Midway through its 40,000-mile stay, our Audi Q7 starts accumulating miles at a faster clip.
WHAT WE LIKE: After spending the early part of its stay mostly puttering around southeast Michigan, our long-term Audi Q7 found itself regularly exploring farther afield both in and out of state during its second 10,000 miles. After those road trips, staffers have heaped praise on the Audi’s “uncommonly refined” ride quality, with one declaring the Q7 “the best-riding vehicle wearing 21-inch wheels.” Credit our Q7’s optional Adaptive Chassis package ($4000), which features cushy, variable-ride-height air springs. And while 21 inches may sound like overkill, the big 10-spoke wheels (part of our car’s $1500 Titanium Black Optic package) give the otherwise mundane-looking Q7 a sorely needed injection of style.
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: There have been a few complaints outside of the universally panned, tiny third-row seat, which continues to elicit expletives from those forced to endure its cramped confines. Beyond that, one staff member found the car’s automatic stop/start system to be finicky at times. The same individual also expressed frustration at the infotainment system’s touchpad and voice-command features when using the navigation function.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Around 17,375 miles, the Q7 began intermittently warning us that its brake pads were worn. Except they weren’t. At our local Audi dealership, technicians discovered that a brake-pad sensor wire had been sliced by a foreign object, most likely road debris. Replacement parts were ordered, and a new brake-pad sensor and wire were installed at a cost of $208. Shortly thereafter, we paid $636 for the Q7’s scheduled 20,000-mile service (oil and filter change, inspection, new wiper blades). Additionally, the Q7 is showing signs of premature tire wear and a need for an alignment. We’ve scheduled an appointment to see why it’s out of whack and will report the findings in our next update.
WHERE WE WENT: Over the last 10,000 miles, the Q7 made its way to West Branch, Michigan, as far west as Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and as far south as Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. In between, we also took the Audi to western Michigan and again to Tennessee. On two of those journeys, we took advantage of an Audi-branded roof-mounted cargo carrier. Sitting on factory-accessory roof-rack crossbars, the hard-sided container is a useful tool for storing extra chattels—particularly given that, with the third row in use, there’s only 15 cubic feet of luggage space.
WHAT WE LIKE: The 2017 Audi Q7 may weigh more than two and a half tons, but you’d never know it from the driver’s seat. Much of the credit goes to our long-term car’s $4000 adaptive chassis that brings a variable-ride-height air-spring suspension and four-wheel steering. The technology keeps the big crossover’s body motions in check and also delivers quick responses to steering inputs.
Our test drivers also have been heaping praise on the Q7’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit TFT display screen, with commenters calling it “highly functional” and “a great conversation starter.” The digital gauge cluster is able to project many features, including a full navigation map. Interacting with the Q7’s center-mounted 8.3-inch infotainment screen is easy thanks to the myriad improvements made to Audi’s latest MMI software and controller. Menus are a snap to navigate, and a big touchpad just ahead of the control knob offers additional functions, including the ability to read handwritten letters and numbers (for address inputs, primarily).
WHAT WE DON’T LIKE: While the Q7’s wagonoid styling has grown on some of us, others feel that the Audi is about as visually stimulating as a loaf of rye bread. Okay, maybe marble rye in the case of our gray Q7 Prestige, with its $1500 Titanium-Black Optic package that adds blacked-out exterior trim. Still, the Q7’s many comfort and convenience features have yet to rub any staffers the wrong way. As one put it: “I can’t think of much I would change here, save for the ugly-brick styling.”
WHAT WENT WRONG: Our first 10,000 miles have been largely trouble free, although the Q7’s infotainment system has frozen on us on two occasions. Both times the issue resolved itself. Costs have been almost nonexistent, including the Q7’s complimentary 10,000-mile service, which included an oil change and a top-off of the windshield-washer fluid, as well as visual inspections of the brakes, tires, and wiper blades.
WHERE WE WENT: Although our Q7 spent the majority of its first 10,000 miles in suburban Michigan, the comfortable crossover did visit Pennsylvania twice and Ohio once. We expect the Q7 to make longer forays during the summer-vacation season given its overall comfort, tractable powertrain, and spacious cargo hold.
