By on July 24, 2009

One of the enduring lessons of the car game is that good vehicles don’t always sell well. As a car writer who took on news analysis before ever getting manufacturer-sponsored time behind the wheel, this lesson can’t help but tinge my impressions of a road test. So when my first week-long-test vehicle arrived in the form of a Q7 TDI, I felt no desire to justify Audi’s decision to bring the thing to market. After all, by any reasonable analysis, the brand built by Quattro wagons should have been the primary beneficiary of America’s SUV craze. Or at least, its worst enemy. Instead the Q7 showed up for the party fashionably dressed but fashionably late. And very few wanted to buy it. With the high price of luxo ute party fuel already killing the festive vibes, is switching to a new drink enough to make Audi’s SUV sales party like it’s 1999?

On its face, diesel is the least sexy non-gasoline fuel out there. Sure, it’s packed with hydrocarbons and, sure, biodiesel has a certain following, but the American experience with diesel has not been a love-in. Even for those of us who are young enough not to remember the bad old diesels of the last energy crisis, oil burners bring up bad memories.

The most common impression is of full-on sensory assault: sitting at a stoplight while the jackhammer idle of a Cummins-powered Ram rises to a ground-shaking roar, having your hair blown back by an apocalyptic cloud of sooty smoke exhaled from howitzer-sized exhaust. In short, not the kind of impression one likes to leave with observers of ones expensive German chariot.

If you’re a diesel aficionado, you know that the current generation of European “clean diesels” have put many of these stereotypes to rest. The reality is still shocking. Fire up the Audi’s three liter turbodiesel V6, and the cockpit fills with sound . . . from the climate control. Roll down the windows and a faint sound might tempt you to think that internal combustion is taking place. Only parked by a brick wall is the idle noise even properly identifiable: a newborn Cummins, murmuring to itself in a barbiturate coma.

This aural timidity belies the engine’s humble on-paper proportions. You’ll note that Audi has refrained from putting 3.0 anywhere on the Q7 diesel’s badging. That’s because folks who spend the national median household income on a family hauler think numbers below 4.0 are bad luck. It’s TDI Quattro, thanks. (Massive graphics available on Audi press fleet models only.)

Lucky then, for these already lucky people, that this ain’t yer uncle Lou’s Olds diesel V6. To say the least. Thanks to basic engineering competence, common rail injection, and a Google server farm worth of computers, this V6 performs its luxobarge duty with distinction. Its (whisper it) 225 horsepower and (shout it) 406 pound-feet of torque are earned with a 17/25 mpg EPA rating. In fact, the only thing that should remind you of the Olds diesel era is the fact that diesel prices are again cheaper than gas.

But they won’t be forever. In the mean time, take the opportunity to go to new places and meet new people. I did and saw beautiful things. And met kind gas station employees who told me that they only sold low sulphur diesel. I would need to drive a couple of miles to the 76 where they sell ultra low sulphur diesel.

And, no, you can’t just top off at the Chinese restaurant’s grease dumpster. The TDI’s manual states firmly that fuels with more than five percent biodiesel are verboten. The upside is that with a 26-gallon tank and a 600 mile range, you’ll only have to fill up about 17 times before your clean diesel confronts you with your new urea addiction. Wait, is that an upside?

No, to understand the upsides of the Q7 TDI, you really have to drive it. On the open road you completely forget that the main nitrogen-containing substance in mammal urine is even being used to scrub your exhaust into compliance with 50-state emissions standards. Torque has a way of concentrating the mind on the task at hand. Tasks such as picking up the kids from the Academy or heading for the hills like your tail’s on fire. I recommend the latter.

After all, the Q7 TDI isn’t particularly exciting to drive around town. It’s competent, but it fails at the two primary in-town activities of the luxury SUV: stunting and the traffic light Grand Prix. Competency at showing off is obviously a subjective and controversial issue. I will simply say that in my week with the Q, the only two comments I got from strangers were “never seen one before” and “what’s the mileage?” A luxury ute that subtle will need to earn the peasant’s respect at the green light.

