By on July 21, 2008

Yes, it\'s that big.Full disclosure: I really like Audis. I own two of them: an A4 Avant and an A4 Cabriolet. So when Audi offered me the chance to review a Q7, Ingolstadt's answer to "how late can you be to an SUV party and still not wonder why you bothered to show up in the first place," I said game on. After all, it's an Audi. What's not to like? 

The Q7 is huge. It shares familial DNA with VW's Touareg and Porsche's Cayenne. The key difference: the Audi's platform's been stretched to add an Audi-exclusive third row of seats. Dimensionally, it's within two inches of a Chevrolet Tahoe in every direction. The Q7's hood is as high as a TT's roof. Form follows gigantism. 

Nothing less than what you'd expectThe Q7's front end is dominated by Audi's now-familiar, still-voracious trapezoidal grill. The flanking headlights are pulled tighter than Joan River's eyelids. Smaller grills below the headlights help visually balance the beast, but stick a U.S. license plate on its snout and the whole thing falls apart, At the back, power-operated tailgate wraps around the Q7's curvaceous butt, carrying a pair of "eagle's head" taillights.

The Q7's cabin offers the usual Audi haptic heaven/haven. Audi festoons the "4.2 Premium" version with enough luxurious surfaces and standard toys to takes you to Infiniti– and beyond! Our loaded tester added panoramic sunroof, voice control and parking assist. Like all but the cheapest Audis, a Multi-Media Interface (MMI) controls the Q7's toys, sound and HVAC. While the MMI is A-OK for techno-literate– it's the easiest of the joystick-style control systems to master– there are "complications." Directing AC to a specific vent, for example, requires push, twirl, push, push. And then repeat if you want to do the same on the other side.

Cargo space trumps passenger comfortThe Q7 driver and front passenger ride in supreme comfort. The rest, not so much. Well, at all. To provide a flat load floor, the SUV's second row seats are set so low that summer thigh-sticking is a non-issue. The center chairs also recline: a one-way ticket to backache city (they're articulated about three inches above the ideal location). A bar directly overhead separates the front and rear sunroofs; anyone knocking-on six feet tall risks spinal compression.

Make sure anyone older than ten headed for the third row doesn't have a personal injury lawyer on speed dial. To their credit, Audi does its best to prevent legal trouble; good luck threading through the second row for way back access. Once there, the chairs are as low as the second row AND there's all of five inches between the front edge of the seat cushions and the back of the center row (center row denizens can slide forward to provide a few extra inches, if they're generous). Still, fourteen cup holders.

How sweet it is.  And thirsty.Under the hood, Audi's sweet-spinning 4.2-liter V8 churns out 350hp and 325 lbs. ft. of torque. That's enough oomph to propel the two-and-a-half ton behemoth from rest  to the nearest gas station 60mph in 7.1 seconds. With the optional towing package, she'll pull 6600 lbs. The downside: EPA 12 mpg in the city, 17 highway. It doesn't take long to suck the 26-gallon tank dry. Regularly refilling the Q7 with the recommended premium fuel requires a corundum credit card.

Yes, it\'s that bigI didn't take the Q7 into the wild, despite the $2.6k Adaptive Air Suspension's "offroad" setting. Rock climbing in $2k summer performance tires sitting on 20" chrome wheels struck me as a particularly easy way to break/scratch something VERY expensive. The Q7 was at home navigating the switchbacks on narrow two-lane roads in the Georgia mountains. It was fast, sure-footed and, despite the shoes, comfortable.  Just be careful choosing the suspension setting. Selecting anything but "dynamic" makes the steering feel twitchy and over-sensitive.

Effortless highway cruising is the order of the day. With George Benson's guitar stylings slipping from the 14-speaker BOSE surround sound system and the cruise control set to a [theoretically] extralegal speed, the Q7 leaps long stretches of asphalt in a single tank of gas. Bound. I mean bound.

Yes, it\'s that bigAudi's given us a $67k SUV that can do what SUVs do. Which is something of a problem. If you need a vehicle that'll carry seven people while towing three tons, and you can do without the technotoys, you could buy a used Chevrolet Suburban. And then use the money saved to buy an A6– a damn fine automobile– to drive the rest of the time. But hey, that's me. If you like the idea of an Audi-on-stilts, and can afford the freight, well, here it is.

[Audi furnished the car, insurance and a tank of gas for this review.] 

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32 Comments on “2008 Audi Q7 4.2 Premium Review...”


  • avatar
    brownie

    Such an odd beast. It looks fairly modest at a distance, but when you stand next to one… wow. Someone in Ingolstadt fed the A6 a little too much HGH.

    Every time I see one I think “they killed the Allroad for this?”

  • avatar

    Compared to a Mercedes GL, the Q7 feels almost nimble. But it’s also quite a bit tighter inside.

