Through a late spring storm of rain, sleet, snow, wind and sunshine, the 2017 Audi Q7 powered through 1,250 miles, on a Route 66 run, with confidence, luxury and a fuel economy that ranged between 24 and 28.6 mpg.
Audi’s redesigned second-generation Q7 crossover is a sedan-like flagship of luxury that happens to have cargo capacity and seat seven.
With quattro all-wheel drive and an adaptive chassis package ($4,000) of four-wheel steering and air suspension, the Q7 is composed and determined. Weight transfer through corners was fluid and balanced. The suspension engineering diminishes the sense of size and weight and makes the Q7 behave more like a competent sedan.
The new model has just slightly smaller exterior dimensions than before, but it has more interior room seven seats. The higher-strength steel and aluminum in the body saved about 475 pounds overall, keeping its curb weight to a lean 4,938 pounds. With its handsome design, the Q7 has a strong and striking stance.
Fuel economy and acceleration increase with a new 333-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine and eight-speed Tiptronic transmission. Mileage ratings on the recommended premium fuel are 19 mpg city, 25 highway and 21 mpg combined. That’s up 3 mpg in city and highway, and within 1 mpg or 2 from last year’s turbodiesel engine rating. (A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine will be available next year).
The V-6 has 325 foot-pounds of peak-pulling torque from 2,900 to 5,300 rpm. Moving the metal from a stop requires a firm push on the pedal, but the acceleration can be thunderous as soon as the mass is rolling. Audi cites zero to 60 mph at 5.7 seconds. A generous 22.5-gallon fuel tank also provides a diesel-like driving range of nearly 600 miles.
It’s sold in three trim levels. Pricing starts at $55,750, including the $950 freight charge from Bratislava, Slovakia. The top-line Prestige tester cost $72,875, which included most of the available factory packages. The Prestige package, $9,500, included such extras as Bose 3D surround sound, 20-inch wheels, run-flat tires, and side and rear vehicle alerts.
The Driver Assistance package, $2,400, includes adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, traffic sign assist — which shows speed limits on the navigation screen — and high-beam assist.
In the first half-mile of driving, a few strengths stood out:
–I wondered, “Are the 20-inch Goodyear Eagle Sport tires wearing socks?” It felt like it. There is little to no road harshness transmitted to the cabin and very little wind noise — at any speed, over any road surface.
–The steering is precise; it transmits fluidly and requires minimal input, which is not common to such a large vehicle.
–The adaptive air suspension (magnetic ride control) and four-wheel steering are dynamic enhancements. Because of the suspension, passengers experience no head toss at slow speeds when transitioning driveways or speed bumps. Crank the wheel to corner at a high speed, and there is no slop of weight transfer as the suspension hefts the vehicle’s weight. The Q7 can carve through a corner as ably as most sport sedans. The four-wheel steering helps the 16.6-foot-long Q7 glide into parking spaces and make an easy U-turn on most city streets. At slow speeds, the turning radius seems far tighter than the claimed 40.7 feet. At high speeds, the steering adapts to tuck in the rear for quicker lane changes.
The interior design is contemporary, with quality materials and a classy nighttime bead of red lighting that traces the instrument panel, doors and center console.
The eight-way power-adjustable front seats (heated and cooled) are firm, but still comfortable after a 10-hour day on the road. Sightlines are unrestricted, and the driver is aided by a large rearview camera with an overhead view for backing up and tight parking situations.
The second row is prime real estate: It has tall headroom (38.8 inches) and almost 39 inches of legroom. The seatback reclines and folds flat. The center seat has some of the best footroom of any vehicle, with an almost comfortable seat that can be moved forward or backward a few inches (to get the child’s seat a little closer to the adult’s). There are side-window sunshades, heated seats, fan and temp controls, and four air vents for generous airflow. There are no USB ports, but there are two 12-volt plugs.
Third-row space is a little tight — no doubt a sacrifice for the angle of the roofline. The second and third rows fold flat to create about 6 feet of length. The second row is not the easiest to fold down, but the third row has power folding and return. There is also a power tailgate.
A couple of elements are not as fluid as the driving: The navigation system is tedious, and the smart-locking system that was too quick to react and had me reaching for the fob to settle the confusion.
Audi has always been the more elegant offer in this segment dominated by the Acura MDX, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE. Audi clearly understands that to replicate an American invention such as the SUV does not mean to dumb it down, but rather to raise expectations.
Mark Maynard is online at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGarage