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  • First Drive: 2017 Audi Q7 - Light & Loaded

First Drive: 2017 Audi Q7 - Light & Loaded

Audi’s New Flagship SUV

Sue Mead
Mar 22, 2016
Photographers: Courtesy of Audi Motor Press
Yountville, California: The upscale wine country and winding coastal roads of northern California was the ideal locale for the recent ride and drive of the all-new ’17 Audi Q7. The region is populated with just the type of buyer and tourist Audi would like to introduce to the updated model’s premium attributes and luxury styling, and the driving route illuminated the sport ute’s more precise and proficient motoring capabilities. When the Q7 was launched in ’05, it was Audi's first entry into the luxury crossover utility vehicle marketplace. Its second generation will go on sale in early 2016 as the centerpiece of Audi's three-vehicle stable of luxury SUVs, positioned above the compact Q3 and midsize Q5.
All new for the ’17 model year, the seven-passenger Q7 has been penned with striking revisions to its exterior and interior. It’s the first model to be built on Audi’s new MLB platform and has been endowed with an all-new lightweight chassis. It also has the latest in high-tech infotainment, connectivity, and safety systems, and benefits from Audi's highly regarded quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system with a self-locking center differential. It will be available in three trim levels: Premium starting at $54,000, Premium Plus at $58,000), and Prestige at $64,300, plus the $950 destination and delivery charge. Competitors include the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Volvo XC90, and VW Group’s Touareg and Porsche Cayenne models.
Photo 2/21   |   012 2017 Audi Q7
Every surface has been remodeled to give the Q7 a more distinctive presence on the road. Although its styling is unique and called a “new Q design language,” you might think of the Lexus RX and Land Rover Evoque when you look at its grille and roofline. A sculpted body and a trendy new design give it a more taut, leaner appearance, while horizontal lines make it look wider. However, there's more to its toned appearance than meets the eye, as the SUV is 475 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, thanks to the use of new lightweight materials in the body and chassis. Up front is a new single-frame grille and xenon headlights, while the back is adorned with LED taillights (full LED front and rear lighting is available). A large two-panel panoramic sunroof is standard. The rear is accented by trapezoidal exhaust pipes and a skidplate design trim that add a beefy look, which Audi says is meant to convey the AWD vehicle “means business.” A new power hands-free tailgate with programmable opening-height adjustment is standard on Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels.
The interior was designed to have an open-air ambience. You’ll find more comfort as well as increased interior space with more head, leg, and shoulder room in the second and third rows; standard power 50/50 split-folding third-row seats, with electric fold and return functions; and standard three-zone (and optional four-zone) automatic climate controls. A luxury package adds fine leather and seats with heat, ventilation, and massage. From behind the three-spoke multifunction steering wheel and wraparound double-inlay dashboard, there is a 7-inch TFT color information display and 7-inch color center infotainment display, which is controlled by Audi's MMI "all-in-touch" multimedia connectivity system. Available niceties include keyless engine start/stop, Audi's virtual cockpit with a 12.3-inch display, 4G LTE with smartphone integration via Google’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, ambient lighting that can be programmed for numerous color combinations, full-color head-up display, and the choice of a Bose or top-line Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system that boasts up to 1,920 watts of 5.1 surround sound and 23 speakers.
Photo 3/21   |   020 2017 Audi Q7
Audi sets the bar high with its technology and driver assistance systems that include standard Audi Pre Sense City, which detects cornering and stationary vehicles and pedestrians at speeds up to 52 mph and initiates full braking when a potential collision is detected. Opting for Pre Sense Plus as part of the Driver Assistance package supplements the Pre Sense City with a collision warning and emergency braking at speeds more than 100 mph. In case of an impending accident, Audi Pre Sense Basic sets up the car for impact by closing the side windows and sunroof, pretensioning the seatbelts, and prepping the brakes for quicker response. Pre Sense Rear monitors traffic behind the vehicle and takes similar actions to the basic system in case of an impending rear collision. Also onboard is rear cross-traffic alert, collision avoidance assist, and adaptive cruise control with a traffic jam assist feature that maintains a set distance from the vehicle in front at speeds between 0 and 37 mph, even in congested stop-and-go traffic.
Under the hood is an all-aluminum supercharged 333hp 3.0L V-6 engine that boasts 325 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission with Audi's quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system for increased maneuverability at low speeds and more precise steering at higher speeds. Audi says the engine can accelerate the Q7 to 60 mph in as little as 5.7 seconds and offers a top speed of 130 mph. Equipped with the tow package, the Q7 can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
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We drove the new model with attractive 21-inch sport wheels over a course of 250 miles. Most notably, this seven-seater tops the scales at a few pounds shy of 2 1/2 tons, yet drives like a much smaller vehicle. Impressive is precise all-wheel steering that gives it an improved turning circle, strong and well-mannered brakes, and a responsive throttle and transmission, especially when driven with paddles or sport shifting. We also liked Audi’s Drive Select that enables drivers to adjust the characteristics of the engine, transmission, steering, shock absorbers, and the center differential within Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Off-Road, and Individual settings. We tried both the steel suspension (set up with five-link front and rear) and the more dynamic adaptive air suspension, which is a must-have for enthusiasts and buyers seeking a more compliant ride. Air suspension–equipped vehicles have an Allroad setting that raises the ride height by 25 mm and an Off-Road/Lift setting that adds 60 mm of height.
2017 Audi Q7
Type: Full-size luxury crossover utility vehicle
Base price: $54,800 (plus $950 destination and delivery)
Drivetrain: 3.0L V-6 TFSI with eight-speed Tiptronic transmission and quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system
Horsepower: 333 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 2,900 rpm
Photo 5/21   |   015 2017 Audi Q7

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