln MKT.

A subtle, elegant approach defines the Q7. It's not a brutish off-roader in the Land Rover vein, nor a monster truck like the bling-encrusted Cadillac Escalade. Cars.com says the Q7 "looks a lot like a tall, bulked-up wagon." The Q7's fastback shape is classy and stylish, with only a high ground clearance to give away the off-road appeal. MyRide points out that it is "more tasteful and elegant than either of its platform mates, the Porsche Cayenne or VW Touareg." Audi's huge nose-to-ground grille dominates the front end, while sharp cutlines define the curvy body and athletic profile. MyRide approves of the "horse-collar grille" and says the "tapered greenhouse" maintains a "familial resemblance with the Avant wagons." ForbesAutos admires the "V-shaped prow" and its "coupe-like roof arch." Car and Driver observes "every detail...has been sculpted, massaged, and polished."

The Q7's richly appointed interior wears leather, suede, and wood well. It's tightly integrated and attractively styled, with a generally uncluttered appearance save for some of the minor switches. Edmunds refers to the Q7's "superior interior design," while Car and Driver exclaims, "You haven't seen gorgeous until you've beheld the dried-herb sumptuousness of the Cardamom Beige interior." 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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8

2010 Audi Q7

Performance

The 2010 Audi Q7 counters its bulk with big V-8 power or massive diesel torque; handling's a cut above the standard SUV.

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."

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9

2010 Audi Q7

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Audi Q7 has ample interior room-except in the third row-and enviable fit and finish.

The Audi Q7 is nearly full-size, which means seating for seven is possible. Cars.com says "it's about six inches longer and 10 inches taller than an Audi A6 wagon," which enables the option of a third-row seat.

In both the five- or seven-passenger versions, passengers in the Audi Q7 will find wonderfully supportive seats in the front two rows. TheCarConnection.com's editors find the leather-covered front bucket seats are supportive enough for long rides, with plenty of adjustability for all sizes of people. 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 reports, "though very tall drivers might wish they could move farther back." The second row has adult-sized legroom and headroom, but three across won't be happy after more than an hour or so. "There's generous foot and legroom," Cars.com asserts, and "these seats recline and slide fore and aft." ForbesAutos notes a "Luxury Six-Seater Configuration" can be ordered; it "replaces the center second-row seat with a storage console."

There's an option for third-row seating; it's small, but it's large enough for children. "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." MyRide.com calls the third row "a penalty box." Edmunds complains the "third-row seat is cramped and useful for children only...Considering the Q7's size, this is a little disappointing." In a comparison test, the Q7's third row ranks lowest at Car and Driver with the Cadillac Escalade, since "entry and exit are contortionist exercises in both of them."

The rear two rows also fold flat to open up a significant 88-cubic-foot cargo hold. "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." Accessing cargo is no chore; the tailgate is power-operated, and it's crafted in aluminum.

Audi's interior quality continues to garner some of the best reviews across the Web. "Like other Audis, the Q7 is a model for high-quality construction and materials," Edmunds says. Cars.com contends "the cabin features first-rate materials and an attention to detail seen in relatively few mass-produced vehicles," and Car and Driver sums it up: "Sometimes gorgeous is its own reward, and this is one of those times."

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10

2010 Audi Q7

Safety

The 2010 Audi Q7 earns top safety scores with good crash-test results and plenty of safety equipment.

The Audi Q7 is among the safest SUVs on the road.

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) rates the Q7 as "good" in front, side, and rear impacts, and calls it a Top Safety Pick.

Dual front, side, and curtain airbags are standard on the Q7, along with anti-lock brakes, as well as stability and roll control. Edmunds reports "seat-mounted side airbags for the second row are optional."

Among the other safety options are a rearview camera, a lane-departure warning system, and a blind-spot warning system. Visibility isn't much of an issue in the Q7, though the rear roof pillars can cut down on the view over the shoulder.

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9

2010 Audi Q7

Features

The 2010 Audi A7 comes with plenty of features that will leave you delighted-except maybe MMI.

The Audi Q7 slots above most of Audi's vehicles in mission and in size-and in price-so its standard-equipment list is long.

Every Q7 has automatic climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, a power tailgate, 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."

Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) also is standard, and this year's version is significantly updated with a joystick controller, integrated real-time traffic from Sirius XM, and 3D mapping displayed on a larger, high-resolution LCD screen. Edmunds says with the joystick controller, "the driver can operate entertainment, climate, communications and navigation functions," adding the system is "certainly more intuitive than BMW's reviled iDrive." ConsumerGuide notes that the driver is faced with "numerous buttons and switches, despite the aim of the MMI system to reduce such clutter" and warns that something as simple as changing the radio station could be "distracting and time consuming."

Major options include a cold-weather package with heated front- and second-row seats and a heated steering wheel; 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."

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