2019 Audi Q7 vs. 2019 Ford Explorer

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Audi Q7 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Ford Explorer doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

The Q7’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Explorer doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the Q7 and Explorer have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Q7 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Explorer’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Q7 has standard Pre Sense City, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Explorer offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The Q7 has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Explorer doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Q7 offers an optional backup collision prevention system which use rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Explorer doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the Q7. But it costs extra on the Explorer.

A passive infrared night vision system optional on the Q7 Prestige helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The Explorer doesn’t offer a night vision system.

The Q7 offers an optional Top View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Explorer only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the Q7 and the Explorer have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Audi Q7 is safer than the Explorer:

 

Q7

Explorer

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

MARGINAL

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

13 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Tibia index R/L

.57/.7

.87/.61

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Audi Q7 is safer than the Ford Explorer:

 

Q7

Explorer

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.8 inches

.9 inches

Abdominal Force

128 G’s

159 G’s

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

17 inches

HIC

290

407

Spine Acceleration

40 G’s

56 G’s

Hip Force

557 lbs.

909 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Q7 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 139 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Explorer was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

The Q7 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Explorer’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The Q7’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Explorer’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Q7’s reliability 31 points higher than the Explorer.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 11 places higher in reliability than Ford.

Engine

As tested in Car and Driver the Q7 55 TFSI 3.0 supercharged V6 is faster than the Explorer Sport/Platinum 3.5 turbo V6:

 

Q7

Explorer

Zero to 30 MPH

2.1 sec

2.2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.5 sec

6 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

9.2 sec

10 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.5 sec

15.8 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.3 sec

4.4 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

14.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99 MPH

96 MPH

Top Speed

128 MPH

123 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Q7 gets better fuel mileage than the Explorer 4WD:

 

 

Q7

Explorer

 

4WD

2.0 turbo 4 cyl./8-spd. Auto

19 city/25 hwy

18 city/25 hwy

2.3 turbo 4 cyl./Auto

 

 

n/a

16 city/22 hwy

3.5 V6/Auto

 

3.0 S.C. V6/8-spd. Auto

19 city/25 hwy

16 city/22 hwy

3.5 turbo V6/Auto

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Q7’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Explorer doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Q7 has 3.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Explorer (22.5 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is available on the Audi Q7, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Explorer.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Q7’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Explorer:

 

Q7

Explorer

Front Rotors

14.8 inches

13.85 inches

Rear Rotors

13.8 inches

13.5 inches

The Q7 stops shorter than the Explorer:

 

Q7

Explorer

 

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Q7 has larger standard tires than the Explorer (255/55R19 vs. 245/60R18). The Q7’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Explorer (285/45R20 vs. 255/50R20).

The Q7’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Explorer’s optional 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Q7 offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Explorer’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the Q7 can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Explorer doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Q7 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Explorer’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Q7’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the Explorer (117.9 inches vs. 112.8 inches).

The Q7 Prestige handles at .85 G’s, while the Explorer Sport 4WD pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Q7 Premium Plus executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the Explorer Limited 4WD (26.4 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 27.7 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the Q7 has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Explorer (8.3 vs. 7.8 inches), allowing the Q7 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The Q7 w/Air Suspension’s minimum ground clearance is 1.9 inches higher than on the Explorer (9.7 vs. 7.8 inches).

Chassis

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the Q7 Prestige is quieter than the Explorer Sport 4WD (70 vs. 73 dB).

Towing

The Q7’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Explorer’s (4400 vs. 2000 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Ford Explorer is only 5000 pounds. The Q7 offers up to a 7700 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The Q7 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Explorer uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The engine in the Q7 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Explorer. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Ford. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 60% lower rating, Ford is ranked 24th.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory system optional at extra cost in the Explorer (except Base/XLT), the Q7 Prestige offers an optional passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The Q7 Prestige has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Explorer doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Q7’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Explorer’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the Q7 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Explorer can only close the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Q7 has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Explorer doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Q7’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Explorer’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The Q7 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Explorer doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Q7 offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Explorer doesn’t offer cornering lights. The Q7 also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

To better shield the driver and front passenger’s vision, the Q7 has standard dual-element sun visors that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The Explorer doesn’t offer secondary sun visors.

A manual rear sunshade is optional in the Q7 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Explorer doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

When the Q7 is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Explorer’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Q7 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Explorer and isn’t available on the Explorer Base.

The Q7’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Explorer Base doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Q7 owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Q7 with a number “5” insurance rate while the Explorer is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Q7 is less expensive to operate than the Explorer because typical repairs cost much less on the Q7 than the Explorer, including $103 less for a water pump and $454 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi Q7, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Q7 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 2 of the last 2 years. The Explorer has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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