Audi has upped the ante in the three-row luxury SUV class with the redesigned 2017 Q7. With tasteful exterior styling, all-day comfort and a thoughtful interior design, this is now one of the top three-row luxury SUVs on the road.
What Is It?
The all-new second-generation 2017 Audi Q7 is a full-size luxury SUV that has seating for seven. Under the hood is a 3.0-liter supercharged six-cylinder engine that sends power to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The $55,750 base Premium trim is very well appointed, with feature highlights that include a panoramic sunroof, frontal collision warning and mitigation, a power liftgate, three-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery and power-folding third-row seats.
For another $4,000, the Premium Plus trim adds a hands-free tailgate, a navigation system, WiFi hotspot, a controller pad with handwriting recognition and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
We spent a good chunk of time in the range-topping Prestige trim. It starts at $65,250, and further upgrades the Q7 with comfort, safety and convenience features like LED headlights, ventilated seats and a blind-spot monitor. Options like an air suspension, all-wheel steering, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel and a Driver Assistance package pushed our as-tested price to $72,875.
How Is the Interior?
In the visual and tactile sense, the 2017 Audi Q7's interior hits all the high notes. The new dash is dominated by a horizontal bank of vents that span from the passenger door to the gauge cluster. They're further emphasized by sharp accent lighting that can be adjusted for color and brightness. Materials are top quality, and even the plastics are soft to the touch, well grained and sturdy. The Prestige trim is also eligible for the Luxury package that covers more surfaces in leather.
An ultrahigh-definition 8.3-inch display emerges from the top of the dash, providing entertainment, navigation and vehicle information. At the typical viewing distance, this screen is as sharp as Apple's Retina displays, and is perfectly placed right in the driver's sight lines. Prestige trims also offer an equally sharp virtual gauge pod that can be customized to show almost as much information as the central display. A head-up display offers even more easy-to-read data.
The main infotainment controls are draped over the wide "yacht handle" gear selector. Audi's familiar MMI dial controller and toggle switches are joined by a large trace pad that accepts handwriting inputs and responds with convincing haptic feedback. The simulated "click" feels the same as every other knob and button in the cabin, a subtle consistency that enhances the Q7's premium feel.
On the midlevel Premium Plus trim and above, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration allow the driver to stay focused on the road. The feature-packed system may be a bit daunting at first, but after some time it becomes second nature.
Overall, the Q7's interior artfully blends an abundance of technology into a sleek and friendly package. It's as praiseworthy as the Audi A8 sedan's luxury accommodations, just on a grander scale. There are plenty of storage pockets and bins for your personal effects, but cargo space isn't as generous as rivals. There's up to 14.8 cubic feet of luggage capacity behind the third row of seats, 37.5 cubic feet with them folded and up to 71.6 cubic feet with both rows stowed. That's plenty for most, but the Q7's rivals offer as much as 20 additional cubic feet of space.
Is It More Comfortable Than Before?
With a crypt-quiet cabin, smooth ride and plush seating, the 2017 Audi Q7 is one of the most comfortable vehicles on the road. Its front seats are well cushioned, and the Prestige trim's 12-way power adjustments and ventilation ensure long-distance comfort for any body type. There is a slight lack of lateral support that can be remedied with the optional 18-way adjustable seats if it bothers you.
The second-row seats provide ample leg- and headroom for taller adults and effortlessly fold and tumble forward to allow access to the third row. The two rearmost seats are sized for smaller passengers, and the thick roof pillars can make the third row feel confining.
Adding to the luxurious experience is a distinct lack of road, wind and engine noise. We took a sunrise-to-sunset drive and arrived at our destination feeling as fresh as when we left.
How Does It Drive?
Compared to its predecessor, this 2017 Audi Q7 is roughly the same size, but considerably lighter thanks to liberal use of aluminum. Combined with the 3.0-liter V6's output of 333 horsepower (an increase of about 19 percent) and 325 pound-feet of torque, the Q7 has no problem reaching highway speeds. In Edmunds testing, it recorded a 0-60-mph time of 5.9 seconds, which is quick for the class. Our tester came to a stop from that speed in a very short 112 feet.
