VIDEO: Audi RS8 before the flames

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Go to the jump to see the video of the Audi RS8 running the 'Ring'

We recently told you about a horrible incident on the 'Ring involving a very fast, very beautiful Audi RS8 being burned to the ground. Now we can give you the video of the V10 beast in testing just prior to the crash. Hearing the wonderful growl of the 500+ hp Lamborghini-sourced V10 makes the outcome even more sad. According to spy shooter extraordinaire Hans Lehmann, the fire was not caused by a crash, and the driver was able to escape harm. You can see the pictures of the wreckage here. The video of the RS8 in testing is available after the jump.

[Source: YouTube]

Continue reading VIDEO: Audi RS8 before the flames

 

[via] Autoblog

Create a bullish brew with the Lamborghini Coffee Maker

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One of the inevitable aspects of press days during major auto shows is high octane coffee. Internet based automotive journalists tend to spend their show days running back and forth between press conferences and the media center to crank out stories and galleries. In order to achieve the kind of output we do requires fuel, which is often provided by double espressos produced at some of the major automakers show stands or the media lounge.

Along with coffee, we of the Autoblog community also have an appreciation for insanely fast Italian cars. Now the creators of cars that are generally named for various breeds of bulls have also applied their name to a high end espresso machine. Like the motorized variants the Tonino Lamborghini coffee machine, will be built in a limited run of 1,000 units and it won't be inexpensive at a price of about $1750. No word yet on just how fast this machine can fill a demi-tasse.

[Source: Lamborghini via Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog

New York Auto Show's Top 5 commercials

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Commercials are suddenly and inexplicably becoming more and more vogue. We understand the Super Bowl thing, but now some of the biggest hitters on YouTube are unreleased commercials. The folks that run the New York Auto show recognized the trend, and decided to award the top five automotive commercials of the year at the opening ceremony of this year's show.

We tend to agree with most of the picks for best commercials, but the 'most liked' ad is one of the most annoying and unpleasant commercials ever. Luckily, one video that didn't make the list was that annoying Dodge Nitro commercial where the vehicle passes through the Earth and lands in China. Unfortunately, the really cool Nitro commercial where the Nitro blows a junker sky-high while giving it a jump didn't win either.

Take a hop after the jump to see the winners, and four of the five commercials. While you're at it, let us know what you thought was the the best automotive commercial of the year.

[Source: The Car Connection]

Continue reading New York Auto Show's Top 5 commercials

 

[via] Autoblog

Paul the Detailer strikes again - this time on a Bugatti Veyron

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Remember that killer video of Top Gear's James May running the Bugatti Veyron up to its top speed? So amazing because it was so drama free. Well, that car has seen more than one of those passes in its life as a demonstrator vehicle. It has managed to rack up quite a few miles, about 30,000 in fact. And although the car gets the occasional wash to keep it as photogenic as ever, repeated blug splatters at 253 mph take a toll on a car's finish. And so it was sent over to master detailer, Paul Dalton, of Miracle Detail. Paul has worked his magic on everything from a Vauxhall Astra VXR, to a Lamborghini Murcielago, to a Maserati MC12. Now he can add Bugatti Veyron to that list.

As detailed (hee hee) on VXRonline, the process is amazingly laborious and makes the 5-digit price tag a little more understandable. Especially when they talk about that $12,000-a-tub carnuba wax he uses. Starting with the citrus degreasing and working through the heated spray-down, shampooing, claying, and then the paint defect work, the process is fully documented and it's pretty fascinating to see the car go from pretty good looking to jaw-droppingly reflective and positively glowing. Click through the read link to see the whole process from start to sparkling finish.

[Source: VXRonline via GM Inside News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Why Ford's Flex dropped the sliding doors

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One of the criteria that doesn't make Ford's new Flex a minivan is its lack of sliding rear doors. Instead, the production version of the Flex gets traditional swing doors, unlike its concept inspiration, the Fairlane, which allowed rear passengers to enter via a set of suicide doors.

The move to nix the sliding doors wasn't so much for aesthetics as it was an opportunity to reduce costs. According to J Mays, the extra cash saved by using a traditional hinge setup allowed the automaker to invest in higher-grade leather, more luxurious interior materials, the glass roof, an 8-inch DVD and even an optional fridge.

While all those things aren't present just because of door selection, they allow the Flex to offer more features not traditionally associated with the benign people movers. So be sure to thank both Mays and Ford's beancounters when you're able to pacify the kiddies with a cold drink and Shrek on DVD.

