2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro Road Test Review

 Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.


Lighter more agile Q7 combines strong performance with impeccable quality 

When the Q7 first arrived on the scene for the 2006 model year, it immediately became the darling of the seven-passenger luxury crossover SUV market segment. It aged gracefully over the years, having managed to maintain its popularity despite just one major mid-cycle update, which is a nod to the original SUV's good inherent design both aesthetically and mechanically. 


 

This second-generation version, which arrived in 2016 for the 2017 model year, rides on a new lighter weight chassis architecture that's allowed for a significant 300-kilo reduction in mass, while this in turn has resulted in the first-ever application of a fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinder in the roomy mid-size three-row SUV. 

I drove and reported on the 2.0 TFSI equipped Q7 last year and not only found it wholly adequate, but in fact its 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque felt downright spirited thanks in part to the standard eight-speed automatic and efficient Quattro all-wheel drive system it comes mated to, but for those that make their German engineering choice with an eye on performance first and foremost, I recommend the V6. 


 

Sharp styling continues to look fresh and forward thinking 

The 2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Quattro shown on this page felt much the same as a V6-powered model I also tested and reviewed last year, although this variation on the theme didn't include an upgrade to the $1,800 S Line Sport package, so therefore was devoid of the sportier model's identically sized albeit uniquely designed 20-inch alloys on 285/45 all-season tires, restyled front and rear bumpers, enlarged rear rooftop spoiler, S line fender badges and door sill embellishment on the metal treadplates, and black headliner inside. 

With its visual focus more about luxury than sport, my Q7 loaner still looked suitably planted with its 20-inch 10-spoke Star design alloys, while its two-slat corner vents are hardly less aggressive than the trio of glossy black slats and deeper brake vents provided in S Line trim.

 


As you might expect, the 2018 Q7 is mostly carryover from last year, this only being the second-gen model's second year of availability, so therefore the only change this year is the addition of standard Audi side assist blindspot warning and Audi pre-sense rear advanced driver assistance systems to mid-range Progressiv trim, the latter feature using a rear-facing camera to detect and warn of potential rear-end collisions, at which point it mitigates possible injuries by automatically adjusting the seats, tightening the seatbelts, plus closing the windows and sunroof. Additionally, as-tested top-line Technik trim now gets the Audi Connect smartphone interface, concierge service, and security features as standard equipment. 



 

Two engine options provide impressive power and excellent efficiency 

While we're talking trims, the Q7 is once again available in three grades including $61,900 Komfort, $67,650 Progressiv and $74,750 Technik. Quattro AWD is standard, while the aforementioned 2.0-litre turbo-four is standard in Komfort and Progressiv trims, while not available with Technik. The 3.0-litre supercharged V6 is a $4,000 option in either base or mid-range trim, with the result of this choice being 333 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque for considerably stronger straight-line performance, its zero to 100km/h sprint time improved by 1.7 seconds from 7.4 to 5.7 seconds, plus almost no downside in fuel economy as per Transport Canada's official claimed rating of 12.6 L/100km city, 9.4 highway and 11.1 combined for the V6 and 12.2, 9.5 and 11.0 respectively for the I-4. 

Additionally, with the optional tow package added to both four- and six-cylinder powered Q7s, the latter increases its trailering capacity by more than 1,500 kilos (3,300 lbs) over the former, from 1,995 kilograms (4,400 lbs) to a surprisingly capable 3,500 kg (7,700 lbs). 


 

No matter which engine you choose, Komfort trim includes standard self-leveling Xenon plus headlights with washers, 19-inch alloy wheels, heated power-folding side mirrors, pushbutton ignition, a heatable steering wheel, paddle shifters, rain-sensing wipers, Audi Drive Select performance modes, a garage door opener, a cooled glove box, heatable powered front seats with four-way powered driver's lumbar, driver-side memory, leather upholstery, genuine oak hardwood, piano black lacquer and real aluminum interior trim, tri-zone automatic climate control, a large infotainment display that powers up from within the dash top, HD and satellite radio, a powered panoramic sunroof, a powered liftgate, 50/50-split power-folding third-row seatbacks, front and rear parking sensors, engine stop-start, regenerative braking, and Audi's pre-sense basic driver assistance that detects when an emergency manoeuvre is being made and then initiates all of the crash preventative measures noted earlier about pre-sense rear. 


 

Progressiv and Technik trims include worthwhile tech and luxury upgrades 

My Technik tester included all of the above, plus everything from mid-range Progressiv trim such as its proximity keyless access, auto-dimming centre and side mirrors, blindspot warning, power-adjustable steering column, Audi Virtual Cockpit 12.3-inch TFT gauge cluster, 360-degree Topview surround parking camera, aforementioned smartphone integration, navigation, additional rear zone for the climate control system, four-way powered front passenger lumbar, ventilated front seats, heatable rear outboard seats, stainless steel trunk sill protection, virtual pedal proximity-sensing trunk release, and more. 

Lastly, exclusive Technik features include full LED headlamps for much brighter nighttime drives, a larger set of 20-inch alloys on 285/45 all-season run-flats for better grip, a sensational sounding 3D Surround Sound Bose audio system with 19 speakers and 558 watts of power, Audi connect assistance and security services, and more. 


