Tested: 2020 Audi Q7 55 Is Quick and Quiet

Audi refreshes the Q7 where it needed it and leaves the rest alone.

By Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver

There's a lot that's new about the Audi Q7 for 2020, but the biggest news is under the hood. While we liked the instant response and the warm character of the previous 333-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, Audi has been phasing that engine out in favor of the slightly more powerful turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6.

Audi claims that this 335-hp turbo engine only has two more horsepower than the old blower V-6, but it does have an added 44 lb-ft of torque. It gets the new Q7 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds flat. That's a 1.0-second improvement over the last Q7 we tested and its 13.7-second quarter-mile run at 101 mph is nearly a second quicker. The Q7's newfound acceleration would have tied it with the Porsche Cayenne for second place in the Q7's most recent comparison test and just behind the BMW X5 xDrive40i's 4.7-second sprint to 60 mph. Should you want quicker acceleration, Audi now offers the 500-hp SQ7, which will get to 60 mph in a claimed 4.3 seconds. 

In our rolling 5-to-60-mph test that attempts to simulate how a vehicle accelerates without the benefit of a hard launch, the turbo engine actually ran the same 6.5-second time as its supercharged predecessor. That tells us that the turbo engine will feel pretty much like its predecessor when you're not launching it like you're drag racing it. Blame turbo lag below 2000 rpm for the 1.5-second difference between the rolling-start acceleration to 60 mph and the hard launch. Keep the engine above that rpm, and the response is strong and instant.

While the character of the new engine isn't as spicy as that of the supercharged engine, the sound-level meter says the new engine is actually slightly louder. At idle, the new engine puts out 43 decibels compared to the supercharged V-6's nearly silent 36 decibels. Both have an automatic stop-start system, so the engine will shut off in most stopped situations. The new V-6 does gain a 48-volt hybrid system that starts the engine with little to no delay. At its loudest, the turbo engine puts out 70 decibels to the old engine's 67 decibels. New engine or not, the Q7 is library quiet at 70 mph. With the engine in top gear and the engine barely ticking over, new and old Q7s both put out the same 62 decibels at 70 mph. The silence is soothing and gives the Q7 a refined demeanor.

We're a little surprised that fuel economy takes a slight hit with the new turbo engine. According to the EPA, the turbo is estimated at 17 mpg in the city, 21 mpg on the highway, and a combined score of 18 mpg. Its supercharged predecessor managed 19 city, 25 highway, and 21 mpg combined. In our merciless hands, the Q7 returned 14 mpg, but that is better than the 12 mpg the supercharged engine returned in last year's comparison test.

Effective Refinements

In addition to the engine swap, the new Q7 has Audi's latest infotainment system. Two nicely integrated touchscreens replace the old system's single screen and central control knob. The upper screen measures 10.1 inches and controls navigation, audio, and a host of vehicle controls and settings. A smaller 8.6-inch screen handles climate control and seat heating and cooling. Both touchscreens feature audible and haptic feedback, but the screens require a deliberate touch. The system's menu structure works well enough, and the system is compatible with Apple CarPlay via a Bluetooth connection. Android Auto requires a cable and USB connection. There are redundant controls for changing radio stations or tracks and a thumbwheel to adjust the volume. A large 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster remains and provides several views that a driver can tailor.

Interior space remains cavernous, and the third row is reasonably large. No changes were necessary, and Audi hasn't made any. Cargo space behind the third row comes in at a modest if useable 15 cubic feet, but folding the third row into the floor makes for a big 31 cubic feet of space. Should your Ikea run spiral, folding the second and third row opens up 72 cubes of space.

We get that no one buys three-row SUVs for their handling, but the Q7 is tuned to give a secure and almost lively feel. Ride quality on our test vehicle's 21-inch wheels is just on the right side of soft in the Auto drive mode. You hear clops in the distance as the suspension deals with an impact, but not much makes it inside. Dialing in Sport mode stiffens things a bit. On the skidpad, the Continental CrossContact LX Sport all-season rubber helped the Q7 hang on with a decent 0.86 g of grip. Although the steering loads up in corners with an abrupt and artificial feel, it's easy to hustle this 5003-pound SUV down and up a canyon road. The brakes, engine, gearbox, and chassis are all into it. While it lacks the rear-drive-like tuning of the BMW X5, the Q7 makes up for it with unerring stability.

In its last three-row SUV comparison test, the pre-refresh Q7 finished third out of fourth. We said at the time, "There's nothing so fundamentally wrong with the Q7 that it needs much more than a mid-cycle refresh to fix." Turns out we were right. A very subtle exterior redesign to both ends modernizes its head- and taillights, a new engine makes it quicker, and a new interior brings it in line with Audi's newer models. The rest of the Q7 didn't need much to keep it one of our favorite three-row SUVs.


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Automotive Magazine: Tested: 2020 Audi Q7 55 Is Quick and Quiet
Tested: 2020 Audi Q7 55 Is Quick and Quiet
Audi refreshes the Q7 where it needed it and leaves the rest alone.
Automotive Magazine
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