ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Audi’s entry into the crowded midsize luxury SUV class, the Q7, easily ranks among the best in that costly and competitive segment.
With a supremely polished and comfortable cabin, top-flight technical and safety features, superb drivetrains, and confident and refined handling and ride quality, the Q7 pampers its passengers and keeps the driver engaged and alert.
The big Audi is first and foremost a fine family hauler. Front and second-row seating – swathed in supple, genuine hide, of course – coddles occupants with excellent support for long-distance travel. The third row, like most of its competitors’, is rather snug for anyone beyond puberty.
Cargo space behind those occasional-use seats is also rather limited, but folding them flat opens up a wide luggage hold.
The cabin’s clean, upscale appearance is enhanced with top-drawer materials and textures including glossy real-wood trim bits, satin metallic accents and a welcome paucity of buttons.
Our Premium Plus test model included Audi’s innovative (and optional) Virtual Cockpit, a configurable high-resolution screen that subs for a conventional gauge cluster. It can display Google Earth satellite maps when used in conjunction with the navigation system.
The Q7’s exterior design reiterates Audi’s current conservative styling themes – handsome, well proportioned but tipping toward overly familiar. It does look properly elegant, however.
Our tester had the base, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which seems kind of small for this size vehicle, but its 252 horsepower does a respectable job of motivating the Q7. There’s a whiff of turbo lag pulling away from a dead stop, but once the turbo quickly spools up there’s plenty of gumption. The smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transfers power to all four wheels via Audi’s excellent quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The big Audi is a refined driver, with fairly light but accurate steering; confident, almost sporty, handling; and a creamy and hushed highway ride.
As always with German luxury machines, go easy on the options, or you’ll rapidly jack up the bottom line. But the Audi Q7 will pay you back with its excellent build quality, on-the-road behavior, wonderfully comfortable cabin and its suite of cutting-edge technology. Enjoy!