Diesel Delight | 2012 Audi Q7 TDI

November 2012 View more

NMAG1112_ForTheRoad_1Not too many years ago, integrated DVD players and fold-down screens were de rigueur in large luxury SUV’s. That keep-the-kids-happy equipment made for much more enjoyable road trips, at least as long as the rear-seat passengers could agree on what to crane their necks to watch. And if the fuel tank could hold out for the length of a few movies, the trip went by that much faster.

How times have changed. In this age of streaming video and iPads, who wants to remember a stack of DVD’s, or for that matter, to look up at an eight-inch screen dangling from the headliner? And when you’ve got hundreds of miles to go before you can rest, who wants to think about stopping for the pump?

The diesel-powered 2012 Audi Q7 TDI neatly addresses both of those issues. Its 3.0-liter V6 (17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway) and 26.4-gallon fuel tank collaborate to deliver a roughly 660-mile potential range. That’s 10 hours of highway cruising, or long enough to take in more than half of the Harry Potter oeuvre.

NMAG1112_ForTheRoad_2The Q7 also—and here’s the wow part—offers the “Audi connect” system, which turns the nearly three-ton, seven-passenger SUV into a WiFi hotspot. Forget about counting the cup holders, let’s call dibs on the power outlets scattered around the cabin.

While the six passengers are curled up with their devices, the driver does not have it bad at all, because the all-wheel-drive Q7 is quite entertaining to drive. It handles nimbly, and the high-torque diesel engine makes passing a surprisingly quick affair.

The Q7 is Audi’s largest vehicle, and it feels big on the road, but it’s not huge. For the sake of comparison, the Q7 is five inches longer than a Range Rover and has, in addition to a cramped third row, more front and rear legroom than that competitor. But it is a few inches narrower than the Range Rover, so shoulders have a bit less wiggle room.

With all three rows of seats up, the Q7 has only 11 cubic feet of cargo space. Unfortunately, the Q7’s tapered roofline and svelte shape mean that the rear hatchback is relatively small. As a result, you won’t be able to fit any really big cargo through the door.

Two options that do a lot to boost the Q7’s comfort factor for its passengers are the four-zone climate control—temperature and fan levels for each of the front and second-row seats—and the Panorama sunroof, which turns the second and third rows into a sunny courtyard with a view. Both of these features are part of the Prestige package—a $12,500 add-on that also includes a Bose surround-sound stereo, rearview camera, 20-inch wheels, and ventilated front seats. That last feature is a nice touch on a hot day, but the fan creates a lot of white noise. Which is a shame, because if you’ve also opted for the custom Bang and Olufsen sound system (1,000 watts, $6,300), you will want to hear every note.

NMAG1112_ForTheRoad_3A blank-canvas 2012 Audi Q7 TDI will cost you $51,450, which represents a premium over the gas-powered Q7 3.0T Premium ($46,250). For either model, your final price will easily hit $65,000 or more when you start adding options. By the time you are reading this, your Audi dealer will likely have a conundrum for you: Stick with the 2012 TDI model—available with the compelling S-Line trim package for the first time—or opt for the new 2013 model, which offers a more powerful engine and better fuel economy (19 city/28 highway).