$13,086 - $18,436

2011 Audi Q7 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Audi Q7 was new.


Performance: 7.6

The 2010 Audi Q7 was hindered by its heavy curb weight, poor fuel economy and sheer bulk. But the refreshed 2011 model is a different story – and a largely different vehicle under the hood. Its new supercharged engines provide the power and the fuel economy to make the Q7 a winner.

  • “On a recent trip to Munich, we pounded the autobahn in the new Q7 and found nothing lacking." -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

Reviewers criticized earlier models of the Q7 equipped with V6 and V8 engines for being sluggish and less powerful than class leaders. That has changed for 2011 with the introduction of two new supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engines. They make 272 and 333 horsepower, respectively (software tweaks give the two engines different power levels) – those figures make them some of the most powerful SUVs in the class, and it shows. Reviewers absolutely love the extra power, noting that even the lower-output engine is more than adequate.

The Q7’s turbodiesel 3.0-liter TDI V6 continues on and makes 225 horsepower. The diesel model receives praise because it sounds and performs just like a gasoline engine, but also provides better fuel economy than the gas-powered Q7s.

All three engines are paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission that alone is expected to improve fuel economy by around four percent. Audi hasn’t yet announced fuel economy figures, but reviewers speculate the 2011 Q7 could get as much as 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. Any improvement would be welcome, as the 2010 Q7’s gasoline engines are rated at just 14/19 and 13/18 city/highway. By luxury midsize SUV standards, these ratings are low.

Several of the Q7's competitors, including the Lexus RX 350, get more miles per gallon than the 2010 model and even cost less. The Q7 TDI, on the other hand, achieves a much more impressive gas mileage of 17/25 city/highway, which bests most of its rivals -- but it also commands an extra $4,000 on top of the Q7’s already expensive base price.

  • "We recently sampled both variations of the Q7 3.0T around Ingolstadt, and appreciated the smooth power delivery as well as the new eight-speed automatic transmission's wide spread of gear ratios." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Although the horsepower figure is meager for a vehicle this size -- almost 5700 pounds! -- the torque delivers enough off-the-line thrust to give the impression that the Q7 is quicker than its 8.3-second 0-to-60-mph time. Part throttle is sufficient to push you back in the seat; full-throttle shenaniganery delivers a downshift and more intake whoosh but not much in the way of extra thrust." -- Car and Driver
  • "Neither [gasoline] engine is wanting for more zip. The premium Q7 might better squirt from light to light due to its torque advantage, but you don't feel a huge difference due to the smooth, but always-working, eight-speed transmission. Bounce off the gas pedal in fast-flowing traffic and you're often changing down or up faster than either the digital readout or your brain can follow." -- Motor Trend
  • "The net result of all these powertrain modifications isn't easy to detect when slogging through the city, but when the road opens up and traffic begins to dissipate, the cohesion of the engine/tranny combo shines through. The low-output V6 is just that -- less -- but it proved adequate enough to get us up to triple-digit speeds on the autobahn with minimal fuss." --Autoblog

Handling and Braking

The majority of reviewers have long noticed that the Audi Q7 has a distinct disadvantage on the road when it comes to handling -- its hefty weight. In the past, they have said its size and weight can make parking-lot maneuvers difficult. However, the 2011 Q7 doesn’t receive the same complaints. In fact, reviewers say it's light on its feet. Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system continues to be standard for all trims.

  • "Braking is swift and strong, but several testers find them hard to modulate for smooth stops." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Dynamically the Q7 is an elephant in ballet shoes. Unwieldy looking, but surprisingly light on its feet. In Munich city traffic it drives small, easily squeezing through narrow country lanes and urban byways." -- Motor Trend

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