I had a Lexus LX70, I bought it in anticipation of kids before I was even married! It was such a good car, my kids and the rest of my family were very well protected in it (my mom got in an accident and only surface damage was done, to her and the car!). But after 11 years the car needed to retire and I began a long and comprehensive research for the next family car. Safety was my biggest concern, with convenience being a distant second, but in the end, I got the best of both with the Audi Q7.
My requirements were, as I said, safety (high crash test rating, plentiful of airbags, rear crash protection), ability to seat 7, 3rd row with Latch, rear camera (little kids in school parking lot means a lot of stress when backing out), budget of $50,000 (which is what prevented me from getting another Lexus LX70), and Bluetooth connection (which is actually a safety measure!). Check out the video of the crash test, it’s quite impressive and gives me peace of mind.
Believe it or not, vanity was not what kept me from a minivan. For convenience, there is nothing like it. But the rear crash rating did not meet my standards so it was crossed off my list of cars. I wish the Q7 has all the nifty features designed for parents like the snack compartment above the glove compartment, the storage below the floor, the concave trunk space for extra storage, and the biggest draw of the minivan – getting to the third row from between the second row captain seats. In fact, the ability to go from the passenger seat all the way to the third row while in motion is HUGE especially if you have young tots.
THE THIRD ROW
The Q7 is great for my stage of parenthood, just past toddlers. They are more independent and my 6 year old is in a booster and is able to buckle the seat belt by herself. This is important because the third row is not very accessible so when I put her back there, she needs to know how to buckle herself in. The third row is also very tight, at least for adults. The second row folds back to reach the third row, but the space created is very small (see photos of my 6 year old sitting in the back and getting out, on jump page). There is a true foot well but it’s short, as is the leg room. It is not an option for adults and is not a good option for those who need the third row on a daily basis. I just need it for playdates and extended family while they’re in town. But the greatest feature about the third row is – there are LATCHES! The latches are placed closer together than normal so my CLEK with the rigid Latch does not work. There are not many cars with Latch in the third row.
WHAT I LOVE
Other than the safety ratings and the fact that the third row has Latches, there are so many things I love about this car. It drives like a dream. I am a BMW girl and I’m not saying this drives like a BMW but it is German engineered so it has the tight steering and control. The supercharged engine makes the full size feel like a roadster. It is only a V6 but it has serious zip when you hit the gas, it rambles up mountains like nothing and speeds up without the slightest effort.
The dash board is a bit daunting at first, but once you master it you have the ultimate convenience of controlling all the instruments without the need to reach up. The controls are next to you below the gear shift so your right arm naturally rests comfortably in that position. The system also has 40 voice controls, so you can do the easy things like calls but you can also ask the navigation to “Find nearest gas station”, or more importantly, “Find nearest coffee”.
Your iPhone becomes fully integrated with Bluetooth and you can plug it into the docking port for full access to your music. The 2012 model has a “drawer” that pulls out of the glove compartment for your phone (that’s where the plug is), whereas my 2011 model requires your phone to be shut in the glove compartment while plugged in, or you can leave it open like I do. I am getting this problems resolved and it is a $75 fix, but if you get the new model you won’t have to worry about this annoyance.
The rear camera is a lifesaver but it also gives you a clear guide as to where your car is heading with sensors to let you know if you are getting too close to objects. There is a parallel parking guide that makes you look like a pro from the curb. I learned this the hard way, but the sensors only work when you put the car in reverse (and then stays on until you reach a certain speed going forward, an indication that you are no longer in the process of pulling out a parking spot). When you are pulling forward into a space, you need to hit the “Parking” button to activate the sensors.
I didn’t get the DVD system for my tots but it is an option if you want it for long road trips. I just open the giant sun roof and have them look out. The sun roof is almost the length of the entire car. The actual window part does not open all the way but the shade does, so you get a great view. This is not a car for tots the way the minivan is, this is a car for the parents (I mean, seriously, who’s paying anyways?). It gives you all the conveniences of a family car and it is luxurious and fun to drive. If there is anything to make the car ride a bit more pleasant I say it is worth every penny!!
MSRP for base model is $46,500. Contact your local dealer and if you are in the area, go to my sales person, Angel, at the Torrance dealership on Hawthorne Blvd, (888) 806-6741. He is so wonderful, it will change your entire car buying experience. I call him all the time with questions, AFTER the sale, and he is always so eager and happy to help answer any questions or take care of whatever I need.
UPDATE (5/29/2013): After 2 years, I still love all the features the Q7 offers but none of them matter when the car is always in the shop. This car, or maybe it’s just mine, has some of the most obscure problems I have ever encountered on a car. The car burns oil like crazy so I am always going in to top off the oil, the gasket around the door that prevents water from entering the car keeps falling off, the leather seats pulled away from the plastic frames around the head-rest attachment so the seams became exposed, the locking mechanism to the gas tank malfunctioned leaving me stranded at the gas station with no gas and no way to get gas and my final straw was this week when the AC stopped working. Sure all of this is taken care of under the warranty, and the service department is relatively good (doesn’t matter how good they are if you are in there every other month) but I’ve had enough. I am trading the car in because once the 4 year / 50,000 miles warranty is up, I will need a separate budget just to pay for all these random repairs.