Audi's first-generation Q7, introduced more than six years ago, already has one foot out the door and the oil-burning engine in its TDI model recently met its successor – but that is no reason to discredit this soon-to-be-replaced seven-passenger sport utility vehicle. I recently spent a week with a 2012 Q7 TDI and found myself awfully impressed.
  • The huge TDI stickers on the front doors were a bit garish, but they called to attention the 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel under the hood (it is rated at 225 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque). Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and forced to lug around 5,291 pounds, the heavy Q7 TDI accelerated to 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds.
  • While the diesel Q7 is quite a bit slower than its supercharged 3.0T sibling, the payoff is impressive fuel economy (EPA 17 city and 25 highway). I averaged 18.3 mpg overall in mixed driving, which aligns well with the official numbers, and never found its power or torque a shortcoming.
  • Base price for the Q7 TDI is $51,450 (plus $875 destination), but our Prestige model was bundled with two different S line performance packages which added a whopping $18,300 to the bottom line bringing its as-tested price to $70,625. That's a lot of money, but the Q7 delivers a solid mix of luxury, utility and envious on- and off-road prowess.
  • The six-mode adaptive air suspension (lift, off-road, comfort, auto, dynamic and cargo settings) delivered a comfortably firm ride while doing a fine job masking the weight of the 21-inch alloy wheels (each wearing wide 295/35R21 tires). The Q7 is heavy, but handling limits were surprisingly high. This equated to a fun-to-drive experience from behind the wheel.
  • The interior ergonomics are far from optimal, from a confusing array of buttons and switches to duplicate user inputs (there is a fully functional ignition key slot, a redundant start button and a completely separate stop button). However, and in typical Audi fashion, the interior fit, finish, upholstery and appointments are top-notch and passengers will feel pampered in the front two rows - leave the third row for the kids.
  • Audi's biggest SUV faces some stiff competition as other automakers introduce lighter and more fuel efficient diesel models. Nevertheless, the 2012 Q7 TDI has aged particularly well and few can match its sporty, yet still very fuel efficient, demeanor. It's a sweet ride.