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2007 New Car Model Guide
2007 New Car Model Guide
by Bob Plunkett

Once upon a time in America's automotive market, carmakers would tease us each autumn with advertisements promising shiny new models cast with stylish lines and powerful new engines. Showrooms of dealers would hide these new cars behind blacked-out windows, as we the public waited outside hoping to peek at the new crop. Unveiling the new models was a big event, even though there were only a handful of automakers and, essentially, only a few types of vehicles -- four-door sedans, two-door coupes and perhaps a convertible or pickup truck.

By contrast, there are no blacked-out windows concealing new models at car dealers today because contemporary cars no longer reach the market on a predetermined date in the fall. Instead, cars bearing next year's model designation trickle into the market throughout the preceding calendar year.

For the Class of 2007, for instance, new versions of Chevrolet's best-selling Tahoe sport-utility wagon rolled out in February of 2007, as did a new treatment for Toyota's best seller, the Camry sedan. Others quickly followed so by the first day of fall in 2007, more than 25 manufacturers had introduced as many as 40 new 2007 vehicles. And that's only the beginning of the parade of new cars for 2007. This points to an important distinction for the Class of 2007: There are so many automakers for the American market today producing so many different types of vehicles with so many models to see and sort.

In addition to the three traditional domestic manufacturers of General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler, foreign companies from Asia and Europe have in recent years become significant players on America's turf, with some -- like Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai -- building new cars at factories scattered across America's heartland. Even pinnacle brands from Germany -- Mercedes-Benz and BMW -- now have factories in the United States where innovative models are assembled. With so many automakers at work, vehicles no longer fit neatly into a few simple categories as sedans, coupes or pickup trucks.

While these configurations continue in many sizes, today's class also encompasses diverse new categories due to the emergence of the so-called crossover vehicles of multiple purposes which blend one type of vehicle with another or more to create something entirely different. Crossovers are the hottest commodity in the 2007 Car Class.

Examples emerge among 2007 vehicles, such as the Audi Q7, BMW X Series, Cadillac SRX, Chrysler Aspen, Dodge Caliber and Nitro, Ford Edge, GMC Acadia, Honda Ridgeline, Jeep Compass, Kia Sportage, Lexus RX Series, Mazda CX-7 and CX-9, Mitsubishi Endeavor, Nissan Murano, Pontiac Torrent, Saturn Outlook, Scion xB, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Toyota FJ Cruiser, and Volvo XC90.

What's another trend? It must be the HEV -- hybrid electric vehicle. That's one which scores significantly high fuel economy marks because it packs not one but two motors. The typical HEV for 2007 carries both a thrifty but conventional engine operating on gasoline plus a battery-powered electric motor. It can run on the gasoline engine or on the electric motor, or in a mode with both plants contributing power simultaneously.

HEV examples in the Class of 2007 include SUVs like the Mercury Mariner Hybrid, Lexus RX 400h, Saturn Vue Green Line and Toyota Highlander Hybrid to sedans such as Honda's Accord V6 Hybrid and Civic Hybrid, the powerful Lexus GS 450h Hybrid, Nissan's new Altima Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid. There's even a hybrid truck or two with a gas-electric hybrid version of Chevrolet's Silverado full-size pickup or the GMC Sierra.

Manufacturers continue to seek new ways to boost fuel economy. The latest trick is for a large engine to automatically cut back on the number of cylinders firing for combustion -- when you need a big power play all the cylinders are there, but when you're just cruising the boulevard a lesser number of cylinders work to save fuel. And flex-fuel versions of engines emerge burning gasoline or E85 ethanol or some combination of the two.

New products appear, either as original concepts or fresh generational expressions.
With all of these developments, we've assembled a capsule guide to illustrate what's new about the Car Class of 2007. Click on the logos below to click and cruise your way through the hottest cars yet.

2007 BMW Model Guide
2007 GMC Model Guide
2007 Honda Model Guide
2007 Hummer Model Guide
2007 KIA Model Guide
2007 Lincoln Model Guide
2007 Mazda Model Guide

RTM has even more automotive resources for you - read in-depth ROAD TEST REVIEWS and comparison shop with our automotive BUYER'S GUIDES.

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