NEW FOR 2009:

– New base 3.6 model
– 3.6 Premium adds acoustic parking system with rearview camera, bi-xenon headlamps with washers, driver’s side memory, Bluetooth, heated steering wheel and heated rear seats
– 4.2 Premium adds Audi Side Assist, advanced key, garage door opener and adaptive lighting

For 2009, the Audi Q7 adds a base 3.6 model, alongside the previous 3.6 Premium and 4.2 Premium trim lines. The base model is similar to the 3.6 Premium of 2009, but without its metallic paint, auto-dimming mirror, electric lumbar support, power liftgate and interior light package. The two Premium trim lines also add extra features.

The Q7 is available with a 3.6-litre narrow-angle V6, or with 4.2-litre V8; both are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, and both feature Quattro all-wheel drive with asymmetrical torque split of 42/58. The 3.6 models have two rows of seats but can be optioned with the third row that is standard on the 4.2; the Premium models can also be optioned with individual second-row seats that turn it into six-passenger seating instead of seven.

Features on the 3.6 include 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, tire pressure monitoring system, tilt and telescopic column, heated washer nozzles, power mirrors with integrated turn signals, front and rear fog lamps, automatic headlamps, auto up/down windows, cruise control, keyless entry, leather-wrapped multifunction wheel, heated leather seats with 12-way driver’s power adjustment, 40/20/40 split-folding second-row seats, floor mats, rain-sensing wipers, anti-theft alarm, Multi Media Interface with colour screen, six-CD stereo, prewiring for Sirius satellite radio, and first aid kit.

The 3.6 Premium adds headlamp washers, metallic or pearl effect paint, power liftgate, auto-dimming exterior mirrors with folding feature, parking system with rearview camera, driver’s side memory, heated steering wheel, 12-way power passenger seat, front seat electric lumbar support, heated rear seats, split-folding centre console armrest, auto-dimming mirror with compass, and driver information display.

The 4.2 Premium adds 20-inch alloy wheels, power tilt and telescopic column, three-panel panoramic sunroof, adaptive front lighting system, garage door opener, manual rear sunshades, Audi Side Assist, keyless ignition, 50/50 split-folding third-row seat, genuine wood trim, eight-colour driver information display, navigation system, Bose premium surround sound system, Sirius satellite radio, and iPod interface.

The new base trim line gives buyers a chance to get into this luxurious SUV at a lower price, while still offering others the full treatment for interior features. Depending on the model, available options include technology and premium sound packages, towing package, four-zone climate control, adaptive air suspension, and "S-Line" packages for a sportier appearance.

Handling is sharp and the Q7 is firmly planted on hard corners, but there’s a lot of sheet metal to pull around, and even the V8 can lack off-the-line thrust when asked. The third-row seats are tight and suitable mostly for youngsters, but the second row offers almost limousine-style comfort, especially when ordered with the optional two-seat-only row.

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