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What automakers are offering for 2008: a carmaker-by-carmaker look at what's new.

For 2008, carmakers across the board are essentially focusing on three things--electronics, power and safety.

The latest models feature more electronics than ever. from iPod connectors and Bluetooth in-car communication systems to increasingly, sophisticated engine controls.

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Horsepower keeps going up with the 2008 vehicles as well, though auto engineers say they're improving fuel economy at the same time. Also, new safety features--particularly head curtain air bags and stability control--are being added and updated.

Here's a look at some of the offerings in the new model year:

* Acura makes minor updates to its car and SUV line in 2008 primarily by adding convenience and safety features to various models. An example: Bluetooth in-car communication system now is in the RDX compact SUV.

* Audi started selling its 2008 TT coupe and roadster last spring. But the most anticipated Audi this year is the exotic-looking R8. Audi's first mid-engine sports car, the lightweight, all-wheel-drive, two-seat R8 with aluminum space-frame construction is street-ready, though it looks like it just came off a European racetrack. The R8 name, by the way, comes from the legendary Audi race car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times earlier this decade. Audi also adds a new convertible in 2008--the RS 4 Cabriolet, which joins the sporty RS 4 sedan that's already in the lineup.

* BMW began selling its revised-for-2008 5-Series cars earlier this year. Thus, the 525i became the 2008 528i, now with 230-horsepower, 3-liter, six-cylinder engine, while the old 530i became the 2008 535i with 300-horsepower, 3-liter, twin-turbo, six-cylinder engine. BMW also updated the interiors of these sedans and wagons and adds optional Lane Departure Warning that subtly vibrates the steering wheel when it detects a driver might be wandering out of his or her lane. Elsewhere, the 6-Series coupe and convertible styling is refreshed for 2008.

* Buick's Enclave crossover SUV, with room for up to eight passengers, debuted early. Power comes from a 275-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6, and with a starting retail price, including destination charge, of more than $32,700, the Enclave is the priciest of GM's three new crossovers. The others are the GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook.

* The mid-size Cadillac CTS, with a starting retail price of just under $33,000, is redesigned and repowered. Its previous angular, edgy styling is softened, and the interior gets an upgrade with ambient lighting touches here and there. All-wheel-drive is available on the CTS for the first time, and the top engine now is a 3.6-liter V-6 with direct gasoline injection that can produce 304 horsepower.

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* Chevrolet's mid-size, five-passenger Malibu sedan is bigger inside and out, and has a modern new look for 2008. The Malibu is offered with a 164-horsepower, 2.4-liter, Ecotec, four-cylinder engine. When mated to a four-speed automatic, this Malibu version is rated at a noteworthy 30 mpg in highway driving. Chevy's popular full-size SUV, the Tahoe, gets a gas-electric hybrid version later in the model year. The addition of two electric motors in a two-mode hybrid system to supplement power from the SUV's 6-liter V-8 promises to boost fuel economy by about 25 percent over a conventional Tahoe.

* Chrysler has a new, fifth-generation Chrysler Town & Country minivan with a roomy, quieter interior for up to seven passengers, new safety equipment, optional swivel seats and even a work/lunch table inside.

* Dodge's Avenger is offered with the 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter four cylinder that's used in the sibling Chrysler Sebring as well as the Sebring's 186-horsepower, 2.7-liter V-6 and 235-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6.

* Ford's Taurus sedan returns from the near-dead in its largest form ever--so sizable it's classified by the federal government as a large sedan, rather than the typical mid-size family car. With more safety features than any previous Taurus, the 2008 five-passenger model actually is a rebadged Ford Five Hundred with a larger, more powerful engine, improved sound insulation and retuned rear suspension.

* GMC debuts its first gas-electric hybrid SUV--the Yukon Hybrid, which is a sibling of the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid and Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, will be, a full-service, large SUV with a towing capacity of more than 6,000 pounds. Yet with its 6-liter, Vortec V-8 supplemented by onboard electric power, the Yukon Hybrid will provide an estimated 25 percent better fuel economy than a conventional, gas-only Yukon.

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* The big news at Honda is its largest Accord ever. The 2008 sedan, with more front-seat hip room and rear-seat legroom than ever before, officially qualifies as a large car for the first time under Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. The Accord gas-electric hybrid model has been discontinued.

* Hyundai's seven-passenger Veracruz crossover SUV debuted earlier this year as Hyundai's first vehicle with a starting retail price of more than $25,000. Also in 2008, the Sonata sedan is offered with 162-horsepower, 2.4-liter four cylinder engine across all trim levels for the first time to allow fuel-conscious buyers to get all the features and amenities normally reserved for V-6 models.

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* The new Jaguar XF with coupe-like styling is due to replace the S-Type sedan during the calendar year. Powerplants are expected to include a 300-horsepower V-8 and 420-horsepower, supercharged V-8.

* Jeep's Liberty compact SUV is new this year, with revamped styling, improved on-road handling and ride and more safety equipment. Liberty's only engine for 2008 is a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter, gasoline V-6, since the Liberty diesel is gone.