With most vehicles in this class tipping the scales at more than 5,000 pounds, descriptors like "agile" and "athletic" are seldom used. Not so with the Q7. Whether it's equipped with the optional Adaptive Chassis package that includes air suspension, the big SUV instills confidence, with very little body roll. Likewise, nosedive is minimized under hard braking. When it comes to overall performance, the Q7 far exceeds our expectations for a vehicle of its size and intended purpose.
While most shoppers in this segment may not place performance at the top of their priorities, the Q7's athleticism still pays dividends with its more palpable feeling of control and composure. Evasive maneuvers are executed with far less drama than you might expect.
The Adaptive Chassis package's benefits aren't limited to enhanced performance, however. The air suspension allows for greater off-road clearance as well as a lower access height for passengers and cargo. This option also includes a four-wheel-steering system for improved maneuverability. At low speeds, the rear wheels can pivot up to 5 degrees out of phase with the front wheels, reducing its turning circle by about 3 feet.
Can It Drive Itself?
No, the Q7 is not even remotely autonomous. What it does have are multiple systems that are designed to reduce much of the burden of driving. Indicators in the head-up display and instrument panel clearly communicate when these systems are active. Like most other vehicles with these features, the Audi requires only the slightest pressure on the steering wheel to let the system know that the driver is still in control. On long stretches of straight highway, it remains within its lane as well as a typical driver (better than distracted ones, for sure), while the adaptive cruise control maintains a consistent gap to vehicles in front. When that gap opens or closes, the responses in throttle or braking are smooth.
On curving roads, the navigation data assists the other systems to determine what speeds are appropriate. It's definitely unnerving at first, but it earned our trust after some time. Select the Dynamic drive mode and the system brakes late and hard into turns, which can be unsettling. Automatic steering isn't as precise as on straighter roads, but the lane keeping system is still effective.
The Q7's automated features are most helpful in heavy traffic. The adaptive cruise control brings the car to a complete stop and, if it's stationary for less than 3 seconds, resumes driving. After 3 seconds, the driver must either tap the cruise control stalk or accelerator pedal. The forward-looking camera also reads speed limit signs and will automatically slow the vehicle accordingly.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Does It Get?
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 21 mpg combined (19 city/25 highway). During its time with us, our Q7 test vehicle averaged 19.6 mpg overall and 23.3 mpg on our highway-heavy evaluation loop. These estimates and results are comparable to other SUVs in the class.
What Kind of Safety Features Are Available?
In addition to the typical safety features found in other luxury SUVs, the 2017 Audi Q7 includes front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera and frontal collision warnings with automatic braking all as standard equipment. Furthermore, the Pre-Sense Basic system automatically tensions the seatbelts, primes the braking system and closes windows and the sunroof in the event a collision is deemed imminent.
Stepping up to the Prestige trim adds rear cross-traffic alerts, a blind-spot monitor, active lane assist and side exit alerts that notify occupants if a car or bicyclist is approaching from behind. Automatic high beams are optional on Premium Plus and above trims, and forward night vision is available on the Prestige trim.
What Does It Compete With?
The Q7's primary competition includes the Mercedes-Benz GL450, Land Rover LR4 and Volvo XC90. In terms of pricing, the Audi is slightly more expensive than the Land Rover, yet well below the Mercedes GL. The Volvo, on the other hand, costs about $11,000 less.
Other alternatives include the Acura MDX, which costs less than $60,000 fully loaded, and the Cadillac Escalade, which can cost as much as $20,000 more than the Q7.
Why Should You Consider the Q7?
This is a three-row luxury SUV with few faults. It's exceptionally comfortable, performs well for its size and has all the latest technology features. Whether you're running errands around town or taking the family on a multistate road trip, the Q7 would be hard to beat.
Why Should You Think Twice About the Q7?
It doesn't have as much cargo space as some of its competitors, and it struggles to deliver its EPA mileage ratings. Those who prefer the nearly buttonless cabin in the XC90 might find the Q7's interior design confusing.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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