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Inside, the H2 gets a new instrument panel, more-comfortable seats, a full third row of seating, and other refinements.

"The 2008 Hummer H2 represents a major step in the evolution of this iconic vehicle," Hummer General Manager Martin Walsh said when he introduced the vehicle in April at the New York auto show.

"From performance to comfort to safety and overall refinement, the new H2 lineup delivers more of what customers expect from Hummer. They will be especially impressed with the new, more refined interior."

The same interior is used in both the wagon and the pickup, which is known as the H2 SUT (sport utility truck). The only difference is that in the SUT, there is a small cargo bed in place of the third row of seats and enclosed cargo area of the wagon.

Other interior changes include new door panels, controls, a rear-seat climate control system, an overhead rear DVD entertainment system, and a variety of audio system offerings.

The company said the major complaint current or previous H2 owners had about the vehicle was that the interior was not as refined as it should be for the price - which begins at just under $55,000 for the 2007 model.

"The new interior delivers a refined, premium feel while maintaining Hummer's trademark ruggedness," interior designer Dennis Burke said in connection with the New York unveiling. "Everything from the flushness of the controls to the feel of the materials exudes craftsmanship in the H2's new interior, while the fine details, like leather seat piping, create a consistent, premium interior design across the entire Hummer family." Emphasis was put on increasing passenger comfort. One key change was to move the mounting of the front seat shoulder belts from the back of the seats to the sides of the vehicle. Also new are front safety belt pretensioners, designed to lock up more efficiently in an emergency.

The new instrument panel includes a six-gauge cluster that "features a more-refined appearance," GM said. "Soft-touch materials and new, more tactile controls enhance the feeling of craftsmanship."

Also redesigned was the center instrument stack that includes the controls for the climate-control and audio systems. Standard is a premium Bose audio system, and a surround-sound system is optional.

New air-conditioning and heating vents in the instrument panel were designed to move the air more efficiently to the second and third rows.

Other amenities include a rear-view camera system and heated windshield washer fluid. Also standard are GM's OnStar and XM satellite radio.

Besides the engine and transmission, improvements in the drivetrain included a larger-capacity cooling system. Standard is a 3.73 rear axle ratio.

The transfer case for the four-wheel-drive system was upgraded, too, GM said. A new traction-control system is standard, and steering has been improved with a quicker turning ratio.

The engine also is quieter, thanks in part to new tuned air intake and exhaust systems, the automaker said.

For safety, there are roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for all three rows of seats, activated by a new rollover sensing system. A tire-pressure monitoring system is standard as well.

Also new is electronic brake assist, the first time this has been used in a full-size GM truck or SUV. This system is designed to detect an emergency braking situation and apply maximum brake pressure to help stop the vehicle quickly and with more control, GM said. This is standard on all 2008 H2 models.

Always a nice feature is OnStar, which for 2008 offers optional turn-by-turn navigation.

The H2 retains its signature seven-slot grille, but the lower part of the grille has been enlarged to allow for more air to cool the bigger engine, GM said. The bumpers are now painted silver; they were black before.

No prices have been announced yet. The new model goes on sale in September.

Hummer's biggest competitors are the Land Rover LR3 and Toyota Land Cruiser/Lexus LX 470 models.

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