Audi’s largest people-mover is getting a redux.
The luxury automaker announced Friday that its second generation Q7 SUV will offer a groundbreaking new plug-in hybrid powertrain and shed several hundred pounds.
The all-new Q7 will officially debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January and is expected to go on sale late next year. It replaces a model that’s been around since 2006 and competes with the other three-row large SUV, the Mercedes GL500.
Though roughly the same size as its predecessor, the all-new Q7 uses lightweight aluminum and high-strength steel to shed more than 700 pounds. That’s roughly the weight of a grand piano, Audi helpfully pointed out.
This means the 333-horsepower turbocharged V-6 model will be about 28% more fuel efficient than before, while the 272-horsepower turbo diesel V-6 is 23% less thirsty, Audi said.
The big news for the new Q7 is the addition of a plug-in diesel powertrain in the Q7 E-Tron Quattro. This top-end model gets 373-horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque from a 3.0-liter turbo diesel engine and an electric motor. This model will have an electric-only range of just under 35 miles, and will get a combined mpg rating of 138.4, Audi said.
Audi didn’t confirm when the E-Tron model will go on sale, though it will be later than the gas and diesel models. When it does hit the market, it will butt heads with Volvo’s XC90 T8 — a three-row SUV with a 400-horsepower plug-in hybrid drivetrain due for sale next spring.
A fourth entry-level Q7 will also bow later — this one with a smaller turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Playing the luxury space, this new SUV will get a full host of electronic safety and comfort goodies. Audi says it will be among the first vehicles in the world to offer both Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. Rear-seat entertainment, autonomous parking, adaptive cruise control and a system that steers the Q7 at low freeway speeds will all be optional.
Audi hasn’t released pricing on the SUV; the current generation starts at $48,000. Regardless of price, the new Q7 will have plenty more competition than the first generation. In addition to all versions of the Volvo XC90, both BMW and Lexus are planning all-new three-row SUVs, while Mercedes-Benz is expected to debut a new GL model — to be called the GLS — in 2015.
The Q7 will make its official world debut Jan. 12 at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. It will be joined by other major world debuts from automakers including Ford, Nissan, Chevrolet, BMW, VW, Acura and Toyota.