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Tom Crosby: Audi’s luxury Q7 SUV is multiple award winner

Tom Crosby

When vehicles are rated against similar competitors, consensus is not often found.

However, Audi’s Q7 mid-size luxury SUV was a run-away “best” in its class after a complete makeover for 2017, with only minor changes for 2018.

The second generation Q7 is the largest vehicle Audi makes, winning top honors in its category from Good Housekeeping, Car and Driver Magazine, Motor Trend Magazine and others.

That helped the Q7 to set sales records last year and remain on pace through July to do even better this year.

This 2018 version costs $750 more in base price adding as standard Advance Key with driver memory features and push-button start.

Q7’s bonafides begin using the same chassis as Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg – all pricey luxury mid-size SUV’s.

We test drove the Audi Q7 3.0T Quattro Tiptonic, which also requires a healthy wallet to purchase, especially when options are a must in order to maximize potential. Our options totaled $11,775.

Priciest was the $4,000 Premium Plus Package, which added comfort features, including a 3D BOSE surround stereo system audiophiles will love. (BOSE machinery sits under the cargo floor. There is no spare tire, only sealant.)

Other options added necessary state-of-the-art driver safety aids, and a virtual cockpit with a top view surround camera system.

Our Premium Plus – middle of three trim options with the bigger 3.0-liter engine – averaged a healthy 28 mpg for 341 miles, exceeding EPA highway estimates.

Excellent, nimble handling came via Audi’s vaunted Quattro all-wheel drive controlling each wheel spin riding on 19-inch wheels. Five selectable drive modes affect ride quality using an air suspension system (off-road, comfort, auto, dynamic or individual). A towing package hauls 7,700 pounds.

Excellent fit and finish with high-quality materials create cabin luxury. Leather seats and trim are accented with tastefully placed chrome. Voice recognition has improved and a pop-up dashboard screen complements a customizable, 12.3-inch, gauge telescoping, information screen behind the steering wheel.

Pluses include a handwriting controller pad, center spine control knob, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, three climate zones, two-row panoramic sunroof and extendable dual visors.

Audi’s MMI infotainment system is easy to use, links with a smartphone for apps and accesses info and functions.

Entry to the constrained third row is easy with folding second row seats. With seven passengers, cargo space is small but the third row seats easily fold pushing a pair of buttons.

LIKES: Power, mileage, luxury, handling, versatility, comfort.

DISLIKES: Options needed, no spare tire, tight third row.

BOTTOM LINE: Style, comfort, performance, best in class.

FACT FILE

2018 AUDI Q7 3.0T QUATTRO TIPTRONIC

Base price w/destination fee      $56,400 ($69,150 as tested).

Curb weight: 4,938 lbs.

Wheelbase:  117.9 inches.

Length:  199.6 inches.

Width:  87.1 inches w/mirrors.

Engine specs: 3.0-liter, TSFI,  supercharged.

Horsepower:  333 hp at 5,500-6,500  rpm.

Torque:  325 lbs.-ft. at 2,900-5,300 rpm.

Transmission:  8-speed  automatic/Tiptonic.

EPA rating: 19 city, 25 highway.

Range:  22.5 gallons, premium  required.

Performance:  0-60 in 5.7 seconds.

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.