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The market for luxury SUVs is crowded, and every manufacturer is trying hard to differentiate its vehicle from the rest. In typical Audi fashion, the 2013 Q7 is notable for its engaging driving dynamics, elegantly understated interior, cutting-edge electronics and the all-weather assurance of all-wheel drive.
As was the case last year, the 2013 Audi Q7 is offered with the choice of three different engines, including a powerful and slightly more economical turbocharged diesel. This year, however, the TDI diesel receives a slight bump from 225 horsepower to 240 hp. Also new for 2013 is the Audi Connect feature, which adds Google maps and local search functions, weather updates, gas prices and mobile WiFi connectivity.
Along with the new features and praiseworthy traits that carry over, so do the Q7's less favorable characteristics. Foremost, its oversized dimensions and heavy curb weight do not equate to an abundance of interior space. While having a third row of seats is certainly a useful feature, these quarters are quite cramped and suitable for small children only. Cargo capacity is also less than you'd expect from such a large SUV.
Carrying forward 2011's reshuffling of the Q7's powertrains, the 2013 model offers no V-8, replacing it with a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 in two power levels. The base engine is rated at 280 horsepower, providing strong acceleration and throttle response, while the upgraded model offers a stout 333 horsepower, improving both acceleration and response. A V-6 TDI diesel, rated at 240 horsepower and 407 pound-feet of torque, is also available, and with its solid 19/28 mpg city/highway, it's a great alternative to the gasoline burners--and plenty of fun to drive, too. Audi's quattro all-wheel drive is standard on all models of the Q7.
As is the case with nearly all Audis, the 2013 Audi Q7's interior receives high marks for its understated design and use of top-notch materials. The dash is clearly built around the driver, and controls are fairly easy to operate with some practice.
In terms of comfort, adult-sized passengers will be well accommodated in the first two rows. The third row, however, is suitable only for smaller children; most rivals provide quite a bit more space. Furthermore, cargo space falls short of the competition, with only 72.5 cubic feet of space with the second and third rows folded flat -- that's about the same as a Honda CR-V.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) scores the essentially identical 2012 Q7 with top marks of "good" in front and side impact crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn't crash tested the Q7 yet. In addition to the good IIHS marks, the 2013 Audi Q7 offers a full suite of safety equipment, being one of the only vehicles in the class to offer rear side thorax airbags. Other available safety equipment includes a lane-departure warning system, rearview camera, and blind-spot warning.
While the Audi Q7 is well-equipped even in base trim, a set of available upgrades can bring the SUV into true high-end premium territory, including an available Bang & Olufsen audio system--complete with tweeters rising magically from the dash on startup--plus Audi's internet-connected MMI interface with navigation, Eoogle Earth, local search, and WiFi hotspot capability.
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