2022 Audi SQ7: The Family Sports Car Disguised As An SUV

In the most elementary sense, the 2022 Audi SQ7 is a powerful 7-passenger luxury crossover that is an excellent choice for those seeking premium accommodations, family-oriented utility, and high performance in one beautiful package. Yet spend some time with this big Audi, and you quickly realize that it’s a actually a driver-oriented sports car impersonating a family SUV.

Audi introduced the second-generation Q7 for the 2016 model year. Over the past seven years, I’ve driven it with various engines that have included a supercharged V6, a turbocharged inline-4, and even a V6 diesel. Each of the engines, even the four-cylinder, has its merits. My favorite, however, is the SQ7 boasting a mighty twin-turbocharged V8.

The 4.0-liter V8 is an outstanding powerplant, especially with its exemplary 8-speed automatic transmission. The engine is silky smooth in its power delivery, engineered for efficiency, and the exhaust note is deep and mellow. (It’s no secret that the near-identical engine is also fitted to the DNA-sharing Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne, and Bentley Bentayga.) Under the hood of the Audi SQ7, it is rated at 500 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque. That’s robust enough to move the Audi from a standstill to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds – acceleration so quick that it will embarrass most sports cars (top speed is electronically limited to 150 mph). While most owners won’t participate in stoplight drag races, they will appreciate the V8’s effortless passing abilities and nearly limitless power reserves.

Horsepower is useless if wheels are slipping, so Audi fits the SQ7 (and the rest of its lineup) with its quattro permanent all-wheel drive system that automatically distributes power precisely where it is needed. Other mechanical highlights of the crossover include an electronically-controlled adaptive air suspension, a sophisticated 48-volt active roll stabilization system, and all-wheel steering (Audi moves the rear wheels in the same direction at high speeds to improve stability, and it moves them in the opposite direction at low speeds to enhance parking maneuverability).

The SQ7 rides with extravagant grace. It glides over undulations in the pavement and floats down the highway when its Drive Select control is set to COMFORT, yet it never feels soft or mushy. Change the setting to DYNAMIC, which is the sportiest setting. The vehicle lowers itself (thereby dropping the center of gravity), and the dampers firm accordingly – handling is surprisingly athletic for a 5,300-pound vehicle. Kudos to Audi for specifying impressive Goodyear summer compound tires that make a considerable improvement. The SQ7 will even raise its ride height for additional clearance over obstacles in an off-road setting.

The vehicle’s powertrain is nearly faultless, yet so is the passenger cabin. Audi coddles occupants with one of the industry’s most luxurious (and well-crafted) interiors. Soft leather, aluminum trim, premium plastics, and carbon-fiber accents are presented beautifully. The Audi’s age works in its favor because the cockpit isn’t comprised of massive (overwhelming) display screens. Instead, there is a display in front of the driver (primary cluster) and two on the center console (infotainment and HVAC). The dashboard’s balance comprises physical buttons or beautiful design accents – the overall appearance is timeless and classy.

Audi fits the SQ7 with sporty front bucket seats that are among the best in the industry. While they lack individually adjustable head restraints (they are incorporated into the seatback), the seats are supportive and impressively comfortable for long trips – the quilting of the leather and available contrasting stitching is eye-catching, too. Two passengers will find the second row of seats roomy and equally enjoyable (they slide on rails to increase second-row legroom at the expense of third-row legroom). A third adult fits in the middle, but the rear passenger HVAC controls intrude on the knee room. The third row is fine for kids but a bit cramped for adults. Overall, utility is excellent as the seats split-fold in dozens of combinations – and metal tie-downs allow loads to be secured safely.

The Q7 was celebrated (and awarded) upon its arrival in 2016 as one of the best crossovers in the world. Seven model years (and one refresh) later, it has lost very little of its admired luster. Nonetheless, today’s range-topping Audi SQ7, with its powerful V8 engine and advanced suspension, raises the bar far higher than its predecessors and simultaneously unseats nearly all of its competitors – especially for families seeking to blend 7-passenger utility with disguised sports car performance.

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