With the Volvo XC90 headed to the U.S. in 2015 and the Audi Q7 set for a reveal at the Detroit Auto Show, fans of full-size premium SUVs are in business. Here is a breakdown of both vehicles to see how they compare in powertrains, efficiency, tech, styling, and interior comfort.
The Volvo XC90’s 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine gets its impressive output (316 horsepower, 295 pounds-feet of torque) from a combination of turbocharging and supercharging. It’s the new Drive-E system the automaker has developed for its entire vehicle range. Down the road is a hybrid variant expected for the XC90, and that model should push the power quotient near 400 horses. Audi offers 328 horsepower in its new Q7 when the 3.0-liter is in play, while the 3.0-liter TDI offers 268 horses to take on the road. Both have plenty of power for drivers who need (or want) it.
If this heavyweight fight featured a weigh-in, the two SUVs would size up for an even battle. The Q7 managed to drop 717 pounds in the 2016 edition, which sets it at 4,398 pounds. That slimdown allows for 28% more efficiency in the TFSi model and 23% more efficiency in the TDI model compared to the previous edition. Volvo’s XC90 weighs just a few ticks less, coming in at 4,394 pounds.
While there are no EPA fuel economy ratings for either vehicle as of yet, there are some boasts about what plug-in hybrid technology will bring. In the Audi Q7 on its way to Detroit, the automaker says the e-tron quattro model — a diesel-electric hybrid — can achieve 135 miles per gallon on the European testing cycle and cover 35 miles on pure electricity. Volvo says the plug-in gasoline XC90 can get closer to 30 miles on electric power while clocking near 60 miles per gallon electric equivalent (MPGe) in hybrid mode.
Audi has done excellent work in the Q7’s infotainment setup. There is a 12.3-inch TFT display with a quad-core T30 NVIDIA processor powering the unit, with 3-D graphics rolling in at 60 frames per second. The monitor for navigation and infotainment is 8.3 inches in the high-end edition. Bose speakers offer 3-D sound throughout the cockpit, while two 10-inch tablets are available for the back seats. That should to keep the kids quiet on long trips, while the LTE Internet should keep everyone connected. Upgraded navigation controls, traffic management, and voice controls make the Q7 a tech whiz.
Volvo’s XC90 also has plenty to offer drivers with its Sensus infotainment system that streams music, plays books, and allows you to call on apps with built-in Wi-Fi. Built-in navigation and Volvo On Call, the smartphone app that offers solutions on the road, both deliver the conveniences one would expect in this SUV class. Still, Volvo may have its biggest tech upgrade in the XC90’s Intellisafe system. Park assist, blind spot control, 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, lane control, and other features make it as safe as you’d expect the latest Volvo to be. Neither car disappoints on this front.
There aren’t any gullwing doors or any flashy accessories on the XC90 or Q7, but most SUV shoppers should be happy with the sculpting of Volvo’s new SUV and, to a lesser extent, the Q7 that Audi will debut in Detroit. Volkswagen still has work to do with the overall styling of its eponymous brand, and some of the Audi vehicles retain a blandness you would be surprised to find in the premium bracket. To our eyes, the XC90 has the Q7’s number on the exterior styling front — the XC90 is downright gorgeous, especially for an SUV.
Audi boasts it will have the most interior room in the segment with the new Q7, but it’s doubtful anyone could tell the difference after getting inside the XC90. In fact, the breakdown between the Q7 (16.6 feet long, 6.5 feet wide, 5.7 feet tall) and the XC90 (16.2 feet long, 7 feet wide, 5.8 feet tall) favors the Volvo by a a sliver, but they are almost identical in dimensions.
Both have plenty to say on the subject of interior comfort upgrades. With a look at the XC90 First Edition and pictures of the new Q7, SUV drivers are likely to be pleased by what Audi and Volvo had in mind with their upcoming vehicles. It’s a good thing there are so many safety upgrades in play, as the cozy cabin and plentiful entertainment options are enough to put driving a few pegs down on the priority list.
While there is no pricing information on the plug-in versions of these two SUVs, one would expect them to come in below the Porsche Cayenne plug-in hybrid ($76,400). The standard XC90 ($48,900) models will be in the price range of the Acura MDX, BMW X5, and Mercedes M-Class, with the MDX the bargain model of the pack. Expect Audi to up the price of its current Q7 ($47,700) with the arrival of the 2015 model. With options, each of these SUVs will easily break $60,000.
There may not be a new ruler in this segment with either the Q7 or XC90, but expect both models to beat the track records of the current editions. Once the plug-in models hit the streets, they may be difference-makers for Volvo and Audi. Alas, we are still far away from confirmation that either will appear in the United States. Here’s to hoping.