2011 Audi Q7 TDI: Introduction
Perfectly suited for the “Mommy and Me” playdate set, the 7-passenger 2011 Audi Q7 TDI is a well proven luxury family vehicle but how well suited is it to the red carpet of an A-list Hollywood event? Surprisingly well suited it would seem as we found out when we drove our test 2011 Audi Q7 right down the red carpet of the Humane Society Genesis Awards where such luminaries as Betty White were honored for their contributions to the humane treatment of animals in media.
As we exited our 2011 Audi Q7 TDI, the very large “TDI Clean Diesel” logo on the side caused quite a stir with the many famous faces on hand. James Cromwell, who played the farmer in the film “Babe” which we think is one of the greatest talking animal/family friendly movies of all time, immediately saddled up to us and asked us about the fuel economy. When we replied that it was averaging 22 miles per gallon he didn’t fulfill our dreams and say, “That’ll do pig, that’ll do” but he did agree that the figure was mighty impressive for such a large SUV.
Mr. Cromwell actually said that he was interested in buying one and asked us about the price which at $58,275 was no doubt affordable to an actor who counts “The Dark Knight” as one of his many blockbusters on IMDB.com. That’s the Internet Movie Database to those not in The Industry. Actually, we were giddy about actually sparking up a conversation with the man who starred in “Babe,” the film which made us swear off bacon forever. Thank God someone invented turkey bacon.
2011 Audi Q7 TDI: Exterior
The epically huge chrome grille that adorns the front of the 2011 Audi Q7 TDI may make this roomy 7-passenger SUV look a bit like a great white shark but thanks to a narrow girth and a very helpful back-up camera/parking sensor system this vehicle is a pussycat to maneuver around suburban parking lots. From the side, the Q7 may not be the most elegant design to come from the Audi design studio but it is meant to be a high utility vehicle so on that count it works.
Moving to the rear of the vehicle, the power rear hatch opens wide to ease loading bulky objects should you decide to take your high mileage (over 500 miles on a tankful) luxury family wagon on trips to Home Depot. The rear taillights are tapered nicely into the character line along the side of the Q7 and the overall look is one of understated elegance. Yes, the Audi Q7 TDI is expensive but it looks the part.
2011 Audi Q7 TDI: Interior
The saddle brown leather interior of our 2011 Audi Q7 TDI was expertly assembled from materials that felt well worth the price of admission. All controls were well placed and the centrally mounted Audi MMI control knob for navigation, audio and phone functions was easy to use. The only switch placement that was a bit odd was the release button for the glove box, which is located right next to the navigation screen.
Our white Q7 TDI tester had a base price of $50,900 but came in Premium Plus trim which added luxuries like a panoramic sunroof, MMI in-dash 3-D navigation, an excellent Bose surround sound premium audio system, HD radio, auto dimming side mirrors and a back-up camera with a parking assist system. Adding a $500 Cold Weather Package (heated rear seats, steering wheel) brought the total to $58,275 with the $875 destination fee.
If you want to compare the Q7’s interior spaciousness with the BMW X5’s there really is no comparison as the Audi is much more spacious in all three rows. The Q7 compares more favorably to the Acura MDX and its third row offers up possibly a smidgen more legroom than its Japanese luxury rival. Unfortunately, the slim in the hips Q7 feels a bit narrower inside the cabin than the wider MDX. Three cheeseburger loving adults in the second row of the Q7 won’t be super comfortable on long trips around their ever expanding waists but they will have plenty of legroom.
The interior of the Q7 did feel impressively light and airy inside thanks to the optional panoramic sunroof, which essentially spans the entire length of the SUV. Unlike some 7-passenger SUVs, rear seat airflow is kept moving with a number of rear seat air vents and the temperature is adjustable from the front. Cargo room is very generous with 10.9 cubic feet available with the third row in place, 42 cubic feet behind the second row and a U-Haul rivaling 72.5 cubic feet with the second and third row seats folded flat.
2011 Audi Q7 TDI: Performance and Safety
The 2011 Audi Q7 TDI comes standard with a meaty 3.0 liter 225 horsepower/406 lb. feet of torque V6 turbodiesel engine that is surprisingly refined especially for anyone who remembers the clattery, stinky diesel engines of yesteryear. While you could hear a bit of diesel rattle outside the Q7 when the engine is on you definitely can’t hear anything inside the incredibly refined cabin even at full throttle. At cruising speeds the cabin is hushed and quiet with tire, road and all manner of irritating noise held calmingly at bay.
The 2011 Audi Q7 TDI comes standard with the excellent new 8-speed automatic transmission that has made its way across much of this Ingolstadt, Germany based automaker’s model lineup. You can shift gears manually but there really isn’t a point as the Q7 TDI always manages to be in the right gear to get the most out of the diesel engine’s meaty torque curve. O-60 comes up in a respectable 8.5 seconds and steep hills are dispatched with ease. Tow capacity is 6,600 pounds.
Comparing the 2011 Audi Q7 TDI with its archrival the 2011 BMW X5 turbodiesel, the whallop you feel when the Q7 is on boost isn’t as mind blowing as the one you feel when you are piloting the X5. But on the other hand, the Q7 TDI never suffers from any inconvenient turbo lag at inopportune moments like the BMW does. In the real world the Audi Q7 feels more tractable and the power delivery is more reliable.
As for ride, handling and steering there is no getting around the fact that this is a very large SUV. There is some body roll in corners but the ride absorbs bumps nicely and the steering is not overly artificial in feel. All things considered, Audi did a nice job of calibrating everything so that the 2011 Audi Q7 TDI feels every inch the luxury suv. Just don’t try to drive it like a sports car. But should you get too frisky take heart knowing that the 2011 Audi Q7 is an IIHS “Top Safety Pick.”
2011 Audi Q7 TDI: Conclusion
Clearly if the 2011 Audi Q7 TDI can impress eco-conscious and animal friendly Hollywood A-listers than it should no doubt serve the needs of your average upscale family with worries about the environment and our dependence on fossil fuels. 22 miles per gallon may not seem like an epic number that will scare Prius owners but it is mighty impressive when you figure most of its gas powered 7-passenger luxury SUV competition averages in the 12-16 mile per gallon range depending on make and model.
The 2011 Audi Q7 TDI may not drive like a sport sedan but it isn’t meant to be one. The Q7 TDI excels at what it is intended to be—a very fuel efficient, stylish, roomy and elegant 7-passenger luxury SUV. Yes, it actually fits 7 people and it will transport them in effortless style. The 2011 Audi Q7 TDI is also entertaining to drive thanks to the seemingly endless thrust afforded by its TDI turbodiesel engine. Overall, it makes for an excellent luxury family SUV buy. And if you buy one you just might just have a reason to strike up a conversation with a celebrity.