The refinement of the 2017 Q7 reflects a changing marketplace that puts more emphasis on utility vehicles
The first thing I noticed about Audi’s all-new 2017 Q7 as I motored down a busy freeway was the bank-vault quiet and feeling of serenity. I was late for an appointment but the lack of noise lowered the stress level that I would normally find in a crosstown, 40-minute drive.
The Q7’s appeal goes beyond a lack of noise, of course. The level of fit and finish throughout the vehicle is on par with that of any luxury sedan. In many ways, I found it to be more comfortable than a sedan because it was easier to enter and exit, it rode smoothly and it handled with the responsiveness of a smaller vehicle.
The Q7 is Audi’s largest crossover utility vehicle and the 2017 is the second generation. Even if the styling is more evolutionary than revolutionary, the redesign seems to be a significant step forward. The new vehicle is slightly smaller than the previous one and more than 700 pounds lighter, according to Audi. The new design is more angular than before, with crisp creases and squared-off edges. After a few days with the test vehicle I concluded that the Q7 is one of the more impressive utility vehicles I have driven in the past year.
Prices start at $54,800. I drove a Prestige model from Audi’s press fleet, and its sticker price was $69,425.
In addition to the solitude, the cabin exudes an enticing level of Teutonic luxury, with a high level of materials and finishes. Audi interiors have long been a benchmark by which others are measured, and this one raises the bar.
The second-row seat is split into three sections to ease access to the third row.
Power comes from Audi’s supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6 that develops 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. This engine delivers its power across a wide range of rpm with electric-motor smoothness. The transmission is an eight-speed Tiptronic that can also be shifted manually or with paddles on the steering wheel. Fuel economy is rated at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on the highway, and the maximum towing capacity is 7,700 pounds.
Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system has a self-locking central differential that aids traction in slippery conditions. There are seven drive modes that include Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Offroad and Individual settings. The Q7 handles more like a sedan than a utility vehicle.
For those who like to experience their surroundings while driving, a two-panel panoramic sunroof is standard.
The Vision and Prestige models feature a 12.3-inch TFT instrument display with 3D graphics that are crisp and bright. The driver can select several configurations, one of which displays a full-color navigation map between the speedometer and tachometer. This is tremendously helpful because it keeps the driver’s eyes closer to the road.
A navigation screen rises from the center of the instrument panel and looks a bit like an afterthought, but that seems to be the fashion for many vehicles these days, especially those from Europe. The screen can retract at any time should the driver find it distracting, but navigation information can still be displayed in the instrument cluster.
Three-zone climate control is standard and four-zone is optional.
The test car was equipped with a Bose surround-sound system that has 19 speakers but audiophiles might prefer the even better Bang & Olufsen system with 23 speakers.
Audi’s driver-assistance aids, such as adaptive cruise control and lane assist, are useful and will help reduce the strain on long-distance drives.
The refinement of the 2017 Q7 reflects a changing marketplace that seems to put more and more emphasis on utility vehicles and less and less on traditional sedans.
2017 Audi Q7 3.0T Quattro Prestige
Engine: 3.0-liter, 333-horsepower V-6
Transmission: Eight-speed Tiptronic
Wheelbase: 117.9 inches
Curb weight: 4,938 pounds
Base price: $54,800
As driven: $69,425
MPG rating: 19 in the city, 25 on the highway