2017 Audi Q7 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv Road Test

With more than half a million Q7s down the road since inception no one argues against the mid-size luxury SUV’s market success,
2017 Audi Q7 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
No shortage of style, the new Q7 turns heads wherever it goes. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
but the outgoing first-generation was starting to look and feel a bit stale when its near decade-long tenure finally ended last year.

Since then it’s been made clear there was pent-up demand for an all-new Q7, which when combined with unparalleled growth in the luxury SUV sector saw the stylish new model jump a shocking eight positions on the sales charts, last year’s record-breaking 4,335 deliveries bypassing most of its competitors to take fifth place amongst mid-size luxury SUVs and second amid dedicated seven-passenger models, while within the first two months of 2017 it’s taken down another rival for fourth spot overall and first amongst the seven-occupant crowd. Welcome back to the mid-size SUV limelight Audi.

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While entirely new, the 2017 Q7 is easily distinguishable as an Audi. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
certainly a bright new year for Audi and its ever-strengthening SUV lineup, with a new compact Q5 around the next corner albeit 2016 sales of the long-in-tooth outgoing version having outpaced every competitor just the same, and a still fresh looking Q3 holding its own in third place amongst real luxury brands during the last calendar year. But wait, there’s more.

Last fall the Q7 took top-three honours in its “Premium Midsize Utility Vehicle – 3 Row” category within the 2017 ALG Canadian Residual Value Awards, while the Q5 ran away with the “Compact Luxury SUV” segment in Canadian Black Book’s 10th annual 2017 Best Retained Value Awards. Also notable, many of Audi’s cars won their categories outright or were recognized for strong resale values in the CBB awards program, Audi proving to be smart choice for
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Unique S Line side grilles and twinned five-spoke 20-inch alloys are options that set this Q7 apart. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
those who want to hold on to as much of their automotive “investment” as possible.

I emphasize the word investment because most understand the purchase or lease of any new vehicle falls under the expense column on a personal or company ledger, although I must say the new Q7 is an investment in one’s quality of life. Like the model’s sudden jump in popularity, this latest three-row Audi is a major leap forward in style, refinement, quality, features, and capability over its predecessor and most others in this class.

On the latter front is a new engine, the much loved and often lauded (albeit now maligned) TDI turbo-diesel effectively replaced by Audi’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre turbo-four, at least with respect to fuel economy. At 252 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of
2017 Audi Q7 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
Available LED headlamps look fabulous and improve nighttime visibility. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
torque it can hardly compare with a 3.0-litre V6 producing 240 of the former and 407 of the latter, but then again the new Q7 is so much lighter than its predecessor (by up to 320 kg) that the little four-cylinder is not only quicker than the old TDI, but also the outgoing model’s 280 horsepower 3.0-litre V6 at 7.4 seconds to 100km/h now, compared to 7.9 seconds then; the new 333 horsepower supercharged V6 currently does the deed in a mere 5.7 seconds. The 2.0 TFSI feels much like the diesel as far as immediacy of response goes too, max torque arriving at just 1,600 rpm, and it certainly can pull like a tractor when the available trailering package is added thanks to a tow rating of 2,000 kilos (4,400 lbs).

2017 Audi Q7 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
Standard LED taillights respond quicker to reduce potential rear accidents. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
things that haven’t changed from old to new include standard Quattro all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual mode, steering wheel paddle shifters, and the ability to automatically shut itself down when it would otherwise be idling and then instantly reignite when ready to go, not to mention recover kinetic braking energy and reroute it through the electrical system. This helps 2.0 TFSI equipped Q7s achieve a respectable 11.9 L/100km city, 9.6 highway and 10.8 combined, which is respectable at least until factoring in that the much more powerful V6 manages a claimed 12.6 L/100km city, 9.4 highway and 11.1 combined. Truly, these numbers leave me flustered. How can just 0.3 L/100km separate these two engines? To be commended is Audi for
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The new Q7 interior is heads and shoulders above most rivals. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
improving its V6-powered Q7 fuel economy so much since the 2015 model that was rated at 15.2 L/100km city, 11.0 highway and 13.3 combined, and even more so the new four-cylinder actually improves on the old TDI’s 12.6 L/100km city rating and comes a mere 0.1 L/100km from matching the oil burner’s 10.7 combined mileage overall, although besting a diesel on the highway would even be difficult for a hybrid, that number an impressive 8.5 L/100km. Still, since most of us log our miles in town the new 2.0 TFSI is a winner.

