2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Review: A Solid Luxury Crossover With an Extra-Fine Interior
Audi's big SUV packs an impressive amount of style and luxury—without breaking the bank.
Welcome to Critic's Notebook, a quick and off-the-cuff car review consisting of impressions, jottings, and marginalia regarding whatever The Drive writers happen to be driving. Today's edition: the 2018 Audi Q7.
How does someone describe their soul mate? How do you know you've found the one once you've found them? Before stepping into a new Audi, I couldn't have answered that question. Relaxing into the seat and taking a look around, you find yourself realizing everything sits exactly where you would want it to be. The beautiful lines inside match the ones on the exterior, and you crack a smile. Each knob and switch is at the right length for your hands, and makes the most satisfying click your ear has ever heard. You take the steering wheel in your hands, feeling the cool, taut leather. The seat hugs your every curve, igniting...well, let's leave it at that.
When it comes to three-row SUVs, style typically isn't the first priority—function is. Luckily, the 2018 Audi Q7 offers both. All-wheel-drive, but also LED interior lights. Seven seats, but also a panoramic sunroof. And, as previously mentioned in a fit of passion, everything the driver and passengers see and touch in the Q7 is fabulous. The rear-view mirror is frameless, the climate control is straightforward, and the scroll wheel for the infotainment operates like a dream come true, just to name a few examples. On the exterior, the Q7 only distinguishes itself from its smaller Q3 and Q5 brothers with its larger size; it's hard to distinguish this 199-inch-long family hauler from a single person's smaller daily driver from just the front fascia alone.
If you're like me, after you think, gee, this is going to set me back a pretty penny isn't it? Well, not as much as you might think. On a drive to a go-kart race track, I played "guess the price" with some friends as one person hid the Monroney from the rest of us. We guessed $70K, even $85K. We were way off: The 2018 Audi Q7 starts at $49,900, and our 3.0T Premium Plus model started at $60,400. A chorus of gasps erupted inside the cabin when we learned as much. This much luxury, for that amount of cash? Hell yeah.
- The Audi Drive Select drive mode selector, in particular the "Individual" driving mode, is a fabulous feature. Sometimes choosing between Dynamic, Comfort, or Auto isn't enough, because you like certain features of each of them. Say you like the dynamic engine response (because I want my torque ASAP), but don't like the hard suspension that comes with Dynamic mode; well, luckily, in Individual, you can customize your experience so the Q7 performs exactly the way you want it to.
- Agility is one of the Q7's best traits. This Audi doesn't drive like a large SUV when going around corners. While taking a curvy on-ramp onto the New Jersey Turnpike, the Q7 felt more like a sporty wagon than a seven-passenger crossover...and brought a smile to this driver's face.
- The infotainment system is where Audi shines. The large scroll wheel in the center console—which not only scrolls and presses down, but also moves up and down and side to side—is incredibly user-friendly, so switching through the menus is easy. The only thing that takes getting used to is the "MMI-All-In-Touch" touchpad, which you write on with your finger for such previously-tedious tasks as entering a destination. However, it recognizes the characters well, and the process works way faster than scrolling through letters on a screen.
- More new cars need the climate control systems like the ones in Audis. From the temperature wheels with a digital temperature read-out in the center of them to the controls dictating the direction and strength of the fan blast, the Q7's setup is simple and intuitive.
- Driver-assistance technology on the Q7 certainly isn't lacking. Audi Pre Sense City, which uses the front camera to watch for stopped traffic, is a godsend for urban driving—especially on the FDR Drive, one of the most stop-and-go-happy highways in New York City. I'm a pretty alert driver as is, but having the extra bit of tech to give you a heads-up when you need to apply the brakes hard is pretty damn cool.
- Folding down the power-operating rear seats, believe it or not, is too much of a hassle. Sure, having a button do the work for you could be seen as a luxury, but it isn't as intuitive as a mechanical setup; besides, there's no click to let you know when it's done working.
- In spite of the 325 pound-feet available, the torque didn't blow me away. This could be a bit of an unfair statement, as the bulk of my driving was with four other passengers, but I was hoping for more thrills. With the Mazda CX-9, 310 pound-feet of torque felt like it was shoving me back into my seat, which is mildly insane for a large crossover; in the Q7, which is 700 pounds heavier, the power was only mildly exciting.
- I'm surprised the head-up display isn't standard with the Premium Plus trim. If you are already paying around $50K for a self-proclaimed "luxury crossover," a head-up display should be a given. All of the other technology is there, Audi—why not go all the way?
The 2018 Audi Q7, Ranked:
Hauling people: 4/5
Hauling stuff: 3/5
Curb appeal: 5/5
“Wow” factor: 4/5
The Bottom Line:
So, who did Audi make this car for? It's a seven-seater—so, seemingly by definition, it's made for large families who prefer life with a touch of class. I can't emphasize that enough; this is a luxury SUV, with all the bells and whistles to make you feel bougie when you're inside. The MMI touchpad, the panoramic sunroof, the kickass Audi Drive Select tech, the bangin' sound system...and, on top of all that, pretty decent gas mileage for such a big brute.
Clearly, the Q7 is beautiful and functional. At the end of the day though, buying a Q7 over its competitors comes down to caring about power—but not caring that much. The ideal buyers of this Audi loves technology, gorgeous design, having their butts warmed and cooled, and being able to carry five to seven people in comfort. Can all those passengers have full-sized suitcases? Probably not, but hey, packing light is good for you.
Do I love the Q7? Yes, dearly, but as with the similarly-large CX-9, I don't exactly have a need for a three-row SUV. Would I take the smaller Audi Q3, though? Absolutely.
The 2018 Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI Premium Plus, By the Numbers:
Powertrain: 3.0-liter supercharged six-cylinder, 333 horsepower,325 pound-feet of torque; eight-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive
Fuel Economy: 19 city, 25 highway
0-60 MPH: 5.7 seconds