Audi Q7

    It may be related to the Volkswagen Touareg, but Audi’s stylish Q7 takes a decidedly more urbane, on-road approach to the premium sport-utility-vehicle role. Particularly in its top-of-the-line 4.2 FSI trim, the Q7 conveys its occupants with swiftness, poise, and unalloyed opulence. A 4.2-liter V-8 engine with direct fuel injection delivers 350 hp and 325 ft-lbs of torque to all four wheels—hardly Cayenne Turbo territory, but certainly sufficient to motivate 5,324 pounds (the base model’s 3.6-liter V-6 makes only 280 hp). Meriting special mention is the forthcoming Q7 3.0 TDI, set to arrive in U.S. showrooms early next year as a 2010 model. Its 3-liter turbocharged direct-injection diesel engine produces 221 hp and 406 ft-lbs of torque, while returning 25 mpg on the highway and a 600-plus-mile cruising range. And, unlike those smoky diesel engines from the olden days, Audi’s TDI V-6 employs direct fuel-injection and a highly advanced multistage exhaust system to promote complete combustion and scrub engine emissions of particulate matter and toxic nitrogen oxides. Tailpipe gasses are laundered well enough to meet emissions standards in all 50 states—even squeaky-clean California. Pros: A fuel-sipping diesel engine with a ton of torque. Cons: Porsche’s Cayenne offers more power and cachet.

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