The auto industry rarely ever takes a step backward. Despite stiffer government regulations that make building exciting—yet practical—cars, trucks and SUVs, an even bigger challenge, 2012 looks to be another year of progress. With automakers leapfrogging one another in rapid sequence, we at Automotive.com, we looked at where we saw the industry going. As the ball makes its slow descent in just a few hours, to mark the start of the new year, we decided to create a list of our own on where we’d like to see the automakers take it next. Happy New Year from the staff at Automotive.com.
For 2012, I’m hoping for General Motors to continue pushing the envelope in design and engine technology; Honda’s Acura division to finally have competitive offerings against the big hitters like Mercedes-Benz and, especially, Lexus; Ford to finally recapture the magic that once was Lincoln (instead of the slightly tricked-up primo brand it currently is); and Suzuki to get its act together and follow up with the promise heralded by the Kizashi.
An Elegant Plea to Classic and Distinguished PR Heads, Who Represent the Epitome of Elegant and Classic PR, With an Eye for Tasteful Classic Luxury. Elegant: We round the bases here at Automotive.com; we do everything from test drive all the cars we can get our hands on, to writing reviews, covering auto shows, and reporting the latest murmurs from the pressroom. One of the things the staff spends a generous amount of time on is reading press releases. We’ve even met most of the people who write these things, and really, they’re terrific people. Or similar. And we, I’d like to believe, are pretty decent folk too. And even fairly educated! And so why, for the love of deity, must we be bombarded with the words elegant, classic, luxurious, tasteful, and distinguished 11times per paragraph! Give us some credit, or at least copy that won’t have us banging our delicate heads against the (luxurious and tastefully appointed) wall. Sincerely, the people that will stare at screens reading what you write for approximately 9000 cumulative hours next year.
For 2012, I’m not looking for a 600-horsepower compact car, much as that would pretty much make both my 2012 and 2013. No, instead, I want something basic, but better. I was impressed with the 2012 Kia Rio hatchback to the point that I would consider buying one. But, as I told an engineer who works for Kia, it’s a little bit of sound deadening and a manual transmission option with the uplevel Rio SX model away from me spending my own money on one just yet. My wish is for Kia and other automakers is to get the spritely subcompact just right. They’re nimble, miserly, and fun. They’re loaded with more options than ever. But to give consumers the best choice of all worlds—a fun car that is refined, quiet, relatively spacious, teched-out, and affordable with an a la carte transmission—that would be something truly special.
My wish for 2012 is for people to finally realize that the Chevrolet Volt s a truly clever idea. For the first 40 miles after a full charge, the Volt is as electric as a toaster, and the vast number of city-bound commuters won’t use a drop of gas in their day-to-day commute; ask Jay Leno. BUT, since it has a gasoline engine as well, you can still make that 300-mile trip to grandmas over the weekend. The two perceived drawbacks to the Volt are that it costs a lot and it only seats four. But people have no problem buying $35,000 four-seaters as long as they’re labeled “Camaro” or “Mustang.” The Volt gives just as much satisfaction, only to a different part of the brain.
All I want for 2012 is a redesigned Honda Prelude. Front engine. Rear-wheel drive. Lightweight. 35 mpg. 250-horsepower VTEC four-cylinder and a short-throw, close-ratio, six-speed manual transmission with limited-slip differential. Under $25,000. So, basically, a Subaru BRZ, but Honda and awesomer. And I guess that means I want what most people want: for Honda to kick butt again.
My 2012 automotive wish list has a few things I hope Santa will leave in my garage or at the local dealership. My first wish is that automakers will begin offering a wider variety of OEM parts for certain makes and models. An example of this already happening is Mopar, Chrysler’s alternative parts branch. Mopar offers a wide selection of both interior and exterior styling cues along with different wheel combinations. The problem here is that Mopar is only for Chrysler makes and models so if you own a vehicle made by a different manufacturer, you’re out of luck. My second wish is for Santa to bring me back my 2004 GMC Sierra regular cab I recently sold. While gas prices made my wallet smolder after a visit to the pump every five days, the Sierra will always hold a special place in my heart.
The Subayota FRBRZ86GT twins (God, we’ll never stop coming up with portmanteaus for those) was like a shot across the bow of the whole gluttonous, overindulgent automotive industry, a wake-up call to a sleeping giant: hey guess what, people still enjoy focused, fun-to-drive cars. Cars that don’t weigh one-and-a-half tons. Cars that don’t have dizzying horsepower figures solely to impress easily amused Russian oligarchs. Cars that don’t need more computing power than the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The Toyabaru BZRS-86GT Justy twins (now we’re just making up stuff here) are to the rest of the industry the automotive equivalent of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, and they should serve as a reminder that yes, there are drivers out there; they don’t need much power to have fun; and yes, if the engineers build it, they will come. Besides, the supply of late-model Mazda Miatas is gonna dry up eventually.