[Source: Autoweek]

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: Supercharged (very) small block 5.65 cubic inch V8

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It's a beautifully-crafted, supercharged aluminum block and head V8. In miniature. And it sounds awesome. We so wish we had one at the Autoblog offices to crank up any time the boss walked in. What was that, Boss? You want us to cut back on the RRRRGHGHGH ERRRRRH GHGHG RRHHFHHGRRR!!!!

Yeah. We need one.

So if any of you Autoblog regulars want to make us the happiest automotive bloggers on the Net, the creator of this alcohol-fueld, billet beauty, James Weber of Weber Precision, has documented the engine not only with the video you see here, but also with detailed engineering descriptions and photos of each tiny little, custom-made part.

And James, if, ya know, you've got some extra time, my son just turned one and he's already complaining about how slow his pedal car is. Could ya hook him up?

And, yes, we are aware the site and the engine were created in 2005, so if you've seen this before, RRRRGHGH GHERR RRRHGHGHG RRHHFHHGRRR!!!!

[Source: Weber Precision via TecheBlog]

Continue reading VIDEO: Supercharged (very) small block 5.65 cubic inch V8

 

[via] Autoblog

AdAge: Bargain bin Chrysler a marketing nightmare

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Whoever ends up with Chrysler will obviously face a myriad of logistical problems from suppliers to unions. But Advertising Age takes a look at the marketing muddle that will need to be overcome soon after signing the deed.

The article points out problems such as competing models like the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango to the "vaguely upmarket" Chrysler brand. Looks like the new owners will be pumping a lot of cash into ads educating customers on what's available from Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep.

Oh, and speaking of Jeep, AdAge quotes John Morel, director-product and market planning at American Suzuki Motors Corp., as saying the iconic American offroading brand has been stretched too thin. "They need to keep it pure," Morel said, which we read as "Get rid of the Compass."

Chrysler's brands have long depended on platform sharing and re-branding, so expecting that issue to go away anytime soon is probably wishful thinking. Better defining of the brands, however, wouldn't be so hard to do, and will probably be one of the first marketing pushes by any new owner. But then, it's all speculation until we actually know who that buyer will be. Stay tuned.

[Source: Advertising Age]

 

[via] Autoblog

2008 Volvo S40 and V50 break cover!

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Click on the photos for high-res galleries of the new small Volvos

Just days after the conclusion of media previews at the New York Auto Show, Volvo has lifted the lid on the revamped S40 and V50. While the overall look isn't dramatically different from the other recent Volvos, the cars' have been sufficiently refined to give both the sedan and wagon more distinctive appearances. The wagon gets a a slightly more muscular front bumper shape that fits in better with the larger XC models, while the sedan has a slimmer, sleeker look that bears more than a passing resemblance to the recently-introduced S80.

The bigger changes show up inside of the cars, where a reworked design frees up new storage spaces, addressing one of the many complaints about the previous iterations. The door panels have been redone and a new space at the bottom of the center stack is now large enough for a letter-sized book.

The goal of all these adjustments is to aim the small Volvos at a more premium market segment, obviously targeting certain German brands. The European versions get a range of four and five-cylinder gas engines between 1.6L and 2.0L, ranging from 100hp to 170hp. Among those is a 1.8L flex-fuel variant. A trio of diesel engines from 109hp to 180hp are also being offered. The external lighting of the S40/V50 has new capabilities as well. The front end receives optional swiveling bi-xenon headlamps to follow the curve as the vehicle turns, while emergency brake lamps now flash rapidly during heavy braking. Detailed information can be found in the press releases pasted after the jump.

[Source: Volvo]

Continue reading 2008 Volvo S40 and V50 break cover!

 

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Lutz sounds the alarm: GM puts RWD drive vehicles on hold

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Bob Lutz is determined to rattle all the cages he can in order to be heard above roar of the CAFE and CO2 standards debate. First, he said that forcing automakers to raise CAFE standards 4-percent per year would raise the price of a new car by $5,000. That was in response to Bush administration proposals. Now he's putting car enthusiasts on notice, going on the record saying that GM's RWD models would be put on hold.


[Source: Chicago Tribune]

Continue reading Lutz sounds the alarm: GM puts RWD drive vehicles on hold

 

[via] Autoblog

Buick reintroduces the Park Avenue...in China

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GM announced today that the Buick Park Avenue is making a return to the marketplace as a RWD, Zeta-based vehicle. Unfortunately for us, that marketplace is China.

