1. 2011 Ford Fiesta
The Fiesta is the first introduction of Ford's kinetic design language to the United States, and the first new era global car from Ford. It's green and can outrun baddies in a Corvette in a shopping mall. Moreover, its an America version of the Golf/Jetta abet smaller. I imagine that this little car is going to become a prep classic like the 1999 Jetta, sleek Euro styling in an affordable package. It also has premium features to boot. I'm ready to place my order. Watch to gauge American's acceptance of the Fiesta, its success is likely indicative of Ford's future sucess.
2. 2010 Buick LaCrosse
Its big and bold and probably should have been a Cadillac. The interior is beautifully made and, if you can get over the "dog in flight" center stack, looks substantially better than anything else in its price range. With several engines, awd, and a spacious interior, its a midsize car that should appeal to anyone. Its the first time I could ever actually say I would want a Buick.
3. VW TDI range
Fuel economy without hybrid stigma. I loathe the self-sacrificing eco-nazi image that comes along with driving a hybrid. I care about the environment, but I think its incredibly frustrating that people are blindsided by hybrids. I also hate that hybrids suck the fun out of drive. The VW TDI range gives fun, torque, phenomenal range, in all shapes and sizes from a Golf to the Touareg.
4. 2010 Chevrolet Equinox
Shows that American cars can be better than their foreign competitors. Watch for it where your neighbors CR-V used to be parked, seriously.
5. 2011 Toyota Sienna
Minivans are cool again, especially ones with Maybach style reclining lounge chairs in the middle row. With a Lexus badge this would have sold like hotcakes. It should replace growing SUVs, whose owners growing families no longer can fit in the third row.
6. 2011 Buick Regal
Another Buick! Pigs are flying! The regal is essentially the new 9-5 that is likely never going to come to the United States. With turbo 4-cylinders and euro good looks, the Regal looks like it could be a hit. Buick just needs to get the marketed down and create some momentum!
7. Chevy Volt
Will people pay $35,000+ for an extended range electric vehicle. People are expecting great things from the Volt and hopefully this mundane sedan with economy roots can rise from the Detroit projects to become a force to be reckoned with.
Other Things to Watch Out For!
1. Buick's Bombardment
Without Saturn and Pontiac, Buick seems to be getting all the love these days. Prior to 2010, I never would have consider a Buick, however with the LaCrosse and Regal concept, Buick is looking good. Affordable Euro styling. I may be stretching, but if the marketing crew gets it right, Buick could be the next VW. High perceived quality, euro tuning, and affordable. Let's not let the dying customer base get in the way! (Apparently Bob Lutz agrees)
2. Ford's Failure (Maybe a little extreme)
Ford may be in better shape financially than GM, but every model is based on old platforms whereas GM has almost entirely new cars. It's clear where the money has been going. The Taurus, although good looking, is built on a platform that dates back to the mid-nineties. Its interior in also kind of like a Monet painting, looks good from far away yet looses integrity when you get closer. The same can be said about most of the other cars in the current Ford portfolio. Should we even talk about Mercury, its completely irrelevant. Ford has some great cars, the United States is just not getting them. How long before the EUCD and the C1 vehicles get here?
Fiat might have stepped in to save Chrysler but many things still need to be sorted out. The 500 is going to be exciting, but its not going to save Chrysler in the US. Neither is the new Jeep Grand Cherokee. It's going to take a lot of work to fix Chrysler, and so far, there do not appear to be any on sale dates for any of the updated models. If Fiat can pull it off, I expect there will be great things in store. If not, its just like the Saab Fiasco.
4. The year of forced induction!
The displacement wars are over. Watch for forced induction on an increasing number of vehicles. Ford, VW, Audi, GM, and BMW have already started to switch over. Mercedes has indicated that future AMG models will now feature forced induction. I'm excited, I have always enjoyed the torque provided by a turbo engine!
Toyota has yet to experience the full wrath of the unintended acceleration debacle. On top of that, they failed to adequately handle the situation by refusing to admit fault. Toyota's reputation is built on reliability and quality, the unintended acceleration goes against this. Additionally, recent model introduction have shown poor build quality. It can't be long before the rock solid image of Toyota is shattered.
6. Wagon/Coupe/Crossover/Hatchback Things
Watch out for these amalgamations that attempt to combine the looks of coupe, the space of a wagon, the height of a crossover, and the practicality of a hatchback. Right now the BMW 5-Series GT, Honda Accord Crosstour, Toyota Venza, Acura ZDX and future Audi A7 all seem to have the same mission. Have sat in the 5-Series GT, I was impressed with the rear legroom and it did seem to have a bit of a cool factor. Lets watch to see if this segment takes off.