The engine downsizing continues at Audi. The Q7 is no longer available with a 3.6-liter narrow-angle V-6 or a 4.2-liter V-8. Instead, the lineup consists of three 3.0-liter V-6s -- two gasoline variants and a diesel. As part of this adjustment, the S-line has evolved from a glorified appearance package to a full trim level that includes the more potent 333-hp supercharged V-6. Full throttle acceleration is fantastic -- sufficient to hustle this big, bruiser to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, according to Audi. In some real-world situations, though, the Q7 actually feels considerably slower due to the efficiency-first programming evident in both the eight-speed transmission and in the throttle mapping. I compensated for that by leaving the shifter in S (Sport) and by being very generous with my right foot. Not surprisingly, this hurt my fuel economy. At one point I saw an indicated 11 mpg around town -- nowhere near the 16-mpg EPA estimate. That number improved considerably on the highway, where the Q7 is most comfortable, anyway. Like most Audis, the Q7 handles and steers well for its segment, although there's no getting away from the fact that it's a big and tall vehicle weighing more than 5400 pounds.
With the interior, one gets the sense that having already achieved perfection, Audi designers are now tinkering mostly for their own entertainment. Take for instance, the button to open the glovebox, which resides to the right of the navigation screen. Does it work here? Sure. Does the glovebox door look better without a little latch in the corner? Possibly. Will it make a certifiable difference in anyone's ownership experience with the vehicle? Almost certainly not. Having said that, I'll admit to warming up to a few of Audi's other ergonomic innovations -- the MMI controller now feels as natural as a tuning knob on an old radio and the cleaned up HVAC controls similarly become second nature.
- David Zenlea, Assistant Editor