I'll be damned if I'm going to waste precious space trying to explain to anyone who doesn't get it, why we think America's precious Detroit-based manufacturing assets deserve a hand in the form of loans from the government. Why we think that Congress is full of self-righteous poseurs with double standards, hidden agendas, and heavily subsidized foreign automakers building cars in their (Southern, nonunion) home states.
Why we are outraged at the $800 billion dumped on top of the $700 billion bailout - not loans - handed to the banking and finance industries, with no strings attached and no apparent effect on loosening credit or helping battered homeowners.
Instead, understand this: No matter what the fools on the Hill think, Detroit is already making cars that people want. Maybe not fast enough. Maybe too many clunkers are still lurking on showroom floors. But there are at least three that we celebrate in this issue. Along with seven other vehicles, they comprise our 2009 Automobile Magazine All-Stars, the ten best cars for sale in America today.
Although we are pulling this issue together on the very day that Congress begins to reconsider the more detailed business plans submitted by General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler for use of the requested $34 billion in loans, don't think we had to hustle to find some American iron to prop up.
Our All-Stars drive took place in early October, and the only thing on our collective mind that week was to identify the ten cars that we'd park in our dream garage. Being well-adjusted people, we knew that filling the fantasy fleet with supercars would make us look like ten-year-olds. As automotive journalists, we get to drive whatever we want, so it takes a bit of discipline to apply our enthusiasm across the entire spectrum of cars, crossovers, trucks, and minivans to put together an All-Star team that serves enthusiasts across the financial spectrum, and on a number of levels.
No matter what lawmakers and the media elite think you should drive, you might actually need a people mover. Last year, we gave the nod to the Mazda CX-9, still a fantastic choice. But Ford's whimsically elegant and refined Flex won this year, the product of the deep talent pool at Ford design and an engineering team led by European-finished Derrick Kuzak. The Flex has a chic interior and feels solidly screwed together. We say this with no caveat about waiting for the Flex to shake off its first-year cooties. There appear to be none.
Are you surprised that we find a car from the Blue Oval so praiseworthy? We aren't. There have been twenty Ford All-Stars since 1990, and we're not counting the Ford-owned Mazdas, Jaguars, Aston Martins, Volvos, and Land Rovers that have made the cut over the years. Multiple-year winners include the Probe, Contour, Focus, and Taurus.