The Audi Q7 like an Audi SUV should, sort of like giant A6 wagon. In fact, the Q7 is even bigger than it looks.
For 2010, the grille is finished in glossy black with vertical chrome stiprs, and Audi's trademark LED eyebrows accompany the newly specified xenon headlights. The blunt front end features Audi's signature bold grille flanked by menacing headlights at the leading edge of the sculpted hood. A heavily stylized front end deftly helps mask the formidable mass of the Q7's nose. Fog lights are set into the lower moldings.
Crisp side-view styling with articulated fenders and an arching roofline also do much to visually lessen the generous dimensions of the Q7. The newly updated 2010 exterior mirrors and mirror housings are perhaps the largest we've ever seen on a vehicle in this class. They should come in very handy when towing. Two stylish, full-length metal rails on the roof provide anchor points for accessory crossbars for securing cargo on the roof. For 2010, the lower side panels' finish vary from model to model: a contrasting lower panel paint scheme for the V6, full body paint with chrome for the TDI diesel and S line appearance treatment for the top-of-the-line 4.2 V8 quattro models. Updated 2010 front and rear bumpers are featured on all models.
The Q7's rear view is dominated by updated, high-mounted horizontal taillights with LED illumination and fiber-optic/LED turn signals. The cut line for the tailgate sweeps outward around the taillights to become a styling element of its own.
Lower moldings are rendered in a durable, unpainted, chip-resistant material that is color-keyed to the paint above. With the available S-Line appearance package, they are replaced by more aggressively styled lower moldings that are painted to match the body.
Cold weather features include pull-type door handles that are easy to use with gloves and wide-sweeping windshield wipers that, when not in use, rest on an area heated by the interior vents in order to prevent freezing.
The Q7 cabin was designed for flexibility. The 2010 Q7 offers numerous passenger and cargo arrangements among the three available seating configurations. The 2010 also delivers some significant technological upgrades. Optional ventilated front seats are now available, and a new decorative wood inlay adorns the passenger side of the dashboard. Additional ambient lighting at all four doors, more interior chrom accents and a revised dashboard font gives the new Q7 a welcoming atmosphere.
The Q7 seats six or seven with the standard third-row seat. (A five-passenger version is no longer available.) A six-passenger arrangement is available with second-row bucket seats separated by a center console, and the third-row bench behind it.
The front bucket seats are superb with power adjustment in most directions. The driver's seat is comfortable and most drivers should find the driving position nearly perfect. Leather upholstery is standard on all models. Leather also covers the three-spoke steering wheel, which features redundant audio controls. Getting in and out is easy thanks to large doors and a reasonably low floor.
The second-row 40/20/40 split rear bench seat allows cargo and passenger flexibility. This bench seat allows second-row passengers to slide rearward up to four inches for extra legroom, and the second-row seatbacks are designed to recline up to 10 degrees for more relaxed comfort. A benefit of the bench seat is that there is no center console to get in the way when it's folded down for cargo.
The six-passenger configuration comes with second-row bucket seats separated by a large console with storage and cup holders. The latter arrangement feels more upscale. We found the second-row bucket seats more comfortable than the bench seats. It also makes the third row feel less confining, thanks to better forward vision. However, the bucket seats with center console diminish cargo capability and dog friendliness, so consider this carefully before ordering second-row buckets.
Interior trim speaks of high quality, with padded surfaces everywhere one can touch and virtually no hard plastics. Three different kinds of wood are available, as is patterned aluminum trim. The mix of materials conveys a level of luxury that matches, if not exceeds, the Q7's price.
The gauges are clear and bright with an information display between the speedometer and tachometer which cycles through several menus via buttons on the steering wheel. Redundant navigation messages are also communicated through this display, even when the dashboard screen displays something else, a useful feature. The stalk-mounted cruise controls and the switches for the wipers and lights have a supple, expensive feel.
