When you ask most people what they think of an Audi SUV, their initial reaction is typically a little bland. A nod of acknowledgment that they exist might be the best you can get from a non-Audicentric crowd. In essence, Audi has been making SUV’s ever since the first Quattro blasted through rallies in the 80s. If Audi were to remain a viable competitor in the high-end vehicle market, they had to create an over-sized grocery-getter to keep up with rivals. Cue the spotlight, because here comes the 2020 Audi SQ7.
At First Glance
To the untrained eye, the brand new SQ7 looks like the previous Q7. The styling has taken a severe turn away from the sleek Audi lines that it had, now leaning towards a more conventional Volkswagen practicality. Gone are the haunches that create excitement around the wheels wells. The SUV stance is exemplified by a 21″ set of wheels, setting it taller than previous versions. The beautiful part of this configuration is that the SQ7 has the appearance of wanting to actually go do things. Things aside from going to the grocery store or book club.
The SQ7 has been treated to a partial facelift that other SUVs have also received lately. But not anywhere close to a Joan Rivers-esque facelift. It’s subtle, but still noticeable. If you’re sitting behind an SQ7 in traffic, you’ll find yourself counting not two, but four total exhaust ports. As it pulls away from you, your ears will be delighted to hear what you guess is a V8. But is it?
Under The Hood
You heard it right! Under that placidly-shaped hood is a growling 4.0-liter TFSI V8 engine. The SQ7 isn’t your run-of-the-mill white bread SUV. Instead, it practices what every SUV should preach. Stuck in the mud? No problem! You’ve got Quattro on your side. The all-wheel drive will not only keep you safe on the road but will help propel you out of sticky situations. Everything about this SUV exudes total driver confidence in any driving condition. Just press a button, Audi has figured out how to do the rest.
Beyond just pulling yourself out of ditches, the SQ7 can haul whatever toys you like to play with. With a total tow capacity of 7,700 pounds, you can pioneer off-road with snowmobiles or to the camp site without hesitation. Audi did a magnificent job of shaking the soccer mom stereotype that most SUVs have. This configuration delivers both delightful practicality and performance.
Although bulky in appearance, the V8 engine propels the SQ7 without hesitation. With 500 horsepower delivered to all four wheels, the 0-to-60 mph time is an astounding 4.3 seconds. From a stoplight, you’ll be leaving so-called sports sedans in your tire smoke. If tire smoke and hauling aren’t your things, you can opt for the watered-down Q7 instead. Choosing the non-S variant will prevent you from hearing the V8 and replace it with a fuel-slurping V6 instead.
In The Drivers Seat
While nestled into your diamond-stitched leather seat, you’ll be surrounded by some of the most opulent interior designs available in the luxury SUV market. Stainless steel door panels give an industrial kitchen vibe but are softened by the artistically rounded dashboard details. To further exemplify the sporty-SUV feeling, a flat-bottomed race wheel is added. You know, for all of those times you’re wondering which way is up while blasting through a corner. Pair the racing wheel with the flappy-paddle optional transmission, and you’ve got an SUV ready for the F1 circuit in Monaco.
Other interior touches include seating for seven. To achieve practical usage of the third-row seating, a sliding middle row provides more wiggle room for climbing in the rear. If you follow seat tumbling protocol, you’ll only slightly feel like a gymnast, with minimal bending and twisting involved. Even with the third row perched atop the rear axle, the headroom isn’t terrible. Every single seating position behind the front row is equipped with a car seat latch, making it easier to haul more kiddos at once.
As you cruise along with six of your favorite people, you’ll be treated to infotainment systems out the ears. Digital displays will dot your dash. You’ll have total control of the cockpit via various widgets and prompts. Lost? Press the iPad-like top screen to access the advanced navigation system. Hot? Press the lower screen to adjust your temperature control. There aren’t any old school features anywhere in this cabin. The most dated looking object might be the vents that dump climate controlled air on your face. Need tunes? Crank up the volume and listen to live-quality sound being piped from 19 individuals speakers, precision placed throughout the interior.
The Nitty Gritty
The Q7 has been tearing up terrain for more than a decade now. As it enters the adolescent years, Audi is honing in on perfection by offering a vehicle the masses really want, not just need. The SQ7 is an amalgamation of sportscar, tow-truck, and people mover rolled into one package. The top speed of 155 mph is excessive for most roadways, but it’s nice to have. If anything, it’s a conversation point when people try to razz you about driving an SUV.
To obviate the feeling of driving an SUV, Audi took drastic measures to lessen body roll. Adaptive air suspension creates an incredibly connected feel with the pavement, unlike other bulky vehicles. Even though the S-line is equipped with only an 8-speed automatic transmission, the livelihood can be altered with different drive modes. Perhaps if you close your eyes really tight, you’ll be able to imagine you’re in a TT. Maybe keep them open while driving, though.
The Finish Line
The SQ7 might appear to be somewhat of an underthought echo of other SUV trends, like the BMW X7. However, it’s really in a class of its own. The usual anticipated Audi quality and performance paired with practical hauling is a winning combination for the high-end SUV market. A limited warranty four-year warranty and an astronomical price tag starting at $85,000 might deter you from snagging one right away, though.
Chances are the SQ7 will see it’s share of mall parking lots, but will be deprived of true off-road adventures. That’s a bit of a shame, since taking this SUV for a pleasant romp on a backwoods experience would be a perfect weekend. But who’s going to risk taking their almost $100,000 SUV out into the wilderness? You’ll be more likely to see one at a fuel pump than you will a fishing cabin.