The last time an Audi Q7 occupied a spot in our long-term fleet was more than five years ago. That’s when a first-generation 2011 Audi Q7 TDI came into our lives, equipped with a torque-rich, turbocharged diesel 3.0-liter V-6.
No longer offered with a diesel engine (thanks to the Volkswagen Group’s emissions scandal), the new Q7 is available with one of two powerplants: a 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four or a 333-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, the latter of which powers our long-term 2017 Q7. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels. Despite lacking a miserly TDI option, the Q7 posts EPA ratings of 20 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with the base four-cylinder and 19/25 mpg with the V-6. Both powertrains best our old TDI’s 17-mpg city rating and tie its 25-mpg highway figure.
Credit for the Q7’s improved fuel economy can be partially attributed to an old trick from the Lotus playbook: adding lightness. Extensive use of aluminum in the new Audi’s unibody construction results in a claimed weight savings of more than 700 pounds. Our scales recorded a more modest weight loss of 265 pounds between our 2017 long-termer and the last previous-gen, gasoline-fueled Q7 we tested. Compare our new 3.0T model with our old TDI, though, and the weight disparity more than doubles, with 602 pounds separating the two.
Although still hefty at 5085 pounds, the new Q7 is surprisingly fleet on its feet. Solid dynamics, Audi’s well-executed MMI infotainment system, and a cabin fitted with top-notch materials helped the latest Q7 quickly capture attention during our 10Best Trucks and SUVs testing, with the model taking home the top prize in the mid-size luxury SUV segment. That made a 40,000-mile shakedown a natural next step.
Our top-spec, Prestige model includes niceties such as LED headlights, a 360-degree-view monitor, navigation, a touchpad for the MMI infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, heated and cooled front seats, four-zone automatic climate control, and Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit TFT display screen in the gauge cluster.
We added a host of items to our Graphite Gray Metallic Q7, including the $4000 Adaptive Chassis package, which brings a variable-ride-height air-spring suspension and four-wheel steering, and the $2400 Driver Assistance package consisting of adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, automated emergency braking, and a lane-keeping assist system.
Our Midwest home base practically necessitated the $500 Cold Weather bundle, which includes a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, and our plans to use a significant portion of the Q7’s available 7700-pound towing capacity mandated that we check the box for the $550 Towing package and another for a seven-pin connector for trailer lights ($125). A cargo cover, floor mats, pre-wiring for a rear-seat entertainment system, and a pair of USB cables for charging our phones tacked on an additional $755.
Finally, we dropped $1500 for the admittedly superficial Titanium-Black Optic package, consisting of a blacked-out grille, window surrounds, and roof rails, as well as 21-inch 10-spoke wheels wearing Continental ContiSportContact 5 summer tires. Even on this largest-wheel option, the air-sprung Q7’s ride quality is impressively refined.
Before we swapped out the Continentals for a set of winter-ready Pirellis, we had the opportunity to test the Q7 on its stickier stock rubber. The Q7 clung to the 300-foot skidpad with an eye-widening 0.90 g of grip. Hauling this big SUV down from 70 mph required only 155 feet. To put that in perspective, our 2324-pound long-term Mazda Miata pulled 0.88 g on the skidpad and needed 158 feet of roadway for a 70-mph stop.
Less stellar were our Q7’s acceleration times. While a zero-to-60-mph time of 6.3 seconds and a quarter-mile of 14.7 seconds at 96 mph are nothing to scoff at, a similar 2017 Q7 3.0T we previously tested was quicker to 60 by 0.8 second and through the quarter-mile by 0.5, with a trap speed 3 mph higher. We’ll see whether those figures improve once our Q7 turns 40,000 miles. Our Audi’s passing performance proved commendable right out of the box, with the quick-shifting eight-speed automatic making the most of the engine’s 325 lb-ft of torque and rocketing the all-wheel-drive crossover from 30 to 50 mph in 3.0 seconds flat and from 50 to 70 mph in 4.4 seconds.
With no major long-haul trips undertaken yet, our observed fuel economy of 19 mpg is 2 mpg below the EPA’s combined figure. We expect fuel mileage to rise as this comfortable and competent seven-seat cruiser starts traveling farther afield.
Months in Fleet: 2 months Current Mileage: 3624 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 19 mpg Fuel Tank Size: 22.5 gal Fuel Range: 420 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0