Large Luxury Crossover
The Q7 rated highly in all aspects of confidence during inclement-weather driving, with traction, braking, stability and even the lighting system rated well.
Audi’s big luxury ute hit the market for model year 2007, offering six or eight-cylinder power, Quattro AWD, unique looks, and an Audi-built competitor to comparable machinery from Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Acura, Volvo, BMW and Cadillac. With an eye for unique design, modern interfaces and plenty of selection through numerous powertrain and option packages, the Q7 went on to earn homes in countless Canadian driveways.
Feature content included keyless ignition, oversized sunroofs, automatic climate control, xenon lighting, a powered tailgate and premium BOSE or Bang & Olufsen audio. A heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and blind spot monitoring (dubbed Audi Side Assist) were also available, as was the brand’s cutting edge MMI interface with central command knob. Seating was available for up to 7 occupants.
A new Q7 is launching soon, and the original has moved nicely into used-car territory.
Initially, Q7 launched with power from a 4.2L V8 or a 3.6L V6 – both gasoline, with power topping out north of 300 horses. Standard and Premium versions were available with either engine, and Quattro and an automatic transmission were standard. From model year 2009, the 3L TDI V6 joined the powertrain lineup, and from 2011, the 3.6L and 4.2L gasoline engines were replaced by a higher-efficiency 3L supercharged V6, while the TDI engine remained. Note that 3.0 TFSI models are gas powered, and that 3.0 TDI models got the diesel mill.
What Owners Like
Owner reviews typically see the Q7 rated highly in all aspects of confidence during inclement-weather driving, with traction, braking, stability and even the lighting system rated well. Smooth performance and a comfortable ride, as well as a high-quality feel throughout much of the vehicle, were also noted. Favourite features include the powered tailgate, up-level stereo system and heated steering wheel.
What Owners Dislike
Common complaints include a fussy and complicated interface to the MMI system which requires plenty of time to learn, limited third-row space, and high up-front pricing. Owners of older models with the 3.6L or 4.2L engines often complain of excessive fuel consumption.
Here are some owner reviews.
The Test Drive
Start by checking out the Q7’s cruise control system, which could be suffering from a bad brake-light switch or engine sensor-related issue if it fails to engage, or engages, but fails to remain functional.
Check the climate control systems from both rows of seating, confirming that all adjustments to temperature, distribution and fan speed respond favourably. Notably, some owners have reported sporadic performance from the air conditioner system, which can blow warm air occasionally as a sign of a refrigerant leak. An Audi mechanic is the best person to check into this problem, if you note it.
Though relatively uncommon, leaks are possible from the Q7’s engine, transmission and differentials, so be on the lookout for spots beneath where the vehicle was parked, for signs of drippage or seepage beneath. Get down low and use a flashlight for a closer look, or have an Audi mechanic make an assessment on a pre-purchase inspection.
Check the panoramic roof, if equipped, for proper operation as well – from both the glass panel and the soft sunshade. It’s not uncommon for the latter assembly to come off of its track, causing issues and requiring repair. Some issues have been reported with panoramic roof frames and seals on earlier models, with Technical Service Bulletins issues to address leaks. Find signs of leakage by checking closely for water staining in the ceiling liner, signs of sogginess in the carpeting under the front driver and passenger footwell area, and even inside of the dome-light assembly. In some cases, this water leak can wind up soaking the Q7’s fuse block, causing a world of issues with electronics. More reading about this rare but serious problem in the first bit of this thread.
The Q7 owners community has done a good job of documenting premature tire and brake wear issues reported by owners, which has even resulted in an attempted (but dismissed) class-action lawsuit. Here’s some more reading. Note that tire and brake wear are largely a function of locale, driving style and vehicle maintenance, though these components should be checked closely on a pre-purchase inspection. The Q7 also has an electronic system to advise owners of worn brake pads, so look for the warning light in the driver computer.
Be on the lookout for wonky electronics of any sort – including warning messages, funky operation from things like locks and window switches, non-functional lights, hesitation in starting the engine and more. If any of these are present, begin diagnostics starting with the battery and charging system. The Q7 is one of the growing list of complicated vehicles that suffers battery drain issues as it ages, meaning having a healthy and fully-charged battery becomes more and more important. This vehicle is a good candidate for trickle-charging when it’s going to be sitting for extended periods.
Check the electronic power steering column adjustment for proper operation. If it fails to respond favourably, the computer module which controls the system may need to be reset.
A few other notes. The 3.6L engine has had numerous complaints documented about it for misfiring, with some owners having the issue addressed multiple times. Symptoms include a check-engine light with misfire code stored in the ECU, and drastically reduced performance. The issue seems to be caused by faulty ignition coil packs, which are common in numerous Audi and VW models. Bad fuel injectors may also be to blame.
Though relatively inconclusive, the 3.0 TDI engine seems to be very solid, with only a few complaints made regarding some niggling sensor and throttle-body issues. Note that frequent, on-time oil changes are vital to the long life of any engine, and especially, a turbocharged one like this one.
Finally, as the 3.0 TFSI engine is supercharged, some owners have re-programmed the engine computer with a so-called chip, to turn up the boost pressure from the compressor. This is fun and adds horsepower, but can also adversely affect the durability of all affected components and will typically void you Q7’s warranty. Scanning tools at your Audi dealer can detect signs of ECU tampering and void the warranty, without the seller even knowing about it. Translation? On a pre-purchase inspection, be absolutely sure to have a technician or service adviser run the Q7’s VIN number to ensure the warranty, if applicable, is still in effect.
For maximum protection and peace of mind, opting for a newer model with 3.0 TDI or 3.0 TSFI engine is advised. Your local Audi dealer may offer choices through a Certified Pre-Owned program, which have been subjected to all recall-related repairs, a full inspection, and covered by extra warranty. If you get a good deal on a healthy Q7 with a thumbs-up from an Audi dealer, you’re well on your way to enjoying a well-loved luxury SUV.
A list of recalls.
Crash Test Scores
IIHS: Top Safety Pick (2008)