Unveiled: 2016 Audi Q7New full-size crossover is loaded with tech.

With the introduction of the 2016 Audi Q7 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Audi not only reveals to the world the latest version of its full-size crossover SUV, it shows off a plethora of innovative technology both under the hood and inside the cabin.

Completely redesigned for 2016, Q7’s revised proportions create a silhouette that looks more like a large station wagon than a big SUV. And while most new vehicles are getting bigger, the 2016 Audi Q7 is slightly shorter and narrower than its predecessor, though engineers managed to slightly increase rear legroom and headroom. As before, the Audi Q7 can seat up to seven.

Audi is making big claims for the Q7, including that it’s the lightest and most efficient in the class. Indeed, depending on trim level, the 2016 Audi Q7 sheds more than 700 pounds, in part due to a more extensive use of lightweight aluminum, which is used on the doors, hood, liftgate and front fenders, as well as in much of the body structure.

Here in the U.S., the standard Q7 will be powered by a new turbocharged 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine that makes 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Also expected is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 is good for 333 hp and 325 lb.-ft. of torque, which can propel the 2016 Audi Q7 from 0-62 mph in a respectable 6.1 seconds. Later, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 will be available, good for 272 hp and a hearty 443 lb.-ft. of torque.

The crown jewel in the lineup will be the Audi Q7 e-tron Quattro, the first production plug-in hybrid that’s paired with a diesel engine. The development is significant, combining the best of city-friendly hybrid technology with the superior range of diesel. The Q7 e-tron pairs a six-cylinder diesel engine with an electric motor that’s integrated into the eight-speed automatic transmission, for a total output of 373 hp and a whopping 516 pound-feet of torque. With the diesel engine, the Audi Q7 e‑tron can go from 0-62 mph in 6 seconds flat, or 6.1 seconds on electric power alone. All-electric range, according to Audi executives, is up to 30 miles. And, as the Quattro name suggests, the Q7 e-tron plug-in will be all-wheel-drive.

In the cabin, the new Audi Q7 uses the latest version of Audi’s modular infotainment system (which is more flexible than other systems because it can be easily updated as technology changes). Improvements include more accurate, natural voice recognition and expanded AudiConnect services that include Google Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability. The navigation system can now update over the air automatically via the car’s built-in 4G LTE WiFi hotspot.

Rear seat passengers can say Auf Wiedersehen to fixed rear-seat entertainment systems with the introduction of the Audi Tablet, a removable Android-powered screen that lets backseat passengers surf the Web or access the vehicle’s infotainment features. The tablet communicates with the Q7’s MMI interface, which can allow, for example, a backseat passenger to send navigation from the tablet to the front seat display. The tablet also includes an HD camera, 32 GB of internal storage and can be paired with wireless peripherals, such as headphones, via Bluetooth.

New safety technology is also available for the 2016 Audi Q7, including adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assistant, which can stop, start and steer the car in stop-and-go traffic on developed highways at speeds of less than 40 mph. Other new features include cross-traffic assist and an exit warning system, which warns the driver if an object is approaching before he or she opens the door. All-wheel steering is also available, which enhances vehicle stability at higher speeds.

The 2016 Audi Q7 is expected to arrive in dealerships in mid-2015, first beginning with the gasoline-powered models, followed by the TDI, then the e-tron plug-in hybrid. Prices haven’t been announced, but expect a modest increase over the outgoing Audi Q7, which starts at $48,300.

From New Car Test Drive

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