New-vehicle product offerings for the U.S. in 2010 range from a 638-hp Chevrolet Corvette to a first-ever hybrid-electric vehicle from Mercedes-Benz.
Unlike product blitzes of past years when the auto industry was in full swing, next year won't feature waves of new-vehicle introductions. But American, Asian and European auto makers haven't been sitting on their hands, either.
Ward's editors have put together a list of new and notable vehicles.
Chevrolet Equinox: The all-new Equinox comes to market with a fresh pair of direct-injection engines, a 2.4L 4-cyl. and a 3.0L V-6 aimed at boosting fuel economy without sacrificing performance. The 4-cyl. mill also is a first for the Equinox, which should help boost its share of the segment.
Chevrolet Camaro: After what seemed like an eternity in concept form, the new Camaro debuted in mid-2009. Next year will be its first full sales year. With an available 6.2L V-8 engine, it still packs muscle lineage, but a first-ever independent rear suspension places it in the more-refined sports-car segment.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1: It may look like a regular Corvette except for some special aerodynamics and graphics. But it is what you can't see immediately that makes this $100,000 vehicle different: a 6.2L supercharged 638-hp V-8 engine. Drive carefully.
Buick LaCrosse: The new premium sedan shares only a name with its predecessor. The vehicle is upgraded on all accounts, including three direct-injection engines and sculpted exterior design that finally lives up to General Motors Co.' promise of delivering a modern interpretation of legendary Buick design.
GMC Terrain: Sharing underpinnings with the new Equinox, the Terrain represents GMC's first-ever foray in to the small cross/utility vehicle segment. It makes a boisterous entrance, too, with boxy styling seemingly straight from the Hummer design studio.
Cadillac CTS-V: The “V” is for Vroom! Same supercharged V-8 as the Corvette but room for five passengers. Also, it's some $30,000 less expensive than the ZR1 and carries more luxurious appointments, such as suede-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob.
Cadillac SRX: The Lexus RX 350 officially is put on notice. For '10 the SRX slims down to a 5-passenger CUV from 7-passenger family hauler and gains two new engines — an awfully capable 3.0L direct-injection V-6 and a fashionably late 2.8L turbocharged V-6 due sometime in this fall.
Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon: Americans typically shy away from wagons, but ignoring this beauty would be a mistake. It boasts all the sportiness of the CTS sedan with a 3.6L direct-injection V-6 and the same edgy styling, but a spacious cargo area adds convenience.
Other GM notables coming in 2010: The '11 Chevy Volt extended-range electric vehicle,'11 Chevy Cruze compact car, '11 Chevy Orlando multipurpose vehicle, '11 Chevy Spark minicar and '11 Cadillac CTS Coupe.
Ford Taurus: The Taurus nameplate is resurrected (again) for '10, but this time it's attached to a worthy vehicle. With sleek styling, a comfortable interior and competent 263-hp 3.5L V-6, the Taurus has what it takes to compete in the full-size sedan segment.
Ford Fiesta: Next year the long-awaited Fiesta B-car hits the U.S., and if sales in European markets (the car went on sale there in 2008) are any indication, Ford Motor Co. will have a runaway hit on its hands.
Ford Focus: The U.S. next year finally gets the European Focus, which is head and shoulders above the current version sold here. Ford will offer a sneak peek at the new model at the 2010 Detroit auto show.
Ford Transit Connect: Ford brought this European small commercial van to the U.S. hoping to tantalize small-business owners seeking a vehicle suited to their unique needs. Early results indicate Ford was right on in its assessment.
Lincoln MKT: Ford is hoping the 7-seat Lincoln MKT's polarizing looks and available EcoBoost engine can make inroads into the luxury CUV market and help restore Lincoln's prestige.
Dodge Ram Heavy Duty: If a full-line auto maker is unveiling just two redesigned vehicles, as Chrysler Group LLC is doing for 2010, at least one had better be big. This is it. Available now for the first time in three cab sizes — regular, crew and mega — the Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 are powered by a 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel I-6 engine that generates 350 hp and peak torque of 650 lb. ft. (881 Nm) at 1,500 rpm.
