What automakers are offering for 2009

Splashy sports cars, new pickup trucks and powerful yet fuel-thrifty diesel engines highlight the 2009 model year.

Some, like Ford and Saturn, have improved their gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles for 2009. And German automakers like Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW are selling cars and SUVs with new diesel engines that for the first time meet emissions requirements in all 50 states. Diesel engines are known to deliver good mileage as well as impressive get-up-and-go.

Here are the details of the new models for 2009:

Acura

The entry Acura TSX is a larger, second-generation model with updated exterior styling and a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine with horsepower that peaks at 201.

The mid-range TL is a larger, fourth-generation model that is available in the uplevel TL SH-AWD version that, for the first time, includes Acura’s special all-wheel-drive system. That not only shifts power from front to rear wheels when needed, but also from one side of an axle to the other for improved cornering.

Audi

Audi’s smallest sedan, the A4, is larger and sits a bit lower as a third-generation model. Styling is bolder, too. The new A4 will be offered first with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system, and later in the model year as a front-wheel-drive model.

Using the same platform as the A4, Audi’s first compact sport utility vehicle, the Q5, will be out later in the model year.

BMW

Both the X5 SUV and the 3-Series sedan will be available with the new 265-horsepower, 3-liter, turbocharged, diesel, inline six cylinder that puts out 425 foot-pounds of torque.

Later in the model year, the flagship 7-Series sedan will debut as a newly styled car with new suspension and the 400-horsepower, 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V-8 that’s already in the BMW X6.

Buick

Buick’s eight-passenger crossover SUV gets more power in 2009, as a 288-horsepower, 3.6-liter, direct injection V-6 replaces the previous V-6. Torque peaks at 270 foot-pounds. A new engine is added to the Lucerne sedan, too.

Cadillac

The top American luxury brand will sell its most powerful production car ever, the rear-wheel-drive CTS-V, powered by a 556-horsepower, 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 that comes directly from the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 sports car.

Also in 2009, Cadillac introduces the gasoline-electric hybrid Cadillac Escalade, with a combined city/highway fuel mileage rating of 20 mpg in two-wheel-drive. This compares with a government rating of 15 mpg, combined city/highway, for a non-hybrid, two-wheel-drive Escalade.

Chevrolet

Chevy powers forward with its 2009 Corvette ZR1, a two-seat Vette with carbon fiber body panels, carbon-ceramic brakes and dual-clutch technology boasts a top speed of more than 200 mph and is the first Corvette with a starting price of more than $100,000.

Chevrolet also gets a new crossover SUV, the Traverse, with room for eight, is a sibling to the Buick Enclave and uses the same 288-horsepower, 3.6-liter, direct-injection V-6.

The Chevy Silverado full-size pickup truck offers a gasoline-electric hybrid system in 2009 that’s identical to that offered on the Tahoe SUV.

Chrysler

For 2009, Chrysler puts a gasoline-electric power system into its biggest SUV, the Aspen.

The full-size Aspen Hybrid uses a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with Chrysler’s Multi-Displacement System, which changes to four-cylinder mode when more power is not needed.

Elsewhere, the Chrysler 300C large sedan can be had with a more powerful Hemi V-8 than before. The new 5.7-liter V-8 provides 359 horses and 389 foot-pounds of torque.

Dodge

The news at Dodge is headlined by the return of the rear-wheel-drive Challenger muscle car — with old-style looks and modern technology. The sizable, two-door car is offered in SRT8 form, with a 425-horsepower 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 with 420 foot-pounds of torque. Other, lower-powered engines are available for the Challenger, too.

There’s also a gasoline-hybrid Durango coming in 2009 that works with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 to deliver improved fuel mileage.

Ford

The Ford Flex can carry up to seven passengers and cargo and provide luxurious amenities, including a four-panel Vista roof, programmable ambient lighting and a refrigerated console between seats.

Elsewhere, the F-Series pickup truck is redesigned with new looks outside and in, an upgraded chassis and a choice of three V-8 engines initially.

Ford is also revising its full-size E-Series van with new front-end treatment and upgraded interior.

GMC

The 2009 Acadia, a crossover SUV with room for eight, gets a new engine for improved performance and fuel economy. The GMC Sierra 1500 full-size pickup truck offers a gasoline-electric hybrid system in 2009 that’s identical to that offered on the Chevy Silverado pickup.

Honda

Honda’s largest SUV, the eight-passenger Pilot, is restyled and revamped as a slightly larger, second-generation model for 2009. The Pilot’s underlying platform is revised for improved ride and handling.

At the other end of the size spectrum, Honda’s Fit subcompact hatchback is slightly larger inside and out, has improved suspension, and a 120-horsepower, 1.5-liter, fuel-sipping, four-cylinder engine.

Honda also is beginning to lease its hydrogen-powered fuel cell sedan. The aerodynamic, four-door FCX Clarity is the first hydrogen-powered car to go to regular people as an everyday car, albeit leased, not purchased. Only 200 FCX Clarity cars are planned for lease over the next three years.

Hummer

The new H3T pickup truck has the styling of an H3 SUV. It also can carry five in its four-door crew cab, while stowing lots of gear in its 5-foot-long bed. This mid-size Hummer truck also has standard full-time four-wheel-drive, 32-inch tires and functional skid shields.

It’s available with a choice of 239-horsepower, 3.7-liter, inline, five-cylinder engine or a 300-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8.

