by Joe LaMuraglia
I attended the 2009 North American International Auto Show last week and as is custom, I chose the Top 10 vehicles from the show. Our criteria is that they have to be production vehicles from gay-friendly manufacturers in order to qualify. While some of the concepts introduced were HOT (Cadillac Converj anyone?), we stuck to our guns and picked vehicles that you’ll be able to drive in the near future.
2009 BMW Z4– There are very few mainstream cars that elicit jaw-drop stares and unintelligible utterances from me. That all changed when I walked up to the BMW stand at the Detroit show. All I could say was “wow, wow, WOW” over and over again. The new BMW Z4 has been totally redesigned and skillfully incorporates design cues from the past (Think 503 and Z8) in a beautifully modern form. It features a retractable hard-top that retreats to its proper place in 20 seconds – a first for the Z-series. Engines are the wonderfully familiar inline-6s: the 255 hp in the BMW Z4 sDrive30i and the 300 hp BMW Z4 sDrive35i. On sale this spring.
2010 Ford Taurus It is always fun to talk about sexy, exotic cars but the fact of the matter is the most significant vehicles are the one’s that sell the most and one of the biggest segments is the mid-size sedan segment. Ford launched their entry, the new 2010 Taurus, at the show and for a four-door sedan starting at $25,995, it is a stunner. It’s new look is less box more missile but without a compromise on utility. Ford has packed it full of technology that is usually reserved for the luxury segment and they claim to have the quality to match that segment as well. The 2010 Ford Taurus is available in Summer 2009.
2011 Chevrolet Cruze – Yes, you read it correctly, this is a 2011 model that was introduced at the 2009 auto show. In light of all the criticism of the Detroit-based automakers, GM probably wanted to show the world that they can indeed produce world-class product. The 2011 Cruze is fantastic-looking sedan that will replace the Cobalt in Chevrolet’s lineup. Forget everything you know about small cars from GM because the Cruze is finally going to give them something to go head-to-head with best from Europe and Japan. Available with either a 1.4L or 1.8L four-cylinder engine and a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, the Cruze can get up to 40 MPG on the highway. Available in mid-2010.
2010 Toyota Prius – If there is one name that is synonymous with the term hybrid, it is Prius. Toyota started it all two generations ago and launched their latest iteration at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. With a slew of new technologies to keep it ahead of the pack and a refreshed but not unfamiliar design to keep consumers interested, the new Toyota Prius should have no problems continuing their sales success. Toyota claims a combined fuel economy number of 50 MPG. The 2010 Toyota Prius will be available in late Spring 2009.
2010 Lexus HS250h – Lexus debuted their first dedicated hybrid vehicle – the 2010 Lexus HS250h. While many assume it is a Lexus-bodied Toyota Prius (and who could blame them?), Lexus assures us that it is a new platform unique from the Prius that builds on the technology introduced by that car. The HS250h has a larger four-cylinder engine than its cousin from Toyota and doesn’t look much like the Prius either. Lexus claims the new Hs250h will get 30% better fuel economy than the most fuel-efficient vehicle in their lineup now. Available in late Summer 2009.
2010 Cadillac SRX – Replacing the much-loved but slow selling Cadillac crossover is the new 2010 Cadillac SRX. The last SRX impressed journalists with its driving dynamics but never got high points in the looks department. The new 2010 SRX promises to win in both categories (and maybe even the swimsuit competition!). The designs builds on the success of the CTS and is the best interpretation of the Art & Science theme to date. Powering the new SRX will be a standard 3.0 direct-injected V-6 and a new 2.8L turbo V-6 as an option. Both promise V8 fun with V6 fuel economy. The SRX goes on sale Summer 2009.
2009 MINI Convertible – MINI launched their redesigned MINI Cooper last year but the drop top soldiered on with the old body and power plants. The new 2009 MINI Convertible, like the hard top, doesn’t look much different but enters this model year with improvements across the board. You can get your hands on this epitome of adorable starting on March 28, 2009. The suggested retail price for the MINI Cooper Convertible is $24,550, and for the MINI Cooper S Convertible, $27,450 including $650 destination and handling charge.
2010 Chevrolet Equinox – GM has come a long way in what they call “perceptual quality” – you know, the feeling you get when you sit down in a vehicle and start touching a feeling the materials. While past GMs have had good quality in terms of things not breaking, things like switchgear felt cheap and flimsy. The new quality “gurus” around the world are out to remedy that and a perfect example of this new focus is the new 2010 Chevrolet Equinox. This new small crossover will compete in a fiercely competitive segment and does so with a new bodystyle, new engines and yes, a new attitude. With great looks, high quality materials, a class-leading 30 MPG with the base engine and standard technology like OnStar and XM Satellite radio, the 2010 Chevy Equinox should do just fine. Available mid-2009.
2010 Jaguar XFR – There is a certain point when purchasing an automobile when rational thought goes out the window and is replacement by pure unadulterated lust. The new XFR is considerably north of that point and not just because it looks like bad little kitty on wheels. The new supercharged V8 pumps out 510 hp and a lightly modified version of the XFR hit over 255 MPH on the Bonneville salt flats. Rational? Hell no. Do I want one? Oh hells to the yeah! Here kitty, kitty.
2010 Buick LaCrosse – You are going to see a lot from Buick in the coming years. It started with the sexy Enclave last year and the next iteration of their revival is the 2010 Buick LaCrosse. Yes, Buick has claimed to take on Lexus in the past but this time they are serious. The sculpted exterior looks European and the gorgeous interior is simultaneously classic and modern at the same time. Most of you reading this wouldn’t be caught dead considering a Buick. Take my word, the 2010 LaCrosse is the first sedan worthy of your attention. Available late Summer 2009.