I live in Los Angeles, where you are what you drive. Angelinos spend hours in their cars every day, fighting traffic, working and judging other drivers by their cars. We don't have school buses; we drive our kids to school and get in line to parade our four-wheeled identities past all the other PTA moms, like pageant queens on a runway. Essentially, when it comes to choosing your car in L.A., it's all about keeping up with the Jones'. Well, folks, I've got to tell you: When I drove the Audi Q7, the Jones' were trying to keep up with me.
The Q7 is sleek and elegant to look at, showing observers what a posh mommy I am, but the true beauty of this car is more than skin deep. Just getting into the Q7 is a luxury. The 'key' comes in its own case, popping out at the touch of a button. It unlocks the doors and starts the engine without ever leaving my pocket or purse, and also opens the power liftgate. That's quite a gift when you're running to the car with nine Target bags, a half-full latte and three minutes to get to pre-school. Those are also the moments when the muy macho V-6 engine and all-wheel drive come in pretty handy. See how the 2008 Q7 compares to the '07 version in this Side-by-Side Comparison.
Of course a glamorous ride like this also comes with a serious stereo package. In the Q7, Audi's MMI 'Infotainment' system is controlled by a knob in the center console. Some people find the system intimidating or just plain hard to use, but considering everything it controls and all the options it provides, it's fairly impressive. After a bit of practice, I was happily flitting between Sirius Satellite Radio, CDs, climate control and navigation. The navigation system can even zoom out to show an area about a thousand miles across. Don't ask me why, but I think that's cool.
The Q7 is all about helping a mommy out. The usual wrestling match of installing car seats is entirely canceled in this car because the Latch connectors are completely exposed for easy access. Getting positioned in the driver's seat is easy thanks to the eight-way power seats with memory, plus a tilting, telescoping steering wheel. From the rear seats, the kiddos have a great view out the windows, as well as plenty of places to stash their stuff and room enough to stretch out. A huge center armrest folds down to provide two cupholders and a flat surface for snacks and games. There are even two power outlets in the back for argument-free charging of video games and iPods. All four doors have substantial storage bins that also offer space to stash a good-sized water bottle. And just in case, there's a cooling bin in the glove compartment to keep those cheese snacks fresh. How helpful is that?
Everywhere I look, the Q7 anticipates my needs. Extra kids in the carpool today? No problem - the third row has Latch connectors. Picking up a new big-screen TV? No problem again - that third row folds flat into the floor. Wet, muddy boots? The Q7 has it covered with a hidden storage bin in the back. Cold booty from watching soccer practice in the rain? Of course the seats come with adjustable heat settings. Need to make a phone call? Well, my friends, the MMI system can store a phone directory, and it's ready with Bluetooth technology.
Even potential difficulties are addressed in the Q7. Visibility isn't all that great from the cockpit, so the good people at Audi put giant side mirrors on the doors, a rearview camera in the back and proximity sensors all the way around. Amazingly enough, the easiest way to park the car involves looking at the 7-inch color screen in the dash. Even if I insist on doing things the old-fashioned way - looking out the windows - the Q7 helps out with beeps that get faster as I get closer to obstacles like curbs, trees and other cars.
Sounds like the Q7 is completely without fault, doesn't it? It's not quite, though it comes pretty close. Access to the third row isn't easy, and according to the manual no one taller than 5-foot-3 is advised to sit there. The doors are heavy, and the angle of the exterior handles made it virtually impossible for my 4-year-old to open the door from the outside without help. Also, the Q7 is not exactly fuel-efficient or wallet-friendly, especially because it requires premium fuel. No one said luxury comes cheap.
The Q7 is, no doubt, a luxury car. It offers a supreme vantage point from which you can look down upon the 'lesser folks' on the wrong side of the Angelino tracks. Yes, it's an SUV. Yes, it's four-wheel drive. Yes, it seats seven and has safety features to rival anything on the road, but don't let any of that distract from the fact that this car is pure pampering for everyone but the neighbors. They can eat their hearts out.
*For more information on the Audi Q7 and its safety features, visit Cars.com. With questions or comments regarding this review, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS
Latch Connectors: 4
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 7
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Groove On
2008 Audi Q7
Base price: $48,350
Price as tested: $58,225
Engine: 280-hp, 3.6-liter V-6
Fuel: 14/20 mpg
Ground Clearance: 8.1'
Turning Radius: 19.7'
Cargo space: 10.9-88.7 cu. ft.
NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings
Driver's side: 5 Stars
Passenger's side: 5 Stars
Front occupant: 5 Stars
Rear occupant: 5 Stars
Rollover resistance: 4 Stars