Sadly, this one doesn’t. The Q7 TDI accelerates to 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds, roughly the same as a Saturn Vue Red Line. Or a Mercedes R320 Bluetec. The problem is that the engine isn’t really happy until it has a good head of steam spinning its turbos. Until then it’s just three liters working against 5,512 pounds. There’s only a brief pause before the twist starts flowing, but it’s enough to keep you from feeling like, well, sixty grand.

Part of the problem is that the Audi’s Tiptronic transmission tends to short-shift through the first two cogs unless you keep the throttle pinned. Happily, dialing “S” for sport mode tightens up the whole drivetrain, improving response and acceleration which match well with the Q7’s firm steering and epic grip. Even with minimal use of the competent but unremarkable brakes, Mr. Q easily focuses on a tight line going into corners. Stab into the engine’s sweet spot, hang on tight, and the giant ute hurtles around bends with minimal body roll. Only the tightest S-bends at the most foolhardy speeds are able to confuse the chassis and induce understeer.

Munching miles on arrow-straight desert highways is where the TDI starts to feel properly at home. The engine’s computers seem to keep a thick wave of torque just below your right foot; and a muffled, gusty whoosh accompanies any surrender to the torque’s temptation. Very muffled. In fact, rumbling from the S-line’s 20-inch wheels are more of a disturbance than engine noise. Over freshly paved surfaces, the dubs add to the Q’s taut, poised handling and the ride is impeccable. On rough roads, they break the cabin’s eerie calm with road noise and chop.

Look for the cruise control and you become aware of this Audi’s one other major shortcoming as a tourer. The same S-Line package that saddles the Q with oversized wheels and unsubtle side badging also upgrades the standard four-spoke wheel with a two-spoke helm. Unfortunately, the left spoke perfectly covers the cruise control’s stubby stalk during straight-ahead cruising. Once you confirm that it is in fact there, you still have to pull over to familiarize yourself with the control. Save yourself $1,200 and improve the Q7’s cruising manners by not checking that box. Flappy paddle downshifts and brushed aluminum interior trim might be missed, but neither is an imperative.

Audi’s interiors are polarizing and whether you find them dour or refined, the Q7 won’t change your mind. In the first class front row, you get firm, supportive seating with an aristocratic vista and endless distraction courtesy of Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI). In second class and the steerage third row, things are less plush. The second row bench is too low, and the six foot club should expect knees to end up around ear level. Over eastern Oregon’s washboarded dirt roads, the back seat shudders and flails, threatening to shake free from its anchors. The effect on passengers is something between a “Magic Fingers” vibrating bed and a peak-condition Mike Tyson working your kidneys like a speedbag.

But the impromptu shiatsu won’t have anyone looking longingly at the third row. Only the panorama sunroof option ($1,850) keeps the way back from feeling like a Guantanamo Bay holding cell. And unless you are a four-foot yoga master, the distraction doesn’t last long. Even as  emergency seating for unexpected passengers, the third row comes up short. The rolling cargo cover must be removed to raise the seats, and once converted the bulky unit no longer fits in the remaining storage area.

Not that you run into many hitch hikers or unplanned carpoolers climbing the gravel logging roads of Southern Oregon’s Rogue-Umpqua Divide. The Q7 maintains a paved-road clip through steep ascents and winding turns, each wheel keeping in constant communication with the loose road surface. Stability control is turned off and a slight twitchiness comes into the controls; electronic flattery, not skill, makes the storming pace possible. Barreling around a corner, a Suzuki Sidekick suddenly appears, its driver frozen in awe of the Wagnerian apparition bearing down on him. Considerable nose dive and pumping ABS accompany the Q’s sudden braking, but crisis is averted.

The OHV tracks leading into Newberry Crater didn’t inspire similar gravel-stage heroics, but, again, the Q7 felt confident and capable. Even with expensive paint, oversized wheels and no special off-road equipment, the TDI makes for a willing partner through rougher terrain. At the deliberate speeds necessary to thread through sharp rocks, deep ruts and undulating ascents, the oil burner’s drag racing downsides become real strengths. Power is smooth, precise, tractable and predictable. In short, everything you want when tackling the roads that don’t show up on your nav screen.

