I’ve been covering the automotive industry since 1989 and during that time I’ve evaluated some very nice luxury vehicles.

This week Audi turned my perception of “luxury” on its ear after evaluating the all-new, second-generation Q7 luxury sport utility vehicle.

First of all, the ride and handling characteristics are absolutely outstanding. I just want to get that out of the way. I have nothing but high praise for the 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 engine that delivers 333 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds — pretty outstanding for a seven-passenger sport utility vehicle equipped with Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system. Mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway.

OK, it’s sporty, handles great and makes you feel like the king of the road as you’re cruising down the highway.

It’s an Audi. I’d expect nothing less. But I have to tell you about the Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System.

That’s right — 3D sound — delivering a life-like musical experience through 23 speakers (including two retractable acoustic lenses) powered by a 23-channel amplifier with an output of 1,920 watts!

That’s no typo — 1,920 watts. I tuned into Radio Margaritaville and the sound was so crisp and clear it was like Jimmy Buffett was riding in the seat next to me and Mac McAnally and Nadirah Shakoor were in the second row singing harmony. The experience was so real, I kept checking my rearview mirror to make sure the Landshark Guys weren’t swimming up from the third row passenger seat. This sound system is amazingly great.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s a new standard power tailgate with programmable opening height adjustment. There’s even an available hands-free opening and closing feature.

The Audi drive select system includes up to seven modes, and models equipped with available air suspension include an Allroad setting that raises the ride height by 25 mm and an Offroad/Lift setting that raises the ride height by 60 mm — allowing the Q7 to go places most luxury SUVs would fear to tread.

There’s so, so much more — 4G LTE in-car Connect system; two-panel panoramic sunroof, a virtual cockpit with a 12.3-inch screen — and I still haven’t scratched the surface.

With a base price starting at $54,800, the 2017 Audi Q7 is an absolute must for the test drive list for those in the market for a luxury SUV.

 

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.