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February 27, 2008

News & Features

2008 new and redesigned compact SUVs

Looking for an all-new compact SUV in 2008? Here's a brief overview of all the compact SUVs that have been redesigned or are brand-new models to the market in 2008. Some of the highlights include the redesigned Mercury Mariner and the brand-new Land Rover LR2.


2008 Ford Escape

2008 Ford Escape

2008 Ford Escape

Redesigned for 2008
List prices: $18,770-$25,520

In its first significant refresh since its 2001 debut, the Ford Escape compact SUV receives some styling changes, inside and out, plus a quieter cabin for 2008. The drivetrains remain the same. The Escape looks more like a Ford Explorer now, but with a plunging chrome grille in some trim levels that would be equally at home on a Volkswagen Jetta or Golf. A raised hood and higher beltline may make the SUV look tougher, but they probably don't do much for visibility.


Infiniti EX35

2008 Infiniti EX35

2008 Infiniti EX35


New for 2008
List prices: TBA

The luxury compact SUV market is a small one, and Infiniti is entering the fray with a bang. The all-new EX35 will sport the same engine as the new G35 sedan — a 3.5-liter V-6 — but with less hp, an estimated "290-plus" hp. That's quite a bit of power for a small utility vehicle, but having a power advantage over the Acura RDX and the BMW X3 immediately gives shoppers a reason to wait for the EX35 to arrive at dealerships this winter.

The engine will team with a five-speed automatic transmission in the all-wheel-drive SUV. The list of features on the EX35 is long, but a few of the niftiest toys is a "scratch shield" paint that is self-healing and can repair light scratches over time. There's also an optional Around View Monitor system that shows the driver a 360-degree representation of the vehicle and surrounding obstacles. A lane departure warning system will also be optional.

Jeep Liberty


2008 Jeep Liberty

2008 Jeep Liberty


Redesigned for 2008
List prices: $20,330-$26,125

One of the more interesting features in the five-seat Jeep Liberty small SUV, which was redesigned for 2008, is its optional Sky Slider movable canvas roof. That's right: canvas.

Two trim levels — Sport and Limited — are offered, and both models have a V-6 engine.

Land Rover LR2

2008 Land Rover LR2

2008 Land Rover LR2


Redesigned for 2008
List prices: Starting at $33,985

Like most upscale automakers, Land Rover must choose between maintaining exclusivity with models only few can afford and chasing sales with a vehicle for the masses. And like most rivals, Land Rover chooses the latter. The five-passenger Freelander SUV arrived in 2002 priced $8,400 under Land Rover's next-cheapest offering, the Discovery. Four years later, it was discontinued.

The Freelander's belated replacement, the LR2, arrives with new looks, a more powerful engine and plenty of off-road equipment. For cash-strapped Land Rover fans, it's not a moment too soon: The British automaker's other SUVs range from $38,000 to $90,000.

The LR2 shares a 230-hp inline-six-cylinder engine with several Volvo models. Off-road ability gets a boost thanks to permanent four-wheel drive that can apportion nearly 100 percent of engine power to the front or rear wheels. A terrain response system similar to that on the larger LR3 is also included.

The LR2 competes with other entry-level luxury SUVs, including the Acura RDX, BMW X3 and Hummer H3.

Mazda Tribute


2008 Mazda Tribute

2008 Mazda Tribute


Redesigned for 2008
List prices: $18,900-$26,270

Just as its Ford Escape brethren got a new look, the Mazda Tribute has received some styling tweaks, including a new grille and interior, plus a rear window that now looks more like the Escape's.

Mercury Mariner


2008 Mercury Mariner

2008 Mercury Mariner


Redesigned for 2008
List prices: $20,920-$25,570

The 2008 Mariner has a much bolder presence than the outgoing model, as this compact SUV has received its first major redesign since its launch as a 2005 model. The 2008 has new, squared-off bodywork, as well as improvements to combat road and engine noise.

The 2008 Mariner, which shares its platform with the Ford Escape, has the same four- and six-cylinder engine choices as before, and a hybrid model is still offered. A Mariner Hybrid is also available.

Nissan Rogue


2008 Nissan Rogue

2008 Nissan Rogue


New for 2008
List prices: $19,250-$21,870

Nissan joins the compact crossover SUV crowd with the introduction of the 2008 Rogue. Offered in base S and uplevel SL trims, the Rogue is powered by a four-cylinder engine and is available with front- or all-wheel drive.

Saturn Vue


2008 Saturn Vue

2008 Saturn Vue


Redesigned for 2008
List prices: $20,770-$28,770

With power players like the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the compact SUV segment is a competitive place to sell cars. Saturn's Vue SUV is the automaker's second-best-selling model, but it hasn't had the high-volume sales of its key competitors. Now in its second generation, the SUV has been completely redesigned and appears better equipped to challenge the established category leaders.

The five-seat 2008 Vue is available in base XE, uplevel XR, performance Red Line and hybrid Green Line trims. The Green Line is covered in a separate report in the Research section. Buyers get a choice of three conventional gas engines or a gasoline/electric hybrid powertrain. Front- and all-wheel-drive versions of regular models are offered; the hybrid comes only with front-wheel drive.

Volkswagen Tiguan

New for 2008
List prices: TBA

There will be three subtle variations of Volkswagen's upcoming Tiguan compact SUV to fit different buyers' off-road desires.

If you need a larger entry angle, you can buy the Tiguan Track & Field. The model has a 28-degree entry angle and a driver-selectable offroad mode. For those who just want the utility of the Tiguan for their daily commute and weekend runs to IKEA, there will also be Trend & Fun and Sport & Style trims. Of course, VW says even these street-friendly Tiguans can take less extreme trails. The Tiguan is expected to be available in the spring of 2008.

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