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Review of the 2017 Audi Q7: The Future Is Here

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On: Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 2:05PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Review of the 2017 Audi Q7:  The Future Is Here

In case you hadn't noticed, some people were very disappointed when 'Back to the Future Day' came and went on October 21, 2015. The time we live in is nothing like the futuristic scenario Marty McFly ended up in while attempting to save his future. There are no flux capacitors that run on garbage; hell, no flux capacitors at all, in fact. No hoverboards, no automatically lacing Nikes, and, most notably, no flying cars. Yet, while we may all have been a little bummed at our inability to fly around in a Buick, we should look back and realize just how far we've come. It wasn't too long ago that people from my time looked forward to one day being able to buy a car that had things like power door locks, power windows, or maybe even ABS! Luxurious amenities like a moonroof, heated seats, and the like were nothing more than pipe dreams that only the most well-off, upper-crust could have in their lives. But, look how far we've come in only a couple decades. The options that are available on even the most basic transportation of automobiles embarrasses even the classiest of yesteryear's cars. And if the cheap cars have some futuristic options these days, just what do the nice cars have? Well, the 2017 Audi Q7 is a very good example of just how far into the future we really have come.

Sure, there are more SUVs, crossovers, hybrids, hybrid hybrids, and every other combination of truck or pseudo-truck you can think of out in the market today, but the Q7 is a special vehicle. Not just for what it presents to the consumer, but (and arguably more important) it represents the beginning of an entirely new platform for Audi's parent company, the VW Group, to build a whole host of vehicles off of in the very near future including the next Audi A4/A5 and A8, the next VW Toureg, and even the next high-end Porsche Cayenne and Bentley Bentayga. No pressure, Q7, no pressure. But even with all of those cars' futures hanging in the balance, the Audi SUV seems like it has done an amazing job bringing a very modern and competitive package to the table.

For starters, the new Q7 has lost 700 pounds, thanks to healthy doses of high-strength steel, magnesium, titanium, and aluminum in place of some heavier materials in the outgoing model. While the Q is won't be confused for a Miata anytime soon, the reduced weight does have significant advantages in terms of performance and fuel mileage, and it does make it the lightest vehicle in its class. The Quattro all-wheel drive system that Audi is known for gets a few tweaks which help the SUV become nearly unstoppable in almost any form of terrain found on Earth. Part of that weight saving, though, did include leaving out a low-range transfer case for serious off-roading, but Audi basically gambled that anyone with that kind of off-the-beaten-path desire would probably go elsewhere for a serious four-wheel drive anyway. That being said, the Q still provides 9.6 inches of ground clearance, so don't think it can't handle just about anything a normal winter could throw at it.

There are two engines on the option list: The supercharged 3.0-liter DOHC V6 is a very stout motor and should provide plenty of that oomph you're looking for when getting up to highway speeds. Producing a very respectable 333 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, the supercharged V6 gives the Q7 plenty of street cred in a world filled with some very quick SUVs from the likes of BMW and Mercedes. The second option for power is the 3.0-liter DOHC turbodiesel that produces 272 horsepower and a very tow-friendly 443 lb-ft of torque for those who need to bring their boat everywhere they go. You can have any transmission you want with your engine choice, so long as you want an ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic. Torque split is set normally to 40/60 in favor of the rear tires, but, depending on conditions, as much as 70% of torque can be channeled to the front tires, and up to 85% can be sent rearward if need be.

Remember what we said about all that weight loss? It has made the new Q7 a much better runner. In terms of performance, it depends on which engine you choose. 0–60 mph can be accomplished in anywhere from 5.5 seconds to 6.2 seconds, with the supercharged V6 being the quicker of the two, and the diesel bringing up the rear (and probably towing a trailer). The gap becomes increasingly noticeable as speed increases, but, out of the gate, all three models are almost bumper to bumper. Top speed for the Q7 is 145 mph if you're so inclined to push it and have a solid few miles of abandoned, yet maintained road to try it out on. Around the skidpad, the Audi posts 0.85g, which for a 4,400 pound SUV is pretty impressive. Thanks to that diet and a low drag coefficient of 0.32 fuel mileage isn't too bad for a two-ton-plus SUV. Though it hasn't been officially tested by the EPA yet, expect around 18/27 city/highway for the supercharged V6 model and the turbodiesel should get something like 21/30 city/highway.

But the most impressive aspects of the Q7 come when you get inside and start to look around. The tech that Audi engineered into this SUV is nothing short of amazing. Sure it has optional all-wheel steering, push-button start, panoramic sunroof, and even heated and cooled seats, but options like those are just to be expected at this point. Even the adaptive air-ride suspension that delivers both a soft and supple ridge in one mode, and things like a 'predictive efficiency assistant' that help the driver get the best route for both fuel mileage and distance using GPS and adaptive cruise control. Heads-up display, a new touchpad Multi-Media Interface, and a 12.3-inch exceptionally bright HD "virtual cockpit" dashboard panel readout display, and even a more streamlined voice command system that allows you to use simple sentences to get information from the car instead of pre-set commands that need to be said in a specific order are just a few of the new tricks Audi has worked into the mix.

Not enough? How about 4G LTE to power onboard Wi-Fi and smartphone integration using Google Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, or a 10.1-inch Audi tablet for rear passengers? Still not impressed? Then Audi's Traffic Jam Assistant might be what you're looking for. Thanks to a series of cameras, sensors, and some very complex programming, the Audi can essentially drive itself for you by fully modulating the brakes, throttle, and steering on the highway under speeds of 37 mph. It can't recognize red lights yet, so don't try to get cute around town. Audi also gave the Q7 the ability to apply the brakes on its own when a sharp left turn is imminent and it senses oncoming traffic to be too close. Basically, the Q7 will stop you from being an idiot if you're not paying attention. That same feature also works when trying to back out of a parking spot too. There are also all of the modern tech safety nets like lane-departure warning, automatic braking, blind-spot monitoring, and we don't have to tell you ABS is standard by now. All of this tech can be had for a relatively affordable base price of about 50 grand.

The Q7 is a definitely a car ahead of its time. The only real gripe we have is that it doesn't look the part. It has great off-road capabilities, a very nice ride, great acceleration, but it doesn't look like a truck. It looks more like an A6 Avant with a lift kit on it. But then it also seems that the color affects the visual aspects of the Q7 and make it look different. In silver it seems to look more like a big wagon, yet in blue or white the sleek contours of the SUV come through better. But then, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so maybe it's just us.

So while the Q7 doesn't come with a plutonium-sourced power supply, or wheels that turn up under the car and propel it off above the trees, we are closer to that world than ever before. We can talk to the Q7 and have it understand, it will look out for us and stop the car when we can't see, and it will even drive for us for a little while. And even if you don't want to do your best Marty McFly impersonation, just think of how not-so-long-ago it was that we could only hope for a car that would lock the doors for us.

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