    We’ve been collecting reliability data on these for a while. They appear to require more repairs than the average car, but not too many more.

    http://www.truedelta.com/latest_results.php

  • avatar

    to brownie:

    I don’t know about the situation in the US, but they didn’t exactly kill Allroad for this, there is a new Allroad based on the new A6, at least in Europe.
    t is about the same price here, so you can decide what do you need, the pumped up A6 with seven seets or a pimped up A6 avant quattro with modest hunger.

  • avatar
    TwoTwenty

    “Ingolstadt fed the A6 a little too much HGH”

    Ha – I took it as an A6 Avant that just let itself go. Maybe the Q7 wouldn’t bother me if Audi didn’t make the best looking wagons on the market, which makes me think maybe the owners are blind (or just blind to the fact there are alternatives to these things out there).

    They killed the Allroad in the US for this…

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    As much as I deplore Mercedes’ general attitude, the R-Class is this vehicle done right. Of course, this is a good-looking car; the R is, well, odd.

    That said a top-trim Sienna or Odyssey is probably nicer to drive than either, is certainly more comfortable to sit in (especially as a passenger) and own, and comes nearly as well-equipped for about half the price.

    (yeah, yeah, I know…)

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I have to say, the grille on this car is a work of art. It’s wonderfully intricate up close, and suits the car from far away.

    I’d probably live in mortal fear of dinging it, though, because it, while it looks good, it also looks expensive.

  • avatar
    John The Accountant

    Or, you can wait and buy the Q5 which is is 70% of the size!

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    No Allroad in the USA. Which is a shame. I liked them a lot better than the Q7 which is really unattractive in person (to me). We have few nice wagon choices, and an abundance of 7 seat SUV choices. I am with Frank on the used suburban idea, only I wouldn’t bother to buy the other Audi either. For the money, I would just stick with the used goliath. Gas is cheap compared to insurance and depreciation.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I don’t so much miss the Allroad, but that’s because I didn’t see the point of it: it didn’t offer much utility over the A6 Avant, and did have more compromised dynamics.

    It’s the same reason I don’t mind the Tribeca but feel the Outback is silly.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    We’ve owned 3 Audis, and still have 1, so were predisposed to get a Q7 when we finally gave in to the notion that we need more space for our stuff from time to time. However, comma, a week-long test drive in a Q7 3.6 left me wanting more (for less), so we bought an 08 Acura MDX instead.

    I personally prefer the Q7s looks and interior quality, but couldn’t get over the HUGE size of the thing or the powerful-but-noisy 3.6 liter engine’s auditory assault.

    I’ve also driven the 4.2, and it cures the noise problem, but the mileage penalty is too much to ignore.

    One of the print car magazines referred to the Q7 as “A concept car masquerading (unconvincingly) as an SUV”. That’s a very apt description, IMO.

    That said, my wife and kids still semi-swoon when we see one on the street, and I see them all over around my area, though the nearest dealer is 15 miles away. Before the Q7, Audis were very rare in these parts indeed (MB and BMW being the default SUVs), so it seems that Audi hit the styling/image nail on the head, then, even if the function doesn’t always live up to the form….

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    ZCD2.7T,

    Good choice. I think you will be happy with the Acura. I think it’s much better looking, too. I am not a big fan of the new audi nose, so when you scale it up to an SUV, it’s just too much.

  • avatar
    willbodine

    I like the Audis too. But not this one. Large SUVs are so 2006. Plus it’s kinda homely. Looks like an A2 on steroids.
    Bring back the Allroad!

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    Hey, look. A larger and more expensive minivan, except with less utility, less convenience, and terrible mileage. As an SUV, it’s inferior to a Tahoe. As a minivan, it’s worthless without sliding doors. And as a sporting endeavor, good luck with that. The purpose of this vehicle escapes me completely.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Did all the electronics remain functional throughout the duration of the road test?

  • avatar

    Verbal
    Did all the electronics remain functional throughout the duration of the road test?

    Everything performed flawlessly during the week I had it.

  • avatar

    Vorsprung durch Techhnik Übergewichtstraßeschweine

    –chuck
    http://chuck.goolsbee.org

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Frank Williams: Everything performed flawlessly during the week I had it.

    I see. What are he terms of the pact you signed with the Devil?

  • avatar

    Verbal
    Frank Williams: Everything performed flawlessly during the week I had it.

    I see. What are he terms of the pact you signed with the Devil?

    I’ve also had no problems whatsoever in the two years we’ve owned our Avant. The only out-of-pocket expense I’ve had other than gas and insurance has been to have the windshield replaced after a rock broke it, and the only time it’s been to the dealership has been for routine maintenance (which is covered under the warranty for ’06 models).

  • avatar
    Areitu

    What’s not to like?

    Cost of ownership outside of warranty & free maintenance.

    And how some of the rubberized portions get dirty and de-rubberize.

