Hot new car models - spring 2010
A quick overview of the cars people are talking most about and that are in the shortest supply on dealer lots in the spring of 2010.
U.S. car sales remain low, but have begun to recover following the collapse of 2009. Some new models are even hot and in short supply. This page profiles a few car models that people seem to be especially excited about.
In small cars, Ford has successfully used social media to create a far more buzz around the upcoming 2011 Fiesta than Mazda has around the related Mazda2. And the Ford simply seems to be a better value, based on a price and features comparison at TrueDelta.com. Compared to the Mazda, the Ford looks better, is more powerful, offers a six-speed automated manual instead of a four-speed conventional automatic, and gets better fuel economy.
In midsize cars, Hyundai recently introduced a very stylish new 2011 Sonata. The car performs well, and gets excellent fuel economy--22 city and 35 highway. But it's the styling that has the the new Sonata flying off dealer lots and that will get the car noticed. It's totally now, and looks like a much more expensive car. A Toyota Camry seems quite dated in comparison, both inside and out.
Buick faces a huge challenge luring car buyers younger than retirees. Many people have simply never thought a Buick might be their sort of car. But others keep telling me how attractive they find the LaCrosse, an upscale midsize sedan that looks like no other. A downside to the sleek stying: the view from the driver's seat is constricted. Style and a smooth, quiet ride together with more capable handling than people expect from a Buick must more than compensate, since dealers have had trouble keeping the 2010 LaCrosse in stock.
Buick is hoping to accomplish the same with the upcoming 2011 Regal, and slightly smaller, slightly less expensive midsize sedan that will initially be imported from Germany. But the Regals's styling is more subdued and less distinctive, it's only available with a four-cylinder engiine, and t's not that much less expensive than the LaCrosse. So maybe not.
Moving further up the price scale, Infiniti recently introduced a totally redesigned 2011 M midsize luxury sedan, available as the six-cylinder M37 and eight-cylinder M56. While the previous M's exterior was generic and utterly forgettable, the new one has the sort of curves usually found on a Jaguar or Maserati. I dropped by a dealer to test drive one, and they'd already sold every one they'd received.
While SUV and pickup sales have fallen and cars' share has somewhat recovered, it's the crossovers that blend attributes of cars and SUVs that are the hottest products lately.
Buyers seem especially keen on models that fall in between compact and midsize crossovers in size. Chevrolet and GMC dealers have been selling every Equinox and Terrain they can get. Want macho styling? Get the GMC. Don't? Then get the less distinctive Equinox. Attractions include a large amount of rear seat room, a smooth, quiet ride, and a EPA rating of 32 highway for the front-drive four-cyinder. In general people who would have insisted on a V6 a few years ago are now opting for the superior fuel economy of a four. Especially since in this instance the four manages to sound and feel better than the optional V6.
Kia recently introduced the 2011 Sorento. Though smaller on the outside than the GM crossovers, the Sorento manages to offer a third-row seat. The 175-horsepower four cylinder offers good fuel economy, with EPA ratings of 21/29. But the V6 does nearly as well, with EPA ratings of 20/26, while kicking out 276 spirited horsepower. The V6 is the Sorento to get, current trends notwithstanding.
In the last couple of years the compact luxury crossover segment has become quite crowded. And despite being among the last to arrive, the Audi Q5 seems to be the one people are most interested in. Plusses include Audi's typically clean, tasteful styling, an energetic V6, and handling that is about the most car-like in the segment.
Sporty cars fly in the face of current trends. But neither this nor a compromised driving position and a few too many pounds stopped the Chevrolet Camaro from selling briskly during its first year back on the market. Hyundai made its first serious run at the this segment with the 2010 Genesis Coupe, and its a good car, but sales have been lackluster. Such cars come and go, with one perennial exception: the Ford Mustang. Even last year, with engines that simply were not competitive, the Mustang continued to win comparison tests against the Camaro thanks to its relatively compact size and agile handling. And for 2011 it's getting two new engines, a 305-horsepower V6--the 2010 V8 made only ten more--and a 412-horsepower V8 that brings the classic "5.0" back to the GT.
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