The Audi Q7: A Family Road Trip SUV

With five weeks left to Labor Day, you may be searching for that family road trip carrier that can go the distance. Redesigned for 2017, the Audi Q7 SUV might be that car.

I drove the supremely comfortable crossover this weekend, taking it through what could qualify as the Olympics of amateur driving, thanks to flash flooding on Detroit’s M-39. The plush seats, 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit infotainment system, and of course, Sirius XM seasonal Yacht Rock station (I was, after all, heading to a Yacht Rock party.) did their best to assuage a tough drive. I dare say it was nearly a pleasure to sit in an epic traffic jam that took me four hours to drive three miles.

But the Q7, which starts at $54,800, eventually got the chance to prove it could do more than sit pretty. Due to Audi’s increased use of aluminum, the 333-horsepower, 3.0-liter supercharged V6 handled unusually lithely for a three-row SUV. Once the road opened and I stepped on the throttle, the eight-speed automatic transmission shifted smoothly, passing vehicles barreling down I-94 with room to spare. For all its power, the front-engine, Quattro all-wheel drive Q7 is not about brute force. It steered elegantly, parked with grace, and – to my unnecessary consternation – boarded a ferry across Lake St. Clair to my Harsens Island destination like it was no big deal.

 

The seven-passenger hatchback had ample trunk space for hauling party supplies, not to mention curb appeal. The first words spoken by several road-weary guests upon walking into the party were, “Whose Q7 is that?” Worth noting here is that buyers considering the Q7 usually also look at the Volvo XC90, Mercedes-Benz GLS, Acura MDX and Lexus GX, all of which I’ve found provide sleek, capable rides.

The gem of the Q7 is the optional virtual cockpit, which is also found on the R8 sports car, TT roadster, A4 sedan, and according to an Audi spokesperson, future models in the brand’s family. The latest vehicle with Audi’s MMI infotainment interface provided clear 3D map views, scrolled easily through radio stations and iPhone playlists, and handled frantic phone calls to convey my increasingly delayed ETA.

The obstacle-laden, 90-mile round-trip to the party on the island could have cast a pall over the weekend, but the journey didn’t interfere with the mood. And the Q7 did it on less than a quarter tank of fuel.