The 2008 Audi Q7 puts a sport-ute premium on its beautifully made interior, seven-passenger seating, and sedanlike acceleration.
The 2008 Audi Q7 is the German automaker's first sport-utility vehicle. It was introduced in 2006 and hasn't fundamentally changed--and in many ways, that's just the right idea.
The brand's smooth, forceful 4.2-liter V-8 churns out 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque in the top models. Though it's been tuned for better low-end torque, the strongest impression the eight-cylinder leaves behind is the muted hammering it barks out above 4,000 rpm. The transmission is a six-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox, which does an invisibly good job of managing the power if you decline to use its sport-shift mode. Audi says this Q7 accelerates to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds and hits a top speed of 130 mph--solid for a 5,269-pound SUV.
A 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 is also available, and Audi promises it will accelerate to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds. Neither is great on gas; the V-8 is rated at 12/17 mpg, the V-6 at 14/20 mpg.
An all-independent suspension and quattro all-wheel drive grant the Q7 comfortable, capable handling and 5,500-pound towing capacity. The Q7 also has a three-mode air suspension--sport, comfort, and automatic--that varies the damping of the vehicle according to conditions and the speed of the vehicle. It also raises the vehicle in off-road driving and lowers it at highway speeds. The Q7's power steering, with lovely effort and feedback, is hydraulically actuated.
The Q7's basic floor plan is a cousin of that which underpins the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, but the Audi can be ordered as a three-row, seven-seat model, unlike those utes. The Q7 body is all Audi, and confidently the best-looking of the trio. Sharp cutlines give athletic definition to the profile, and the body curvature on the rear end around the taillamps manages to look clean and simple when it's really a complex set of shapes. The body encases a cabin with three rows of seats and, Audi says, 28 seat/cargo configurations. That's because the third-row seats fold flat and the second-row seats move back and forth four inches to create more legroom, as well as fold flat. Audi says the cargo hold, with two seats up and two rows folded, leaves 88 cubic feet of space for ferry duty. (Six-cylinder cars will be offered without the third-row seat.)
The seating areas are pretty comfortable. The second row has plenty of legroom, while the third is predictably scant for adults--but even back there, the nearby trim panels have molded cup holders, and flipping and folding the seats into desired positions is an easy task even for 100-pound moms. And getting access to the area is no chore; the power-operated tailgate is skinned in lightweight aluminum.
Inside, the Q7 has a rich leather, suede, and wood interior with uncluttered lines. Leather seats are standard, along with automatic climate control, a power tailgate, the Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system, 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, and keyless entry. Major options include a cold-weather package with heated front and second-row seats and a heated steering wheel, as well as a rearview camera, a DVD navigation system, and four-zone climate control.
Audi stocks the Q7 with dual front, side, and curtain airbags, along with anti-lock brakes, stability and roll control. Rear side airbags are optional.