Whether prospective Q7 owners will appreciate the TDI’s many winning qualities is a question that a road test alone won’t answer. in addition to the intrinsic shortcomings exposed here, a Cayenne is sportier and a Range Rover is more statusy. A Touareg is cheaper ($8K less with the same engine) and nearly as classy. Robert Farago drives a GL. The list goes on, but one thing is for certain: if you’re going to buy a Q7, the diesel is the one you want. The gas V6 suffers the same status and low-end pickup deficits, while the V8 is thirstier, heavier and more expensive. Besides, the TDI matches the Q7’s anonymously unique character perfectly. If you are considering showing up late for the luxury SUV party, the Q7 is one of the more intriguing guests still getting down.

[Audi supplied the vehicle, insurance and one tank of diesel.]

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51 Comments on “Review: 2010 Audi Q7 TDI...”

  • avatar

    Edward, thanks for an excellent no-holds-barred review. While I might not agree with all of your comments and conclusions, this is the kind of review I hope to see at TTAC — every car has its pros and cons, and it was good to read about both the good and the bad.

    And it’s good to see that it’s not just Ford providing press fleet cars to TTAC.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Very interesting, well-written review, I would say.

    My take on the Q7 TDI, from a while back, is here:

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    So why didn’t Audi give power-obsessed America the 4.2 V8 TDI then?

  • avatar

    Nice review. It would be interesting to do a comparo with the similar Lincoln MKT ecoboost to see if diesel has any advantages over gasoline turbo direct injection.

    BTW, you really pulverised the 800 word limit!

  • avatar

    I dislike the trend of automakers forcing metal interior trim with the sport packages. I like the bigger wheels and the sporty exterior touches many of the packages provide, but nine times out of ten I prefer the wood interior trim to the metal.

    Still, this seems like a nice car, and the interior photo looks very good. It’s a shame they didn’t keep the V10 TDI engine though, for the stratospheric prices that Q7s sell for, I’d think a lot of buyers would opt for the extra change that engine costs over the TDI V6.

  • avatar

    What I’d want is that TDI V12. What a monster…

  • avatar


    I was thinking the same thing! Comparo time…

  • avatar

    I enjoyed the torquey feel and lusty sound of the V8. Sad to hear the TDI doesn’t provide the former. Knew it wouldn’t provide the latter.

    No doubt they’re offering the 3.0 to maximize MPG and keep the cost low. The V8 diesels sell in very small numbers even in Europe. And the V12? No doubt it sells in very limited numbers.

    The 2007 Q7 hasn’t done well in TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey, and the 2008 remains a bit worse than average. Much better than a Mercedes GL, though. RF owns a GL? Has an exterior door handle cracked off yet? Air suspension gone flat?

    About TrueDelta’s survey–more participants needed:

  • avatar

    5600 lbs, what a joke.

    The Ford Flex Ecoboost reviewed earlier sounds like a much better ride than this VAG glitter-trash lead-sled.

  • avatar

    If I long for 5500 pounds of Audi, it will be two Ro80s.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    spyspeed: or for three NSU TTs

  • avatar

    What a bloated, ugly, over priced piece of warranty work waiting to happen (or not happen as the case may be).

    Buying this is basically conceding that you are a huge goddammed poseur whose taste is in their ass.

  • avatar

    It’s very luxury, very heavy and very diesel.

    “the Q7 felt confident and capable. Even with expensive paint, oversized wheels and no special off-road equipment, the TDI makes for a willing partner through rougher terrain. At the deliberate speeds necessary to thread through sharp rocks, deep ruts and undulating ascents, the oil burner’s drag racing downsides become real strengths. Power is smooth, precise, tractable and predictable. In short, everything you want when tackling the roads that don’t show up on your nav screen.”

    Somehow, I still want a TT-S, an S4 or S5 more.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    “So why didn’t Audi give power-obsessed America the 4.2 V8 TDI then?”

    The simple answer is that the V6 has plenty of power. In every instance other than hard acceleration from a full stop, its a peach. Plus, more weight is the last thing the Q7 needs. I imagine a V8 (let alone the V12) would spoil the Q’s admirable poise and handling.

