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- Highs Eager driving dynamics, tech-haven interior, room for the whole family.
- Lows Upper trims get expensive quickly, third-row only for kids, barely room for cargo when third-row is in use.
- Verdict Sporty, stylish, and swanky, the 2021 Audi Q7 is a great family hauler for well-to-do buyers.
Among Audi's athletic lineup of tech-laden luxury cars and SUVs, the 2021 Q7 is the one best suited for family duty. Despite its three rows of seats and slightly stodgy styling, the Q7 maintains the fun-to-drive nature that makes an Audi an Audi. Buyers can choose from two turbocharged engines—a 248-hp four-cylinder or a 335-hp V-6—both of which offer satisfactory pep for everything from in-town errands to highway cruises. Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system is standard, but the sportier models in the lineup make good use of an optional four-wheel steering system and an adaptive air suspension to deliver even more agile handling. The Q7's chief rivals are some of the best luxury three-row SUVs on sale today, including the BMW X5, the Mercedes-Benz GLE, and the Volvo XC90. The Audi's all-around skill set makes it a strong competitor to all of them—though it's not as outright sporty as a Porsche Cayenne.
What's New for 2021?
After a thorough freshening for the 2020 model year, the 2021 Q7 sails through with few changes. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is now a standard feature and the Premium model's Convenience package now includes a heated steering wheel and a 360-degree exterior camera system. The mid-range Premium Plus gains an optional Executive package that bundles the contents of the 2020 model's Cold Weather, Warm Weather, and Driver Assistance packages into one. Prestige models now come with leather-wrapped armrests and center consoles and get heated rear seats as standard.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We think the turbo-four "45" powertrain is more than sufficient, and we'd pair it with the Premium Plus trim level. Moving up from the base Premium to the Premium Plus adds plenty of niceties, including a surround sound stereo system, a wireless smartphone charging pad, power-folding exterior mirrors with memory settings, 20-inch wheels, ambient interior lighting, and illuminated door sill inlays. We'd also spring for the new Executive package, which adds, among other things, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, four-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated 12-way power-adjustable front seats, heated rear seats, and all-weather floor mats.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
For 2020, Audi kept the old 248-hp turbocharged four-cylinder but added a new turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 that uses a 48-volt hybrid system to make 335 horsepower, and these powertrains carry over unchanged into 2021. When we tested a 2020 Q7 with the new turbo V-6, we recorded a brisk 5.0-second zero-to-60-mph time, which was slightly quicker than the mechanically similar two-row Q8 SUV. Despite its bulk, when the Q7 is fitted with the optional performance tires on 21-inch wheels, it feels low and lithe, like a pumped-up sport wagon. The adjustability of the optional air suspension, paired with the added agility of four-wheel steering, makes the Q7 surprisingly fun to flog down a twisty back road. It also rides quite smoothly.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Not surprisingly, the V-6 powertrain comes with worse fuel economy. The EPA fuel-efficiency ratings are 17 mpg city, 21 mpg highway, and 18 mpg combined, which accounts for drops of 2 mpg across the board when compared to the turbo four-cylinder model. When we are able to test drive a 2021 Q7, we'll put its efficiency to the test on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test route. We expect the four-cylinder Q7 to return similar results to the 2017 model we tested, which delivered 26 mpg on our 200-mile highway loop.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
With its minimalist, contemporary design matched with loads of technology and excellent comfort and build quality, the Q7's cabin is a special place. Beautiful materials and design highlight the Q7's interior, as do the intelligent layout of its controls and the comfortable seats that feature both ample support and adjustability. Entry-level Premium versions come nicely outfitted, and the amount of upscale features can get supremely luxurious in the higher trim levels. As with most three-row SUVs, there isn't a ton of cargo space in the Audi's cargo area when all of its seats are in use. But it has available space comparable with its key rivals, and the rearmost row can be quickly raised or lowered via power controls, which makes up for the somewhat clumsy operation of the middle row. With all seats stowed, the 2019 Q7 had room for 25 of our carry-on suitcases, a result we expect the 2021 model to match.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The Q7 comes standard with a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen and a smaller 8.6-incher located below that to adjust the climate control and vehicle settings. Depending on whether or not you enjoy using touchscreens while driving, you may find the new system delightful or devilish. Our staff is split, but Audi's been busy adding this new infotainment system to its lineup; it can be found in the A6, A7, and A8 sedans, as well as the Q8 SUV. All 2021 Q7 models also come with the Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration. Audiophiles can revel in several audio options, topped by a Bang & Olufsen system with 23 speakers and 1920 watts of juice.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 Q7 has not been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the last version that was evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) was not named a Top Safety Pick. Several driver-assistance features are either standard or optional on the Q7, which will make it attractive to buyers transporting precious cargo. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking and forward-collision warning
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The Q7 carries solid warranty coverage comparable with its peers, although the Acura MDX and the Lexus GX both offer slightly better powertrain coverage.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2020 Audi Q7 55 Premium Plus
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED
$71,990 (base price: $64,795)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
183 in3, 2995 cm3
335 hp @ 6400 rpm
369 lb-ft @ 1370 rpm
Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 14.8-in vented disc/13.8-in vented disc
Tires: Continental CrossContact LX Sport, 285/40R-21 109H AO
Wheelbase: 117.9 in
Length: 199.3 in
Width: 77.6 in
Height: 68.5 in
Passenger volume: 138 ft3
Cargo volume: 15 ft3
Curb weight: 5003 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
Rollout, 1 ft: 0.3 sec
60 mph: 5.0 sec
100 mph: 13.5 sec
120 mph: 21.1 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.5 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.9 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.3 sec
¼-mile: 13.7 sec @ 101 mph
Top speed (mfr's claim): 130 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 178 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.86 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 14 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 18/17/21 mpg