One morning, I’m driving down the Malibu coast, top-down in a two-seat sports car. Twelve hours later, I’m on a straight road, in traffic, and piloting a seven-seat SUV. I think this is how new parents feel.
There’s no other word but “parental” to describe how three-row crossovers, like this 2017 Audi Q7, make me feel. Whether it was the Honda Pilot that was actually kind of tossable, or the plush Kia Sorento, one glance in the rear-view mirror at five headrests makes you wonder if someone isn’t waiting for you outside an elementary school.
The Q7, however, has always been a luxury car first. And this second-generation model is crammed with technology and convenience features to make life more effortless, as if it was designed for a person who lives in Bel Air but also must take the kids to horse-riding lessons on the one weekend it rains in Southern California. Autoblog already tested a European example, but I’m now getting the chance to finally drive it Stateside.
When it comes to the Q7’s appearance, I always seem to have a minority opinion. The old one looked like a bus when plenty of people said it looked beautiful. This new one has been widely criticized for looking like a wagon, but I don’t see a lot wrong here. At some angles, it’s reminiscent of the old 5000 Avants from the ’80s – probably not a coincidence, since the Q7 is Audi’s most prestigious wagon right now. Even Audi admits it pulled from the ’80s with styling cues along the rear quarter panels and the ever-larger “Quattro” badges. While the shape grows on you, it isn’t going to stop people seeing it and thinking it’s a Q5.
The most ambitious design touches are the arrows in the LED lights, front and rear, but they’re ultimately dwarfed by the size of the car. What’s more, the string of white, silver, and gray cars on hand at our test aren’t exactly striking, and the optional 20-inch wheels are boring in design. You could also call this “quiet luxury.” Or perhaps stately.
The new Audi Q7 has an incredible sense of elegance about it, never feeling ponderous like a truck and always feeling secure like a large luxury sedan. As the first application of the Volkswagen Group’s MLB Evo platform, it really is a large luxury wagon. Which is the exact image the company seems to be running from. No matter, because the Q7 is exactly the type of vehicle you can put your family in and still look elegant coming out of, never mind the muddy paw prints.
Audi’s engineers toned and strengthened the Q7 over the outgoing model, as if they were trying to turn a rugby player into an Olympic diver. The math adds up, even if the original claim of a 700-pound weight reduction has dwindled to 474 pounds in US specification. Nevertheless, you’re always confident in the Q7’s security. Only on the most aggressively curvy roads does it feel large.