CNET’s new car review show, Roadshow, has gotten three of the more popular luxury SUVs currently on sale in the US and compared them to see which is best. The test goes through the usual litany of tests; performance, technology, luxury and cost. So which luxury SUV has what it takes to be the best in this test?
The new second-generation Audi Q7 is all new and packing some seriously new technology, leading the segment in terms of both in-cabin technology and chassis technology. Built on Audi’s new MLB platform, the very same one that underpins everything from the Audi A4 all the way up to the Bentley Bentayga. This new chassis is extremely lightweight for its class, packing tons of lightweight materials like aluminum and magnesium, and incredibly rigid. This allows for the Q7 to have an incredible feeling of solidity as well as fantastic comfort and road-holding abilities. The new Q7 is both luxurious and supple while also being sporty and fun to drive. The CNET hosts claimed it to be the driver’s car of the bunch and it’s not hard to believe.
Audi’s new in-cabin tech was also the most impressive, packing its latest MMI system that includes 4G LTE connectivity, Google Maps and Audi’s new Virtual Cockpit technology. Overall, the Q7’s infotainment and navigation systems were not only the best, but also the easiest to use. So its technology was also dubbed the best.
However, the Volvo XC90 is no slouch either and earned top marks in many categories, such as luxury and styling. The interior of the XC90 really is a beautiful place to be, with warm leather and gorgeous wood trim. The seats are fantastic and the overall comfort of the interior puts it above the other cars in the test. Its technology was also very good, playing a very close second to Audi’s. Volvo’s new touchscreen infotainment system seems very easy to use and very intuitive. However, we’re still not convinced that touchscreens belong in cars, as it’s too difficult and distraction to use while driving. It’s easier to feel for a button or knob to adjust things so as to not take eyes off the road. Having said that, the XC90 is very impressive and lovely to drive, all while costing a significant amount less than the Audi Q7, so it offers a great value proposition.
The Acura MDX is the cheapest of these three by a long shot, but it’s also the worst, unfortunately. It does have the disadvantage of already being three years old, while the Audi and Volvo are just being released onto US roads. The Acura shows its age, as its technology is dated at best, its engine is the least powerful and slowest of the bunch and the Acura doesn’t have the luxury or refinement of the other two. Its dual-screen infotainment system is confusing and difficult to use, especially while driving and its adaptive cruise control had issues working. So the MDX is the oldest car in the group and its shows it. The Audi and the Volvo are considerably more money than the MDX but, unfortunately for Acura, they’re both more than worth the extra scratch.
In the end, the Volvo XC90 came in first place for offering nearly everything that the Audi Q7 did but for less money. The Audi Q7 was the best overall car in the test, but its price is quite steep, so it falls to second place. That leaves the Acura for dead last.