What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Audi Q7 sees a light refresh in the form of revised front and rear fascias, new head- and taillights and new wheels. There are also distinct lower-body panel treatments to better define the various trim levels. Inside, there is additional ambient lighting and an updated MMI system. Audi has dropped the Q7's base 3.6 trim level.
With its powerful stance, fine build quality and confident performance, the 2010 Audi Q7 has everything you'd expect from a German-engineered large crossover SUV. A platform mate to its Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne cousins, the Q7 is more than a foot longer, offering more space for shopping spoils as well as allowing a third-row seat, the latter being something not available in the two others.
The Q7 is also available with a diesel-fueled engine, something only offered on the VW. Opt for the 3.0-liter clean diesel V6 ("TDI"), introduced last year and legal in every state, and you'll enjoy massive low-end grunt (over 400 pound-feet of torque) and much better fuel economy. This year's Q7 remains relatively unchanged, though the latest-generation MMI (Multi Media Interface) controller is a welcome addition as it includes a joystick atop the knob for more intuitive use.
Enticing as it is, the 2010 Audi Q7 is not without its faults. Saddled with more than 5,000 pounds of metal to move, the gas-fueled engines can only offer so-so performance along with their thirsty ways. Another downside is the third-row seat, which is rather cramped and disappointing considering the vehicle's large footprint.
The Q7's saving graces include a well-crafted interior, relatively agile handling and a number of luxury features that make the Q7 ideal for daily family use and road trip vacations. But we'd be remiss if we didn't also suggest that you consider the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, which offers more room and quicker performance. Two other choices include the Cadillac Escalade, which is brawnier and bigger but less refined, and the VW Touareg, which provides a very similar driving experience for considerably less money.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Audi Q7 is a large luxury crossover SUV that seats seven passengers. There are three trim levels that correspond to engine choice: the 3.6 Premium (3.6-liter gas V6), the TDI Premium (diesel V6) and the 4.2 Prestige (4.2-liter V8).
The 3.6 Premium comes standard with two-tone paint, 18-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, a power liftgate, power heated front seats, leather upholstery, a trip computer, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, the Multi Media Interface (MMI) with a display monitor and a premium audio system with a six-CD changer, satellite radio, iPod integration and an auxiliary audio jack.
There are also two packages for the 3.6 that further up the luxury ante. The Premium Plus package adds xenon headlights, front parking sensors, a rearview camera, a navigation system (with voice control and traffic reporting), driver-seat memory settings and a Bose surround-sound audio system. The Prestige package has the above equipment plus 20-inch wheels, keyless entry/ignition and a blind-spot warning system.
The Q7 TDI has the 3.6 Premium features along with a monochromatic color treatment, 19-inch wheels and additional exterior chrome trim. One may add more features to the diesel Q7 via the same two packages available on the 3.6 Premium.
The 4.2 Prestige has all the features of the 3.6 with the Prestige package along with S line exterior trim (unique bumpers, grille and body-side moldings), a power-adjustable steering column, the Warm Weather package (with four-zone climate control and rear side-window and cargo-area shades) and a wood shift knob.
The TDI and 4.2 also offer a Luxury package with upgraded leather upholstery, an Alcantara headliner and ventilated front seats. Stand-alone options include fancier 20- or 21-inch wheels, a towing package, a cold weather package (which includes a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats), a panoramic sunroof, extra interior leather coverage and four-zone climate control. The TDI and 4.2 are available with an adaptive air suspension, while the 4.2 can also be had with second-row captain's chairs, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system and adaptive cruise control.
Powertrains and Performance
Beneath the Q7's hood lies a choice of three engines: a 3.6-liter V6 (280 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque), a 4.2-liter V8 (350 hp and 325 lb-ft) or a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 (225 hp and 406 lb-ft). All models come with all-wheel drive, and all engines are matched with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control.
Although the power plants are capable, the Q7's beefy weight of 5,000-plus pounds blunts their performance. Expect a 0-60-mph time of 8 seconds flat for the V8, an almost equally quick 8.3 seconds for the diesel V6, and about 9.5 seconds for the V6. Properly equipped, the Q7 can tow 6,600 pounds.
Fuel economy ratings for the 2010 Audi Q7 V6 stand at 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined. The V8 has 13/18/15 ratings, and the TDI comes in at an impressive 17/25/20.
The 2010 Audi Q7's standard safety equipment includes antilock brakes, a stability control system (with hill-descent control and rollover detection), traction control, active front headrests, full-length side curtain airbags and front-seat side airbags. Seat-mounted side airbags for the second row are optional. In addition, Audi's blind-spot warning system alerts the driver when another vehicle is along the Q7's side.
In crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Q7 was tops, scoring five out of five stars in front- and side-impact testing. The Q7 also aced the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, scoring the top rating of "Good" in that agency's frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Like all Audis, the Q7 ranks high in interior materials and build quality. The dash layout is driver oriented, and Audi's MMI (on trims so equipped) is relatively easy to use once you've had some practice. The amount of passenger space is mixed, with a relatively roomy second row but a cramped third row. The latter can only comfortably seat children or small adults; this is a little disappointing given the Q7's size. With the second and third rows folded flat, the Q7 has just 72.5 cubic feet of cargo space, which is unimpressive compared with other crossovers in its class.
The 2010 Audi Q7, with its sharp looks and AWD system, is better suited for navigating slippery pavement in inclement weather than for tackling a muddy 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 performance, acceleration with the 3.6-liter V6 is noticeably lacking and even the 350-hp V8 struggles to get things moving, but the turbodiesel's substantial low-end torque moves the Q7 off the line and up to speed smartly. Handling is good, especially with the available adaptive air suspension. The air suspension's adjustable settings enable the driver to switch between a well-mannered cruiser and a more dynamic people mover that's ready to tackle curving roads.