2010 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Quattro Tiptronic
A couple of years ago, an AutoWeek editor and I had the opportunity to drive a diesel-powered Audi Q7 from Miami to Sebring. The vehicle was not then available in the U.S.
As we rolled along the two-lane roads, he was interested in power and I in performance. That is, power as regards the ability to provide the inertia push-you-back-in-your seat that AutoWeek readers (and editors) thrive on. And performance as regards how fuel-efficient it is.
And essentially, it is like a Mounds and Almond Joy wrapped into one, as in the old slogan “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t”: power and performance wrapped into one. Yes, it is powerful, because that’s what diesels are. But one of the memorable things on that drive was that we discovered it was actually possible to make the “Miles to Empty” indicator actually go in the opposite direction: Rather than a count down, we could get it to add miles. That, of course, required a bit of steady, judicious driving, but nothing along the lines of those hypermilers who suffer like some of the Hermits described in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (“They sunk under the painful weight of crosses and chains; and their emaciated limbs were confined by collars, bracelets, gauntlets, and greaves, of massy and rigid cast iron. All superfluous incumbrance of dress they contemptuously cast away. . . .”). Let’s recognize that the Q7 is a luxury SUV, not something of sack cloth and ashes.
Now it may seem odd to some people that a luxury vehicle would be powered by a diesel engine, the terminology “TDI clean diesel” notwithstanding. Everybody knows, or course, that diesels are loud and smelly. That’s just how it is, right? Wrong. I don’t know what sort of hard-core engineering work those purveyors of Vorsprung durch Technik performed, but (1) there is no more noise coming out from under the hood than you’d find in a finely tuned V6 (but you’d probably find a lot less than the 225 hp under your right foot) and (2) this system doesn’t smell, in part because it uses the AdBlue system, which eliminates the noxious fumes that you associate with school buses and landscaping service pickup trucks.
I recently had the opportunity to drive the commercially-available-at-your-local-Audi-dealer-now Q7 to Cincinnati and back and drew three conclusions:
- If you have to drive down a boring stretch of I-75, you might as well do it in comfort, and that’s certainly what the Q7 provides.
- If you don’t like the idea of having to stop along the way in order to add fuel, the 26.4-gallon fuel tank is readily up to allowing you to skip the gas station for at least 600 miles (I averaged 26 mpg, but even if you got 25 mpg, you’d have a range of 660 miles, which is Detroit-Cincinnati-Detroit.)
- If you don’t want to feel that you’re going to be trapped in a box formed by semi trucks whose drivers sometimes overestimate their ability to pass other semis and consequently might have you behind them in the left lane for a lot longer than anyone planned, know that even if you’re driving at something in excess of the speed limit (which is certainly not condoned, mind you), there is a lot of available torque as the six-speed kicks down and the engine kicks up.
I need not go into the level of interior quality because Audi is the benchmark of the industry. There is a third row in the vehicle, which I don’t recommend for any but the smallish of children. And I must admit that whereas many new vehicles have a number of bins, containers, cup holders, and other cubbies in which to place all manner of things, the Q7 is somewhat Spartan on that count, but that would pretty much be the only count.
The exterior of Audis—with the use of LEDs both front and back—are becoming as notable as the interiors. The Q7 has an imposing presence yet one, thanks in large part to the way the roof (and did I mention the optional panoramic sunroof?) arcs back to the lip of a spoiler above the backlight, that is not in the least bit boxy.
One argument for big vehicles like the Q7 is that people need to drive long distances. And that argument is truly settled with this diesel-powered beauteous beast.
Engine: 2.967-liter, Common-rail injection, 24-valve, V6 turbo direct injection
Material: Vermicular graphite cast iron block; aluminum alloy head
Horsepower: 225 @ 3,750 rpm
Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
Length: 200.3 in.
Wheelbase: 118.2 in.
Width: 78.1 in.
Height: 68.4 in.
Curb weight: 5,512 lb.
MSRP: $50,900 + $825 destination
General Motors is one company that is clearly embracing the diesel engine.
While the whole notion of minivans might provoke an involuntary eye roll among some people, here’s an interesting fact: so far this year, through the end of March, Chrysler delivered 31,616 Town & Country minivans, which makes it, by far, the biggest selling vehicle in the brand’s showroom.
There are two things that are true of automotive journalists: they like station wagons.