2008 Audi Q7 4.2 Premium Review

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
2008 audi q7 4 2 premium review

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.

The 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.

The 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.

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 [s]the nearest gas station[/s] 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.

I 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.

Audi'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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  • Kman Kman on Jul 28, 2008

    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.

  • Jstnspin82 Jstnspin82 on Nov 24, 2008

    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!

  • Tassos those 90s pathetic orange pixels are inexcusably lame in a 2010.The interior is filled with Grey Rubbermaid plastic and the tiny sliver of real or fake wood is an utterly pathetic attempt to pretend it's upscale (don't even THINK of "Luxury")Merc SLs with similar metal retractable roofs look so much better inside and out.Regardless of what you paid for this way undepowered near-luxury pretend-sports car, you would have done so much better with a PORSCHE BOXSTER...
  • Dukeisduke That's a cool picture (the one under the bridge) - where was it taken? Google Image Search doesn't turn up any matches.
  • Dukeisduke Okay, yeah, they should fix this, but, "URGENT: DO NOT DRIVE THIS VEHICLE"? I think we're reaching Peak Idiocracy.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is a great review, and very accurate from my perspective as the owner of a closely related, but longer and taller, E93 335i convertible. So much in this review is familiar. Here are the things that are a bit different about the 335i:[list][*]My car is a manual. Shifter action is good, with positive engagement, although a bit more play and rubbery feeling in the shifter than you would get with, say, a six-speed Honda. The clutch is a bit disappointing. It has a "clutch dampening valve" intended to protect against the most abusive clutch dumps. The valve throws my timing off a bit and I have had a hard time learning to drive this car with perfect smoothness, especially in the 1-2 shift. I may remove the valve at some point.[/*][*]My car has the turbo (in single-turbo N55 form). On the plus side, you get what feels like significantly more power than the rated 300 hp once on the boost, and even in fully stock form you get entertaining whooshing noises from the blowoff valve. On the minus side, there is some turbo lag, more than you get in many modern turbo cars, and fuel economy is, well, not close to what Corey is getting. The turbo car also comes with an active exhaust system that is extremely quiet when puttering while making some nice inline-six noise at wide-open throttle.[/*][*]There are back seats! I have a nine-year-old and a six-year-old. The six-year-old fits perfectly. The nine-year-old still fits, but that will likely change within the next three years. These seats are not usable for adults unless the front-seat occupants squeeze forward more than normal. E92 coupes are slightly roomier in back, and E90 sedans are substantially roomier.[/*][*]My car has the M Sport suspension, which does not have variable dampers. It's firm enough that I have to be careful to avoid even small holes on city streets if I don't want to get jarred. But if you can avoid the holes it feels good, navigating expansion joints and such without uncomfortable impact, while maintaining impressive body control for a porky 3900-pound convertible.[/*][*]My car has iDrive and a screen, as well as parking sensors. But it does not have a backup camera. Graphics on the screen are pretty good by 2011 standards, which is to say not acceptable by modern standards, but the system is easy enough to navigate and works pretty well. I prefer the rotary controller to a touch screen for fingerprint reasons.[/*][*]The parking sensors are by far the best of any car I've ever owned, and they are so accurate I really don't need a camera. The sensors go to a solid beep when the appropriate end is about 4" from an object, and I can comfortably cover about half that distance with no fear of bumping. They also project legimately useful graphics on the iDrive screen showing where the object is. I park in tight city settings enough that I really appreciate the accuracy. Also in the city parking mold, my car has power folding mirrors, which I wish every car would.[/*][*]Like you, I have the mid-level "Hi-Fi Professional" stereo setup, but in the four-seat convertible there is not a dedicated subwoofer. Bass is a bit on the weak side. Sound quality is about comparable with the JBL system in my Toyota Highlander, which is to say it's good enough for listening in the car but is not going to impress anyone.[/*][*]There are small leaks from the joints between the top and the A-pillars in my car. They won't soak the interior, but they will result in a few drops of water on the front seats after a hard rain. I'm still experimenting to see if regular applications of rubber protectant can restore the seals enough to eliminate the leaks. There are no leaks from any other part of the top mechanism.[/*][*]I've only owned the car for about eight months and 1500 miles, but so far nothing has broken and every feature on the car works correctly. A purchase-time inspection found only an incorrectly secured fan shroud and no other problems, and there is a mostly complete service history, so this was a well-maintained car to start with.[/*][/list]
  • Lou_BC This offer reminds me of those plans where you get something free but if you fail to cancel prior to the expiry of the "Free" plan you end up on the hook for a lengthy contract. Tesla wants to attract people to their electrical company. It's smart. Make money selling the car, make money with subscription services on the car, and make money selling the fuel to power the car at home and at charging stations.