New for 2010 is the inclusion of a powerful new 3G MMI, or Multi-Media Interface. This upgraded MMI controls the stereo and other functions. And perhaps most significantly, it delivers an impactful 3-D navigation map display, thanks to a powerful new NVIDIA automotive graphics-processing chip. The system also delivers indispensable, real-time Sirius traffic reporting and features voice-activated destination-input control. Voice inputs such as, I'm hungry, I need gas and I need coffee will automatically direct the driver to the nearest location where the driver's needs can be satisfied. While designed to reduce the amount of buttons on the dashboard while adding even more features, the downside of this MMI is that it adds layers of complexity, requiring considerable time and practice to operate smoothly. The system features a central control dial and some 15 buttons to control the climate, audio, phone, and navigation systems, as well as relevant vehicle system information. The controls are situated on the horizontal surface behind the shift knob. In addition to the added complexity, using the MMI often requires a longer look away from the road.
Stereo choices for the Q7 include an AM/FM/CD unit with eight speakers, an AM/FM/6CD unit with 14 Bose speakers, and a 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen system with 14 speakers. Sirius satellite radio is standard on all but the base model. We found the 14-speaker Bose system to be outstanding; sound remains clear at high volume and the system has a lot of power. While most of the audio adjustment functions are incorporated into MMI, the controls used most often, such as the volume and seek functions, are adjusted with clearly labeled buttons and knobs mounted sensibly and attractively on the center console, just in front of the armrest. The system also responds to voice commands.
The Rearview Camera and Parking System incorporates a camera in the liftgate to provide a view behind the vehicle when backing up. The image is clearly projected on the screen, with parking guide lines showing the path the vehicle would take given the steering wheel angle at the time. As the wheel turns, the guide lines change accordingly. We found this to be an extremely useful feature. It's especially valuable when backing up to a trailer, allowing the driver to position the receiver ball directly below the trailer hitch. It's also a great safety feature, whether backing out of the driveway or out of a space in a crowded shopping center parking lot, because it can help the driver spot people or objects difficult to see otherwise. It makes parallel parking easier and more efficient, helping the driver to back within an inch of the vehicle behind.
Dual-zone automatic climate controls are nothing new for this segment, but Audi made an effort to provide ventilation while reducing draftiness when the vehicle is being heated or cooled rapidly. Hence, the Q7 has an abundance of generously sized vents, including a diffused air vent at the base of the windshield in the front, as well as vents in both the B-pillar and the rear of the center console for second-row occupants. Four-zone climate control is optional, featuring two zones in front and two zones for the second-row passengers, nice but not inexpensive.
Interior cubby storage space is merely adequate. The glove box is tiny, but features a handy air duct that draws in air from the climate control system to help prevent melting lip balm or lipstick on hot days. Additional storage is found under the armrest and in pockets in the doors. The Q7 is available with up to six 12-volt power points, including one in the tailgate, as well as 10 cup holders, including molded bottle holders in each door.
Cargo space is on par with other luxury SUVs with three rows of seats. There isn't much space behind the third row, so hauling anything but groceries will likely require that at least one half of the 50/50 split third-row seat be folded away. But, thanks to the sliding second-row seats and flat-folding seat stowing, the Q7 makes the most of its 72.5 cubic feet of available space. Five-passenger models feature an additional storage compartment behind the rear seat.
Loading cargo into the Q7 is facilitated by a wraparound tailgate that reveals a very wide opening. The available power tailgate is handy, especially when walking to the vehicle with an armload. Particularly clever is the load assist feature that lowers the rear of the vehicle approximately three inches at the touch of a button in the cargo area, handy when loading dogs as well as groceries. Numerous tie-down hooks and floor tracks are designed to fit accessory cargo securing devices available at Audi dealerships.
The Open Sky System is a full-length, three-panel panoramic glass moonroof that brightens the interior significantly. About 5.5 feet in length, the system consists of three tinted glass panels spanning all seating areas. The front section slides back over the fixed second section for full exposure for front seat occupants; another glass panel over the third-row seat and cargo area tilts up for added ventilation. A power retractable sunshade helps keep heat down on hot days.