The Park Avenue, like the GM Daewoo L4X introduced last week in Seoul, is a rebadged Holden WM Caprice/Statesman, and as such, it shares the big Aussie sedan's 3,009 mm wheelbase. As we've seen in other upscale GM China products, the new Park Avenue is equipped for maximum luxury, with seat massagers installed for all four passengers, a navigation system, in-car entertainment pumped to LCD displays, and available Bluetooth integration. The only image available at post time is the one you see above, which shows the familiar Holden profile. The car's full-tilt introduction should take place next week at the Shanghai Motor Show.

Power for the top-of-the-line Park Avenue comes from GM's 250-horsepower 3.6L V6. Complete information can be found in the press release after the jump.

[Source: GM China]

Continue reading Buick reintroduces the Park Avenue...in China

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Top Gear could be U.S. bound with British hosts

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Is The Stig headed to the States? It appears that the wildly popular automotive TV show, Top Gear, could be heading to these shores (again). The BBC and The Sun newspaper have reported that there are again plans to do a Top Gear U.S. version, but this time with current hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. Previous attempts at doing an American Top Gear lost the magic when they tried to replicate the show with different presenters. Although airing the current UK show on Discovery has made some fans happy, getting the lads to cover more American cars and feature more American celebs will probably draw an even bigger American audience. To that end it is said that the U.S. show will be just like the UK version, but will include more American cars, and U.S. stars doing their darndest to beat The Stig.

The deal hasn't been confirmed by BBC Worldwide, but there have apparently been talks. Top Gear, in case you don't know, is an international Emmy winner, which recently wrapped its most recent season with 8 million viewers tuning in for the finale. They have also been in the news for the horrific jet car crash and remarkable recovery of presenter Richard Hammond. The show's next UK season will begin airing in the fall.

A new U.S. version sounds intriguing. We say bring it on. Maybe if they're forced to drive more American cars on American roads in American driving conditions, they'll start to understand why their current negative impressions don't hold water on this side of the pond. I already have my "I'm the Stig's fat American cousin" T-shirt to welcome them to these shores. What do you think of a possible Top Gear U.S. edition?

Thanks for the tip, JayP!

[Source: BBC]

Related posts:
Top Gear on the Discovery Channel
Top Gear America in the works by Discovery Channel
Meet the blokes hosting Top Gear in the U.S.
VIDEO: Top Gear season 9 preview

 

[via] Autoblog

In the Autoblog Garage: 2007 Dodge Magnum SRT8 is bad to the bone

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Click image for gallery of high-res photos by Drew Phillips and the author.

Can you hear that? I make a rich woman beg, I'll make a good woman steal... It's George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone." The stereo isn't on. The car isn't even running. But you hear that song quite clearly as you approach this wagon. Yep, you heard that right. It's a badass wagon we're talking about. Think that's an oxymoron? Think again. Even if it wasn't as black as Satan's pupils, it would still qualify as evil looking. But this particular sample is black and therefore perfect. So sinister and muscular and functional.

We'll admit that wagons aren't everybody's first choice for a cool conveyance, but if utility is high on your list of priorities, they have SUVs and vans beat by a mile in our book. Wagons offer just as much cargo room without sacrificing a car's typically better ride, handling, braking and acceleration. Think of this Dodge Magnum SRT8 as a Charger with a really big trunk. So the car is pretty capable to begin with.

These LX cars have been quite successful for Chrysler, and for good reason. Based on an older E-Class Mercedes platform, they offer rear-drive, full-size comfort in a more refined package than many American buyers are used to. All that at a bargain basement price too. The Hemi versions in particular offer a lot of bang for the buck. But when you add the SRT badge, things suddenly get more than a little wicked. Chrysler has promised a freshened Magnum for 2008, but when we got the call to drive a 2007, we still felt compelled to give it a whirl. Follow the jump to come along for the ride.

Continue reading In the Autoblog Garage: 2007 Dodge Magnum SRT8 is bad to the bone

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Spy Shots: Audi RS8 burns on the Ring

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Awww. This is just too sad for words. You'll have to click through to see the pics for yourself. A new Audi RS8 undergoing some high-performance testing at the 'Ring burned to the ground before firefighters could douse the flames. The driver apparently escaped unharmed, but this beautiful sports car was lost. We suppose this is one of the reasons that manufacturers do extensive testing before releasing products to the public,.

