2007 Audi Q7

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Review: 2007 Audi Q7

By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

Audi's first SUV arrives late but promises to be a strong contender.
Pros:
  • Fast
  • Roomy
  • Good handling
Cons:
  • Occasional jerky power delivery
  • Tight third seat
  • Mediocre fuel economy

The early 2007 Audi Q7 SUV is pretty late to the upscale SUV market, but is roomy, with attention-grabbing styling and the respected Audi nameplate.

Volkswagen is Audi's parent company, so the Q7 has a solid heritage. This new Audi seats 6 to 7 occupants with its third-row seat and is essentially a larger, posher version of Volkswagen's 5-passenger Touareg, with bits and pieces from Audi's upscale A6 and A8 sedans.

The Q7 also is related to the 5-passenger Porsche Cayenne SUV, which was developed with the Touareg. Porsche and Volkswagen long have had a close working relationship, and Porsche recently bought a big chunk of Volkswagen—partly to protect future joint vehicle projects such as the upcoming Porsche sedan.

Mediocre Fuel Economy
The Q7 arguably could qualify as an upscale crossover vehicle because it has car-like maneuverability and handling. But it's definitely an SUV on the basis of estimated fuel economy, which is mediocre but typical of a powerful midsize sport utility: 14 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway.

Easing the pain is a large 26.4-gallon fuel tank, which should lower the number of fuel stops.

The base version of the Q7 V8 is priced at $49,900, while a Premium version lists at $59,900. (Audi says a V6 version that "will cost about $10,000 less" is scheduled to arrive in September.)

Lots of Equipment
The base Q7 is packed with comfort, convenience and safety items, while the Premium trim level adds second-row "captain's chairs," a rear-obstacle detection system, 4-zone automatic climate controls, a power sunroof, a navigation system, a rearview TV camera and heated front/second-row seats, along with keyless access and starting.

Safety features include front-seat side airbags and side-curtain airbags that cover all seating rows. Rear side airbags are optional.

There are a fair number of desirable, although costly, options for the base version, such as an $1,850 power panorama sunroof and $1,800 navigation system. (Many such items are standard on the Premium version.)

Distinctive Body
The Q7 has a distinctive body. It's sleek and aerodynamic with a rakish profile, fronted by a big version of Audi's controversial "horseshoe" grille. A fair number of people asked who made the Q7. That should be good news to Audi because there are so many look-alike vehicles out there that distinctive ones are often sought out by potential buyers.

The more than 200-inch-long Q7 looks longer than it is, although it's one of the longest premium midsize SUVs. It reminded me of a Chrysler Pacifica, which is offered with a third-row seat and is nearly as long. The Touareg and Cayenne are approximately a foot shorter.

The Q7 is easy to maneuver and park, and should fit in most garages.

Tight Third-Row Seat
This Audi seats six or seven, depending on if the second-row seating is a split bench or two buckets. Athletic moves are needed to reach the third-row-seat area, which is best left to children or to adults no more than 5 feet 3 inches tall.

There isn't much cargo space with the third-row seatbacks in an upright position, but they fold flat, as do second-row seatbacks, to form a large cargo area. The third-row seat also folds into the floor.

The cargo opening is rather high, but is large and wide. The power aluminum tailgate is handy if your arms are filled with groceries.

Performance is no problem despite the Q7's hefty 5,269-pound weight because it has a 4.2-liter V8 with 350 horsepower. The 0 to 60 mph sprint takes only 6.9 seconds and merging into fast freeway traffic and passing on highways is no problem.

It remains to be seen if performance of the Q7 280-horsepower V6 version is OK, although slower acceleration is to be expected with it.

Jerky Power Delivery
The V8 puts power through a 6-speed automatic transmission, but my test vehicle's power delivery occasionally was jerky, as if the transmission was trying to figure out what gear it should be in. I've experienced the same thing with the Cayenne, but not the Touareg.

Steering is quick and precise, and handling is good for an SUV that is 68.4 inches tall (A full-size Audi A8 L sedan stands 57.3 inches high.)

Audi's accomplished all-wheel-drive system helps handling, but has no low-range gearing for off-road use. That's because the Q7 is designed to be a luxurious on-road SUV that is less edgy than, say, a BMW X5 or Cayenne.

Comfortable Air Suspension
The $2,600 adaptive air suspension makes the ride especially comfortable. This suspension also helps eliminate body sway, lowers the body up to 1.4 inches at highway speeds for less wind drag, lowers the suspension to facilitate loading and increases ground clearance.

The ride reportedly is not as good with the standard coil spring suspension, but the Q7's long 118.2-inch wheelbase should make it reasonably smooth.

The standard Q7 has 18-inch wheels, while the Premium has 19-inchers. The giant 20-inch wheels on my test vehicle cost $1,600 and put more rubber on the road for better handling, but don't contribute to ride quality.

Brakes are powerful, with good pedal feel, but a driver will feel the Q7's weight during quick stops.

Sumptuous Interior
Getting in and out is easy, and few automakers make interiors as sumptuous as Audi does. The large, comfortable front seats are supportive and gauges can be quickly read. There are many covered and open storage areas.

On the negative side, thick windshield posts can block visibility. And the driver's power window controls are set too far forward on the door, which can cause rear windows to be accidentally opened when a driver wants to activate the front windows.

Controls for the premium sound system are a bit complicated, but climate controls are fairly easy to use.

The Q7 would have made a larger splash if introduced a few years ago. But other automakers have been successful with late-arrival SUVs, and the Q7 is distinctive enough to stand out in a crowded market.

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BB06 - 8/28/2014 10:37:15 PM