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The 2017 Audi Q7 handles more like a smaller SUV. Like all Audis, the Q7 is predictable, balanced, and bracing to drive, even under pressure. The 333-hp gasoline engine provides plenty of smooth and effortless thrust. The previous Q7 offered a diesel variant, but the emissions scandal surrounding parent company Volkswagen has put its diesel plans on hold. The Q7 continues Audi’s trend of modernist-luxury interiors. It’s a joy to run your fingers over the matte wood, brushed aluminum, and double-stitched leather. The infotainment and controls are daunting at first but over time prove to be logical. Though it’s pricey, the 2017 Audi Q7 is a good reason to spend part of your children’s inheritance on a car.
At 198.9 inches long, 77.5 inches wide, and 68.5 inches tall and riding on a 117.9-inch wheelbase, the Q7 measures 1.4 inches shorter, 0.6 inch narrower, and 0.1 inch taller than its predecessor, and the wheelbase gets shrunk 0.3 inch. Magic packaging means interior dimensions, including knee, shoulder, and headroom, have all gone up. Entering and exiting the third row is now easier because the outboard second-row seats niftily tumble and fold, but it still requires some contortion, and adults will continue to feel cramped in seats six and seven. Ground clearance rises from 8.1 inches to up to 9.6 (with the optional air suspension; a steel-spring suspension is standard), making the new Q more appealing to those who venture off the beaten path. (To that end, hill descent control is now standard, as well.) Still, despite the modest decreases in most dimensions, the 2017 Q appears significantly smaller than its forebear. Not only does it feel like a jacked-up A6 Avant, it resembles one, too. Which leads me to my one subjective complaint: The conservative styling lacks the brawn and presence of the original. In terms of driver-assistance technology, Audi claims the new Q7 is the most advanced vehicle in its segment. I had the opportunity to experience a few of the latest and greatest systems, and I found each to be effective and user friendly. Of note were the pre-sense city system (uses a windshield-mounted camera at speeds up to 52.8 mph to detect vehicles or pedestrians, warning the driver and even fully decelerating the vehicle to minimize or avoid a collision), active cruise control with Stop&Go and traffic jam assist (allows for radar-assisted cruise control at speeds up to 155.3 mph and hands-free motoring in congestion at speeds up to 40.4 mph), predictive efficiency assistant (uses ACC, nav, and road-sign recognition to automatically adjust vehicle speed to topography and speed limits), collision avoidance assist (pairs the radar and camera systems to detect an obstacle and then reroute the vehicle, adding torque assist to the steering), and turn assist (prevents the vehicle from turning into oncoming traffic when the left-turn signal is activated). Should these advanced systems still not prevent a collision, rest assured that the Q7 comes with up to eight airbags, and Audi predicts its flagship SUV will earn a Top Safety Pick+ rating from IIHS.
After this initial drive, it seems like the Q7’s long gestation was time well spent—and the SUV well worth waiting for.
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