The economy and performance specs are impressive, but the way it goes about its business is much more so. Starting with Drive Select, Audi’s name for its standard assortment of driver selectable modes that include Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Individual, and Off Road, which can be modulated via two buttons on the centre stack
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Materials quality is superb, as is the nice mix of surface treatments and overall design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
and most entertaining when set to its sportiest Dynamic setting is chosen, followed by a nudge of its gorgeous leather and satin metal T-style Tiptronic shifter to the right for manual, the engine takes on a much more responsive persona, really zipping along like a V6. Despite feeling powerful off the line and even more so when speed ramps up, its obvious four-cylinder soundtrack comes off a bit odd in such a large vehicle. Nevertheless its high-revving nature transforms the Q7 into a sportier SUV, but sporty in more of a European way, where smaller displacement turbocharged engines have long ruled the roost; the Q7’s 2.0-litre begging for more manual shifting via always-ready paddles. Of course there’s less weight over the front wheels too, a bonus when pushing hard through corners, something the new Q7 adheres to with even more composure than its surefooted predecessor. It’s plenty smooth when left in Comfort mode too, at which point it’s most fuel-efficient as well. Most will likely leave it in Auto for a best of both worlds’ scenario, where it is quick to react to any changes in mood or road surface.

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Audi’s virtual cockpit looks bright, clear and colourful albeit fairly conventional in default mode. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
my mid-range Progressive trimmed tester navigate terra firma is an attractive set of twinned five-spoke 20-inch alloys on grippy 235/45 Goodyear Eagle Sport all-season tires, these a sign of its upgraded S Line sport package. They’re visually tied together by a large satin greyish-silver body moulding that spans front to rear doors, which also pulls cues from the grille surround up front. Similar satin silver-toned window surrounds and roof rails up top add to the upscale yet sporty look, contrasting especially well in my loaner’s near-black Ink Blue Metallic paint scheme. Likewise for the gorgeous new available LED headlamp clusters and equally eye-catching standard LED taillights, the new Q7 is a true head-turner no matter the angle being viewed.

The classy theme continues inside where Audi has created one of the best cabins in the industry no matter how much you pay.
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When the "VIEW" button is pressed the primary dials shrink and multi-info display takes over. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
You won’t find a lot of glitz or glam, just extremely high quality materials organized into one of the nicest layouts in its class. You’ll be hard pressed to find any hard plastics, Audi going above and beyond what’s required in this segment to distinguish itself from mere premium wannabes. All the metals look and feel genuine because they are; the beautiful glossy Oak Grey hardwood inlays in this example only upstaged by the open-pore Beaufort Walnut used in my previous 3.0 TFSI tester (although that’s a personal taste issue); the leathers as soft and sumptuous as any rival; its switchgear so much nicer than the majority of challengers that it’s no contest; and finally the Q7’s electronic interfaces much further advanced than all competitors.

I can only say this for Q7s upgraded with Audi’s fabulous “virtual cockpit”, a fully configurable high-resolution colour 12.3-inch
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The instrument panel layout is designed to reduce otherwise distracting clutter. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
TFT gauge cluster that is unlike anything else on the market. The graphical design is highly legible and thoroughly engaging, enhanced by a steering wheel-mounted “VIEW” button that decreases the diameter of both tachometer and speedometer while growing the multi-information display at centre, the latter filled with features and functions you can swap out by pressing arrows on the steering wheel spokes. So set it doubles as a second infotainment display, albeit more advantageously positioned to help the driver concentrate on the road ahead. Even better, the large, high-quality 8.3-inch infotainment display at centre can be neatly powered down within the recesses of the dash in order to remove distraction, especially helpful during nighttime driving, letting you glance down for navigation mapping and routing, climate and audio info, and more when needed. Navigation, for instance, looks superb within the gauges,
2017 Audi Q7 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The 8.3-inch infotainment display can be powered away when not needed, but automatically powers up when backing up. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
all of which is incredibly crisp and clear with beautiful, rich colours and contrast; there’s really nothing like it in the industry.

Infotainment controls can be found at the base of the centre stack on the lower console, consisting of two aluminized quick-access rocker switches and a large touchpad that you can click at each corner for features, or tap, pinch and swipe as well. A large rotating knob offers additional control, the aforementioned T-shaped shifter doubling as a palm rest. Just under the armrest is an aux plug and two USB ports, Audi providing a cord for plugging in both an iPhone and/or USB-powered device, like an Android phone. The only problem was the cords provided wouldn’t charge our Android phones, although the one we brought along worked
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Infotainment and key driving controls are all within a hand’s reach. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
perfectly. Of course, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming means you only need to plug a modern smartphone in for charging, while even better Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included with the infotainment setup.

The Q7’s four-zone automatic HVAC system is nicely laid out with high-quality rotating knobs featuring grippy knurled metal edges, stylish digital inserts, yet more LCD graphics in the centre display, and an attractive set of aluminized toggle switches aligned below.