We don't have a lot of details besides the photos by Hans Lehmann, but we know the images can be painful for fans of the R8 and this even more advanced version. The RS8 is the higher performance version of the already quick R8. Rumor has it we'll see a V10 in the engine bay when it finally gets all the bugs worked out and reaches showrooms. Some even say it will be packing as much as 600 hp, although with Lamborghini's Superleggera Gallardo only sporting 530, it would be an interesting corporate conflict if Audi is allowed to go large on the G.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog

Video: New York Auto Show Recap

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The Autoblog team hit the New York auto show with full force, and we captured everything the show had to offer. In fact, the 2007 New York show represented the most videos we've ever done for an Auto Show, and we started our own video page on YouTube to house it all. The new Hyundai Genesis, Subaru WRX, Ford Flex, and NISMO 350Z were only a few of the things we saw in New York, and we've captured a bunch of the news in the video after the jump. We hope you like it.

Continue reading Video: New York Auto Show Recap

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Lexus dealers have an idea, get cash

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Lexus is looking for a few good ideas. And they are willing to pay big bucks to get them. As part of its new campaign, which Lexus is calling its "Pursuit of Innovation Award," the automaker will be handing out four regional awards of $50,000 each for innovative customer service improvement concepts. Another $25,000 had been set aside for second and third place winners in each region. Before you get your hopes up, understand that this is for Lexus dealers. Corporate decided it needed some changes to stay ahead of the competition and thought it would be better to get suggestions from the front lines rather than handing them down from their ivory pearl tower.

There is no limit to the number of ideas dealers can submit, but plans have to be implemented and proven effective to be considered. Suggestions will be accepted until Nov. 15 and then a third party judging company will determine the winners. Those winners will be announced in February, 2008. A book will then be compiled with all of the best ideas so dealerships can learn how to implement the ideas themselves. It will be up to the winning dealerships to divide the cash awards amongst their employees as they see fit. The money for this campaign is actually coming from marketing rather than customer service, as they thought it was a better use of funds than some short-term lease or other incentive to temporarily boost sales. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Create a better way to keep Lexus customers happy, and you get fifty grand.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog

Roadster Mazdaspeed M'z Tune now on sale in Japan

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Mazda Roadster Mazdaspeed M'z Tune
Click image to enlarge


Introduced as one of the many "concepts" Mazda trotted out for the 2007 Tokyo Auto Salon, the Roadster Mazdaspeed M'z Tune has shed that part of its moniker and is now available through Mazda's Japanese stores as of April 6. A product of Mazda E&T (Engineering & Technology), the M'z tune sheds its open-spoke 5-star wheels and fender-mounted side extractor vents in the transition from concept to production vehicle. 10-spoke alloys and a regular, vent-free fender appear on the customer cars, and the concept's Mazdaspeed badging is carried through.

[Source: Mazda]

Continue reading Roadster Mazdaspeed M'z Tune now on sale in Japan

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Toyota planning new crossover for Kentucky plant

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Toyota Motor Corp. is apparently looking into adding a new model to the assembly line at its Georgetown, Kentucky facility. That's the plant we've recently covered regarding union issues. Georgetown is currently building nothing but Camrys right now, so adding a new crossover to the mix "would help ease the plant's dependence on Camry sedans." Sure, like five million Camrys indicates they need a change. They have already added Camry Hybrid production, but it's never a bad idea to diversify to allow for market fluctuations.

The plant update would likely cost around $400 million, but wouldn't add overall production capacity or swell the work force. If and when another model is added, it is likely to be a new crossover, which would require Toyota to shift some Camry production to other facilities. They would also have to be able to build this new crossover in other Toyota plants to meet global demand. With a potential $400 million on the line, it's not surprising to hear that the Kentucky legislature is working on an incentive package for the expansion.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog

AutoblogGreen Garage: Spend some time with the Nissan Altima Hybrid

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AutoblogGreen recently got to spend a week living with Nissan's first hybrid vehicle - the 2007 Altima Hybrid. The Altima uses a parallel hybrid system licensed from Toyota and is currently only available in 10 states. ABG has the full scoop with all the good and not-so-good on the Tennessee-built sedan, along with a gallery of high-res photos and video.

[Source: AutolbogGreen]

 

[via] Autoblog

El Camino on the horizon again?