 

Consider the Driver Assistance Plus package for optimal advanced safety 

Of course, some of the features that come standard with Technik trim can be had in option packages and as standalone upgrades within each trim level, while my tester was also enhanced further with a $150 set of second-row side window sunshades, which are ideal if you have sun-sensitive passengers in back. I'd find it difficult to believe many Q7s are ordered without the $900 Driver Assistance Package too, which includes auto high beam assist, a camera and distance sensor, Audi active lane assist, and traffic sign recognition. 


 

If this were to become my personal ride I'd be even more tempted to add the $3,400 Driver Assistance Plus package due to its adaptive cruise control with stop and go alone, while this suite of advanced safety features includes a head-up display projecting key info onto the windscreen ahead of the driver, Audi pre sense plus, Audi pre sense city front collision warning with autonomous braking, and traffic jam assist, a semi-autonomous steering feature that does the driving for you while stuck on well-paved congested roadways at speeds from 0 to 65 km/h. 


 

My tester's standard Diamond finish upper inlay with Silver Grey and Oak Grey lower inlays can be replaced by three $500 alternatives that all include Brushed Aluminum for the upper inlay with either Oak Grey, Beaufort Walnut, or Walnut and Terra Brown for the lower inlay, while the already excellent Bose audio system can be traded in for an even more impressive $5,100 Bang & Olufsen system with tweeters that power up out of the dash and many other advanced audio technologies. 


 

Additionally, a $2,500 Night vision assistant uses a thermal imaging camera to scan 15 to 90 metres ahead for pedestrians and large animal heat signatures and then projects them onto the multi-information display in the gauge cluster, while other options include massaging front seats, a dual screen rear seat entertainment system, rear side-impact airbags, a bevy of wheels and tires and more, plus dealer installed accessories galore. 


 

High quality interior delivers way above its reasonable price range 

Naming off options and standard equipment might help put the Q7's value proposition into a better light, but it hardly relates the experience of actually spending time inside. It remains one of the best interiors in its class thanks to Audi's pleasing horizontal design mixed with fine attention to detail. The quality of workmanship and materials chosen are difficult to match in this class, and the overall layout, ease of use, and general comfort comes close to perfection. 

The Q7 may excel even further above most peers in driving dynamics, by somehow balancing a gentle ride with superb handling. I'm always amazed at how small the Q7 feels when at the wheel, as if it's outwardly sized a category down from its true three-row mid-size dimensions, but numbers don't lie and your rear passengers won't complain about being cramped, although it's so much fun to drive that backseat drivers may ask you to slow down. 


 

Superb handling that defies this three-row SUV's size 

The Q7's speed-sensing electric power-assist steering feels just right and responds to input quickly and accurately, while the SUV's fully independent double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension system absorbs all the nasty road imperfections yet still manages to stay glued to the road even when pushed much harder than you might think possible. Audi may have found the ideal compromise between sport and comfort, as I never felt like I was giving up either. Added to this is Quattro AWD for all-season confidence, a system that has saved me from snow covered Cypress parking lots and launched me out of even deeper Whistler snow banks plenty of times, and would no doubt be just as capable of dealing with muddy cottage backroads and more. 

And that from an SUV that can gobble up seven occupants and their cargo, the area behind the rearmost seats good for 420 litres of what-have-you, which is about as much as a generously sized sedan's trunk, while if you fold those rear seats flat via the aforementioned power controls you'll end up with 1,062 litres behind the second row, or go a step further and you'll have a cavernous 2,027 litres of available space, and more so a completely flat load floor. 


 

Even better, Audi was really inventive with its second row seats, as they're not split in the usual 60/40 configuration, and not even sectioned into a 40/20/40 division that allows a narrow pass-through down the middle for skis and other long cargo, but they're almost evenly divided at 35/30/35 for a much larger centre pass-through and a more comfortable middle seating position. 

Power releases pop the second-row seats forward for easy access to the third row, and while I personally wouldn't want to spend an entire day back there I was able to buckle in my five-foot-eight frame without discomfort. This still left plenty of legroom for second-row passengers, which certainly won't be able to complain about spaciousness in all other directions either, or comfort. 


 

Easily one of the best luxury SUVs available today 

Audi does a good job with its much-revered MMI infotainment too. A beautifully finished rotating control knob, plus a touchpad with pinch, swipe and finger gesture capability, and plenty of surrounding fast-access buttons, provide easy access from the lower console, while a clear, crisp widescreen display powers up from atop the centre dash, filled with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, accurate navigation, superb backup and overhead cameras, plus brilliant depth of colour, high resolution and good overall speed of operation. It truly can't be faulted. 

Added to this, the Audi Virtual Cockpit is by far best of the best when it comes to digital gauge clusters. I love how the "VIEW" button on the left steering wheel spoke expands the multi-info display to epic proportions, leaving smaller digital dials for speed and tachometer readings. This allows the navigation mapping and route guidance info to almost completely take over the display, or one of many other functions within the system. 


 

Yes, it's difficult not to love the Audi Q7, which is why you can see so many on Vancouver roads. It would be unwise to buy into this category without experiencing a new 2018 Q7 first hand, as it's easily one of the best mid-size SUVs available today. 



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