    “5600 lbs, what a joke”

    Yes, but it really never feels that heavy, except for during the aforementioned from-stop acceleration. I wanted to say that from the driver’s seat it hides its bulk as well as an A8… but its not quite up to that gold standard.

    “BTW, you really pulverised the 800 word limit!”

    Guilty. Farago was warned.

  • avatar

    Nice write up and kudos for bending the 800 word limit to deliver a more comprehensive review.

  • avatar

    Or a Mercedes R320 Bluetec.

    That would be my preference, but if R-Class sales are anything to go by, I’m in the minority. The Q7 is a better-looking vehicle, but the R is nicer to be in, especially the second and third rows. You really pay the price for the high floor in the Q.

    There’s two of these where I live, and they really are very attractive cars. It’s not often that someone manages to make what is actually a big people mover look svelte and vaguely sporty. The grille is especially impressive.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Great write up, Ted.

    Interesting comparison on weights:

    Audi Q7: 5600lbs

    My Dodge Chinook motor home: 6500lbs:

    I’d like the Audi drive train in my Chinook.

  • avatar


    Even a high-tech, ultra-efficient diesel is brought to its knees by this fat $50k pig.

    Ostentatiousness is expensive; this vehicle’s ‘off-road prowess’ will be reluctantly tested driving through gravel patches in construction zones…

    I like cars, but this is a fashion statement (like paris-dakar sez, it makes the Ford Flex look like inexpensive, practical family transportation).

    But at least it won’t need too much time in the service shop. :-(

    Edit: It would be nice if you gents could test the new 4-cyl 2010 Equinox, a more affordable, higher mileage CUV. It could serve as an assessment of the direction that “Government Motors” is headed.

  • avatar

    I, for one, welcome our new greater than 800 word overlords.

  • avatar

    Silly, this 5600 pound behemoth. Can it even tow anything?

    At least that V10 diesel Touareg was so over-the-top that it impressed. I see one on the road, once in a while, and am always impressed by that monster engine.

    This Q7 is the stereotypical bloated SUV that does nothing well. Thumbs down.

  • avatar

    Doesn’t matter how well the thing drives when it is that ugly.

  • avatar

    This is a pretensious soccer mom / ski trip waste-mobile.

    But hey unless American changes its tastes, the suburban status-seekers will buy it.

  • avatar

    Silly, this 5600 pound behemoth. Can it even tow anything?

    Who cares? A lot of people who buy cars “for towing” don’t tow.

    The kind of people who have this car will either pay some serious marina fees, have (or rent) a luxury cottage and not a trailer and don’t really care to tow anything. At most, this thing will have skis attached to the roof. It might even see a bicycle or two on the back, and those bikes will cost–each–more than my car.

    But honestly, this car will live between parking lot and parking lot in upscale shopping and entertainment districts, and will be bought by well-off people who don’t like ducking into a car of normal height. Towing isn’t even on the list.

    • 0 avatar

      Well said and very true! This is my bling mobile I hardly drive. I commute to work and drive my hybrid in the carpool lane as I have single user access.

      I like my Q7 TDI for it’s styling and it’s German engineered LED lights which now other automakers have copied. Yes it goes between shopping malls. LOL
      Regarding LED lights. When I first got my graphite grey metallic 2010 Q7 TDI back in December of 09′ people would break their necks to stare at my LED running lights. LOL now I see other automakers trying to copy and even cheesy aftermarket LEDs on peoples cars who want that look.
      To those who think it’s UGLY. You’re ugly and have no taste. Or are just jealous. You can’t get a 3.0 TDI for 50k. Mine was 70k. And the featured picture above is NOT a 2010. It’s a 2011. I can tell by the front grille.
      And idiots out there talking about “it does nothing well” If I wanted more power I would have spent my 70K on something else. This is a “GREEN” car like my hybrid is. The Federal Govt. even offered a tax CREDIT incentive for buying this vehicle because it is a TDI “clean burning diesel” you dumb ignorant idiots out there. Yes psarhjinian you are right in your generalizations… LOL this is one of 5 vehicles I own and perhaps I wouldn’t recommend it as a persons sole vehicle. AdBlue is expensive and a pain in the neck if you run out before your next service interval. But is sure smells good!

