The new boss. The Audi Q7 exemplifies German engineering and design philosophy. The styling is understated yet imposing. The interior leans on superior materials and technology to make its case. Every bit of switchgear, from the dials to the door latches, bespeaks the ultimate in quality. They don't make bank vaults this solid.

The Q7's price point makes it especially illustrative of what Audi is capable of. While the available gimmickry isn't on the level of the future-is now A8 - which has long been the traditional flagship - it has all the quality, technology, and comfort of such a highbrow automobile. And in today's era of SUVs, we dare say the Q7 (and the related Q8) may be the real crown of the lineup when it comes to practical pomp and prestige.

Meek turbo-four, great V-6. The Q7 offers a variety of powertrains, but we don't think you'll be pondering which engine to spring for. Assuming you're like most of us and don't have an inexhaustible budget, the optional turbocharged V-6 is the best way to go in our opinion. For a relatively small upcharge, it buys 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, delivered with only a hint of turbo lag. It moves this 2.5-ton SUV with easy grace and will even tow up to 7,700 pounds.

If your pockets are deep enough, try on the SQ7 and its 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8. This engine is shared with other big Audis wearing the Sx and RSx prefixes, and here it makes a cool 500 horsepower. It is blisteringly fast, needing just 4.3 seconds to scooch to 60 mph.

At the bottom of the range is the standard 2.0-liter turbo-four. It makes 248 horsepower, which is adequate - but when has adequate ever been acceptable in a luxury vehicle? Something with the size and demeanor of the Q7 needs a suitable powerplant to go with it, and this engine isn't it. We imagine Audi offers it only to lower the price point and appease the EPA with its 19/23/21 mpg - the best of any Q7. Still, we say skip it in favor of the more powerful turbo-six.

Whichever engine you choose, an eight-speed transmission handles gear swaps. It is an unflappable piece of work, picking gears with the utmost assurance. Good luck catching this gearbox flubbing a shift.

Ride and handling beg similar praise. There is no real feedback - and this isn't the sort of vehicle where one wants to feel everything shimmying up the steering column and through the frame, anyway - but cornering is flat, controlled, and predictable. The Q7 also remains stable well into triple digits. It is classically German in this sense, and we applaud it for this.

Swanky digs. The Q7 keeps a low profile stylistically, and that carries on into the cabin. Yet a whisper is often more convincing than a shout, a philosophy that Audi takes to heart. Nothing about the cabin jumps out at first glance, but look more closely and the details begin to emerge. Leather, wood, and chrome decorate nearly all surfaces above the lower third of the doors and dash; aside from the trim work, nearly everything is soft to the touch and feels curated just for this SUV. Fit and finish is excellent.


Worried about room? You needn't. The legroom in the second row is fairly massive; if you're normal build, your feet won't even be tucked under the front seats unless those chairs are in their rearmost position. Manually adjustable seatbacks allow for a bit of extra recline on long drives, a thoughtful touch that we appreciate. Giant side windows add to the sense of space; it feels as if Audi pillaged this glass from a bus factory. Even models equipped with the headroom-eating panoramic roof don't feel cheated out of usable space.

The third row, on the other hand, is rather tight - it only has 29.2 inches of legroom, and getting in and situated is cumbersome at best. We'd reserve them for the tots, as adults would have a conniption of they were stuck back there for too long.

Keep the third row stowed and the Q7 offers 35 cubic feet of cargo space, which expands to 70 cubes with the second row folded. Those figures are well below what both the BMW X7 and Mercedes GLS offer, however.

Tech-happy. Three trim levels gradually pile on the luxuries, but even the least glamorous model still gets a heap of goodies. Our favorite of the features is the digital stuff: Audi's deliciously crisp MMI system and the 10.1-inch touchscreen fixed into the dash.

The former is especially impressive, even to those who are familiar with the latest and greatest of digital dashboards. Audi has rendered theirs exquisitely, and the customizable display is seamless to use and learn. For those who pay the subscription fee to Google Earth, the in-dash mapping feature is a delight. Previously the 12.3-inch MMI cluster had been optional, but it's now standard across the range.

As for the touchscreen, it measures 10.1 inches and looks almost like an extension of the glossy passenger-side dash trim. It's a clever disguise - and a clever system. It harbors Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the native system is a cinch to use. Technology is Audi's forte, it seems, and that know-how is on display here.

A smaller, 8.6-inch touchscreen resides beneath the larger primary screen. This secondary screen handles the climate control and leaves audio and navigation to the upper system. It too works well, though we'd appreciate some physical controls. It's hard to a quick temperature adjustment on the fly when you're squinting at a screen tucked down out of your peripherals.

Final word. The Audi Q7 is hard to pick apart, mostly because it does so much so well. Want a classy, high-tech interior? Check. How about a trio of powertrains to choose from? Yep. Looking for lots of room and space, wrapped in a stylish package? Again, the Q7 delivers. It requires only financial sacrifice in return for overwhelming excellence - the hallmark of any enduring luxury car, come to think of it.

The Q7 is Audi at its finest, and we're hard-pressed to think of a better three-row luxury SUV.

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