I find it disingenuous for Audi to sell the same engine in the same vehicle with a 61-hp difference, especially when this 5400-pound Q7 needs every one of those 333 horses. The more powerful Q7's sub 7-second sprint to 60 mph is certainly quick, and for all practical purposes the slower Q7 is still a very drivable, pleasant vehicle. But fuel economy is unchanged and the difference between engines here is merely lines of software. Why should the buyers of a $47,000 luxury SUV settle for the dumb software?
Product packaging complaints aside, the Q7 is a great SUV. There are times when this vehicle feels slower than Audi claims, but abandoning the old V-8 for the responsive, supercharged V-6 and excellent eight-speed automatic still reads as a smart move. Only at the top end of the tach and highway speeds do you really wish for more thrust from a full-throttle acceleration. Inside, it's typical Audi goodness. The only concern I have is how long this Q7 will remain fresh in the market. While the Q7's Porsche and Volkswagen siblings received significant redesigns last year, the Q7's new engine and subtle changes amount to only a modest refresh. It looks and drives great now, but the original 2005 design has to survive into 2013 before it receives a thorough redo.
- Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor