By Scott Corlett
January is that time of year when the intrepid reporters of Gaywheels.com brave Detroit’s bitter cold to bring you the best new vehicles from the North American International Auto Show. Listed below, in no particular order, are the best new production vehicles from the gay-friendly manufacturers for 2008:
Bulls Will Be Bulls
Apparently the PR folks at Chrysler didn’t consider the inevitable outcome of penning up 300 males in close proximity. I doubt they intended to launch their redesigned Dodge Ram pickup with some hot bull-on-bull action. But that’s exactly what happened when 300 longhorns were herded down the street in front of the exhibition hall during the truck’s outdoor press unveiling: the daddy bulls started mounting the boy bulls in a bovine version of ’70s porn, complete with mustachioed cowboys. Oh, and the Ram? HOT. And that’s no bulls—.
Bulges in the Right Places
Sex and the City alum Kim Cattrall wore a hot red number and mile-high Manolos as she strode on stage and flirted with Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG, which owns Mercedes-Benz. She smiled coyly, touched Dieter’s shoulder, and cooed about “assertiveness, bulges in the right places … [and a] tight little package.” Undoubtedly Cattrall had the balding, brushy-lipped German worked up, but she actually was speaking about another onstage hottie, the new Mercedes-Benz GLK sport-utility vehicle. The GLK is a rugged, small-scale SUV with the stamina to keep up with hard-riding shoppers like Kim–and its planned, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine will offer the torque of a gasoline-fueled V-8 but return an über-sexy 35 mpg.
The Vue Steps Out on Its Own
To date, the Saturn Vue Green Line reminds me of that guy in college who could only do other guys during a three-way with his girlfriend. The current Vue Green Line is a “mybrid,” which means that, unlike out-and-proud hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, its electric motor can never power this compact SUV without the aid of its gasoline engine. Starting with the 2009 model, the Vue Green Line will step out on its own, as it will be able to use solely the electric motor for propulsion. Compared with the regular Vue, the present Vue Green Line increases fuel economy by 25 percent, but thanks to the ability to run on the motor, the upcoming version’s mileage ratings are a whopping 45 percent higher.
Venza, Vidi, Vici
In 47 B.C., after routing a Turkish city, Julius Caesar succinctly said, “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered). Now it’s MMLV years later and a new emperor is conquering foreign lands, and his name is Toyota and the battlefield is the North American car market. Toyota calls its new, Camry-based Venza a crossover sedan, which is Latin for station wagon. The Venza is a five-passenger hauler with a tall ride height to provide the all-important command-position seating and available all-wheel drive to help defeat inclement weather. Smooth-running four-cylinder (standard) and optional V-6 engines, an interior that’s far more luxurious than the Camry’s, and the Toyota badge of quality make the Venza a warrior unstoppable by Caesar himself. All hail, Toyota.
The Home Team Homerun
The Cadillac CTS-V is the performance version of General Motor’s slick CTS sedan. What does that extra letter on the badge buy you? How about a rocket-worthy 550 horsepower? Yes, you read correctly, that’s 550 horses pulling a mid-size sedan, as in 43 more ponies than Mercedes’s E63 and 50 more than BMW’s M5. Not only is the CTS-V wicked fast, he’s certainly not shy, with a well-bulging hood that Kim Cattrall would love and a mesh grill that shouts get the f– out of my way. The Germans were never very good at baseball; this badass CTS-V is an out-of-the-park homerun for the home team.
With its new Passat CC, Volkswagen sent out a mass e-mail to the automotive buyers of the world. It read, “Hey! You no longer have to shell out luxury car bucks for slick styling. Cheers, VW.” The Volkswagen Passat CC is a coupe-style, four-door sedan, á la Mercedes-Benz’s sleek CLS. And like the CLS, the Passat CC is a thing of precious beauty, a bubble of metal and glass that rises up from the pavement, with cat-eye side windows and a swooping rear end. And with a price differential of $20,000 or more between the CLS and CC and a style differential of nearly zero, Mercedes can’t be happy with this news–which is exactly why VW cc’d M-B.
BMW Gets All Diesel-y
BMW plans to do for diesel what Justin Timberlake did for sexy–bringing it back. For the American market in 2008, BMW plans two models powered by its twin-turbo, 3.0-liter diesel in-line six. This oil burner lands Stateside first in BMW’s X5 SUV and its 3-Series sedan, and packs a respectful 265 horsepower and an off-the-hook 425 lb-ft of torque–well more than most V-8s. Not only will this engine be 50-state compliant, but BMW claims it will shoot their 335d sedan from zero to 60 in a sprightly 6.2 seconds and the X5 to the same speed in 7.2 seconds. Fuel economy is an eco-friendly 23/33 mpg city/highway for the sedan and 15/25 mpg for the X5. If I can just talk JT into riding shotgun, then I’m all set.
Subaru was one of the first auto companies to advertise in the gay media. And ever since, we’ve rewarded Subaru with our loyal purchases of their ever-practical haulers, which always feature standard all-wheel drive and room for our kids, pooches, and tag sale finds. In 2008, Subaru launches the newest version of its venerable Forester wagon. The redesigned 2009 Forester is a meatier lumberjack, with a more SUV-like stance. Although bigger, the new Forester offers a tree-friendly 2.5-liter base engine in a “California-spec” version that meets stringent PZEV emissions requirements. Put simply, on a smoggy day in L.A., the exhaust of a Forester equipped with this plant may be cleaner than the air you breathe. And that is indeed a breath of fresh air.
Little German Soft Top
I usually do everything in my power to avoid the above combination of descriptors. But in the case of BMW’s all-new 1-Series convertible, I’d gladly pay for a long-term relationship with just such a special friend. The 1-Series soft top is a gorgeous, little two-door cabrio with sleek metal, a sprung stance, and a sexy, simple interior. And the 1-Series is fast. Like any guy packing six-pack abs on South Beach, the 1-Series sheds its top in 22 seconds. And like that same guy after a day of sun and proximity to half-naked men, the 1-Series is raring to go, with zero-to-60 times of 6.8 seconds for the base in-line six and 5.6 seconds for the twin-turbo six. Who knew a little German soft top could be such fun?
The Best Seller
The best selling vehicle in America is neither the Honda Accord nor Civic, nor the Chevy Cobalt, nor even the omnipresent Toyota Camry. No, the vehicles that Americans buy most often are the Ford F-Series pickup trucks. So whenever Ford announces a redesign of its F-150 pickup, the most popular of the F-Series trucks, everyone from Brokeback weekenders to workday tradesmen wait with bated breath. Bigger, badder, and techier, the new F-150 is one hot hauler, with USB and MP3 ports, a 700-watt Sony stereo, and voice-activated navigation. Now, if Ford could just stream the video from the F-150’s optional backup cam down from Brokeback Mountain, they’d have a major new source of badly needed revenue.
Read our blog “Putting the ‘Mo in Motown” for videos, photos and daily updates from our time at the show.
You can find any Ford truck accessory you need at the AmericanTrucks, the source for quality aftermarket parts and accessories.