What's New for 2008
The 2008 Audi Q7 is unchanged save for some feature and trim level updates. The base 3.6, 3.6 Premium and 4.2 Premium trim levels all have extra standard equipment this year (and higher MSRPs to match.) Last year's base 4.2 trim level has been dropped.
Audi introduced its first SUV, the Q7, just last year. Despite its tardiness, the Q7 is packed to its 18-inch wheels with luxury goodies and the type of exceptional quality that has characterized Audis for more than a decade. A crossover SUV, the Q7 is a distant cousin of the Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, but it has (among many other things) been lengthened by more than a foot to accommodate a third row of seats. With this added size, the Audi is even heavier than its brethren, which are already big-boned in their own right. The Q7 does have generous maximum cargo capacity, so at least the girth translates into some utility.
What it also translates into is a premium-brand SUV crammed with luxury niceties and tech-based convenience features. For 2008, more of those niceties are standard on the three trim levels (the 4.2 has been dropped in favor of the 4.2 Premium only), including leather upholstery, six-CD changer and 18-inch wheels. The Quattro all-wheel-drive system is still standard on all Q7s, while the V8-powered 4.2 Premium can be equipped with an adaptive air suspension that improves the big Audi's handling and steering responses. Buyers can also choose between V6 and V8 engines.
Though its subpar acceleration (yes, even with the V8), fuel economy and third-row accommodations should give you pause, the 2008 Audi Q7 is otherwise very impressive. We've put thousands of miles on our long-term Q7 test vehicle and remain impressed by its collection of luxury features, versatile and beautifully crafted interior and agile handling. This largest Audi is ideal for family-oriented daily use and long-distance drives -- provided you don't have too many children. But we also suggest taking a look at the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, a roomier vehicle that the Q7 matches most closely and that we also hold in high regard.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Audi Q7 is a luxury crossover SUV that seats between five and seven passengers depending on seating configuration. There are three trim levels: 3.6, 3.6 Premium and 4.2 Premium. Getting the exact collection of features you want can be tricky, as Audi groups a lot of items into specific packages.
The base model comes standard with 18-inch wheels, five-passenger seating, eight-way power front seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) all-in-one control system and an eight-speaker stereo with a six-CD changer. A base Q7 3.6 with the Comfort Package has a third-row seat, heated front seats, a power tailgate, satellite radio and an upgraded sound system. The 3.6 Premium has those features plus a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity and auxiliary audio jack with iPod direct connection. One can also add a convenience package to the 3.6 Premium to receive adaptive xenon headlights, driver memory functions and a Bose surround-sound system. The 4.2 Premium offers much of the same features as the 3.6 Premium, but adds that trim's convenience package features plus a standard voice-activated navigation system, four-zone climate control, 20-inch wheels and front parking sensors.
On the Premium trims, the Technology Package includes a blind-spot warning system, lane departure warning system, keyless ignition and voice-activated navigation (on the 3.6 Premium). There's also the Cold Weather package, the Offroad Style Package, a pair of "S line" interior and exterior styling packages and fancier 20- or 21-inch wheels. Stand-alone options include a panoramic sunroof, extra interior leather coverage, four-zone climate control (3.6 Premium), second-row captain's chairs and a towing package. The 4.2 Premium can also be had with an adaptive air suspension and adaptive cruise control.
Powertrains and Performance
Under the hood rests either a 3.6-liter V6 (280 horsepower, 266 pound-feet of torque) or a 4.2-liter V8 (350 hp and 325 lb-ft). A six-speed transmission with manual-shift control is standard on both. All Q7s come with Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system. Although the power plants are certainly strong, the Q7's beefy weight of 5,000-plus pounds blunts performance. Expect a 0-60-mph time of 8.3 seconds for the V8 and about 10 seconds for the V6. Properly equipped, the Q7 can tow 6,600 pounds.
The 2008 Audi Q7's standard safety equipment includes 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. Also optional is Audi's Side Assist, which notifies the driver when other motorists have entered the vehicle's blind spots by lighting up yellow LEDs in the exterior mirror housings. Optional lane assist alerts the driver if the car drifts out of its lane. In crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Q7 performed very well, scoring five out of five stars in front and side crash protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
Like other Audis, the Q7 is a model for high-quality construction and materials. If you buy one for its luxurious interior alone, you won't be disappointed. The dash layout is very similar to that of the A6, with its driver-oriented cockpit highlighted by the standard MMI system. 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. There's a steep learning curve involved, but the system is effective at corralling the Q7's various features and is certainly more intuitive than BMW's reviled iDrive.
All but the base 3.6 Q7 come standard with a third row, providing either six- or seven-passenger capacity depending on whether the buyer selects second-row captain's chairs. As with many vehicles in this category, the third-row seat is cramped and useful for children only. Considering the Q7's size, this is a little disappointing. However, with the second and third rows folded flat, this Audi boasts 88 cubic feet, which is competitive with the cargo holds of other luxury crossovers.
The 2008 Audi Q7 is a dedicated on-roader, with its quattro all-wheel-drive system intended for keeping the vehicle out of a snowbank rather than encouraging it to tackle a rutted trail. The Q7's size and weight can make it feel a bit unwieldy around town, but the available back-up camera makes parking easier.
In terms of acceleration, the 3.6-liter V6 is noticeably lacking in oomph, and even the 350-hp V8 struggles at times to get the mighty Q7 moving. The six-speed automatic transmission is also not the smoothest in the world, providing a jerky response when accelerating slowly. More agreeable, though, is the handling on Q7 4.2 Premium models equipped with the adaptive air suspension. The driver can select from three main suspension modes. Placed in "Dynamic" mode, the vehicle can be hustled relatively easily on a curvy road.