      • 0 avatar

        i just brought a 2012 Q7 last week. How do I get the The tax CREDIT incentive. any way i love my 2012 q7 tdi diesel it is awesome. I think it is worth it for $66,000.00 out the door. One thing about the Q7 everybody like to look at me when i get out of the Q7 I think Im going to pick some ladies up in the future.

  • avatar

    Unfortunately one of the only Audis taller people can fit in. I’m still pissed after breaking my sunglasses on the ceiling of my wife’s A4. Perched on head + speed bump.

    Taller people aren’t necessarily wealthier. The Q7 TDI runs about 58K in Canada. Quite steep once taxes are in.

  • avatar

    For less money you could get the new and very nice Lincoln MKT with the 355HP (350tq) EcoBoost AWD crossover that is very competitive to the Q7.

  • avatar

    Nice shot of the Q at Crater Lake.

    I’m with psarhjinian: for such a large SUV I find the Q7 quite attractive. Not sure why everyone thinks it is so ugly.

  • avatar

    Great, well-written, more-than-800-words review!

    When you buy a 60k diesel SUV (with super expensive insurance and maintenance costs) at least you can still take solace in the fact that you’re paying .10-15 cents a gallon less than regular gas. :P

  • avatar

    Drove this one in Europe a few weeks ago, back to back with a 3 year old Tuareg and a new Euro “narrow track” diesel Land Cruiser (Going by feel and chassis numbers, very much like a diesel US 4Runner. In Europe they also have a “wide track” LC, which is much like the new US one, albeit available with smaller engines and diesels, and costing approximately a post crash Icelandic GDP).

    I agree with most of what the reviewer said, but can’t see any reason, in the US, to get this over a 4Runner or its Lexus equivalent. Space wise, they’re similar, the Toyota 4.0 V6 feels like the world’s best diesel (though the TDI feels great as well), and the 4R’s ride on anything but pristine pavement is much better. The Q7 handles, if you can call it that, better, and tracks much better at triple digits. But in a country with speed limits, even the 4R/Cruiser hangs in there further than the comfort of most 3rd row passengers. And why anyone would buy a Q for any other reason than hauling more (young) people than what fits in a Tuareg, is beyond me.

    Also, both the above mentioned Tuareg, as well as a US V8 Q7 I have driven on occasion, quickly developed squeaks, creaks and rattles like nobody’s business. Which I have never experienced in what has to be at least a dozen 4Rs and LCs.

    I was positively surprised at the cleanliness of the new diesel, though. Slowly backing up a steep driveway with a heavy trailer on a calm day, looking out the side window, it didn’t stink! This is a huge improvement over even the 3 year old Tuareg, and actually makes me feel diesels may be worth considering.

  • avatar

    Here’s an important question — and the only one that interests me here, since this vehicle otherwise defines “white elephant” for me — what’s the story on replenishing its urea supply? How is it done? How much does it cost? How often does it have to be done?

    This was the Achilles heel of the old Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire in the early sixties (the first turbocharged gasoline production car, incidentally). Olds used a high compression ratio with water injection to avoid detonation. Under the hood, there was a tank of “Turbo-Rocket Fluid” (water and methyl alcohol, with a splash of rust inhibitor) that would automatically be spritzed into the manifold on hard acceleration. When the tank was empty (which would vary widely, depending on how hard you drove), the system would automatically cut off the boost to prevent damage. The typical dowager Olds owner didn’t understand or care to understand the system, they just got annoyed that after a while, their engines seemed to have been neutered. They’d take it to the dealer and complain, and eventually the dealer would pull the turbo and replace it with a standard four-barrel setup (making surviving Jetfires quite rare and rather collectible today).

    Given the way the Germans charge for parts and service, how expensive and onerous is this going to be?

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    argentla: from Audi Media’s Q7 TDI FAQ

    What are the maintenance/service intervals for the AdBlue?

    All Audi vehicles in the USA have recommended service intervals set at 5.000, 15.000, 25.000, etc. intervals. Because of the 6.5 gallon total capacity of the two-tank heated system, Audi customers who regularly service their vehicles at authorized Audi dealers will be able to maintain the same service intervals, without in-between stops to refill the urea (AdBlue) system.

