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The 2020 Audi Q7 Is a Masterclass in Refinement and Style

Small changes, big result.

Conner GoldenWriterManufacturerPhotographer

I'll cut right to the chase—the 2020 Audi Q7 is a great three-row luxury SUV. Why beat around the bush? This mid-cycle refresh only brightens the second-generation Q7's star, and if you liked it before it went under the knife, you'll love the fresh schnozz and fancy new interior duds, not to mention the new optional turbo-six under the front hood. Not a fan of the previous iteration? Well, it isn't drastically different from the outgoing SUV, but it's worth a test drive nonetheless, especially with a cluster of fresh powertrains on the horizon.

That new 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 is the biggest change for the 2020 model year, serving as the replacement for the corporate 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 that carried over from a bygone generation of Audis both large and small a decade ago. Out with the belt, in with the turbine; the Q7's fresh turbo six isn't really all that new, as this is the family-wide turbocharged "hot-vee" V-6 available in virtually any Audi larger than an A4.

Power and torque is up 6 hp and a healthy 44 lb-ft over the outgoing supercharged model to a total of 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Audi's excellent ZF-sourced eight-speed transmission handles the cog-swapping, sending power to all-four wheels through a standard quattro all-wheel-drive system. Weight jumps some 150 pounds thanks to new standard equipment, but thanks to the extra gumption from the updated powertrain, it's capable of the same impressive 5.7-second 0-60 mph sprint as the outgoing model.

Power to spare

It's certainly more than enough power to haul myself and a codriver all over the pine-lined passes snaking around Mt. San Jacinto, about an hour's drive from the program's home base in Palm Springs. Rushing by trundling RVs and clapped-out Tacomas is a breeze, though power was never a weak-point for the Q7. I've plenty of experience with the last generation of SUV, having hauled visiting family across the greater Los Angeles metroplex in the back of a well-equipped example. Even with a full house, that supercharged Q7 was happy to chug up and down the coast of Southern California, eliciting nothing but praise from the passengers regarding ride and overall refinement. Me? I loved the optional Adaptive Chassis package that included adaptive air suspension and rear-wheel steering.

This loaded-out 2020 Q7 55 TFSI lacked the aforementioned rear-wheel steering, but thanks to the top-of-the-line Prestige package, retained that excellent air suspension. Now with no family to complain about any heavy-handed driving, I whipped the new Q7 through the mountains with alacrity usually reserved for something much more capable, though without any of the harsher downsides. Even over broken pavement and the occasional minor rockslide, the ride remained butter-smooth, dampening any jiggles and jutters before they reached the interior occupants.

That's the Q7's secret; it drives like something at least a segment smaller, and hustles far beyond any reasonable expectations. It's not even a remote competitor to half-step performance haulers like the BMW X5 M50i or Mercedes-AMG GLE 43, but corner composure and driver inputs are far better than you might expect, even without the optional rear-wheel steering. Braking, steering, and throttle are all well-balanced and nicely weighted, especially when evaluated for the daily commute, though keep an eye on that digital speedo next time you take the kids to the cabin—you might be truckin' along faster than you realize.

This all assuming you stick with the V-6-powered Q7—AKA the 55 TFSI. Soon, the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder 45 TFSI carries over from the previous generation, offering the same 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. For those who do want to bring the fight to BMW M and AMG, the SQ7 arrives later with the familiar 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 packing a 500 hp and 568 lb-ft gut-punch.

Style and substance

If you're not the type of buyer concerned with the oily crud under the front hood, I'm pleased to report the Q7 is now better looking than ever, both inside and out. A new "Singleframe" grille, updated lower front fascia, and fresh headlight design bring it in-line with the rest of the updated Audi lineup, as do new wheel designs and a similarly refreshed rear bumper and tailgate area with new bottom diffuser, chrome accent strip, and "dynamic" taillights.

Inside, the Q7 takes the best bits from platform mate Q8, most notably the center console and secondary lower touchscreen for vehicle controls. Like the Q8, it's much like sitting inside a leather-lined, aluminum-trimmed modern sculpture, replete with top-shelf materials and a design language that has a better chance at weathering the coming years than cockpits from equivalent luxury automakers.

It's clever, too. All V-6 Q7s, regardless of trim, arrive with the second-generation of Audi Virtual Cockpit, navigation, and a trial subscription to Audi Connect, the automaker's suite of travel-related apps, including info for traffic, parking, calendars, and Yelp. There's also a heap of driver assistance systems to ensure both car and family arrives unbruised, starting with standard automatic wipers and frontal collision warning. Of course, start ticking order form boxes, and the Q7 arrives with electronic bubble wrap like adaptive cruise, traffic sign recognition, night vision assist, head-up display, active lane assist, collision avoidance, and rear-cross traffic alert.

Starting to get the picture? It's the same three-row luxe hauler that we love, just moderately improved. It's fab to drive, easy to live with, better to look at, and faster than it has any need to be. Just make sure you load it up with family and friends—don't hog all this extra finery to yourself.

2020 Audi Q7

  • New turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6
  • 44 lb-ft more torque than outgoing supercharged V-6
  • New front and rear bumper design
  • Interior upgrades from Audi Q8
  • Excellent handling for size and segment
  • Strong acceleration, great power
  • Best interior design in the biz
2020 Audi Q7 Specifications
PRICES $55,795 (base)
ENGINE 3.0L 24-valve turbocharged V-6/335 hp @ 5000 - 6400
rpm, 369 lb-ft @ 1370 - 4500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 7-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 17/21 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 199.3 x 77.6 x 68.5 in
WHEELBASE 117.9 in
WEIGHT 5,082 lb
0-60 MPH: 5.7s
TOP SPEED: 130 mph