Even with high gas prices, most Americans are not giving up their big SUVs, especially big luxury SUVs that often are more opulent than a Gulf Stream jet. But few luxury utes have the performance to win over a dedicated driver. Well, Audi claims that their new Q7 has what it takes to satisfy every kind of driver. It’s a bold claim, so let’s see if the Q7 can back it up.

Audi claims their new 2007 Q7 4.2 Quattro combines the sophistication of a luxury utility and the toughness of a traditional 4x4 with the exhilarating performance of a Quattro sport sedan. To reach that total driving performance goal they started with one of the most respected architectures in the business, the chassis under Volkswagen’s Touareg and Porsche’s Cayenne. But to suit three rows of up to seven seats, Audi stretched it 5.8 inches for a wheelbase of 118.2 and a 200.2 inch overall length.

To match those full-size dimensions, this 5,400 pounder’s broad shouldered styling, with deep drop-jaw grille, makes it look like it was carved from a single block of steel. Its more wind cheating profile features an arching roof line that sweeps across a huge optional panoramic sunroof. Wheels are up to the measure too, from base 18-inch to our Q7’s optional 20-inchers.

Under the Q7’s muscular body lives Audi’s 4.2-liter dual-cam V8 uprated to 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. In September, a 3.6-liter V6 with 280 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque will be added as the base motor.

Gear shifts are by way of a 6-speed manual-mode Tiptronic automatic, which naturally is linked to a single speed Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system with a Torsen locking center differential. Depending on wheel slip, up to 65-percent of the torque can be channeled to the front axles, and 85-percent to the rear.

For off-road driving, or just deep snow, the Q7 has a generous 8.1 inches of ground clearance. But the optional adaptive air suspension with variable ride height can provide even more. The low profile performance tires don’t deliver a lot of grip on dirt or gravel, but then how many Q7s will ever really go off pavement?

But in a track test environment, the Q7’s substantial power makes 60 in a fast 7.9 seconds. The quarter mile takes 16 seconds at 90 miles-per-hour. That’s only a hair longer than the last Touareg V8 we drove.

The Q7 launches hard, snapping through the gears with real authority as power builds in a very progressive manner. Handling hardware is a double wishbone front and 4-link rear independent suspension, plus power rack-and-pinion steering. The adaptive suspension’s Dynamic, Comfort, and automatic modes provide good tailoring for comfort and sport.

In Dynamic mode the Q7 tries hard to emulate a sport sedan with quick corner entries. But despite the air suspension’s roll control, rather sudden weight transfers and little steering feel can’t help but unmask this big utility for what it is. Fortunately electronic stability control keeps the Q7 stable, seamlessly intervening when the driver pushes the big-Q too hard. In more sane maneuvers and highway speeds, however, the Q7 is downright docile. The ride is smooth over most surfaces, though big bumps and sudden transitions do tend to make it hop a bit.

Long drives will also have you hopping in and out of gas stations, since the Q7 is EPA rated at 14 city/19 highway. We saw an average of 16 miles-per-gallon of premium fuel on our mixed test loop.

Q7 braking performance is among the best of any SUV we’ve tested this year. A straight and stable 129 foot average from 60 thanks to oversized 4-wheel-discs, ABS and Electronic Brake Assist. Stops and goes in parking lots are aided by the available Parktronic system with radar object detection and a rear view camera. Radar is also part of the adaptive cruise control and Audi’s Side Assist system, which detects vehicles in the driver’s blind spots.

So are we done yet? Hardly! There’s still the huge cabin with a choice of five, six, or seven-passenger seating. Luxury and convenience features include plush leather seats, Premium Bose Audio with satellite radio, and Audi’s advanced Multi Media Interface, which controls everything from radio to navigation. While safety fitment includes side curtain airbags for all three rows of seats, and optional rear seat side impact airbags.

The second row seats offer plenty of room plus independent climate controls, but surprisingly, no factory installed DVD entertainment system. Third row seating has tight entry even for kids, but once there has decent comfort. Cargo can be accessed by a wide rear hatch with optional power assist. Maximum space is a big 88 cubic feet with all seats folded.

Q7 prices are on par for other big luxury utilities, starting at $50,620. The top-lux 4.2 Premium stickers at $60,620.

Audi has done its best to provide the 2007 Q7 with what it needs to satisfy every kind of driver, from cruiser to enthusiast. But, let’s face it; it is a full-size SUV. Still, the Q7 definitely has the style and sophistication to satisfy the most demanding luxury utility buyers.



  • Engine: 4.2-Liter Dual-cam V8
  • Horsepower: 350
  • Torque: 325 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 7.9 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 16.0 Seconds @ 90 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 129 Feet
  • EPA: 14 MPG City/ 19 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 16 MPG