The Q7's optional 4.2 liter V-8 produces 350 horses and plenty of road-gripping torque. That's more power than the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Mercedes M-Class, and Range Rover Sport.
Q AS IN QUICK
At 5,467-lbs. the Q7 is heavier than nearly all its competitors. Despite its heft, the V-8-equipped model goes from 0 to 62 mph in a silky-smooth 7.1 seconds. The electronically limited top speed, meanwhile, is 130 mph.
With the larger engine, it's rated to get between 14 and 19 miles per gallon. In my driving it averaged below that, at 13.4 miles per gallon.
The real genius lies in the DSG automatic transmission, which can be shifted into a manual-like mode that activates wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Those enable blazing gear changes.
The adaptive air suspension, a $2,500 option, allows the Q7 to play well both on- and off-road. Audi's quattro, its standard all-wheel drive, certainly deserves its sterling reputation. But when the Q7 is equipped with the additional system, the click of a few buttons lifts the ride height to tackle tricky off-road obstacles or lowers it to noticeably improve on-road handling.
A camera built into the trunk beams images to the dash to assist with parking. Better yet, the system overlays a 3D image of where the car is headed as the wheels turn. Another handy option is an intuitive mirror-mounted safety system that warns drivers when other cars enter blind spots.
The top of the line Q7 has a base price of $59,900--more than its competitors. But that price includes a lot of extras, such as a gorgeous three-panel panoramic sunroof that stretches from the front to the rear of the cabin, giving it an airy, open feeling. A version with fewer extras as well as a less powerful (and less thirsty) engine starts at a more reasonable $39,900.
Audi's new snout design is controversial in auto circles. The way the grill pulls the front of the car down toward the road works to give the hulking SUV a sporty look.
By Matt Vella