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2008 Vehicle Model Guide

2008 New Car Model Guide
by Bob Plunkett

In the automotive world, a transition from one model year to the next brings a variety of shiny new sheetmetal shapes and designs, defining a new class of vehicles. As 2008 rolls around, it is time again to take a look at the best cars, trucks and SUVs from some of the most popular automakers.

It's time to shop a new crop of cars - curvy coupes, luxurious sedans, breezy pop-top convertibles and sturdy pickup trucks. On the list again this year are family-packing minivans and go-anywhere sport-utility wagons.

In the world of automobiles, 2008 has arrived as car dealers in showrooms across the continent proclaim the advent of the 'Class of 2008' with its shiny new chrome and steel encasing the latest in comfort, style and safety.

Automakers around the globe are producing new collections of cars with promises of more powerful engines, stylish sheetmetal, sophisticated equipment and safety features.

To describe the Car Class of 2008 as futuristic might be an understatement. However, the typical new vehicle in this class is a computerized mechanical marvel that's not only smart, but also savvy and quite stylish.

This year also brings even more choices and options for vehicles. The fact is, vehicles no longer fit neatly into a few simple categories like sedans, coupes, convertibles, pickup trucks or wagons. While these configurations still remain, new vehicles also encompass diverse new categories due to the emergence of the so-called crossover vehicles, which blend one type of vehicle with another to create something entirely different.

Crossover utility vehicle (or CUV) is the top buzz-word for the 2008 Vehicle Model Year. Some highly popular examples include the Acura RDX, BMW X3, Buick Enclave, Ford Edge, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Volvo XC70.

What's another trend for 2008? It's the HEV, or hybrid electric vehicle. These vehicles score significantly high fuel economy marks because they pack not one, but two or more motors. The typical HEV for 2008 carries both a conventional gasoline engine plus a battery-powered electric motor. They can run on the gasoline engine or on the electric motor, or in a mode with both plants contributing power simultaneously.

HEV examples for 2008 include the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, Lexus GS Hybrid, Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid and the Toyota Camry Hybrid. But Lexus demonstrates that a hybrid vehicle can be more than simply a fuel-conserving set of wheels.

The 2008 Lexus LS 600h L is the first super-luxury sedan that's also a HEV and is equipped with a gas-electric powertrain. It has to be the most complex and sophisticated automotive machine ever devised, and the most powerful HEV â€” with the sum of its engine and motors producing a peak combined output rating of 438 horsepower.

This year manufacturers also seek other means to improve fuel economy. The latest trick is for a large engine to automatically cut back on the number of cylinders firing for combustion. So when you need a big power play all the cylinders are there, but when you're just cruising the boulevards a lesser number of cylinders work to save fuel.

Also, flex-fuel versions of engines emerge burning gasoline or E85 ethanol, or some combination of the two fuels. Clean-burning diesel engines also pop up in 2008 vehicles including the Chevrolet Silverado 2500, Dodge Ram 2500, Ford F-250 Super Duty and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

However, monsterous horsepower still rules. For instance, Chevrolet Corvette's fabled Z06 packs a 7.0-liter LS7 V8 to make 505 horsepower through a six-speed manual Tremec gearbox. And the awesome Dodge Viper SRT10 gets a 90-horsepower boost to its 8.4-liter V10, pushing the power curve to 600 horsepower.

At Mercedes-Benz, the scissor-door supercar SLR McLaren carries a supercharged aluminum 5.4-liter V8 engine hand-built by the performance gurus at AMG to peak at 617 horsepower.

With these developments and more, we've assembled a comprehensive new model guide to illustrate what's new in 2008

2008 BMW Model Guide
2008 GMC Model Guide
2008 Honda Model Guide
2008 Hummer Model Guide
2008 KIA Model Guide
2008 Lincoln Model Guide
2008 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.