2016 Audi Q7 First Look
The midsize Q5 may be Audi's best-selling model in the U.S. so far this year, but the Q7 also commands a surprising share of the pie. And to keep ahead in the growing segment, Audi is bringing major changes to the next-generation of this large crossover, including new technology, more interior room, and a much more lightweight body. Expect to see the 2016 Audi Q7 in global markets starting mid-2015, but before that, we'll see it at the Detroit auto show in January.
Starting off a new generation, the Q7 sheds some serious weight to get ready for the unforgiving spotlight. It is 716.5 pounds lighter than its predecessor, which means it essentially got rid of a concert grand piano from its back. Audi now claims the Q7 is the lightest in its class at 4,398 pounds. To achieve these savings, the automaker used high-strength steel to form the backbone of the occupant cell. And many parts of the SUV -- including the doors, front fenders, engine hood, and rear hatch -- are made entirely of aluminum.
For the U.S. market, the standard engine will be a new 2.0-liter TFSI engine good for 252 hp. In markets around the globe, look for a 3.0-liter TFSI with 333 hp and a 3.0-liter TDI diesel with 272 hp. Hitting 62 mph takes just 6.1 seconds in the 3.0-liter gas model or 6.3 seconds with the TDI. The eight-speed Tiptronic transmission carries over, as well as quattro permanent all-wheel drive. Shortly after these engines arrive, a less powerful 3.0-liter TDI will debut along with a plug-in hybrid diesel model packed with 373 hp but 516 lb-ft of torque.
Thanks to these new changes, the Q7 will use 26-percent less fuel on average for the new model year. Audi estimates the TDI will achieve 41.3 U.S. mpg and the gas 3.0-liter model will jump to 30.5 mpg. Expect the plug-in model to top out at 138 mpg.
As we reported last year, the Q7's redesign has come later than expected due to an emergency redesign. Audi decided to make last-minute design changes because the original car was deemed "too brutal and ostentatious." It looks like Audi has fixed these errors with cleaner edges and thoughtful details, such as prominent crossbars on the grille and LED DRLs shaped like a double arrow. The second thing you might notice is that the exterior is shorter and narrower than the last generation, although overall interior space has improved.
Peek inside the cabin and you'll find slightly more space between the first and second rows, as well as additional headroom. But the real story is the new technology. Just like in the A3, the new Q7 features a central monitor that pops up from the instrument panel when drivers want to use the multimedia system. The system also features the touch surface with haptic feedback and a new "natural speech control" system, which allows drivers to use everyday language instead of preset commands to operate infotainment and navigation functions. Other new options include a head-up display, two 10-inch Wi-Fi-enabled tablets for rear passengers, and additional Audi connect services such as emergency calling.
Expect a number of new features in the safety realm, too. One of these is an exit warning system, which warns drivers of an approaching vehicle or cyclist before they open the door. Cross-traffic assist prevents drivers from hitting other vehicles during slow reverse situations, and a new active cruise control with traffic-jam assist takes over steering during heavy traffic. A turning assist feature is coming to the model soon, which will help monitor opposing traffic when preparing to make a left turn and will stop the car if necessary.
The Audi Q7 will be available in five-seat and seven-seat configurations across the globe. In Germany -- the first market to receive the new model -- prices start at 61,000 euros, or around $76,000.