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Hottest 5 Trucks and SUVs for 2008

It’s that time of year again – bargain hunters are gearing up for fall markdowns on 2007 truck and sport utility models, just before the dealerships ditch ‘em all for the next wave of vehicles. Considering the uproar over the Big Three’s decline, it’s no surprise that some of our past favorites have been completely re-tooled for the coming year. There’s a host of new beauties, too, so let’s get started.

5. 2008 Chevy HHR SS

When Chrysler unveiled its PT Cruiser some time ago, the design stirred up memories of Detroit’s golden age. Unfortunately, stepping on the gas didn’t produce the same kind of raw emotion. That’s why Chevy released its HHR, a retro-looking powerhouse that could also perform daily commute abilities.

Although boasting the same considerably muscular 260 horsepower 2.0 liter engine found in the Pontiac Solstice, the HHR’s most impressive improvements have taken place on the exterior. New front and rear fascias give it a customized look, as do side rocker panels and a stylin’ rear roof spoiler. The ‘SS’ badge invokes the same kind of tuner roar felt when approaching Chevrolet’s equally impressive Cobalt SS.

4. 2008 Hummer H3

Although first introduced as a way for civilians to feel all of the power found in the less-than average military vehicle, the Hummer has become a mainstream truck/SUV. The H2 toned down the gargantuan size just enough to fit in the average parking space, with the H3 further bridging the divide between the battlefield and battling rush hour traffic.

Rumors are that Hummer will be stepping up the H3’s horsepower in 2008, from a very tame 220 last year to 291 this time around. Even more whispers suggest that an ‘Alpha’ version could be granted more muscle, enough to make everyone forget about those past criticisms that the H3 is good for little other than trips between school and soccer practice.

3. 2008 Jeep Compass

Here’s a newbie; first unveiled in 2005 as a mere concept, the Compass was popular enough that it has been whole-heartedly adopted by the Jeep team.

Built on a Mitsubishi Lancer profile (yes, Lancer), the Compass may be the tamest, and in turn, perhaps most fun to drive Jeep to date. Although that’s a considerably arguable point still yet to be proven, there’s no doubt Daddy Chrysler is taking a new direction with the Compass.

Judging from its smaller frame, speculation is that the Compass will employ the 2.4 liter inline four engine used in the Caliber. That makes for about 170 horsepower, which might make this model “peppy”, at best. However, retracing the line between car and SUV, the Compass could present us with an interesting new angle for the re-growth of Detroit and the domestic.

1. Ford F-250 Superduty

Perhaps the greatest hope for Detroit this coming year is the reworked and in fact almost completely revitalized Ford Superduty truck. Ford has said that it desires its new mammoth to have both luxury and power, a blend that has rarely proven tasteful and almost never economical. However, that’s just what the F-250 promises to be; although the 6.8L Triton V10 still powers itself over country roads and just about anywhere else a driver might take it, Ford brags that it has actually improved the fuel efficiency of this massive ride.

Perhaps most updated this year is the F-250’s suspension. This and the slightly expanded interior space are undoubtedly the source of Ford’s “luxury”, and it makes for a smoother ride than ever felt in a truck of this size. Helping this are new mounting points for the front and rear shocks, little but important changes. Another bonus includes the first-ever tailgate step, which should be very useful for those who demand the most from Ford’s trucks.

Top to bottom, this will be a very big year for the industry’s truck and SUV segments. Honorable mentions to this list include the updated Expedition and Escape from Ford, and Buick’s stylish (and desperately un-geriatric) Enclave.