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Mike Levine over at PickupTruck.com has made an argument for the return of the El Camino, the car-based pickup sold back in the day that has risen to cult status in the modern era. Considering the cost of fuel these days and fuel economy standards that are likely to rise in the next decade, a car-based pickup could offer a viable solution for people who need the utility of an open bed but not the dismal fuel economy that accompanies a traditional pickup.

A resurrected El Camino would likely be built on the rear-wheel drive Zeta platform developed by GM's Holden division in Australia where such vehicles already exist and are quite popular. The Holden Utes come in two- and four-door versions and are available with V6 and V8 engines, including a Super Sport version with a 350-horsepower V8. A Zeta-based El Camino could easily be built alongside the new Camaro in Oshawa, Ontario, and styling would likely mirror the new pony car's lines to earn some instant street cred by association. The commissioned rendering by Mark Stehrenberger shows what a new El Camino with the corporate Chevy face could look like.

Follow the Read link to catch Mike Levine's case for the El Camino in full, and let us know what you think in the comments.

[Source: PickupTruck.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

New York Auto Show: 2008 HUMMER H3 Alpha

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Click image for entire photo gallery

We can't wait to get our hands on the 2008 HUMMER H3 Alpha, because the other GM trucks we've driven that are equipped with the 5.3L V8 all make all the right sounds and pack the kind of punch you'd expect in a vehicle as butch-looking as the entry-level HUMMER. That probably won't happen 'till late summer, however, so we had to make do with an up-close inspection of one at the New York Auto Show in the meantime.

The example on display at the Javits Center is a lightly accessorized version (note the grille guard and roof lights... those are not standard equipment) that looks great in that gray color, which also happens to be new for '08. Inside, it's no different than other loaded, Luxury Package-equipped H3s, save for the Alpha badge on the steering wheel and the embroidered Alpha insignias on the headrests. The light khaki-colored interior on the display vehicle is very easy on the eyes, but the most welcome sight comes when you pop the hood to reveal a 295-horsepower V8. Who knew three more cylinders could be so exciting?

Check out our original coverage of the 2008 HUMMER H3 Alpha here, and peruse high-res pics from the show floor by clicking below.

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Carmakers respond to new stability control mandate

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Last week, the NHTSA announced its final rules that will require electronic stability control on all light duty vehicles by September, 2011. For once, a new regulation on cars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been welcomed by car-makers instead of drawing complaints. This probably has something to do with the fact that pretty much every automaker is already planning to make stability control standard equipment, and can cheer itself on in advertisements for being ahead of the curve.

Ford is already making stability control standard equipment on its SUVs and crossovers, and other companies like General Motors and Toyota have committed to making ESC standard over the next few years. All carmakers agree that stability control is a technology that, unlike airbags and seatbelts, can actually help prevent accidents.

GM's official response to the new regulation can be found after the jump.

[Source: General Motors]

Continue reading Carmakers respond to new stability control mandate

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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New York Auto Show: HUMMER H2 gets an interior for grown-ups

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Click image for entire photo gallery

Up to now, the interior of the HUMMER H2 could be pointed to as a case study in how to make a vehicle interior as cheap-looking as possible. The salt in the wound, of course, is that such crap was attached to a vehicle costing north of $50,000.

Well, that's over, thank goodness. The 2008 HUMMER H2 gets a spiffy new powertrain in the 6.2L V8 with a 6-speed automatic sourced from the Cadillac Escalade, but the real story is the gigunda SUV's 100% improved passenger cabin. The '08 on the floor at the New York Auto Show is an orange H2 SUT, and when you open the door to look inside, the first thing you think is, "Why didn't it look like this in the first place?"

New, comfortable leather seats are the perches from which driver and passenger gaze upon an all-new instrument panel featuring clean, readable, chrome-ringed gauges, and a proper center stack that uses the General's top-shelf parts bin audio and HVAC controls. HUMMER product director Ross Hendrix takes great pride in the new analog clock installed in the middle of the dash. Costing an unbelievable $26 per vehicle, the clock was something he said he had to fight tooth-and-nail for. But Hendrix is an effective advocate for his brand, and he won in the end. Thought by some at GM to be "too Escalade" for the HUMMER, the clock in the H2 is, unlike the Cadillac's stylized time-teller, actually readable. The 2008 H2's dash covering and door panel tops are also made of soft-touch plastic that has a notable "give" to it when you press down. In short: much, much better. If you visit the show, compare the '08 to the red '07 H2 parked nearby, and we think you'll be in full agreement.

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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