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MPG: 14 City / 19 Hwy
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2008 Audi Q7 Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Audi Q7 was new.

Reviewers note that the 2008 Audi Q7 drives like the heavy vehicle that it is, but most are impressed with its engineering. The Dallas Morning News says the Q7 has "a nice refined drive...The brakes, steering and overall handling were...superb, giving the vehicle an organic, well-engineered feel."

Acceleration and Power

The 2008 Audi Q7 comes in 280-horsepower V6 and 350-horsepower V8 models, and all models come standard with Tiptronic transmission, a technology licensed from Porsche that allows the driver to override the automatic shift and force the gears either to upshift or downshift. "As we've found in other models, Audi's recently introduced direct-injection V6 and V8 engines are prolific and engaging," praises Car and Driver. The most charitable thing that reviewers can find to say about the Audi Q7's fuel economy is that it's about as good as can be expected from such a large, heavy vehicle. Otherwise, reviewers seem to agree it's a gas guzzler: "Dreadful fuel economy," says the Detroit News. The Environmental Protection Agency gives the six-cylinder models a fuel economy rating of 14 miles per gallon in the city and 20 miles per gallon on the highway, and the eight-cylinder models a rating of 12 city/17 highway.

The V6 may be the base engine, but it gets good reviews and some even believe it's the better choice. New Car Test Drive says "Power from the 280-hp 3.6-liter V6 is more than adequate for most drivers, with plenty on tap for quick, smooth acceleration in spite of its high curb weight of 5,015 pounds. The V6 emits a satisfying growl under full throttle but goes virtually silent when coasting or cruising." The Austin American-Statesman was also impressed, nothing "Although the lower cost V-6 is the lesser of the two choices, its healthy output of 280 horsepower isn't much of a compromise." But they add that "neither engine turns the Q7 into a sprinter."

Reviewers also enjoy the V8 engine. U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman notes, "The 350-horsepower V-8 engine accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in about seven seconds, pretty zesty for an SUV." Forbes says that "the 4.2-liter V-8 is only throaty when you stuff your right foot down hard on the gas but always delivers smooth response." But despite the praise, some reviewers also feel that the Q7 suffers from what they term accelerator lag. "I was...startled to observe a significant delay while overtaking a slower-moving car on the highway," notes a writer for Cars.com. "With an Infiniti FX closing quickly in the lane next to me, I steered into the passing lane while jabbing the accelerator pedal and waited in dismay as nothing happened for what seemed like a few seconds, as the transmission contemplated the right gear for my move..."

All Q7 engines are paired with a Tiptronic transmission that New Car Test Drive says "shifts so smoothly it's almost imperceptible except during full-throttle acceleration." However, CNET believes that the transmission is affected by -- if not necessarily responsible for -- the Q7's acceleration lag: "[The transmission] illustrated the acceleration delay pretty clearly. On the freeway it settled into sixth gear, and when we stomped the gas, the center readout showed the transmission moving to fourth. But the car didn't really start moving until a moment later."

Handling and Braking

A majority of reviewer have noticed that the Audi Q7 has a distinct disadvantage on the road when it comes to handling: Its weight. "This thing feels every bit the 5,400 pounds it is," writes AutoWeek, who reviewed the 4.2-liter V8 version. U.S. News' Rick Newman further declares that "one detraction from otherwise superb handling is that the Q7 is heavy, and occasionally it feels that way: It takes a bit of muscle to work the vehicle through a sharp curve." Edmunds quips, "Despite its tight turning circle, the Q7 feels a bit cumbersome around town. City drivers can feel like they're piloting a small ship to the grocery store."

The Q7 has an independent suspension that the Dallas Morning News refers to as "carlike." New Car Test Drive feels that the suspension "delivers a comfortable ride without sacrificing handling." However, several reviewers recommend the optional adaptive air suspension. According to Automobile Magazine, "it takes a long, deep reach into the options bag before the Q7 begins to feel really special. You need, for instance, adaptive air suspension, which features antidive, antiroll, and antisquat technology; maintains a constant vehicle height no matter the load; lowers the body at highway speeds by up to 1.4 inches to reduce drag and fuel consumption; and lets you choose from six different modes: dynamic, automatic, and comfort, as well as lift, kneel, and off-road." Consumer Guide says that the Q7's rack-and-pinion steering with power assist is "firm, slop-free at highway speeds, and usefully light for parking."

Critics agree that the 2008 Audi Q7's ventilated disc brakes are very good -- among the best of any SUV we've tested this year," according to Motor Week -- but braking performance is affected by the Q7's considerable bulk. "[A] driver will still feel the Q7's weight during quick stops," echoes MSN. And Edmunds confirms, "Q7 stopped from 60 mph in 143 feet, some 15 feet longer than the [lighter Mercedes] R-Class."

Nonetheless, the brakes are widely praised. "[T]he Q7's brakes proved to be terrific: responsive, with a firm yet communicative pedal," says New Car Test Drive. "There was no hint of brake fade whatsoever on our spirited drives." And Cars.com says "the brakes always felt up to the task of shedding speed." An anti-lock brake system (ABS) is standard, as is electronic brake-pressure distribution (EBD).

Off-Roading

Can the Audi Q7 go off-road? Reviewers have mixed opinions. "[T]he Q7 is not meant to be a serious boulder-bashing machine," says Edmunds. A reviewer for the Kansas City Star writes that "[e]ven though the air suspension allows additional ground clearance to be dialed in for rugged terrain, this isn't an SUV that you would use in the rough." But Ward's AutoWorld feels that "[d]espite its luxury-brand pedigree, the Q7 is a capable vehicle in all but the most hostile off-road environments." Kelley Blue Book seems to agree, noting "When you shift into Off-road, the superb stabilization technology kicks in. The 8.1-inch of ground clearance works well over rocks and deep ruts." But the reviewer adds a caveat, noting "[S]evere washboard trails can set unsecured headrests rattling."

All-Wheel Drive

All models of the 2008 Q7 come with Audi's patented Quattro all-wheel drive, which the Atlanta Journal-Constitution feels "contributes to an ultra-smooth ride on paved and unpaved surfaces." Most reviewers agree that Quattro helps the engine deliver plenty of torque -- and it's smart about it. "The Q7's standard full-time Quattro all-wheel drive system requires no driver input," says New Car Test Drive. "Normally, power is delivered to the front and rear wheels in a 42/58 percent split in order to create a rear-wheel-drive sensation for confident dry-weather handling. When driving conditions become such that traction becomes compromised at, the torque split is automatically adjusted between the parameters of 65/35 to 15/85 percent, front-to-rear."

Performance Options

3.6-Liter V6

The 3.6-liter V6 comes standard with a 280-horsepower six-cylinder engine, Quattro all-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission. A V6 Premium model is also available and features the same performance package but has different interior and exterior elements.

4.2-Liter V8

The 4.2-liter V8 comes standard with a 350-horsepower eight-cylinder engine, Quattro all-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission. A V8 Premium model is also available and features the same performance package but has different interior and exterior elements.

Review Last Updated: 2/18/09

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