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A redesigned interior with more passenger-carrying capability and new 6-speed automatic transmission head the list of improvements to Hummer’s H2 flagship for ’08, set to debut at the New York auto show next week.

In addition, the H2’s 6.2L, all-aluminum V-8 gets a 20% power boost to 393 hp and 415 lb.-ft. (574 Nm) of torque to go along with the new Hydra-Matic 6L80 6-speed transmission the H2 shares with such vehicles as the Chevrolet Corvette; V-series Cadillac STS and XLR; and GMT900-based fullsize SUVs.

General Motors Corp. says the engine’s increased power improves performance while the 6-speed’s wide gear ratios and “tall” overdrive gear improve fuel efficiency of the big SUV. The transmission features tap shift capability that allows the driver to manually select upshifts and downshifts with a button on the column shifter.

Inside, the H2 boasts a redesigned instrument panel, new “more chiseled” seats – including a third row that can accommodate two extra passengers, new center stack housing the radio and climate controls and a rear-seat heating/air conditioning system. Also available will be an overhead DVD entertainment system for rear-seat passengers. A Bose premium sound system is standard.

“Everything from the flushness of the controls to the feel of the materials exudes craftsmanship in the H2’s new interior, while fine details, like leather seat piping, create a consistent, premium interior design style across the entire Hummer family,” Dennis Burke, interior designer, says in a statement.

Towing capacity has been increased to 8,000 lbs. (3,629 kg) from 6,500 lbs. (2,948 kg). A new traction-control system and electronic stability control are standard.

Front seatbelts now are mounted to the B-pillars, rather than the seats, for improved comfort and include pretensioners. Roof rail head curtain side airbags for all three rows are standard and incorporate a rollover-sensing system. Also standard is a tire pressure monitoring system.

The H2 is the first fullsize GM SUV or truck to get a panic brake assist feature that detects emergency braking situations and maintains brake pressure to stop the vehicle more quickly and with more control.

Both the ’08 H2 and the H2 SUT model, which incorporates the same powertrain, interior and exterior changes, go on sale later this year.