    What if customers don’t maintain their vehicles regularly at authorized Audi dealers or even if the system fails for some reason – how can the urea topic be taken care of?

    Customers will be able to purchase the urea solution at authorized US Audi dealers, as well as from our competitor German luxury manufacturers (and vice-versa). Also, the solution is expected to be available at non-dealer locations such as various name-brand gas stations and Jiffy Lube locations.

    If urea hits a low point or the system does not work, there is an adequate warning system that will be built into the vehicle that will give the customer around 1,500 miles to rectify the situation.

  • avatar

    Anyone who takes an Audi to Jiffy Lube should be shot. That’s like trusting the movers to handle your original Picassos or Rembrants.

    I think the GL is the better looking of the two (probably the only Mercedes design I like) but the Q7 beats the crap out of it on the inside. All of the Mercedes SUVs have Chevy class interiors for some reason. The GLK is probably the nicest, but that isn’t saying much.

  • avatar

    Edward: Any word on how much the stuff costs?

  • avatar

    Anyone who takes an Audi to Jiffy Lube should be shot. That’s like trusting the movers to handle your original Picassos or Rembrants.

    If it’s acceptable to take a VW to Jiffy Lube, there shouldn’t be a difference with most Audis. They’re the same basic vehicles with about $1000 in higher grade materials in the interior.

    And comparing this over-priced land-barge to an original Picasso or Rembrandt is LULZ.

  • avatar

    I learned a bit about urea in my stint as a chemist at a urea-formaldehyde resin plant. The combination makes good glue for particle board. Urea itself is a white crystalline substance, odorless and very water-soluble. In fact, I found that well over 100 grams will dissolve in 100 milliliters of water at room temperature. If you make a really concentrated solution and drop a crystal into it, all the urea is likely to fall instantaneously out of solution, forming the most interesting-looking crystals.

    Urea shouldn’t be expensive to buy, I wouldn’t think, but this viewpoint may be based on having seen many 40-foot flatbeds loaded with bags of the stuff.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @fincar1 :
    Urea shouldn’t be expensive to buy

    Urea isn’t expensive to buy. Every European gas station has containers next to the antifreeze containers. 4 gallons are around 10€, if you bux larger quantities it’s much cheaper.

    If refilling the urea tank is too expensive or too complicated, how did windshield washers ever take off?

  • avatar

    Geez, and people were mocking the ecoboost Ford Flex a few days ago because it was overpriced? Let’s take a second look, shall we?

    Both the Q7 and Flex are designed as six-passenger crossover luxury SUVs, with AWD. Neither is designed for off road use, though the Audi would prove far better in this regard. However, it’s safe to say that someone dropping this kind of money on a SUV is NOT going to trash the thing off road, so that capability is really more about chest-beating with the neighbors, isn’t it?

    The Q7 costs $60,000 or so as tested. A Flex with all the options will barely break $50,000.

    The Audi trumps the Flex in interior quality, but the Flex’s is no penalty box.

    Styling is a subjective point, but the Audi’s looks are far more conservative and less polarizing than the Flex’s, and would appeal to a broader slice of potential customers. On the other hand, the Audi’s basic shape is the same as a Touraeg, a model that’s been around for a long time, and the Flex looks like nothing else on the road.

    As a people mover, the Flex is going to walk all over the Audi – it has far more commodious second and third row seating, and its low ride height will make entry and exit easier.

    Performance-wise, the Flex’s turbo engine is going to trounde the Audi, at least from a standing start. Gas mileage should be similar, and frankly, a couple of MPG difference isn’t going to make or break a sale for customers who can afford this kind of car.

    Handling-wise, I’m sure that at 8/10ths and above, the Audi would probably beat the Flex handily in terms of capability and feel, but the Flex is no slouch. Both are highly capable vehicles for the type of driving that 99.9% of drivers do every day.

    In the end, what we have is two very capable, stylish vehicles with a similar mission. One costs $10,000 more and provides no real benefits aside from being a “prestige” brand.

    Tell me again why the Flex is overpriced?

  • avatar

    By the way, anyone looking for a full-sized crossover SUV should definitely consider a Buick Enclave.