Hyundai

Hyundai is moving upstream with its first luxury, rear-wheel-drive sedan, the Genesis. The Genesis is only the second car on the market with a Lexicon audio system. The other is the Rolls-Royce Phantom. And the five-passenger Genesis comes with special suspension dampers that have only been available on luxury brands.

Meantime, the Elantra adds a Touring model that is — and looks like — a European Hyundai.

Jeep

Both the Grand Cherokee and Commander SUVs add a new 357-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with 389 foot-pounds of torque to their offerings.

Kia

The South Korean automaker weighs in with its first mid-size, seven-passenger, V-8-powered SUV. The 2009 Borregois is built with a ladder-frame structure, the kind that provides strong towing capacity and rugged off-road durability in truck-based SUVs. It has the first V-8 offered in a Kia in the United States.

Lexus

Styling of the IS 250 and IS 350 is freshened for 2009, while Lexus prepares a coupe version for debut later in the year.

Lincoln

Lincoln continues to grow its lineup of vehicles starting with the letters “MK.” The newest is the MKS, a sizable sedan with seating for five; bold, shiny grille; and roomy interior. Sometime in the model year, a twin-turbocharged V-6 with some 340 horsepower is expected to be added to the MKS.

Mazda

The Mazda6 sedan grows substantially larger for 2009, with length expanded by 6.1 inches. Meantime, the flagship RX-8 has new exterior styling and a new trim level — R3. The R3 includes sport suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers and Recaro sport front seats.

The gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Tribute also gets a more powerful engine, a version of the 2.5-liter four that’s in the regular base Tribute.

Mercedes-Benz

The 210-horsepower, 3-liter, turbo-diesel V-6 is offered in the GL-Class and M-Class SUVs and R32 wagon, and meets emissions in every state, including California.

Mercury

Mercury’s twin to the Ford Escape SUV is the Mariner, and it receives the same new powertrains that the Escape does. Like the Escape Hybrid, the Mariner Hybrid qualifies as the most fuel-efficient SUV sold, with city/highway ratings of 34 and 31. For 2009, it uses a new, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that uses the fuel-efficient Atkinson Cycle for combustion.

Mini

The Cooper adds a 208-horsepower John Cooper Works edition. It includes a sporty body kit, Brembo brakes and special wheels.

Nissan

Auto enthusiasts already know what’s hot at Nissan for 2009. It’s the GT-R, a fifth-generation Nissan Skyline coupe that finally comes to the States after four iconic generations in Japan. As exotic a Japanese car as could be, the GT-R has awesome power from a nearly lag-free 3.8-liter, twin-turbo V-6 that generates 480 horsepower and 430 foot-pounds of torque.

It also has the distinction of being the most expensive Nissan ever sold in the States, with a starting price, including destination charge, of $70,850.

Pontiac

The new model year brings the second-generation Vibe hatchback, with sleeker styling and an upgraded interior.

Both the GT and all-wheel-drive models of Vibe return to the lineup, and electronic stability control is standard on all Vibes for the first time.

For 2009, the Solstice roadster adds a coupe version that’s more amenable to year-round weather. There is a removable roof panel, so open-air driving is available when weather permits.

Porsche

The 911 Carrera and Carrera S get more powerful engines for 2009. A new option for the 911 Carreras is a PDK gearbox, which uses a double-clutch mechanism to operate the seven gears. It can operate as an automatic or be shifted manually.

Porsche’s SUV, the Cayenne, adds its most powerful version yet, a 4.8-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8 generating 550 horsepower. The vehicle can reach 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, remarkable for an SUV weighing more than 5,000 pounds.

Porsche also is expected to move to direct-injection in the engines of the Boxster and Cayman in the next year.

Saab

The Saab 9-3 adds a more powerful 2.8-liter V-6 engine — with 280 horsepower in 2009. In addition, the XWD all-wheel-drive system is now offered on turbocharged, four-cylinder models.

Saturn

The 2009 Vue Green Line is the first V-6-powered compact SUV to use parent company General Motors Corp.’s two-mode hybrid system, and can travel as much as 500 miles on a single tank of gas. The result is a federal government combined city/highway fuel mileage of 28 mpg, better than even the 22-mpg rating for a two-wheel-drive Vue with lower-powered four-cylinder engine.

Subaru

The long-running Forester SUV is revamped, and is larger and restyled to look more like an SUV and less like a wagon. The Forester’s chassis and suspension are upgraded and back seat legroom is improved.

Toyota

The Venza five-door wagon arrives in 2009. Riding on the platform of the front-wheel-drive, mid-size Camry sedan, the Venza seats five, with cargo room behind the seats.

Toyota’s long-running Corolla is a 10th-generation model for 2009 with a wider, longer body and styling that makes it look like a smaller version of the Camry.

The Corolla’s hatchback platform twin, the Matrix, also is restyled for 2009 and uses the Corolla engines.

Volkswagen

VW adds a smaller SUV than its Touareg, the Tiguan — a compact yet can seat five people. It’s powered by a 200-horsepower, 2-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that’s available with either a six-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual.

Volvo

The XC60 debuts during the model year as a smaller SUV than the XC90. It uses the same 235-horsepower, 3.2-liter, inline six cylinder that’s in the Land Rover LR2 SUV. But the safety equipment on the XC60 is all Volvo, including a collision-avoidance system that puts on the brakes in traffic if it senses an imminent crash.