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Hands On: Android Auto in the 2017 Audi Q7

March 11, 2016 - Written By Alexander Maxham

We have the keys. So it’s time to take the 2017 Audi Q7 for a test drive and check out their Android Auto implementation. The 2017 Audi Q7 is the first vehicle from Audi that features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but not the last. The 2017 Audi A4 will also feature it, which will be launching in “a few weeks”. Of course, they’ll bring it to the rest of their fleet but for the 2017 model year, that’s all Audi is offering Android Auto in.

Before we get started with the first drive of the Audi Q7, it’s important to go over pricing. The entry-level model starts at $54,800 and can be loaded all the way up to $72,000 with all sorts of extras and such. The model that we have in our possession is priced at $68,925. That includes the Premium Plus Package, the Driver Assistance Package, Vision Package, Warm Weather Package, Bose 3D Surround Sound, cole weather package and the high-gloss black/gray oak inlays. Android Auto is part of the Premium Plus Package which includes a slew of other features as well.

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Android Auto and Apple CarPlay isn’t the only thing new in this model year. After having skipped the 2016 model year, Audi decided to rebuild the Q7 and brought a brand new design, and gives it a much more sports car feel. The 2017 Audi Q7 also shed about 500 pounds, bringing the weight to about 4,900 pounds. The Audi Q7 handles much more like a station-wagon and less like a SUV crossover. Although, you are obviously a bit higher than you would be in a station-wagon. In the 2017 Audi Q7 you get a ton of space, even in the third row in the back of the car. While it’s not as comfortable as the second or even front-row, a 6-foot tall person could sit back there pretty easily. Additionally, the second row can be moved up a bit to give the back seat even more space.

Now the real reason why we have the Audi Q7. Android Auto. Audi did something that no other car-maker has, and that’s to give us Android Auto without a touchscreen display. Instead we have a rotary dial for navigating through the operating system in Audi’s MMI infotainment system. There is also a touchpad for inputing data. So you can handwrite characters instead of typing on a touchscreen. Additionally if you don’t want to handwrite characters when searching for things, you can use the rotary dial to scroll through the alphabet. Audi says the reason for this is to make it easier for users to use Android Auto while still driving. Primarily because the display is pretty far back on the dashboard and would be tough to use when driving.

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When I checked out the Audi Q7 at Google I/O last year, when the Android Auto team and the car maker were showing off the Android Auto integration, I wasn’t to happy with the fact that there is no touchscreen on the Audi Q7. However, after driving it for a short period and using Android Auto, I actually think I like this better. After you get used to it, you can easily navigate through the system without even looking at the display. Similar to getting used to a keyboard. The rotary dial and the touchpad work quite well, although it did take a little bit to get used to how it works with Android Auto and jumping from menus and such. In the center console, you have a set of USB ports that are there for plugging in your Android smartphone or your iPhone for Apple CarPlay. Now most phones may fit in that compartment, however my Nexus 6P was unable to fit in there, unfortunately. So it looks like most phones that are 5.5-inches and larger won’t fit. Not a big deal really, as there is space in front of that compartment to sit your phone down.

Outside of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Audi has a number of great infotainment features here. There’s a heads-up display which is a 7-inch 800×480 resolution display. That is the same display used for Android Auto. From there you can use the radio which includes Sirius XM, traffic maps, and much more. There is also a 12.3-inch LCD display which has a resolution of 1440×540 that shows the cluster of instruments. There you can also set it to use Google Earth so you can see exactly where you are going. In case you’d rather use that over the heads-up display. Audi also has 19 Bose 3D Sound System speakers within the car, which includes Bose Advanced Staging Technology, 15-channel amplifier and 558 watts of power. Let’s just the say the audio is pretty darn good in this car. Definitely beats out my own car, by a long shot.

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As for the safety features included here are Audi adaptive cruise control. This feature is probably my favorite. This works really well when you’re stuck in traffic, as the car can basically take over for you while you just sit back and try to relax while stuck in traffic. There’s also Audi side assist with Audi pre sense. What this does is alerts you to traffic behind you that you may not see from looking out the rearview mirror or using the rear camera. The alerts on all of these features are done with a quick braking. So that you are aware of whats going on. While most cars have cameras in the back of the car these days to help with reverse parking and such, Audi also has a top mounted camera. This helps you to park a bit easier, by showing you another view of your parking job.

The real question is how well does she drive. Very well. As I stated already, we haven’t driven it much just yet, but we’re pretty impressed already. As stated earlier, as well, the all-new 2017 Audi Q7 has also shed a bit of weight which makes handling much better, especially around tight corners. We also have the panoramic sunroof and on a day like today where we’re flirting with Spring and Summer weather, the sunroof is a pretty nice addition.

That’s about it for now on the 2017 Audi Q7. We’ll have a complete review soon on this car. So you’ll definitely want to stay tuned!