Features in mind, the most basic $61,900 Q7 2.0 TFSI Quattro Komfort is nicely equipped with 19-inch five-spoke alloys, HID headlights, LED DRLs, aluminum exterior trim, anodized aluminum roof rails, stainless steel doorsills, three-row seating, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, heatable powered
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Leather and metal shift knob is a real thing of beauty. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
front seats with driver’s memory, leather upholstery, the aforementioned metal and hardwood inlays, a heatable leather-wrapped multi-function sport steering wheel with shift paddles, tri-zone auto climate control, a panoramic sunroof, a powered liftgate, a colour multi-information display amid analog-style gauges, the previously noted infotainment system, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity, rain-sensing wipers, Audi pre sense basic, parking system plus, Audi drive select, and much more.

On top or in place of these, $67,100 Progressiv trim adds a unique set of 19-inch alloys, four-way powered lumbar support to the front seats, a power-adjustable steering
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Incredibly comfortable driver’s seat is powered with memory and can be heated or cooled. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
column, front ventilated seats and rear outboard seat heaters, ambient interior lighting, auto-dimming rearview and side mirrors, four-zone auto HVAC, the Audi virtual cockpit TFT gauge cluster, MMI Navigation plus with MMI Touch, the Audi Music Interface for connecting Apple and USB devices, a 360-degree surround parking camera system, and a stainless steel sill for the cargo compartment.

Of note, moving up to $74,200 Technik trim necessitates the V6, while also adding 20-inch rims and rubber, LED headlamps, coloured ambient interior lighting, Bose 3D audio with 19 speakers including a centre speaker and sub, plus Audi side assist and Audi pre sense rear active safety systems.

My tester’s LED headlights added $1,400 to the bottom line, while the S Line sport package added $1,800 and included the 20-inch alloys plus a unique front and rear
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Second-row roominess is generous. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
bumper design, a rooftop rear spoiler, “S line” branded fender badges and aluminum doorsills, and a black headliner. Additionally, a $550 towing package with a seven-pin wiring harness was added, plus a $900 Driver Assistance package featuring auto high beams, traffic sign recognition, a camera and distance sensor, and active lane assist.

That was it for upgrades, although my tester could have included any one of seven alternative exterior colour choices and/or three different interior upholstery hues at no charge, a variety of metal and wood inlays at $500 apiece, the Bose audio upgrade at $1,200, a Driver Assistance Plus package at $3,400 that adds a head-up display, adaptive cruise control with stop and go as well as traffic jam assist, and Audi pre-sense plus/pre sense city,
2017 Audi Q7 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The third row is even comfortable for large teens. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
and lastly a $150 set of rear window sunshades was also available, as were rear side-thorax airbags at $350.

While all of these features would have been nice, I was very satisfied with my tester the way it came. Again, the quality of materials, fit and finish, and overall spaciousness sets the Q7 apart, as does its standard seven-passenger layout. On that note the second row moves fore and aft easily to increase legroom in the SUV’s rearmost quarters, while the panoramic sunroof overhead added to the feeling of openness even when seated in the very back. Yes I made my way back there, which was relatively easy with one side of the second-row slid out of the way, my five-foot-eight body never growing past the point of a midsize teen, which makes such endeavors possible. While some critics slight the rear row as only being suitable for kids, I disagree. When the second row is pulled mostly forward,
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The rear seatbacks power up and down in standard trim, plus there’s plenty of space behind for gear. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
which still leaves comfortable space for folks my size and larger, I had approximately two inches ahead of my knees, three over my head, lots of hip and shoulder room, and good comfort from either of the two rear seats. I didn’t feel hemmed in either, the Q7’s large rear quarter windows and that big sunroof overhead providing plenty of visibility and light.

If all the kids want to come along to greet the grandparents at the airport, you’d better tell them to pack light or strap on a rooftop carrier as there’s only 420 litres (14.8 cubic feet) of luggage space in behind the third row, although that’s still similarly proportioned to a compact to mid-size car’s trunk (the A4, for instance) and therefore should be enough for a couple of sizeable suitcases and another two carryon bags. Get rid of the kids and parents altogether and there’s 2,027 litres (71.6 cubic feet)
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Fold all the seatbacks forward and you can fit in building materials galore. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
of potential cargo capacity at your disposal, and as you might expect from Audi the Q7’s stowage area is nicely carpeted on the floor and sidewalls and features chromed tie-down hooks at each corner. There’s also a hidden storage compartment under the rearmost portion of the load floor, which houses a scrolling retractable cargo cover when not in use. The third row folds 50/50 via powered seatbacks, while you’ll need to walk around to each side door to lay the second row seats completely flat, the result being a cavernous load area.

It’s such practicalities that have long endeared the Q7 to its loyal owner base years after purchase, this new model so much better than the already good outgoing one that it should only go to strengthen customer satisfaction. Its renewed style, much better interior, superb feature set, much lighter weight, improved driving dynamics, and impressive base turbocharged four-cylinder engine with superb fuel economy set it apart from the previous Q7 and all competitors. I believe the Q7 will only become more popular as word about its many attributes gets out. It just might be the best mid-size luxury SUV available today.
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