* Lexus started 2008 early with the release of its LS600h L, the world's first full gas-electric hybrid using a V-8. "Full hybrid" means the car can be propelled only by the gas engine, only on electric power, or both. Specifically, with 380-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 and instant torque from onboard electric motors, plus an eight-speed automatic transmission, the LS600h L can zip from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds.

* Lincoln's full-size Navigator SUV makes several features standard for 2008, including power rear liftgate, Sirius Satellite radio, premium THX II-certified audio system, and heated and cooled seats.

* Like its siblings the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner, the Mazda Tribute compact SUV is revised with new styling, inside and out. Power comes from a 153-horsepower, 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine and a 200-horsepower, 2-liter V-6.

* A larger, newly styled, fourth-generation C-Class highlights news for 2008 at Mercedes-Benz. With a choice of 228-horsepower, 3-liter V-6 or 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, the C-Class can be had with a new. six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic. A Sport trim level is designed for younger buyers, while the C-Class in Luxury trim is supposed to appeal to traditional luxury-car purchasers.

* Like its wellknown sibling, the Ford Taurus, the Mercury Sable is back in dealerships for 2008 as a larger sedan with modern styling and more safety equipment.

* Debuting in the fall, Nissan's Rogue is a five-passenger crossover SUV that's slightly smaller than the Nissan Murano. With a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, the Rogue is lower-powered, lighter weight and more fuel efficient than the V-6-powered Murano.

* Pontiac adds performance-oriented GXP trim to the five-passenger Torrent crossover SUV and the G6 car. The 2008 Torrent GXP wears larger, 18-inch wheels, has a sport-tuned suspension and is powered by a 264-horsepower, 3.6-liter, V-6 developing 250 foot-pounds of torque. This compares with the 185 horses and 210 foot-pounds of torque in a regular Torrent. Torrent GXPs are available in front- and all-wheel-drive.

* Porsche is debuting its fastest 911 production car ever--the 911 GT2 generates an astounding 530 horsepower from its 3.6-liter, twin-turbocharged, boxer, six-cylinder engine. It's enough to jettison the lightweight sports car from 0 to 60 mph in only 3.6 seconds. Top speed, on a racetrack, is 204 mph. The new year also brings a 911 Turbo Cabriolet, a 2+2, all-wheel-drive sports car, it uses the same 480-horsepower, 3.6-liter, twin-turbocharged, boxer, inline six cylinder that's in the 911 Turbo Coupe.

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* Saab's 9-3 sedan, SportCombi wagon and convertible are restyled, taking cues from the Saab Aero X concept car that won raves at recent auto shows. Also new this autumn is a limited-edition Saab 9-7X Aero SUV with 390-horsepower, 6 liter. KS2 V-8. Its starting retail price is more than $45,000.

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* Saturn follows tip a busy year, when its Aura mid-size car was named North American Car of the Year, with a revamped, refined and larger Vue SUV. The five-passenger Vue crossover has upscale styling now, a roomier interior and three gasoline engine choices for the first time. The powerplants include a 169-horsepower, 2.4-liter, Ecotec four cylinder; a 222-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6; and a 257-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6--the most powerful engine ever in a production Vue.

* Scion's smallest car, the xA, is replaced by a larger five-door hatchback with a new name. The 2008 xD rides on a new, front-wheel-drive platform and has a more powerful four-cylinder engine than the xA, added safety equipment, bigger wheels and more standard features. Specifically, the xD's 1.8-liter, four cylinder develops 128 horses compared with the 103 horse from the xA's 1.5-liter four.

* For 2008. Subaru's Tribeca loses its snouty face, boosts horsepower to 256 from its boxer, six-cylinder engine, and updates rear suspension and automatic transmission for better ride and performance. Even better, starting retail prices have moderated for Subaru's priciest nameplate. A base five-passenger, 2008 Tribeca starts at $30,640, while shoppers seeking a seven-passenger Tribeca will see a starting price of $31,640.

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* Toyota's second-generation Highlander is bigger, heavier, more spacious, quieter and more powerful this year, and its gas-electric hybrid has a first-ever push button on the dashboard that lets drivers choose to drive the SUV in electric-only mode, if conditions permit.

* Volkswagen's Touareg SUV becomes the Touareg 2 with subtle styling updates, and some equipment, such as power lift-gate and Electronic Parking Assistance, becomes standard. The VW Rabbit and Jetta cars get more power from a retuned, base, 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine. The gas powerplant produces 170 horsepower, up from 150. Torque rises to 177 foot-pounds, up from 170.

* Volvo debuts a three-door hatchback built off the $40 sedan platform. The resulting 2008 C30 becomes Volvo's car with the lowest starting retail price, including destination charge: $23,445 for a manual transmission model. The C30 is powered by a 227-horsepower, 2.5-liter, turbocharged, five-cylinder engine and is available in front-wheel-drive. Only 8,000 annual sales are expected in the United States. The V70 and XC70 station wagons are revised this year, getting 235 horses from a new, 3.2-liter, inline six cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
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Title Annotation:RESOURCES: transportation
Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Geographic Code:1U1NH
Date:Sep 28, 2007
Words:1756
Previous Article:Regardless of your profession, learn how to market yourself.
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