The family- and highway-friendly Q7 makes taking a road trip a luxurious and welcome experience



Casey Williams  |  Auto Reviewer
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My family is spread across Texas and Indiana, so when it comes to the holidays, there’s actual jetting involved, but also long drives. While driving the Audi Q7, we had family gatherings a couple of hours away in three different directions. I did all of the driving, but you won’t hear me complaining. Nor did I hear a peep out of the cheap seats (mainly, my husband and daughter).

The Q7’s wrapper is typical Audi — smooth, deftly creased and understated. I wouldn’t call it naturally beautiful, but it is muscular, planting a wide stance over 20-in. 10-spoke alloy wheels. A long body tapers to the rear in a classic shooting brake profile. It’s only when you get close that you realize this cavernous hunk contains three rows of seats. From its bold grille flanked by LED signature lighting to wrap-around LED taillamps, it visually owns the left lane.

Private jets have an edge in speed, but not luxury. I was perfectly happy sitting on my heated and cooled throne, gripping the thick power-adjusted steering wheel, and listening to the Bang & Olufsen Advanced 3D Sound System. Four-zone automatic climate control and a dual-pane panoramic sunroof add comfort. While the Q7 technically has a third row seat that power folds into the floor, only children with elfin legs should ever consider riding there.

Our Q7 had neither adaptive cruise control nor active crash avoidance systems, but it was still a technical tour de force. I’m a big fan of the heads-up display and reconfigurable instrument panel that lets you see a wide screen expanse of what’s ahead of you in navigation mode. In theory, Audi’s MMI touch system lets you conjure information by fingering letters, but it takes way too much attention from the task of driving even if it does summon audio, navigation and vehicle functions. An intuitive touchscreen flanked by volume and tuning knobs is preferable. Tap into the 4G Wi-Fi to get over it.

Aimed at the Interstate, the Q7 gathers itself quickly and puts a bead on the horizon. Between the chiseled fenders is a 3.0-liter turbocharged 6-cylinder engine that delivers 333 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque. All of that power is routed to the Quattro all-wheel-drive system through an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Audi claims it’s capable of clicking off 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds on the way to a 130 mph top speed. Fuel economy rates 19/25 miles-per-gallon city/hwy.

Audi-Q7-interiorFor a big vehicle, the Q7 is relatively nimble. The Audi drive select system, which employs an air suspension and four-wheel steering, is adjustable for Comfort (soft, less aggressive), Auto (mind reader), Offroad (raises the vehicle), Dynamic (Sport) and Individual (customize throttle, chassis and shifting). I left it in Dynamic most of the time, enjoying a comfortable highway ride and a willingness to slice up fast on-ramps. It quietly rumbled over broken city pavement.

If you’re going to load up family or friends and jet from one gathering to another, the Audi Q7 is a good choice. It’s comfortably fast when you want it to be and spaciously advanced always. I’d just stow the third row seats and skip fingering commands into the MMI system to keep things simple.

A base price of $49,000 — $74,825 as tested — puts the Q7 in the same field as the Volvo XC90, Cadillac Escalade, BMW X5, Dodge Durango Citadel and Mercedes-Benz GLE.             

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 03, 2017.