2008’s Hottest SUVs bringing more sport and utility

For 2008, SUVs are no longer the average gas-guzzlers. More sport and utility and additional fuel efficiency makes new SUVs hotter than ever. One of the most highlighted SUV revolution is these behemoths going hybrid and some in two mode hybrid posing greatest fuel efficiency in SUV history. Forbesautos.com lists the hottest 2008 SUVs to hit the road as the new year comes and 2007 say goodbye.

1. 2009 BMW X6
In an effort to make four-door vehicles sexier and more appealing, German manufacturers have taken to calling some of them, like the X6, “coupes.” Due in early 2008 and based on the more traditional X5, the X6 features a sweeping “fastback” design as seen on svelte two-door models.

2. Buick Enclave
We think the luxury-minded Buick Enclave is one of the best among a new breed of car-based large SUVs, called crossover utility vehicles. With handsome styling, a roomy and comfortable interior, and a high-quality feel, the Enclave is a nice alternative to traditional truck-based SUVs and minivans.

3. Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
The Escalade is one of Cadillac’s biggest successes in recent years. Adding a hybrid powertrain might seem odd for a truck this big. The two-mode hybrid system is expected to improve fuel economy by about 30 percent overall.

4. Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
The Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Hybrid, which share the same technology, have started hitting showrooms in late 2007. The Tahoe is positioned as the most economical of the three General Motors variants including the Escalade hybrid.

5. 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid
Chrysler worked with BMW and GM to co-develop the so-called “two-mode” hybrid system used in the Aspen and Dodge Durango. This jointly developed technology which allows electric-only propulsion at lower speeds marks the first application of such a system in large SUVs.

6. 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid
The Durango Hybrid is a dressed-down version of the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid. Both pack a 5.7-liter V8 engine mated to an electric motor and battery pack.

7. Ford Escape Hybrid
The Escape Hybrid and its equivalents at Mazda and Mercury are the most fuel-efficient SUVs on the road. The Escape hybrid combines a 2.3-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor/generator to deliver robust acceleration and 34 mpg city/30 mpg highway.

8. GMC Yukon Hybrid
The Yukon Hybrid shares its gas/electric powertrain with its GM twins — the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid and Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid — as well as with the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango hybrids.

9. Hummer H3 Alpha
The appeal of the new H3 Alpha variant is power: Its 5.3-liter V8 puts out 300 horsepower and is also used in the Chevy Silverado pickup.

10. Infiniti EX35
Infiniti is lavishing its latest technology on the sporty EX35, which will compete with a spate of slinky new CUVs, including the BMW X6.

11. Land Rover LR2
New for 2008, the LR2 packs a lively 230-horsepower six-cylinder engine and rides on a car-like suspension for better-than-average handling.

12. Lexus LX 570
The LX 570 is Lexus’ version of the Toyota Land Cruiser. A thorough update for 2008 makes it ride smoother, accelerate stronger, and look better than the outgoing model.

13. Mazda Tribute Hybrid
Mazda is conducting what amounts to a one-year test-marketing campaign for the new Tribute Hybrid, which is its version of the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid.

14. Mercury Mariner Hybrid
The Mariner Hybrid is more chic and pricier than the Ford Escape Hybrid. A new electromechanical power steering system, along with assorted suspension and chassis upgrades, enhance the car-like ride and handling.

15. Porsche Cayenne
After taking the 2007 model year off, the Porsche Cayenne returns with visual and mechanical tweaks. Available V6 and V8 engines gain power and a new GTS model slots between the S and Turbo variants in terms of price and performance.

16. Saturn Vue Green Line
The compact Saturn Vue gets all-new styling and updated chassis components for 2008, but the Green Line version retains the same hybrid technology for the time being.

17. Spyker Peking-to-Paris
The eye-catching and outrageous Spyker Peking-to-Paris starts at $287,500 and resembles more an overgrown wagon than an SUV. The small Dutch company that will start selling it in 2008 named it after a legendary 1907 endurance rally and says that it combines the functionality of an SUV with the personality and performance of an exotic sports car, thanks to an Audi-supplied 500-horsepower W12 engine.

18. Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The Highlander Hybrid is redesigned for 2008 with fresh styling, added features, and an updated gas/electric powertrain. Two electric motors (one at each axle) work with a 3.3-liter V6 gasoline engine to save fuel. A new “EV” mode allows the Highlander Hybrid to run for a greater period of time solely under electric power, while an “Econ” mode smoothes out throttle response to limit excessive acceleration.

19. Toyota Land Cruiser
Toyota’s oldest model, the Land Cruiser, has evolved from its origins as a military-derived all-terrain vehicle into posh luxury hauler. Revamped for 2008, the latest generation rides on a revised frame, gets a more potent V8 engine, and adds amenities

[Source: Forbesautos.com]

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