Is a class leader beginning to show its age?
I have quite a few older cousins in their early 30s. The majority of these cousins are now married and have procreated at least once. Between 2004 and 2010, each and every one of these cousins either bought an Acura TL or an Infiniti G35. I guess these were their first “cool” cars. A teenager at the time, I couldn’t help but comment on how awesome these cars were (especially the G35 Coupes). In the last couple years, due to impending offspring, these cousins have upgraded to either the Audi Q7 or the dreaded minivan. I’ve always had a huge car-crush on the Volkswagen Touareg, so I completely condoned the idea of its more luxurious, bigger sibling. I decided to borrow a 2013 Audi Q7 3.0T from Audi to see just how good it really is, because it’s time to face the music: one day I’ll have a family of my own, and one of these dreaded contraptions is bound to be a part of my life.
The pre-facelift Q7 was available with either the 3.6L V6 or the 4.2L V8 found in other Audi applications. Recently however, Audi has decided to fit it with the 3.0L supercharged-V6 found in the S4. It’s important to note that despite the “T” moniker on the nameplate, this is not a turbocharged engine. Just like the S4, the Q7 3.0T is, in fact, supercharged. Naturally though, the engine has been detuned. It puts out a “healthy” 280-horsepower and 296 lb-ft of torque. It’s not fast by any means, but the 280 horses move the big SUV around pleasantly. The torque off the line is adequate enough to move the Q7 around the city with ease.
Okay, the Q7 isn’t really about speed or performance. It’s about three rows of comfort. In reality though, nobody older/bigger than a toddler can even climb into the third row. The “bling-bling”-appreciative side of me definitely finds luxury SUVs cool, but for some reason, the Q7 didn’t really appeal to me in the past. However, I’m not the target market Audi aims this SUV at. At the end of the day, the Q7 is significantly classier than a Touareg, far more reliable in the long run than a Range Rover Sport, and is pretty much perfectly suited to the empty-nester mom.
My argument with the Q7 is that it really needs to only come with the TDI motor. That V6 TDI puts out 407 lb-ft of torque and can get you 9.0L/100km every day of the week. This 3.0T gas model I drove couldn’t do much better than 12.7L/100km in combined driving. Plus, the torque on the diesel model makes it an absolute monster. Audi chooses to continue to offer this 3.0T motor for a few reasons: a huge part of their clientele still steers away from diesels due to past misconceptions regarding the noise and pollution levels. Additionally, the 3.0T gas motor is rock solid and doesn’t really cost much to continue producing.
The one place where Audi rules is in the interior department. There’s no argument about that, and this 2013 Audi Q7 3.0T is no different. The ergonomics are just right; the materials are great, and the sound system is phenomenal (even without the Bang & Olufsen package). The seats are comfortable and inviting, and the driving position (much like in nearly every other Audi) is bang on. Nice.
The Q7 isn’t a bad SUV. In fact, it’s a great SUV. It’ll shuttle your significant other and sixty-three children to and from soccer practice with ease, and look great while doing it. The LEDs in the headlights add a touch of class to the big kahuna, though they look a bit clumsier and more of an afterthought than in the S4 and R8 applications. The dual exhaust sounds raspy and confident if not a bit too quiet, and the Q7 does handle surprisingly well for a vehicle of its size. An alternative in this price range to the Q7 is the Infiniti JX35 (soon to be renamed the QX60), but it does feel very Japanese and lacks the German finesse of the Audi.
As a status symbol when compared to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, the Q7 appears to be a great value. It comes with the brand image associated with Audi, as well as an excellent dealer network. The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class and the BMW X5 do also offer diesels, but the gasoline powertrain in this tester is easily the best non-diesel motor in the class. With fuel prices where they are, it’s game over for everyone else; the Q7 is going to continue to rule the segment – at least, it’s my personal pick in the class if it were my family.
2013 Audi Q7 3.0T Gallery