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2015 Audi Q7 Test Drive

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First Impressions

Blending impressive on-road performance with more off-road capability than a typical crossover SUV, the luxurious 2015 Audi Q7 (view photos) is one of the more athletic choices in its competitive class. Engineered in conjunction with the first-generation Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg, the Q7 enters its fifth year on the market with two new supercharged engine choices paired with a new eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Additional updates include revised lower body trim panels which now denote trim levels to make each Q7 unique in appearance, additional standard features, and a base price drop of $1,200.

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About Our Test Car

When choosing a 2015 Audi Q7, you’ve first got to decide which engine you want. If you pick the standard supercharged V6 or the turbo-diesel model, you can select between Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trim levels. The more powerful supercharged V6 comes only in S-line Prestige packaging. Prices run from $47,125 for a 3.0T Premium to $64,325 for a TDI Prestige, and with every option, a Q7 can top $78,000.

Our test model was the 3.0T with the Premium Plus Package ($6,000) and a Cold Weather Package ($500 – heated rear seats and heated steering wheel), bringing the grand total to $53,075. The Premium Plus Package includes Audi MMI Navigation Plus, a Bose surround sound audio system, HD Radio, a panoramic sunroof, and memory settings for the driver. It also has Xenon headlights with LED front running lights and rear taillights, auto-dimming and power folding side mirrors, and parking sensors with a reversing camera.

One option we missed out on but would have definitely enjoyed is the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System ($6,300). When you’re done choking on that price tag, know that Audi’s B&O audio systems are nothing short of amazing. In the Q7, this setup includes 14 speakers, more than 1,000 watts of power, and features like ICEpower digital amplification, proprietary digital signal processing, and Acoustic Lens technology. This sound system is only available in conjunction with the most expensive Prestige trim package.

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Safety Reliability and Value

The Q7 comes standard with dual front airbags, dual front side-impact airbags, and dual side curtain airbags that protect occupants of all three rows of seats. In the event of a crash, a sensor automatically shuts off the engine and fuel pump, activates the hazard lights, unlocks the doors, and illuminates the cabin. The Q7 is also equipped with a stability control system with rollover mitigation technology and an off-road mode, along with four-wheel-disc ABS with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. An Audi Parking System is also standard, rear bumper sensors that not only assist with judging distance when parking but also can help to detect when a pedestrian might be behind the Q7.

Optional safety features include side-impact airbags for the outboard seating positions in the second row, a reversing camera (included with the optional navigation system on 3.0T and TDI models), and Audi Side Assist blind-spot monitoring (standard on S-line). If you’ve selected the Q7 TDI or Q7 S-line, you can equip your SUV with an Adaptive Cruise Control system that employs radar units to monitor traffic ahead and maintain a safe traveling distance. The system works at speeds between 20 and 90 mph, and is capable of bringing the Q7 to a complete stop.

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Because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has changed its testing procedures for 2015, the federal agency offers no crashworthiness ratings for the 2015 Q7. In testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Q7 is just a roof crush strength test away from a “Top Safety Pick” rating because it receives the agency’s highest rating of Good in the offset frontal, side impact, and rear crashworthiness assessments.

Based on what Q7 owners tell Consumer Reports and J.D. Power and Associates, this Audi does not perform well with regard to reliability. Both companies predict that new Q7s will provide below average reliability, and the Q7 ranked below average in the J.D. Power and Associates 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study. Even when it comes to quality during the first three months of ownership, Q7 buyers give the SUV slightly better than average marks.

The 2015 Audi Q7 (view photos) might not be a particularly reliable machine, based on surveys of the people that own them, but it holds its value well. According to Automotive Lease Guide, the Q7’s ability to retain its value is better than average.

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Unfortunately, the Q7’s warranty doesn’t assuage concerns about long-term durability. The car is covered by a comprehensive warranty that’s good for the first four years or 50,000 miles, and roadside assistance is available for the first four years of ownership with no mileage limit. Beyond that, you’re on your own, though Audi does guarantee against rust perforation for 12 years.

To help sweeten the deal, Audi provides the Q7’s first scheduled maintenance for free, as long as you do it within the first year and 5,000 miles of ownership. Still, compared to what BMW does for its customers, this is a pale gesture.

Based on the unfavorable reliability ratings and the somewhat modest warranty coverage, our advice is to lease the Q7. Strong residual values should keep payments low, and you can give the car back to Audi before the warranty expires.

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