2017 Audi Q7 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv S line Road Test Review

 Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.

Few competitors even come close 

It's certainly a bright new year for Audi and its ever-strengthening SUV lineup. An all-new Q7 is burning up the sales charts, resulting in record deliveries last year, and a new compact Q5 is right around the corner, albeit 2016 sales of the outgoing version outpaced every competitor just the same, while the ever-popular Q3 is holding its own amongst subcompact SUVs. But wait, there's more.

Last fall the Q7 took top-three honours in its "Premium Midsize Utility Vehicle - 3 Row" category within the 2017 ALG Canadian Residual Value Awards, while the Q5 ran away with the "Compact Luxury SUV" segment in Canadian Black Book's 10th annual 2017 Best Retained Value Awards. Also notable, many of Audi's cars won their categories outright or were recognized for strong resale values in the CBB awards program, Audi proving to be smart choice for those who want to hold on to as much of their automotive "investment" as possible.


I emphasize the word investment because most understand the purchase or lease of any new vehicle falls under the expense column on a personal or company ledger, although I must say the new Q7 is an investment in one's quality of life. Like the new model's considerable jump to first place on the sales charts amongst dedicated seven-passenger luxury SUVs, this latest three-row Audi is a major leap forward in style, refinement, quality, features, and capability over its predecessor and most others in this class.


New fuel-efficient 2.0 TFSI engine is big on performance too 

On the latter front is a new engine, Audi's well-proven 2.0-litre turbo-four. At 252 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque it's very strong for its displacement, and thanks to a much lighter Q7 (as much as 320 kg less than its predecessor) the four-cylinder is not only quicker than the old TDI, but also the outgoing model's 280 horsepower 3.0-litre V6 at 7.4 seconds to 100km/h now, compared to 7.9 seconds then; the new 333 horsepower supercharged V6 sprints to 100km/h in just 5.7 seconds. Maximum torque from just 1,600 rpm makes the 2.0 TFSI strong off the line, and with its available trailering package it can tow an impressive 2,000 kilos.

Two things that haven't changed from old to new include standard Quattro all-wheel drive and a proven eight-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual mode, steering wheel paddle shifters, and the ability to automatically shut itself down when it would otherwise be idling, not to mention recover kinetic braking energy and reroute it through the electrical system. These technologies help 2.0 TFSI equipped Q7s achieve a respectable 11.9 L/100km city, 9.6 highway and 10.8 combined, which is better than the previous 3.0-litre V6 and the Q7 TDI in every measure except highway mileage for the latter. Since most of us log our miles in town the new 2.0 TFSI is a clear winner at the pump.


The economy and performance specs are impressive, but the way the Q7 2.0 TFSI goes about its business is much more so. Starting with Drive Select, which includes Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Individual, and Off Road settings, and I must say is most entertaining when set to sportiest Dynamic mode, followed by a nudge of its gorgeous leather and satin metal Tiptronic shifter to the right for manual, the engine takes on a much more responsive persona, zipping along like a V6. It feels like a sportier SUV, the 2.0-litre begging for more manual shifting via always-ready paddles, although it certainly doesn't need any help if you'd rather leave it in auto to shift on its own. There's less weight over the front wheels too, a bonus when pushing hard through corners, something the new Q7 adheres to with even more composure than its surefooted predecessor. It's plenty smooth when left in Comfort or Auto modes as well, either selection ideal for city life.


Sharp new styling turns heads 

Helping my mid-range Progressive trimmed tester navigate terra firma is an attractive set of twinned five-spoke 20-inch alloys on grippy 235/45 all-seasons, these being signs of its upgraded S line sport package. They're visually tied together by a satin grey-silver body moulding that spans front to rear doors, which also pulls cues from the stylish grille up front. Similar silver-toned window surrounds and roof rails add to the upscale yet sporty look, contrasting especially well against gorgeous Ink Blue Metallic paint. Likewise for the brilliant new available LED headlamp clusters and equally eye-catching standard LED taillights, the new Q7 is a true head-turner no matter the angle being viewed.

The classy theme continues inside where Audi has created one of the best cabins in the industry. You'll be hard pressed to find any hard plastics, the German brand going above and beyond to distinguish itself from mere premium wannabes. All the metals look and feel genuine because they are; the glossy Oak Grey hardwood inlays beautifully finished and tastefully applied; the leathers as soft and sumptuous as any rival; its switchgear so much nicer than the majority of challengers that it's no contest; and finally the Q7's electronic interfaces much further advanced than all competitors.


