2020 Audi Q7 Review

Christian Wardlaw | Mar 16, 2020

Introduction

Fresh competitors to the 2020 Audi Q7 are entering the luxury 3-row SUV segment at a rapid pace. They include new nameplates like the BMW X7, Cadillac XT6, Genesis GV80, and Lincoln Aviator, as well as redesigned models like the Mercedes-Benz GLS.

To ensure it doesn’t fade from premium luxury SUV customer radar screens, Audi gives the 2020 Q7 a styling refresh, a revised cabin with new infotainment and improved instrumentation technology, upgraded safety systems, and an SQ7 performance variant.

As was true before, the 2020 Q7 lineup includes Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trim levels. A turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is standard for Premium and Premium Plus, while Prestige gets a new turbocharged V6 with mild-hybrid light electrification technology. The V6 is an option with lower trims.

2020 Audi Q7 Premium Plus White and Black Optic Package

For this review, J.D. Power evaluated a Q7 Premium Plus equipped with the new mild-hybrid turbocharged V6 engine. It also had metallic paint, a Black Optic Package, a Cold Weather Package, a Warm Weather Package, a Driver Assistance Package, matrix LED headlights, and an adaptive suspension. The price came to $73,740, including the $995 destination charge.

What Owners Say…

Before we discuss the results of our evaluation of the 2020 Audi Q7, it is helpful to understand who buys this midsize premium SUV, and what they like most and least about their vehicles.

J.D. Power data shows that, compared to the overall segment, Audi Q7 owners are more often male (72% vs. 63% for the segment), are younger in terms of median age (53 years vs. 58), and earn more in terms of median annual household income ($265,625 vs. $198,923). More than half of Audi Q7 owners (56%) characterize themselves as Performance Buyers (vs. 41%).

Not surprisingly, then, 66% of Audi Q7 owners strongly agree that they like a vehicle with responsive handling and acceleration (vs. 58% for the segment), while 33% agree that a first consideration when choosing a new vehicle is miles per gallon (vs. 40%). At the same time, fewer Audi Q7 owners agree that their friends and family think of them as someone who knows a great deal about autos (62% vs. 66%).

Audi Q7 owners are less concerned about maintenance costs, with 73% agreeing that they avoid vehicles they think will have high costs in this regard (vs. 79%). They’re also less likely to agree that a vehicle is just a way of getting from place to place (18% vs. 27%).

Owners say their favorite things about the Q7 are (in descending order) the driving dynamics, interior design, engine/transmission, visibility and safety, and exterior styling. Owners indicate their least favorite things about the Q7 are (in descending order) the climate system, seats, infotainment system, storage and space, and fuel economy.

What Our Expert Says…

In the sections that follow, our expert provides his own perceptions about how the updated 2020 Audi Q7 measures up in each of the 10 categories that comprise the J.D Power 2019 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

Exterior

For 2020, the Audi Q7 adopts design themes found on the smaller Q3 and larger Q8 models. That means new front styling, a revised rear liftgate and taillights, and redesigned wheels sized from 19 inches to 22 inches in diameter. The test vehicle had the new Black Optic package, equipping the SUV with special 21-inch Audi Sport wheels and a blacked-out exterior appearance.

As a result of these minor changes, the Q7’s proportions are better balanced. At the same time, however, it does lose some of its simple, elegant, and technical conservatism.

Interior

Change is more evident inside the 2020 Q7, which retains its luxurious, modern, high-tech look and feel.

A new dashboard houses standard next-generation Audi Virtual Cockpit instrumentation, while the automaker’s Multi-Media Interface (MMI) Touch Response infotainment system illuminates behind flush-mounted glass embedded into a panel of gloss black trim.

Above the MMI, a row of vents stretches across the top of the dashboard and flanks the digital gauge cluster, while new interior colors and trim finishes accent the Q7’s cabin, which is rendered in high-quality materials.

Seats

Thanks to available heating, ventilation, and 12-way power adjustment, the new Q7’s front seats are quite comfortable. The test vehicle also had a heated steering wheel, a 4-zone automatic climate control system, heated rear seat cushions, and rear window sunshades, so it was ready for any kind of weather.

What the Q7 is not ready for is to carry people in the third-row seat. I squeezed myself back there and I was dreadfully unhappy about it. This location is useful for kids only, and then only for short distances.

The second-row seats are comfortable, however, provided you don’t need to slide them forward to make room for third-row passengers.

Climate Control System

New for 2020, the Q7’s climate controls employ an 8.6-inch touch-sensitive panel located between the dashboard and the center console.

When using the controls, a click and a vibration confirm a selection, but it still requires a driver to look down and away from the road when using it. Fortunately, the Audi Q7’s natural voice recognition system is outstanding, making it relatively easy to choose a new cabin temperature without distraction.

Temperate Southern California weather did not challenge the system’s ability to heat or cool the Q7’s interior, so I cannot comment on the effectiveness of the heating and air conditioning.

