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2009 Audi Q7 Quattro TDI Review - VIDEO ENHANCED

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SEE ALSO: Audi Specs, Prices and Comparisons-Audi Buyers Guide



Model: 2009 Audi Q7 Diesel
Engine: 3.0-liter TDI diesel V6
Horsepower/Torque: 225 hp @ 3750 rpm/406 lb.-ft. @ 1750 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic
Wheelbase: 118.2 in
Length/Width/Height: 200.2 x 78.1 x 68.4 in.
Tires: P265/50R19
Cargo volume: 10.9/42.0/72.5 cu. ft. (rear seat up/3rd row folded/2nd and 3rd rows folded)
Fuel economy: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway/20.6 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 26.4 gal.
Sticker: $59,725 (includes $625 destination charge and $7,450 in options)

The Bottom Line: While the Audi Q7 seems enormous, especially when you're trying to park it, the interior volume creates a comfortable driving environment for most passengers. The diesel engine is quiet on the inside, while delivering an almost inaudible "tap-tap" on the outside.

Audi considers the Q7 a crossover, but it all aspects it's a sport utility vehicle. Like all honest SUVs, it has four-wheel drive in the presence of Audi's famed quattro system. It has incredible storage capacity (like a station wagon) behind the second-row seats and even more when the second-row seat backs are folded.

What the Q7 doesn't have is a sporty feel. It gives the feeling of being oversized, especially when you're trying to park it in narrow spaces. The constant warning beeps raise the tension level when you're trying to wedge it between a couple of econoboxes. And while the handling is good, you constantly feel as if you're driving a much larger vehicle.

What's unique about this Q7 is the engine - Audi's 3.0-liter TDI turbo diesel. This engine is quiet, efficient, and has all the virtues of a diesel without the detriments.

I remember my first diesel car. It was a Mercedes-Benz 300D. You had to wait for the glow plugs to warm up before starting the car. When it was running, it sounded as if there was a little kid under the hood rattling a coffee can full of pebbles. It was somewhat quieter inside, but there was still no mistaking that you were in a diesel-powered car.

Audi's TDI diesel is different, and VW/Audi is basing its environmental efforts on diesel technology over hybrids. For one, the glow plug issue is nonexistent. sure, there's a light on the instrument panel that seems to indicate "glow plug," but by the time you notice it, it has shut off and you can start the engine as you20would a gasoline-powered engine.

When it's running, there's no noise inside. It's even quieter than a gasoline engine, which shows that Audi has made a great effort toward sound deadening. There's also almost no road noise, which is another tribute to the sound engineer. There is a slight "tap-tap" outside when the engine's running, but it's not obtrusive.

Actually, without the enormous "TDI turbo diesel" decals on the car, there would be no way of knowing what was under the hood.

Click PLAY to watch the Audi Diesel TV Spot

The engine develops 225 horsepower and an enormous 406 lb.-ft. of torque, so you know the power's there. We had no trouble merging into Interstates, or powering through the critical 40-65 mph zone. Former diesels were not noted for their peppiness.

We had fuel economy ratings of 20.4 mpg, which included a lot of suburban driving and one long trip. The engine is rated at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, compared to 14/20 for the 3.6-liter V6 in the gas-powered Q7.

Aside from the engine, driving the Q7 is a pleasure. It has excellent road manners and seems more like a luxury sedan than an SUV. Seats are comfortable, both in the front row and second row. The third row is another story. For one the third-row seats are hard to raise, especially with the cargo shade in place. Once up, there's minimum leg and knee room. Personally, I'd go for the 5-seat version.

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The cargo area is very good. There's a small tray hidden under the cargo floor if you have valuables you want to keep away from prying eyes. We carried bushes back from the nursery there as well as mulch from the recycling center. The cargo area is 45.7 inches wide, which will handle most golf bags.

The rear view camera not only indicates what's behind you, but as you turn the steering wheel you see where the Q7 is headed. We tested this earlier with an engineer standing behind the Q7 and successfully negotiated around him using just the back-up camera.

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We had a problem getting into the glove box. There's no obvious handle and we couldn't find the button to release the lock, even though we later found it right next to the glove box, but poorly signed. It took four people searching before we found it.

Overall, the Audi Q7 is a comfortable vehicle to drive with excellent power and decent (for its size) economy. Personally, I'd ditch the decals, though.

2009 The Auto Page Syndicate