  • avatar

    Tell me again why the Flex is overpriced?

    Because a base Flex can be had for under $26K. The Q7 cannot. Folks who spend $50K+ on an automobile want the corresponding badge. That’s just the way of the world. Even if the value is clearly there, spending $50K on a vehicle is a tall order when your neighbor can buy a “look-a-like” with the same badge for half the price.

  • avatar

    As an owner of an ’08 GL CDI, I seriously considered the Q7 but was put off at the time by the lack of diesel powertrain and non-adult 3rd row seat. No urea on my ride, for better/worse. Power/acceleration in GL is fine (similar weight). 7 speed transmission helpful; wouldn’t mind slightly taller final gear ratio.

    Vehicle at this size/weight should seat 6 dudes comfortably (I use for road-trip football weekends). Base sticker on GL at ~55k got me in the door vs. fully equipped Lambdas and Suburban clones in similar price range. Considered an R as well but headroom was a problem even in first row (and I’m 5’10”). I’m at 23mpg for first 14k miles, 80% highway cruising at/above 80mph, rest NYC/Northern NJ urban slog. Can touch 28/29mpg cruising below 70 mph.

    Tough to economically rationalize fuel efficiency in a $65k vehicle at $2.00 – $3.00 fuel (gas or diesel), but I’m a mileage freak. At $10.00/gallon I’ll be patting myself on the back…

  • avatar

    Ugh. I had one of these bloated sows as a loaner when my former A4 was getting some warranty (I know! quelle surprise!) work done. Not the TDI, which wasn’t available in the US then — this loaner had the gas V6 — but I can’t imagine the driving dynamic to be much different.

    And can someone tell me why the only non-truck diesels you can buy in the US are luxury models, save the Jetta? Who the hell buys a $50,000 diesel BMW/Audi/MBz for the fuel economy?

  • avatar

    I love Audi but it really does look like an aerodynamic pig. Efficiency of interior space was not even in the design brief for the Q7 or the Touareg and in this arena the Flex wins simply because they designed the car around the inhabitants. It’s not good design unless it works at every level.

  • avatar
    Cole Trickle

    For what it is worth, fuel economy in a luxury vehicle is more about being, or appearing, green, not saving cash.

    Dealing with a luxury dealer is significantly more pleasant than dealing with a regular one, with some exceptions. If you don’t get that, you’ve never bought a new luxury car….you have no idea what you are missing. It is worth the extra money if you have it. If you don’t, no judgements. Money doesn’t make you happy, but it does get you starbucks, a cookie, and a loaner car when your nav system craps out.

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    How does this compare to the X5 35d? I can’t say I’m a fan of SUV’s but when my wife and I were shopping for a family hauler (we wound up with the CX9), we checked out the X5 3.0si out of curiosity and were impressed by its driving and comfort (albeit it didn’t make our top 5 list because of space and cost concerns).

  • avatar

    “Instead the Q7 showed up for the party fashionably dressed but fashionably late.”

    Wasn’t the Touareg fashionably late? If so, the Cayenne arrived well past midnight, and this fat-ass showed up the morning after (which might explain its stupid-looking yawn and flapping jowls).

  • avatar

    The q7, ugly? Gimme a break!

    For a seven passenger SUV, the thing is as svelte and feline as…a cat.Look at one parked between an Explorer and an R-class at the mall, and it’s like Marlene Dietrich posing between two cement blocks. Doesn’t do halfway badly off-road, either.

  • avatar

    GIMME THE Q7 TDI V12 !!! (or at least a V10 …or a V8)

  • avatar

    So many opinions and so little time. The write-up was well informed and showed a strong and well educated opinion, if not the same as mine. The comments were…as to be expected from the anonymous world of blog comments.

    My Q7 Tdi tows 6600 lbs and hauls my family around quite well. Don’t get the 20″ wheels if you like a nice ride. The stock 19″ wheels are quite nice. It does everything I ask of it and it does it well.

  • avatar

    #Strippo : …”Folks who spend $50K+ on an automobile want the corresponding badge…”

    I bought the technology and features, the brand happened to be Audi. The X5 35d seems to have a better engine but the space wasn’t there. Plus, I don’t like the way it looks.

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