Never mind loans, partners, reorganizations, dealer purges, or any of the other maneuverings that have consumed the U.S. auto industry for the past twelve months. Only great new cars and trucks can power Detroit out of the ditch. New for 2010 (or thereabouts), the ten cars gathered here are, in our estimation, the best hope to do just that.
The "new" GM has fresh products for each of its four surviving divisions (Hummer, Pontiac, Saab, and Saturn are now more or less out of the picture). Chevrolet, still basking in the attention of the long-awaited Camaro launch, gets a new Equinox this fall, and GMC offers its own version of that SUV, the Terrain. Buick, tasked with tackling Lexus, has the new Lacrosse sedan, and Cadillac receives the redesigned SRX and the CTS Sport Wagon. The challenge for the company will be convincing consumers to believe in these new products despite the poisoned reputation that comes with one of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
At a time when so many Chrysler products are criticized for their design and their cheap interiors, it's hugely encouraging that the new Grand Cherokee is a stunner, both inside and out. This model's 350,000-units-per-year heyday may be behind it, but being handsome is always a good thing. Now the team just needs to execute.
As the relevance of Lincoln's Navigator fades, the MKT arrives just in time to step in as the brand's high-luxe people mover. But while big-bling SUVs were all about making a style statement, the MKT is more about performing a function - which strikes us as a much more solid basis for success.
Ford Taurus SHO
The new 2010 Taurus makes tremendous strides in bringing what was once Ford's best-selling passenger-car nameplate back from rental-car oblivion. But it's the reappearance of the SHO that really drives home the message of the Taurus's rehabilitation.
Ford Fusion Hybrid
This early 2010 model was one of the first indicators that an American car company could compete, and win, against the Japanese in the critically important arena of fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles - neither of which had previously been a Detroit strongpoint.