What's New for 2012
The 2012 Audi Q7 receives a modest 8-horsepower increase for the base 3.0T engine. Otherwise, it returns unchanged.
On outward appearances, the 2012 Audi Q7 is big: as big as most full-size SUVs, actually, along with an equally imposing 5,500-pound curb weight. The natural assumption would be that the bloated dimensions would at least deliver an abundance of passenger space and useful cargo capacity, but you'd be wrong. Inside, the Q7 isn't nearly as accommodating as its competition in terms of interior volume.
But that's not to say the Audi Q7 suffers from cramped quarters. At least in the first two seating rows, adults will likely enjoy plenty of space, and those passengers will also be treated to one of the nicest cabins in the segment. It's only when you try to shoehorn an adult-sized passenger into the child-sized back row or try to haul many bulky items that the Q7 begins to show its weakness.
The Q7's strengths, as with most Audis, lie with its road-going prowess. With three available engine choices to suit your tastes and the added confidence of standard all-wheel drive, the Q7 still manages to keep most drivers satisfied. For some, these driving dynamics might be well worth the sacrifices in space. Then again, Audi's smaller Q5 might be a smarter choice if passenger and cargo capacity isn't a priority.
If space is a deal breaker, rivals like the Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover LR4 or Mercedes-Benz GL-Class might be better suited to your needs. All of these alternatives will provide more comfortable third-row seating and greater cargo capabilities. But if you do happen to fall into that Goldilocks zone of needing a five-passenger luxury hauler that can fit two more kids on rare occasions, the 2012 Audi Q7 could still be worth consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Audi Q7 is a full-size seven-passenger luxury SUV. It is available in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trims, with slight differences based on whether you opt for the TDI or 3.0T engines.
The Premium comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, roof rails, a power liftgate (with programmable opening angle), automatic wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated 12-way power front seats and leather upholstery. Other standard features include a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a reclining 40/20/40-split second-row seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, Audi's Multi Media Interface (MMI) and an 11-speaker sound system with console-mounted six-CD changer, in-dash single-CD player, satellite radio and an iPod interface. The TDI Premium gets 19-inch wheels and additional exterior chrome trim.
The Q7 Premium Plus gains adaptive xenon headlights, LED running lights, a panoramic sunroof (optional on Premium), a rearview camera, front parking sensors, auto-dimming and power-folding exterior mirrors, driver memory functions, a navigation system (optional on Premium) and a Bose surround-sound system with HD radio and DVD audio capability. The Warm Weather package adds a deep-tint panoramic sunroof, four-zone automatic climate control and manual sunshades for the rear doors and tailgate.
The TDI Prestige adds 20-inch wheels (optional on Premium Plus), cornering lights, keyless ignition/entry, a blind-spot warning system, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, ventilated front seats and the Warm Weather package. The 3.0T S line Prestige adds those extra items, plus a more powerful supercharged V6 than the other 3.0T trims, different 20-inch wheels, headlight washers and special S line exterior trim and styling flourishes. The S line items are available on the TDI Prestige in an option package. Other options for both Prestige trims include an adaptive air suspension, 21-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system and an S line package that adds special interior trim.
Optional on all trims are rear side airbags, a Towing package and a Cold Weather package, which adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2012 Audi Q7 3.0T Premium and Premium Plus is a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that produces 280 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The 3.0T S line increases power output to 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard. In Edmunds performance testing, a 3.0T Premium went from zero to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds -- an average time for this segment. EPA-estimated fuel economy for both versions of the 3.0T is 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.
The 2012 Audi Q7 TDI is powered by a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 that produces 225 hp and a robust 406 lb-ft of torque. In performance testing, this engine brought the Q7 from zero to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds. Fuel economy is estimated to be 17/25/20.
Standard safety features on the 2012 Audi Q7 include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and rear parking sensors. A rearview camera is standard on Premium Plus and Prestige trims, while a blind-spot warning system is standard on the Prestige. Second-row side airbags are optional on all trims.
In Edmunds brake testing, both the Q7 3.0T and TDI came to a stop from 60 mph in 132 feet, which is long for SUVs in this class. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Q7 the highest rating of "Good" in both the frontal-offset and side crash tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
As is the case with nearly all Audis, the 2012 Audi Q7's interior receives high marks for its understated design and use of top-notch materials. The dash is clearly built around the driver, and controls are fairly easy to operate with some practice.
In terms of comfort, adult-sized passengers will be well accommodated in the first two rows. The third row, however, is suitable only for smaller children; most rivals provide quite a bit more space. Furthermore, cargo space falls short of the competition, with only 72.5 cubic feet of space with the second and third rows folded flat.
Although the 2012 Audi Q7 features full-time all-wheel drive, it is not well suited for off-road excursions. Instead, the Quattro system is more at home supplying ample grip on slippery pavement or enhancing cornering prowess. The Q7's large dimensions and ponderous weight put a damper on maneuverability, particularly in tight parking spaces, but the available rearview camera eliminates much of the guesswork. Opting for the Prestige trim's air suspension broadens the Q7's appeal, as the driver can select a more luxurious or athletic setting.
The base 3.0T engine will likely suffice for a vast majority of drivers, while the more powerful S line delivers V8-like power without the fuel economy penalty. Our pick remains the TDI turbodiesel, with its prodigious torque and favorable fuel consumption.