Technology that's far and away ahead of competitors 

Audi's fabulous "virtual cockpit" is a fully configurable high-resolution colour 12.3-inch TFT gauge cluster that is unlike anything else on the market. The graphical design is highly legible and thoroughly engaging, enhanced by a steering wheel-mounted "VIEW" button that decreases the diameter of both tachometer and speedometer while growing the multi-information display at centre, the latter filled with features and functions you can swap out by pressing arrows on the steering wheel spokes. So set it doubles as a second infotainment display, albeit more advantageously positioned for the driver. What's more, the high-quality 8.3-inch infotainment display at centre can be neatly powered down within the recesses of the dash in order to remove distraction, especially helpful during nighttime driving, the virtual cockpit letting you glance down for navigation mapping and routing, climate and audio info, and more when needed. Navigation, for instance, looks superb within the gauges, all of which is incredibly crisp and clear with sharp, rich colours and contrast; there's really nothing like it in the industry.


Infotainment controls can be found at the base of the centre stack on the lower console, consisting of two aluminized quick-access rocker switches and a large touchpad that you can click at each corner for features, or tap, pinch and swipe as well. A large rotating knob offers additional control, the aforementioned T-shaped shifter doubling as a palm rest. Just behind under the armrest is an aux plug and two USB ports, Audi providing a cord for plugging in both an iPhone and/or USB-powered device, like an Android phone. Of course, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming means you only need to plug a modern smartphone in for charging, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make connectivity even better.

The Q7's four-zone automatic HVAC system is nicely laid out with high-quality rotating knobs featuring grippy knurled metal edges, stylish digital inserts, yet more LCD graphics in the centre display, and an attractive set of aluminized toggle switches aligned below.


Impressively equipped base Q7 earns a Top Safety Pick 

Features in mind, the most basic $61,900 Q7 2.0 TFSI Quattro Komfort is nicely equipped with stainless steel doorsills, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, heatable powered front seats with driver's memory, leather upholstery, the aforementioned metal and hardwood inlays, a heatable leather-wrapped multi-function sport steering wheel with shift paddles, rain-sensing wipers, tri-zone auto climate control, a rearview camera, satellite radio, front and rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, a powered liftgate, Audi pre sense basic (which helps the standard Q7 earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick rating; the only "Large SUV" to do so), parking system plus, Audi drive select, and much more.

As tested $67,100 Progressiv trim adds a unique set of 19-inch alloys, four-way powered lumbar support, a powered steering column, ventilated front seats and rear seat heaters, auto-dimming side mirrors, four-zone auto HVAC, the virtual cockpit, MMI Navigation plus with MMI Touch, Audi's Music Interface, a 360-degree surround monitor, and a stainless steel cargo sill.

Of note, moving up to $74,200 Technik trim necessitates the V6, while also adding 20-inch alloys, LED headlamps, 19-speaker Bose 3D audio, Audi side assist, and Audi pre sense rear.


Available options add performance, style and function 

My tester's extras included LED headlights and the S line sport package that added the 20-inch alloys, unique front and rear bumpers, a rear spoiler, a black headliner and more. Additionally, a $550 towing package and $900 Driver Assistance package were included, the latter featuring auto high beams, traffic sign recognition, a camera and distance sensor, plus active lane assist.

Possible Q7 Progressiv options could have included any one of seven exterior colours and/or three interior upholstery hues at no charge, a variety of metal and wood inlays at $500 apiece, Bose audio for $1,200, a $3,400 Driver Assistance Plus package including head-up display, adaptive cruise control, and Audi pre-sense plus/pre sense city, while additional options included $150 rear window sunshades, and $350 rear side-thorax airbags.


Plenty of comfortable space for seven adult occupants and their gear 

All of these features would have been nice, but I was very satisfied with my tester the way it came. Again, the quality of materials, fit and finish, and overall spaciousness sets the Q7 apart, as does its standard seven-passenger layout. On that note the second row moves fore and aft easily to increase legroom in the SUV's rearmost quarters, while the panoramic sunroof added a feeling of openness even when seated in the third row. Yes I made my way back there, which was easy thanks to the second row sliding out of the way, my five-foot-eight body never growing past the point of a medium-build teen, which makes such endeavors possible. When the second row is pulled mostly forward, which still leaves comfortable space for folks my size and larger, I had about two inches ahead of my knees, three over my head, lots of hip and shoulder room, and good overall comfort.


As for cargo space, even with all seats in use there's 420 litres behind the third row, making it similarly proportioned to a large compact to midsize car's trunk. Fold the 50/50-split rear seats down via standard powered seatbacks and there's 2,027 litres of cargo capacity at your disposal, and as you might expect from Audi the Q7's stowage area is nicely carpeted on the floor and sidewalls while featuring chromed tie-down hooks at each corner. There's also a hidden storage compartment under the rearmost portion of the load floor, which houses a scrolling retractable cargo cover when not in use.


The best midsize luxury SUV available today 

It's such practicalities that have endeared the Q7 to its loyal owner base years after purchase, this new model so much better than the already good outgoing one that it should only strengthen customer satisfaction. Its renewed style, much better interior, superb feature set, much lighter weight, improved driving dynamics, and efficient yet powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine set the Q7 apart from all competitors. The Q7 just might be the best midsize luxury SUV available today.


Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press 
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.