Audi Q7 Review

Don't like a certain vehicle after a test drive? Try one with a smaller engine.

Now, that may seem all wrong (especially coming from a car guy), but every now and then, the weight of the bigger engine goofs up the handling just enough to make the extra power anything from unpleasant to unusable.

Case in point: The Audi Q7. The first one of these I drove about a year and a half ago had the V8 engine...I couldn't put my finger on it, but there was something about it that was just....un-Audilike.

A recent week in the 3.6-liter V6 made it clear...it was the handling. See, the Q7 is a big SUV (based on the same platform as the Volkswagen Touraeg and Porsche Cayenne). Getting decent handling out of something this size is a neat trick to begin with. Put all that weight on the nose, and it's no help. But going for the V6 restores some balance...the Q7 is much more responsive and more fun to drive.

Of course, in the Q7, settling for the six isn't really settling. It puts out 280 horsepower and the 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and Dynamic Shift Program does a great job of getting the most out of it all. And gas mileage is better, too, with the EPA estimating 14 city and 20 highway miles per gallon.

The base price of $48,300 for the Q7 3.6 Premium includes 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic dual-zone climate control, an 11-speaker audio system, a third row of seats and a whole lot more. Our tester had the S-Line Sport Package (the cosmetic goodies from Audi's hot S models), which added 21-inch wheels, a three-spoke steering wheel, and some trim upgrades for $3,750. It also had the Technology Package (including Voice Control and DVD Navigation) and the Convenience Package (Xenon Plus headlights, and an upgrade to Bose audio)...all of which pushed the bottom line by nearly 10 grand...to $58,225.

That's a lot of money, but the usual Audi attributes make a strong argument...and the V6's combination of better balance and better mileage would be the way we'd go if it was our money.

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