  • avatar
    gsp

    psarhjinian Says: “That said a top-trim Sienna or Odyssey is probably nicer to drive than either.”

    The Audi should kill a Toyota or Honda minivan.

    My wife owns an Odyssey and although it drives better than other minivans, it is still a minivan. Build quality is cheap for a Honda and the Touring model we got has lots of silly problems. Certainly no feel of a BMW Audi Mercedes on the inside, lots of hard hard plastic everywhere. Also had drivetrain problems with it. Bad design issues too – Nav screen is not readable in many daylight conditions because Honda decided not to recess it in the dash. This is easy stuff they have screwed up to it screams to me C H E A P. But my wife loves the thing, so I bite my tongue because otherwise she would be driving something more expensive and a least she will keep the darn thing for eight odd years.

    If the Audi doesn’t drive better than an Odyssey, Audi is in big trouble.

    I constantly hear advice of people that having two vehicles each or which suit a purpose better (daily driver small, weekend towing large) makes more sense than driving an SUV all the time. Where does the math for this really work out? Just the cost of carrying the insurance here in Canada kills any realized gas savings, never mind all the other costs.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    gsp,

    Sorry about your Odyssey. I think you may have a bad one. My friend bought one on my recommendation and loved. It was the only car he or his wife ever had for more than five years. They put over 200k on it. I think it was a 97 or so.

    As for you question on the math of multiple cars, it doesn’t work out for the vast majority of people. I have shown the math here several times, but still people don’t get it. You have to either drive a LOT, like 30k plus per year, or you have to be willing to get a really worthless second vehicle and live in a cheap insurance area AND do repairs on the cheap one yourself AND never need it in a hurry.

    Renting more than three times a year goes backwards as well. That means you should buy a vehicle that meets 99% of your missions, not 80%.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    In defense of Audi, this red color is absolutely gorgeously breath-taking in person. It’s really deep and shimmery, like it has multiple layers of red in it. And knocking it down for MPG is just… pbbt. If you can afford a 60k SUV, MPG doesn’t mean crap. You wouldn’t mark down a GT3 for having low mileage, would you? Besides, there’s the smaller engine that gets 14/20 instead of 12/17.

  • avatar
    M20E30

    “After all, it’s an Audi. What’s not to like?”

    -Constant Electrical Problems(Like every two weeks.My friends 04 A4 can attest to that.)

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Hey!

    A Modern day the coffin carrier.

  • avatar
    SWA737

    Maybe the diesel will help?

    I was a bit disappointed that Audi chose not to offer a diesel version right off the bat in the US.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    nice review, thanks.

    this is another suv, destined for the back lots of car shows in 50 years, to the he amazement of youngsters. Much like 50′s Packer Carribeans are now.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    M20E30 Says: -Constant Electrical Problems(Like every two weeks.My friends 04 A4 can attest to that.)
    See what I mean, Frank?!

  • avatar

    Verbal
    M20E30 Says: -Constant Electrical Problems(Like every two weeks.My friends 04 A4 can attest to that.)
    See what I mean, Frank?!

    And I can dig up similar horror stories on practically any car you want to name. All I can do is report on my own experiences, and with the test vehicle there were no problems of any kind. And with my A4′s, I’ve experienced zero, zip, zilch, aught, naught and no problems whatsoever, electrical or otherwise.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Frank W and Jonny L should get together and discuss the differences between the Q7 and Touareg.
    I’ve noticed that quite a lot of SUVs big and small have lousy 2nd row legroom/seat height issues.

  • avatar
    dalava

    “takes you to Infiniti– and beyond!”

    How long have you had this and was waiting for just the right moment to use it, haha?

    The last paragraph of the review hit it dead on about the senselessness of this car, why bother? When Audi decided to come to the SUV party, I was really hoping that they will offer that magic SUV giving this particular category, luxury SUV/people hauler, its raison d’être, and this is what they come up with? Very disappointed.

  • avatar
    Kman

    So far, the only 3-row SUV done right is the Mercedes-Benz GL-class. A useable, enterable third rown. And normal seat-height center row.

  • avatar
    jstnspin82

    The Audi Q7 is stunning. A 21st century chariot that Ben Hur would be proud of. Big, Fast, Luxurious, and Sleek. It shares lines with the Volkswagen Touareg which is another SUV I admire which has been successful and won not only 1st but 2nd in there class at the Baja 500 in 2007. The Touareg is like the Audi Q7 only the Q7 is a flagship in luxury and keeps the performance. I think the Q7 is a big success and will keep going strong even as more fuel efficient vehicles are needing bio diesels and alternative fuels. Audi has a history of off roading with there all road quattro back in the 70′s on in the dirt racing rallies. I think like the BMW X5 and the VW Touareg, Audi will continue its SUV’s and master off road capabilities and why not, the German engineering always seems to master every automotive aspect!


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