Is that vehicle worth that much? That’s what I get asked a lot, almost regardless of the price tag of any vehicle I drive. This week’s tester made a lot of those same people choke when they heard the Monroney sticker had almost six figures on it.
This week I’m driving the 2021 Audi SQ7, a seven-passenger luxury mid-size SUV. That third row seems to up the interest and also up the price tag. It’s also the addition of that one little letter that makes this SUV pricey (but worth it maybe).
The SQ version of the Audi Q7 is the sporty, performance-oriented version. This isn’t quite a Mercedes G-Wagon rival, but it’s close.
Imagine taking a three-row SUV 0-60 mph 4.3 seconds? That’s what the SQ7 does thanks to the twin-turbocharged V8 engine. This 4.0-liter V8 is rated at 500 horsepower and 568 lb./ft. of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission keeps all those horses under control with smooth, equal shifts. This eight-speed transmission is outstanding and adds to the over performance of this SUV. Of course Audi adds its all-wheel drive (AWD) Quattro system for even better grip and handling.
Driving home in this SUV in torrential rain that AWD came in handy, and the confident steering also was a blessing as there were several areas of standing water that created near hydroplaning effects. In less-than-ideal weather conditions, it was a confident SUV.
It’s still hard to fathom a vehicle that weighs 5,291 pounds blazing off the line and reaching 60 mph in just over 4 seconds. That’s the marvel of German engineering.
For this model year there are only a few cosmetic changes. Also, the exterior differences between the Q7 and SQ7 are minimal. For the 2021 Audi SQ7 there’s a new front end that features vertical bars instead of horizontal ones, as with the previous model year. Likewise there’s updated LED headlights, giving the SQ7 a slightly more aggressive outward appearance, as it should with the bigger price tag and much bigger engine.
Inside, the SQ7 oozes luxury from every refined touch point. Again it’s not quite at the G-Wagon level of wow, but it certainly can somewhat justify the higher price tag. When it comes to three German luxury brands (Audi, BMW, Mercedes), Audi represents the most complete vehicle, generally.
Their cabins have plenty of refined comfort, stunning designs, but also have the best technology that’s presented in a clean, intuitive way. For this SQ7 all of that is true as there are two touchscreens that drive the vehicle’s system. Plus the Audi virtual cockpit beams useful driver information near the speedometer so you can see all pertinent information without taking your eyes off the road.
That’s a good thing because even though the touchscreens are responsive and easy to use, the way they’re angled can create some sun glare and take away from the otherwise fantastic system.
One of the negatives against the SQ7 is the minimal cargo room. This plus a smallish third row, means there’s less useful space than what you’d expect from a nearly $100K SUV. There’s 14.2 cubic feet behind the third row and a total of 69.6 cubic feet with all seats folded. A hands-free liftgate came in handy loading luggage in the pouring rain.
If you’re hoping the SQ7 will be fuel efficient, you can think again. The big V8 has an EPA rating of 15 mpg/city and 21 mpg/highway. Driving home in the rain (did I rant on that yet?) yielded poor fuel economy as I averaged only 16.4 mpg (with premium fuel).
The SQ7 has a base price of $84,800 and had a couple of pricey add ons including the Bang & Olufsen sound system ($5000), laser headlights ($1650) and the Prestige Package ($5600), my tester had a final MSRP of $99,300.
Hey, it’s under $100K, so that’s something.
As to the initial question of is it worth it? That’s subjective. I’ll answer the question this way. I’ve driven other similar vehicles that had price tags close to the Audi SQ7 that were not as nice. And you saw the part about the 500 horsepower V8 engine, right? That’s hard to say no to.