Audi’s largest sport utility is the Q7, with the second-generation hitting the market in 2015.
With a focus on delivering a roomy and flexible vehicle with pleasing handling and performance dynamics, the Q7 found popularity with shoppers looking for a full-function SUV that was also satisfying to drive – even for the enthusiast.
For its second generation, the Q7 boasted a reduced weight and improved efficiency and performance, enabling a win-win for drivers and their families: A machine with plenty of space, improved driving thrills, and reduced fuel consumption ratings.
Look for three rows of seating, with rear-rows that can be reconfigured to handle a multitude of cargo or people-hauling tasks. A power tailgate and relatively low cargo load-in height add convenience.
High-end features abound, including an impressive upgraded stereo system, climate-controlled memory seating, a panoramic sunroof, fully digital instrumentation, driver-assistance packages, automatic lights and wipers, and plenty more.
Most used Q7 models will be powered by Audi’s 3.0L supercharged V6, good for 333 hp. A four-cylinder turbo engine was available too. All models featured automatic transmissions and all-wheel drive.
What Owners Like
According to numerous owner reviews, the Q7 attracted initial attention with its dynamic looks and high-tech cabin, while sporty handling and good overall space and ride quality helped seal the deal. Many owners note confidence imparted by the all-wheel drive system, and powerful headlights – especially in inclement weather. On most aspects of handling, space, confidence, and all-weather peace of mind, the Q7 seems to have hit the mark.
What Owners Dislike
Some owners have complained of a too-rough ride on certain models, with sportier Q7 configurations (complete with larger wheels and low-profile tires) being the most suspect. Note that an adaptive suspension system was available, and can help turn in a ride that’s more comfortable, more of the time.
Other complaints include a third-row seat that may be too cramped for extended use by adults, less-than-expected cargo capacity with all seats upright, and some occasional operational fussiness from various on-board tech features.
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Pro Tip: Certified Pre-owned
Consider a used Q7 from a certified pre-owned (CPO) program at an Audi dealership for maximum peace of mind. CPO vehicles must meet higher standards for condition, quality, and reconditioning than models sold privately, or through non-OEM dealers.
Buying a CPO Q7 means all maintenance work, recalls, and software updates are current. Further, CPO vehicles may come with extended warranty coverage and additional roadside assistance protection. Various reconditioning procedures may be applied as well.
Many owners find the sometimes-higher cost of a CPO model to be worth the investment for the reduced headaches over potential problems and added peace of mind.
Pro Tip: Check the Warranty
Maintain your warranty coverage, if applicable. Remember that the Q7’s warranty coverage doesn’t cover damage or wear caused by the use of non-factory parts or fluids, or caused by a failure to have the vehicle inspected and serviced as outlined in the owner’s manual. Familiarize yourself with the Q7’s maintenance requirements in the owner’s manual, and remember that buying a model with an unclear service history – or without service records – may put any remaining warranty in jeopardy.
The Test Drive
All vehicles leave the factory with their wheels aligned in a precise orientation. Over time, various conditions may cause that orientation to change, negatively affecting the vehicle’s alignment. Improper alignment can cause accelerated tire wear, increased fuel usage, a reduction in handling and braking capabilities, and more. Some owners have reported alignment issues with their Q7s, sometimes at low odometer readings. Usually, this is evidenced by uneven wear across the treads of the tires, with more wear visible on one edge of one or more tires. Be on the lookout for signs of uneven tire wear, and if you note any, call this into your pricing negotiations. Note that an alignment on a Q7 may be pricey, as re-calibration of numerous camera and sensor-based driver-assistance systems may be required. Here’s some more reading, and some more.
Watch the Windshield
The Q7’s windshield has proven to be less durable than expected for several owners. Some have been forced to replace the windshield several times, even after just a few years of use. Numerous issues can cause windshield damage, and test-drivers are advised to be on the lookout for signs of pitting, cracking, or other problems.
Note that a windshield replacement may also require a recalibration of the camera system mounted behind it (if applicable). Be on the lookout for front bumper damage as well – even a minor impact may misalign sensor components in the bumper, causing problems with system operation and necessitating recalibration at a dealer.
Buying a used Q7 with any sign of abnormal windshield or bumper damage is not advised. Here’s some more reading.
Squeaks and Shudders
Some owners have reported unwanted sounds and sensations from their Q7s in certain situations. These often relate to an irritating squeal or squeak from the brakes, and/or a shuddering sensation from the driveline while accelerating at light to moderate throttle input from a stop. Be on the lookout for both on your test drive.
Squeaky brakes are easily addressed by a dealer technician, typically with new brake pads or additional lubrication to select components. Ask your technician to look up Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) #2050,735/3, which may provide additional instructions and information that can make for a faster fix. More information here.
A slight amount of shuddering from the driveline may be considered normal in certain situations, but if detected, test-drivers are advised to have a technician make an assessment before they buy. Most often, revised computer programming for the transmission is the solution – though unwanted sensations like this can be a sign of pricier problems, and you’ll want to know before you buy.
Some owners have modified their Q7s for more power and speed, possibly via the use of a non-factory computer module that alters the operation of the engine computer. Most shoppers should avoid a used Q7 that’s ever had this sort of modification performed, as it can cause engine damage that isn’t covered by any remaining warranty. For maximum peace of mind – and to protect the remaining warranty – be sure you’re not driving a Q7 that’s ever had its factory engine software altered. Use of non-factory parts and other electronics is bad news for warranty coverage, too.
In this discussion, some owners report a so-called “Quattro Rumble” that’s occasionally detectable from the rear end of the Q7, especially during tight, low-speed corners. Test for the rumble in a parking lot by making a series of slow, tight turns. If you detect any unwanted sensations from the rear of the vehicle, be sure to have a technician investigate before you buy. Most owners report that this is part of the normal operation of the all-wheel drive system, and many have quelled the issue by doing a rear differential fluid change.
On occasion, some owners have reported various frustrations with the infotainment system, which uses a centralized interface to control hundreds of functions. In some instances, certain switches, knobs, or even the volume control dial may go ‘dead’ and fail to respond. In most cases, resetting the system fixes problems like this. You can find instructions on hard-resetting the system, and additional details here. If a hard reset doesn’t fix a detected issue, have the system assessed professionally before you buy, as a pricier repair may be required.
Audi does not offer an online lookup tool for recalls. However, an Audi dealership can look up if any recalls apply to the vehicle you’re considering; note that you may need the seller’s permission to do this.
By and large, the second-generation Q7 looks to be a solid used luxury SUV bet thus far. Most commonly reported issues will be easy to detect on a test drive, and the majority of them are easily addressed by a technician, if required. The most worry-free Q7 you can buy is one with full service records, and one that adequately passes a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) conducted by an Audi technician.
Crash Test Results
IIHS: Top Safety Pick (2017)
NHTSA: 5/5 Stars (2017)