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2015 Audi Q7: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2015

It would be understandable if the 2015 Audi Q7 felt a little miffed. After all, its former platform mates, the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg, have been thoroughly reworked for their second generations, whereas the Audi's essentials date back to the George W. Bush era.

But Audi got a lot right about the Q7 in the first place, and thoughtful updates through the years have maintained this luxurious 3-row crossover's competitiveness. Notably, Audi's stellar supercharged 3.0-liter V6 keeps the Q7 youthful under the hood, providing smooth acceleration, while the capable TDI turbodiesel V6 contributes impressive fuel economy and plenty of torque.

Although an all-new Q7 is waiting in the wings for 2016, Audi's long-running workhorse continues to be a compelling option.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 Q7 is essentially unchanged, receiving only minor equipment adjustments.

What We Like

Standard 3-row seating; satisfying 3.0T V6 offered in two strengths; capable and efficient turbodiesel V6; lovely interior

What We Don't

Mediocre fuel economy with the 3.0T; surprisingly small third row and cargo bay; aging and needlessly heavy underpinnings

How Much?

$49,225-$66,325

Fuel Economy

All Q7 models roll with quattro all-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 3.0T starts with a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 280 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, while the 3.0T S line Prestige gets an amped-up version of the same engine with 333 hp and 325 lb-ft. The TDI offers a turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6 rated at 240 hp and 406 lb-ft. Towing capacity is 6,600 pounds, a healthy figure that's a testament to the Q7's robust architecture.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the 3.0T slurps up fuel at a rate of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, but the TDI is much better, returning an exceptional 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Audi Q7 is offered in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. Note that the supercharged 3.0T engine comes in two states of tune. The milder one is featured in the Premium and Premium Plus, while the spicier tune comes standard with the Prestige (technically known as the S line Prestige in this case). The TDI turbodiesel V6 is available in all three trim levels, with only minor variations from the 3.0T formula.

The 3.0T Premium ($49,225) and TDI Premium ($54,325) come standard with three rows of seating, 18-inch alloy wheels (19 for the TDI), fog lights, adaptive xenon headlights, LED running lights and taillights, a power lift gate, leather upholstery, power front seats with adjustable lumbar support, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, the Multi Media Interface (MMI) system, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, and an 11-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input, dual SD-card slots and satellite radio.

The 3.0T Premium Plus ($55,725) and TDI Premium Plus ($60,825) add a blind spot monitoring system, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, a rearview camera, auto-dimming mirrors, driver memory functions, Audi connect telematics with mobile Wi-Fi, a 14-speaker Bose audio system and an enhanced version of MMI with a slightly larger screen and a navigation system.

The 3.0T S line Prestige ($62,825) and TDI Prestige ($66,325) tack on 20-in wheels, a corner-view parking camera system, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, quad-zone automatic climate control and cooled front seats. The 3.0T S line Prestige also includes a sport appearance package; a similar package is optional on the TDI Prestige.

Many of the higher trims' features are available on lower trims as options. The Prestige is eligible for exclusive upgrades, including an adaptive air suspension and a 14-speaker, 1,001-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system. Notable options across the lineup include heated rear seats and a trailer-hitch package.

Safety

The 2015 Audi Q7 features standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). Rear-side airbags are optional.

The government has not crash-tested the Q7, but the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Q7 its highest rating of Good in every tested category.

Behind the Wheel

The Q7's cabin is clearly older than Audi's latest interiors, and if you look at a picture of the A7 hatchback's dashboard, you'll see what we mean. Nonetheless, it's a nice place in which to spend time. We especially like the driving position, as its cockpitlike confines belie the Q7's imposing dimensions, making it feel more like an oversized luxury sedan than a heavy SUV.

The gauges are classic Audi: two no-nonsense circles for the tachometer and speedometer, with numerals rendered in Audi's distinctive font. As in most Audis, however, the ergonomics are hit-or-miss, and that includes frequently used features such as the fan-speed knob. On the bright side, Audi has made numerous user-friendly improvements to MMI in recent years, to the point that it's now one of our favorite infotainment systems. The Q7 isn't a technological tour de force like Audi's newer models, but it still has plenty of gadgets to keep you occupied.

The Q7's second-row seat has plenty of legroom, but the bottom cushions are a bit low. We prefer the higher rear bench in the Touareg. Of course, the Q7's trump card is the standard 2-person third row, which neither the Touareg nor the Cayenne offers. Given the Q7's considerable footprint, the third row is surprisingly cramped, but it'll work for kids.

Cargo space is also strangely modest in the Q7, measuring 10.9 cu ft. behind the third row, 42 cu ft. behind the second row and 72.5 cu ft. with both the second and third rows folded down.

Under the hood, we've never felt the need for more gusto from the base 3.0T engine. It gets the massive Q7 up to speed without drama, and it's very smooth. Still, who wouldn't want a little more power if they could get it? Audi obliges us with the 333-hp 3.0T S line Prestige, which uses the same engine to better effect. You'll notice more urgency at full throttle with the Prestige, but the difference isn't enormous. As for the TDI V6, it's been around for a while now, but the recent introduction of the 8-speed automatic has really woken it up. We also like that you can hardly tell it's a diesel in normal operation; that's how quiet it is.

On the road, watch out. The Q7's sedanlike cockpit can fool you into thinking that this monumentally heavy SUV is a sporty thing, but that illusion should fall by the wayside the first time you attempt to take a corner with any enthusiasm. Still, the Q7 drives with that typical Germanic sense of solidity and precision, making you feel like a better driver than you really are. We find the ride to be pleasantly hushed but decidedly firm over bumps, unless the optional (and pricey) air suspension is specified.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 BMW X5 -- BMW's midsize crossover was recently redesigned, making it a shiny new alternative to the Q7.

2015 Ford Flex -- The Flex may seem like an unlikely contender, but if you load one up and specify the 365-hp EcoBoost V6, crossovers don't get much better.

2015 Volkswagen Touareg -- Do you really need the Q7's back seat? If not, we suggest a test drive in the cheaper Touareg, one of the most engaging crossovers around.

Used Mercedes-Benz GL-Class -- When comparing new to new, the GL is out of the Q7's price range. A lightly used model should be easily attainable, however, and the Benz's refinement and power are hard to resist.

AutoTrader's Advice

The TDI's combination of sedanlike fuel economy and industrial-grade torque makes it our top pick. It's a lot of crossover for your money.

Find an Audi Q7 for sale

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Used 2015 Audi Q7 3.0T S line Prestige
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Used 2015 Audi Q7 3.0T Premium Plus
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2015 Audi Q7: New Car Review - Autotrader