Hybrid Crossover Face Off: Audi Q7 Vs. Volvo XC90

Jan 14, 2015 02:00 PM EST | Zac Estrada

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Audi Q7 vs. Volvo XC90--which will be the three-row luxury plug-in hybrid crossover for you?

Large, three-row luxury crossovers are nothing new, but two longstanding models have been recently redesigned and will both offer plug-in hybrid variants--something very new in this class. When the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 plug-ins go on sale later in 2015, which would you spring for?

Why You'll Like The Audi: 

You'll like the Audi if you like other Audis. That sounds like a lazy statement, but the Q7 breaks little new ground for the brand--which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The interior is gorgeous and made from beautiful materials. It's so stylish it almost hurts. Techies will love the MMI infotainment system and its slick operation.

Having lost several hundred pounds compared with its predecessor, this new Q7 looks a little trimmer on the outside, too. It's not as brash as some of the stuff coming out of BMW and Mercedes, but it does have a certain "get out of my way" look about it.

Why You'll Like The Volvo:

Some will find the Audi too trendy, as if you always need to be well-dressed with perfect hair whenever you're in it in case people see you and wonder what kind of slob drives that car. Sink into the Volvo's incredibly nice seats and it's like putting on a comfortable sweater. 

The Volvo's exterior, while far from daring, is just more cohesive than the Audi's. And it actually looks hot in R-Design trim. The more upright Volvo also benefits from a roomier interior. The third row seats are only really good for extremely patient children and the cargo space when they're up is pathetic. The XC90, on the other hand, is much airier inside and the third row is usable for actual humans.

What about their plug-in hybrid systems?

Audi is particularly proud that the Q7 e-tron will be the first AWD diesel plug-in hybrid crossover. It takes the familiar 3-liter turbodiesel V-6 with electric propulsion to give 373 horsepower and a sharp 516 pound-feet of torque. 

The XC90 T8 uses the gas-only T6's turbocharged and supercharged 2-liter engine along with the electric motors to net 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. 

Audi claims zero to 60 in 6.1 seconds and an electric-only range of 34 miles, while Volvo says it can jump from zero to 60 in 5.9 and offers 25 miles of pure electric range.

Why More People Will Probably Be Drawn To The Audi:

The Q7 just looks and feels more expensive than the Volvo, likely because it's bound to be when it hits showrooms. The Volvo is elegant, but it doesn't make a statement. An Audi Q7, on the other hand, shouts a bit louder.

Which is why if you're really a pragmatic environmentalist in need of a seven-seat SUV, you'll like the Volvo. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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