Jeep Grand Cherokee: The first application of Chrysler's new Phoenix family of V-6 engines, this redesigned midsize SUV includes a new Quadra Lift air suspension. It offers three choices of 4×4 systems: Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra Trac with electronic limited-slip differential.
Nissan Leaf: The wait for this ballyhooed electric vehicle is almost over as the small car is due to go on sale in the U.S. late next year. All eyes are on it because, well, it's an EV. The Leaf will have a sub-$30,000 starting price, but lack a range-extending gas engine, which the Chevy Volt has.
Hyundai Sonata: Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. proclaimed the current generation Sonata as the real deal when it debuted in 2005. But it didn't make much of a dent in Toyota Camry or Honda Accord sales. The '11 Sonata will be available with only a 4-cyl. engine. Gasoline direct-injection technology likely will make up for the loss of a V-6.
Honda Odyssey: America's best-selling minivan gets a full makeover, just when the segment is losing players and sales, as young families continue to embrace CUVs. Given Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s reputation for quality and the Odyssey's standing in the market, the auto maker would have to monumentally stumble to make a mess of this next-gen model.
MazdaSpeed3: This feisty car sticks to the formula that made its predecessor a success, including carrying over the 2.3L direct-injection spark ignition turbocharged 4-cyl. engine, a multiple Ward's 10 Best Engines winner.
BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo: Touted as a “progressive activity sedan” and based on the next-generation 5 Series sedan, the Gran Turismo has higher seating and the versatility of a liftgate. Some are calling it a tall wagon, while others refer to it as a CUV.
BMW ActiveHybrid X6: This two-mode hybrid comes from BMW AG's collaboration with the old DaimlerChrysler AG and GM. BMW is touting it as the most powerful hybrid on the road. It is powered by two electric motor and a gas twin-turbo V-8 that produces 480 hp. BMW says it is looking at 20%-25% better fuel economy than the normal V-8.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan: It represents the tri-star brand's bread-and-butter car with high-volume at high margin. Mercedes goes with edgy styling, inside and out, with this redesigned model. But the exterior's sharp lines and flat surfaces contribute to a drag coefficient the auto maker claims is best-in-class. Watch for the Bluetec diesel version in March and an all-wheel-drive wagon in June.
Mercedes E-Coupe: How do you invoke the freedom of a convertible and still have a roof over your head? Get rid of the pesky B-pillar. The E-Coupe replaces the CLK sports coupe.
Mercedes S400: The German auto maker goes green with its first hybrid. About 10% of S-Class buyers are expected to go for the mild-hybrid option. The added electronics leave no room for the brand's trademark 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. An impending full-hybrid ML450 CUV will have no such limitations.
VW Golf: Styling changes are evolutionary on the sixth generation of this best-selling model, but it benefits from the same TDI engine that gave the Jetta “Green Car of the Year” honors for 2009. And if there's a new Golf, there must also be a new GTI.
Audi A3 TDI: For those who want added style to go with their fuel economy — or vice versa — this premium entry-level offering will be outfitted with a 2.0L I-4 TDI.
Jaguar XJ: The Brits went back to the drawing board for this dramatic design departure from the outgoing model. Whether Jag loyalists will accept the radical new styling, based on the XF sports sedan, remains to be seen.
Land Rover LR4: The SUV comes with updated sheet metal and a revised interior. A new 5.0L direct-injected V-8 engine is used across the luxury maker's lineup in both naturally aspirated and supercharged forms.
Saab 9-5: Billed as the brand's most technically advanced vehicle ever, the premium sedan features progressive Scandinavian design married to sporty, fuel-efficient powertrains. The car will ride on the same GM architecture underpinning the Opel Insignia in Europe and Buick LaCrosse.
Volvo XC60: This luxury CUV shows the Swedish auto maker is serious about taking a chunk of the segment away from German competitors. The 5-seat vehicle boasts Volvo's renowned safety systems and comes wrapped in some of the finest sheet-metal fabrication to come out of Gotenberg in decades.