Infotainment System

The MMI Touch Response’s upper screen, above the climate panel, uses a 10.1-inch touch-sensing display. This is where owners access the radio and media functions, the navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, vehicle settings, and more.

Like the climate panel, it offers both audible and sensory confirmation of selections, but it can be distracting to use while driving. Fortunately, once you’ve got it set up the way you like it, the steering wheel controls and natural voice recognition system make it fairly easy to adjust commonly used features.

In fact, the voice recognition system passed every one of my standard tests with flying colors. It is exceptionally well done. But you enjoy it for a limited time unless you pay to extend the free trial subscription to Audi Connect services. There’s good reason to do that, given the wide range of services that include Amazon Music streaming, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, automatic collision notification, and more.

Storage and Space

When it comes to storage and space, current Q7 owners are dissatisfied with this SUV. That won’t change with the freshened 2020 Q7. From its lack of in-cabin storage nooks and crannies to its cramped third-row seat and unimpressive cargo volume numbers, the Q7 will require a complete redesign in order to address shortcomings in this area.

Behind the third-row seat, the Q7 supplies less than 15 cu.-ft. of space, giving you one more reason to keep it in a permanently folded position. Behind the second-row seat, the Q7 offers 37.5 cu.-ft. of space, which is a reasonable if not class-leading amount of room. Maximum volume with the second-row seat folded down measures a little more than 70 cu.-ft., hard to understand in what is billed as a midsize SUV.

Visibility and Safety

Audi also improves the Q7’s advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) for 2020. New features include Adaptive Cruise Assist, which is an adaptive cruise control control system with lane centering assistance, and Emergency Assist, which springs into action to bring the Q7 to a safe stop if the driver becomes unresponsive while behind the wheel.

Intersection Assist is also new, monitoring for front cross-traffic as the SUV approaches an intersection, while Vehicle Exit Assist warns occupants not to exit the Q7 if traffic is approaching from behind. A virtual 360-degree camera system is also new for 2020.

As far as crash-test ratings go, the Q7 gets the highest possible marks in all parameters, but as this review is written the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) had not tested the SUV’s new headlights. Therefore, a Top Safety Pick rating is on hold.

Engine/Transmission

Carried over from last year, the Q7’s standard engine is a 248-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that Audi says will accelerate the Q7 to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. The test vehicle had the new turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, which makes 335 hp and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. According to Audi, 60 mph arrives in 5.7 seconds with this engine.

Both engines use an 8-speed automatic transmission and standard Quattro all-wheel drive. Several driving modes help tailor the powertrain to specific preferences. You can choose Comfort, Auto, or Dynamic for driving on pavement, or an Off-Road setting for unpaved surfaces. An Individual mode allows you to mix-and-match different settings for a custom vehicle driving character.

During my driving in the mountains and desert near Palm Springs, Calif., the 2020 Q7 supplied effortless power and flawless transmission shifts for accelerating away from traffic lights, merging onto freeways, and powering up and over mountain passes. The automatic engine stop/start system quickly restarted the engine, but not imperceptibly.

Fuel Economy

Featuring a 48-volt electrical system, the Q7’s new light-electrified (mild-hybrid) turbo V6 conserves fuel by allowing the SUV to coast down hills without the engine running and engaging the automatic engine stop/start system as the SUV approaches a stop at an intersection. The more powerful electrical system operates requires components while the engine is turned off.

The EPA says the new engine returns 18 mpg in combined driving, and it requires premium gas. Over the course of more than 100 miles, that’s exactly what I averaged.

Note, however, that last year’s supercharged V6 returned 21 mpg in combined driving, according to the EPA. Since Q7 owners weren’t happy with that engine’s fuel economy, I doubt they’ll be satisfied with this one.

Driving Dynamics

If you’re looking for a quiet, supple, and comfortable luxury SUV, the 2020 Audi Q7 delivers across the board. At the same time, if you’re looking for a fast, athletic, and enjoyable luxury SUV, the 2020 Audi Q7 capably serves in that role, too.

The key is to get the turbocharged V6, the adaptive suspension, and a larger wheel-and-tire set. Then, switch between Comfort and Dynamic modes in order to alter the SUV’s character.

In the city and on the open road, the Q7’s cabin silence is remarkable. Exit the Interstate for a romp on a back road, and the adaptive suspension does an impressive job of quelling unwanted ride motions. All-wheel steering is also available, too, but only with Prestige trim.

No matter where you drive the Q7, it proves rewarding, which is as premium midsize SUV buyers want things to be. Especially Audi Q7 buyers.

Final Impressions

Nothing short of a complete redesign can resolve Q7 owner dissatisfaction with this SUV’s amount of storage and passenger space, or its cramped third-row seat. At the same time, though, changes to the 2020 Audi Q7 should heighten satisfaction in those areas where existing owners express happiness with the SUV.

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