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May 24, 2009

The Kick-Ass Audi Q7 TDI

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My buddies at Audi loaned me a Q7 TDI (turbo diesel injected) for a few months. This is the first diesel that Audi has brought to the United States since the 1980s. It’s a fifty-state car. One of it’s most compelling features is that it looks mean, not like the typical boxy SUVs.

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The Q7 is approximately nine inches longer than the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne.

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The Q7 has low-profile tires for a SUV. Who goes offroad anyway?

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Sorry, Audi: a stone jumped up and chipped the windshield.

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Where I live, diesel is cheaper than gas, and a car theoretically goes 25% further per gallon of diesel compared to gas. Sounds like a deal to me. Finding a diesel station isn’t too hard, but you do need to plan ahead.

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Over the course of the few months that I had the Q7, my mileage was approximately 19-19 miles per gallon. I do 75% stop-and-go around town driving. Audi sponsored a long-distance drive for journalists, and they achieved approximately 25 miles per gallon.

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This is the Q7s. engine. It has a 3.0 liter displacement. It puts out 221 hp and 406 lb-ft torque. The Q7 goes 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds.

If you’re old enough to remember when diesels were slow, noisy, and stinky, you’re an empty-nester, so you don’t need a seven-passenger vehicle. If you’re not old enough to remember this, don’t sweat it. In any case, other than having to use a different pump at the gas station, you’ll hardly notice any difference if you buy a diesel vehicle these days.

(If you don’t need a seven-page vehicle, you should check out the Audi A3 TDI which apparently gets 40 miles per gallon in the real world. Check out this review.)

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I have to say that cupholders aren’t a strongpoint of the car.

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On the first try, the Q7 linked with my iPhone, and I was able to access my address book and the database of recent calls.

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The circled area lights up when a car is in the blindspot on the left side. If you turn on your lane-change signal, and there’s a car in the way, a yellow light flashes.

This is a video of showing how the front speakers pop out of the dash when you start the Q7. I don’t know if it sounds any better, but it’s sure cool.

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If you like looking at the sky, you’ll love the Q7’s sunroof.

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It has a two-piece sun visor system that shields your eyes from the front and the side.

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It easily passes the “can it our carry hockey gear?” test. Carrying bags and three players is no problem.

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I think the switch to close the hatch is on the wrong side of the car. The driver always walks to the left to get into his or her seat, but the switch is on the right side of the hatch.

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If you need to drive two very tall people, you can put down the second row of seats. This provides ample legroom for basketball players.

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If you put down the second and third row of seats, there’s really a lot of room. I should have tested it with a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood, but I never buy plywood, so I don’t care.

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The third row works for kids, but only tiny adults.

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To get into the third row of seats, you enter from the behind the front passenger seat.

Or, you can use the patent-pending “Kawasaki run-and-jump/enter from the back” plan.


I had to give the Q7 back a week ago, and my entire family misses it. Most interestingly, my teenage boys liked it more than the Audi R8 that I had for a week. Even my wife told me to buy one (prices start at $50900). Other vehicles can have these “modern” features, but I don’t own a real “modern” vehicle. This is a list of what I miss the most:

  1. Cool design. Coolness is in the eyes of the beholder, and I think the Q7 is the best looking vehicle that can carry seven people.

  2. Diesel engine. Diesel is the new hybrid. It’s simpler than hybrid technology, and it doesn’t require the creation and disposal of batteries.

  3. Smart-key system. Not having to put the key in the door or ignition is so convenient. The Q7 detects the presence of its key and unlocks the door. Then you can press a button to start it.

  4. Bluetooth integration with my iPhone. I’ve never owned a car with Bluetooth. It’s so great to just get in a vehivle and be able to make and receive calls through the vehicle’s sound system

  5. Lane-change warning. I loved having the added safety of the vehicle warning you not to switch lanes.

  6. Backup camera. With lots of kids and their stuff around the driveway, this was very useful and reassuring.

If you’re looking for a vehicle that can carry seven people, gets good mileage, and looks cool, the Q7 TDI is something to consider.


If you’re an Audi fan, you’ll love this aggregation of Audi websites and blogs.

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