Those of us with long commutes can’t wait to get out of the car at the end of the day. Not so with the redesigned 2017 Audi Q7. It is so slick and pampering, that the temptation is there to take the long way home.

Nearly a decade after the Q7 debuted, Audi has introduced a complete redesign of its luxury three-row SUV, a natural competitor of the Acura MDX, BMW X5, and Volvo XC90. The 2017 Audi Q7 is lower and lighter than the first-generation model. On sale shortly, prices start at $54,800 for the Premium trim and can go beyond $85,000 for a fully loaded Prestige, like the one we rented from Audi. Most buyers will gravitate toward the Premium Plus, which when typically equipped, lands in the mid $60,000 range.

Over the years we’ve tested two of the previous generation Q7, commending its fit and finish and handling agility. But from the vantage point of the slick new Q7’s throne, the previous model may look and feel clunky and outdated.

The new Q7 employs Audi’s supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 333 horsepower and is mated to a super smooth eight-speed automatic. A diesel version was supposed to be offered, but that powertrain is on hold for now, due to the corporation’s diesel emissions dilemma. The forced-induction V6 supplies smooth, refined, and effortless motivation. EPA fuel economy estimates are still pending, but we’ve observed an average of about 21 mpg in mixed driving—good for the segment.  

2017 Audi Q7 front

One of the striking characteristics of the 2017 Audi Q7 is how quiet it is. The new Q7 instills a sense of shielding its occupants from the outside world, isolating them in a calm, tranquil cabin. Ride comfort is impressive with a plushness and control reminiscent of a Land Rover Range Rover. That said, the particular example we drove is equipped with the optional air suspension, a $4,000 extra, so we’ll have to see how the Q7 rides on its standard suspension.

Handling is responsive and confidence inspiring, making this three-row SUV feel like a smaller, nimbler car. Switching the drive mode to Dynamic tightens things up, with more heft in the steering, added tautness (with virtually no sacrifice to comfort), and altered shift points, all of which contribute to a more spirited drive.

Audi is known for gorgeous interiors and if you think the 2017 Audi Q7 is nicer than the flagship Audi A8, you wouldn’t hear an argument from us. Leather, wood, brushed aluminum, and double stitching are all top shelf. The $6,000 luxury package further ups the opulence with massage seats, suede headliner, and soft-closing doors.

Even without the massage therapy, the seats are super comfy and supportive even for the long haul. Rear seat room is also generous. The procedure of getting into the third seat is not immediately obvious, however. It takes pulling a lever and then lifting a handle at the back of each second row outboard section to clear a path to the way back. Audi should have swallowed some corporate pride and copied the Honda pushbutton trick that’s in the Pilot and Acura MDX.  

2017 Audi Q7 interior

The highlight of the car is no doubt the optional 12.3-inch instrument panel Audi calls a virtual cockpit. Like the Audi TT, it can highlight the functions you’re on (audio, navigation, phone, trip info) and minimize the main gauges. The vivid Google map in front of you has a wow factor. But unlike the TT, the Q7 also has a retractable center screen for displaying the information. The Q7 is also compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We appreciated the crisp sound of the optional Bang & Olufsen stereo.

As far as active safety, the Q7 packs a system called “pre sense” that scans the road for other cars and pedestrians; it can apply full braking at up to 25 mph and avoid a collision. Above that speed threshold and under 52 mph, the system will slow down the vehicle to mitigate the damage.

Clearly, Audi has stacked the deck with the new Q7. It is smooth, refined, opulent, and brimming with high-tech. We can't wait to buy our own and put it through our regimented test program. And in the process, get more opportunity to commute in it.