There was once a point in time when Audi made not one single SUV. It seems odd to think of it now, as there are so many different SUVs in Audi’s lineup it’s nearly impossible to remember them all. However, it all started with the original Audi Q7, which was the brand’s first ever entry into the massive luxury SUV segment.
Back in its day, the original Audi Q7 was beloved by customers and even some enthusiasts. While many of the latter bemoaned its existence, as it seemed like a sign of Audi going soft, most of the enthusiast market understood the need for the Q7 and appreciated it for what it was. And what it was, was a fantastic luxury vehicle.
With that came a luxury car price tag, which made it out of reach for many enthusiasts. However, now that the second-gen Audi Q7 is well into its mid-cycle refresh, that first-gen car is quite old. Being quite old, it’s become quite cheap. Cheap enough that most enthusiasts can get their grubby paws on one. So we thought we’d put together a bit of a buyer’s guide for the first-gen Q7 to help potential customers with their purchase.
Why You Should Buy One
There are a lot of premium SUVs in its segment, from its era and in its price range, that are all excellent. The BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Lexus RX immediately come to mind. So why should you buy the Audi Q7?
Well, it’s the only one that can fit three rows of humans comfortably. One of its biggest selling points when the Audi Q7 first debuted was the fact that it offered three rows of seats, with up to seven passengers, and it was actually spacious enough to handle it. While the BMW X5 offered a third-row option, it could only fit children so small they’d probably need child seats anyway. The Q7 was the only true seven-passenger SUV in its class.
It also still looks good today, has a great interior and drives far better than you’d expect an SUV of its size to drive. As a luxury SUV, the first-gen Audi Q7 is still absolutely lovely and is hard to beat for the money.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy It
Like any older German luxury car, there are some very good reason not to buy it as well. For instance, it’s not exactly the most reliable of machines. In fact, the Audi Q7 came from an era when Audis in general weren’t the pinnacle of dependability. While the Q7 was never unreliable, it always had little electrical gremlins that would annoy customers. So sometimes it can be a bit annoying but it’s not a car that’s going to leave you stranded.
It’s also not cheap to repair. While you can find early Q7s for under $12,000 with nice mileage, it’s repairs that will get you. Being an old German car, it’s going to need some over over time and that work is going to cost a pretty penny. That’s just the nature of the beast, if I’m being honest. So you have to weigh that repair cost with how much you love driving it. It’s not as expensive if you wrench it yourself, though.
There are also fast wagons to buy instead. While most customer think they need the size and space of an SUV, they don’t. More often than not, a sporty wagon will have all the interior space a customer needs. And a few couple of great Audi wagons came from that era. For instance, you can find a B7-generation Audi A4 Avant, a B8-generation A4 Avant and even a C6-generation Audi A6 Avant, all for less money than the Q7. Not only would they be cheaper to buy but also cheaper to fuel and to fix. They’re also all better to drive. So if you just want an Audi with some space and don’t care about size or ground clearance, go for a fast wagon, not a Q7.
Things to Look For
If you’re looking to buy a first-gen Audi Q7, there are certain things you’re going to want and certain things to seek out. For instance, you want a 3.0T model, which packs a 3.0 liter supercharged V6 making 333 hp. Why get the V6 and not the available V8? Well, it’s significantly more reliable and its supercharged torque helps move the massively heavy Q7 off the line. It’s also one of the last bastions of supercharged Audis.
Six seat models are also highly desirable. While most families need either five or seven seats, if you can swing the six-seat model with the second-row captain’s chairs, that’s ideal. Not only does that provide the second-row passengers with more knee and elbow room but it looks and feels cooler. Plus, it’s rarer.
What to Watch Out For
If you’re in the market for an early Audi Q7, stay away from the V8 model. While it’s awesome to have a 4.2 liter naturally-aspirated V8 under the hood of your SUV, it’s probably best to just steer clear of it. Why, you might ask? Becuase at around 100,000 miles its timing chain tensioner starts to take a dump and it can completely destroy the engine, which costs thousands of dollars.
It’s the same issue that plagued the B6 and B7 Audi S4s, as well as early Audi S5s. Audi is actually quite famous for this issue and almost every fan knows to watch out for it.
To make sure you don’t get an Audi Q7 that’s about to grenade its own engine, just shy away from the V8 entirely. The 3.0T is more reliable and every bit as enjoyable to use.