2019 Audi Q7 vs. 2019 Toyota Highlander

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 Toyota Highlander 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 Highlander doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the Q7 and Highlander 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 Highlander’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 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 Highlander 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 Highlander 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 Highlander.

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 Highlander doesn’t offer a night vision system.

Both the Q7 and the Highlander 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Audi Q7 is safer than the Toyota Highlander:

 

Q7

Highlander

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

99

195

Neck Injury Risk

25%

47%

Neck Stress

186 lbs.

509 lbs.

Neck Compression

37 lbs.

73 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

61/46 lbs.

409/517 lbs.

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

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

 

Q7

Highlander

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

16 inches

HIC

290

372

Spine Acceleration

40 G’s

43 G’s

Hip Force

557 lbs.

829 lbs.

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

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 Highlander’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 Highlander’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Engine

The Q7 45 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 63 more horsepower (248 vs. 185) and 89 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 184) than the Highlander’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl. The Q7 45 TFSI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 10 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 263) than the Highlander’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6. The Q7 55 TFSI’s standard 3.0 supercharged V6 produces 34 more horsepower (329 vs. 295) and 62 lbs.-ft. more torque (325 vs. 263) than the Highlander’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Motor Trend the Q7 55 TFSI 3.0 supercharged V6 is faster than the Toyota Highlander V6:

 

Q7

Highlander

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

7.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

15.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100.2 MPH

92.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regardless of its engine, the Q7’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Toyota only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Highlander LE Plus/XLE/Limited/Platinum.

The Q7 has 3.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander (22.5 vs. 19.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

Q7

Highlander

Front Rotors

14.8 inches

12.9 inches

Rear Rotors

13.8 inches

12.2 inches

The Q7’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Highlander are solid, not vented.

The Q7 stops much shorter than the Highlander:

 

Q7

Highlander

 

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

186 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

146 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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

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 Highlander SE/Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Q7 offers optional 21-inch wheels. The Highlander’s largest wheels are only 19-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 Highlander 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 Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Q7 has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Q7’s wheelbase is 8.1 inches longer than on the Highlander (117.9 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Q7 is 1.7 inches wider in the front and 2.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Highlander.

The Q7 Prestige handles at .85 G’s, while the Highlander AWD pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Q7 Premium Plus executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.9 seconds quicker than the Highlander LE (26.4 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 28.3 seconds @ .64 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the Q7 has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Highlander (8.3 vs. 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 1.7 inches higher than on the Highlander (9.7 vs. 8 inches).

Chassis

The design of the Audi Q7 amounts to more than styling. The Q7 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .333 Cd (optional .32 Cd with Air Suspension). That is lower than the Highlander (.33 to .34) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Q7 get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Q7 has .2 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear legroom and 1.5 inches more third row legroom than the Highlander.

Cargo Capacity

The Q7’s cargo area provides more volume than the Highlander.

 

Q7

Highlander

Behind Third Seat

14.8 cubic feet

13.8 cubic feet

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the Q7’s third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Highlander doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Q7’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by waving your foot, leaving your hands completely free. The Highlander doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

The Q7’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Highlander’s (4400 vs. 1500 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Toyota Highlander 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 Highlander 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 Highlander. 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 Toyota. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 44% lower rating, Toyota is ranked 17th.

Ergonomics

The Q7 has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Highlander Limited/Platinum, 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 Premium Plus/Prestige’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

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 Highlander doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the Q7 and the Highlander have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Q7 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 Highlander’s standard 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 Highlander can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 Highlander’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Highlander 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 Highlander 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 Highlander 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 Highlander 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 Highlander’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Q7 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

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 Highlander.

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 Highlander is rated higher at a number “8” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Q7 is less expensive to operate than the Highlander because typical repairs cost much less on the Q7 than the Highlander, including $98 less for a fuel pump and $335 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The Q7 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 2 of the last 2 years. The Highlander 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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