By on December 21, 2020

TTAC Christmas wish list unrealistic - Images: AutomakersFrench hot hatches. Affordable full-size wagons. Manual-shift rear-wheel-drive sports sedans under $30,000. Production versions of the Chevrolet Code 130R, Dodge Hornet, and Ford Start. The reincarnation of Isuzu’s VehiCROSS and Trooper. Standard-of-the-world Cadillac sedans and ordinary BMWs that drive as well as modern Cadillacs. A hiatus on coupe funerals.

My unrealistic auto writer’s Christmas wish list could go on forever. Much of it is based on nostalgia. Some of it simply isn’t cognizant of current market trends. A healthy portion of it simply denies the lack of performance-oriented interest among 2020’s car buyers. The remainder shows a lack of gratitude for the spectacular automotive era in which we live.

But what about realistic hopes of what could be gifted to the auto enthusiast community in the new decade?

This is my realistic Christmas wish list for 2020, not for me personally but rather for the North American auto industry as a whole.

Performance-Branded Small SUVs
There are plenty of AMG and M-badged utilities. Yet little effort has been expended on bringing genuine performance credentials to the biggest sellers in the biggest automotive sector. High-powered engines aren’t enough – it’s time for the complete package. It was a foregone conclusion in decades past that automakers would offer another level of performance – not necessarily in conjunction with luxury content, either – to high-volume cars.

You’re familiar with vehicles such as the Honda Civic Si, Subaru Impreza WRX STI, and Volkswagen Golf GTI. The time has come. Let’s have a CR-V Si, a RAV4 TRD, a Tiguan GLI, and a Rogue SE-R. Power is easy, but don’t forget the brakes, suspension, wheels, tires, front fascia, and seat bolsters.

chevrolet-suburban-2005A Somewhat Affordable Chevrolet Suburban
Even when the exterior design challenges good taste, the Chevrolet Suburban’s desirability quotient runs high. It is simply so excessive that it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where it couldn’t measure up to the challenge. Unlike the overwhelming majority of three-row utility vehicles (and very much in keeping with minivans), there’s an abundance of space for more at least seven people and their stuff.

Unfortunately, Suburbans are terrifyingly costly. Since 2000, a four-wheel-drive Suburban’s base price has risen 29 percent when adjusted for inflation. De-content it, de-chrome it, run the prior generation as a “Classic” model – I don’t care. Just offer an entry-level Suburban for under $45,000, rather than over $55,000.

BMW M5 E39 - Image: M5_E39_TerabassAttractive BMWs
Run a Google image search for E39 M5 or E39 7-Series. Study the beltline on an E46 convertible. Make the E34 Touring your desktop background. Then ask yourself whether anybody who worked in BMW’s design department 20 years ago is even remembered inside the company. BMW designs today are caricatures of BMW’s best efforts.

No, it’s not just the grilles. The X2 is ill-proportioned everywhere. The 7-Series doesn’t appear athletic. The Z4’s headlights search in vain for a connection to the grille. And yeah, okay, the grilles are an affront to good taste.

Image: General MotorsChevrolet Spark Competitors
Subcompacts are dropping like flies. The Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta are way too good to deserve discontinuation. Except, that’s just it. They are way too good. If the North American marketplace is going to offer an effective small car market five years from now, automakers are going to need to learn how to compete at an acceptable small car price point.

That means a Spark-like $13,400 and not a Fit-like $16,190. Doesn’t sound like a big gap? It’s a 21-percent difference that drives subcompact-intending Fit, Fiesta, and Sonic buyers into Civics, EcoSports, and, well, Sparks.

A New Name For FWD Subcompact Crossovers
To the typical shopper, they’re not cars. But we know that without even an all-wheel-drive option, they can hardly be called an SUV. Crossover should be acceptable terminology for the Nissan Kicks, Hyundai Venue, Toyota C-HR, and Kia Soul. After all, they cross over between one category and another. But the “crossover” banner already hangs over an established segment of RAV4s, Outbacks, and other utilities with four-wheel traction.

That leaves the general population under the mistaken impression that these mildly elevated cars, with their roof rails and wheel-arch cladding, went to the same school. Urban Utility Vehicle? That’s probably too much of a mouthful.

A Class-Leading Toyota Tundra
A new full-size Toyota pickup isn’t too far off, and not a moment too soon. The second-generation Toyota Tundra was introduced for the 2007 model year. With the Nissan Titan fading away (2021 is its last model year in Canada, the model mix is narrowing in the U.S., sales are dwindling), the Tundra is the lone challenger for Detroit supremacy.

Mind you, Detroit’s truck innovation has not been slowed by a dearth of outside competition. But in a hugely consequential segment that produces over 200,000 monthly U.S. sales during a pandemic, it seems odd that there is so little viable competition. If the Tundra’s ever going to become a factor, it can’t merely be competitive. It needs to be better.

Toyota FJ Cruiser Final Edition - Image: ToyotaMore Wrangler Competition
Ford figured it out. The Jeep Wrangler sits on a gold mine all of its own. The unveiling of the Ford Bronco was undeniably one of the automotive industry’s biggest moments in 2020, and its actual arrival in showrooms later in 2021 will undeniably be one of the automotive industry’s biggest moments in 2021. There are other body-on-frame SUV nameplates that at one point produced significant volume, however, and there may well be no time like the present to recapture some of that past glory.

True, Toyota sold fewer than 15,000 FJ Cruisers per year in its final six years on the market, but more than 55,000 were sold in each of its first two years on the market. And while Nissan Xterra sales dropped below 20,000 units in each of its last five years, Nissan averaged 75,000 annual Xterra sales between 2000 and 2006. With a new Frontier, can we have a new Xterra?

2007 Honda Element EX, Image: American HondaElement, Montero, CX-7, Tracker, Nitro
Potential Wrangler competitors aren’t the only potential SUV reincarnations that would make more sense in the early 20s than they did in the early Aughts. The Honda CR-V could once again spin off a renewed Honda Element, the cult following for which would generate plenty of initial hype. Mitsubishi is a joke in some circles, but if the Pajero (that we know as the Montero) would have ever been updated, it would certainly elevate the brand’s current North American reputation.

Mazda’s CX-7, reborn with true performance credentials and improved cabin space, would suit Mazda’s range well as a challenger for the Edge, Murano, Passport, and Blazer. Might a rugged, small, affordable, body-on-frame GM SUV fare well in a battle with the Ford Bronco Sport? It’s time for a new Chevrolet Tracker. The first Dodge Nitro was fairly awful, but if FCA restyled the Cherokee or Compass just so, it would certainly fill a void.

fcaThe Next Big Thing From Auburn Hills
The first Caravan revolutionized family transportation in the 80s. The second-generation Dodge Ram’s design focus shifted truck buyers’ perceptions in the 90s. The Chrysler 300 was a major design impact in the mid-2000s, as well. More than 140,000 were sold in 2004; more than 140,000 in 2005, too, not to mention over 52,000 Dodge Magnums in 2005 and six-digit results from the Dodge Charger in 2006 and 2007. There were other big moments from Chrysler (and whoever owned Chrysler at any given time), including the PT Cruiser and the LH cars. So, what’s next?

A Desirable Premium-Brand Pickup
It’s certainly not necessary, not with the sumptuous cabins on offer from Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, and Ram. The available tech embarrasses many so-called luxury cars. Performance levels, whether in terms of sports car acceleration or actual truck capability, grow by leaps and bounds. But don’t you ever wonder if there shouldn’t be another level? It can’t merely be badge engineering – that didn’t work with the Lincoln Mark LT. It didn’t even work when it occurred alongside unique elements, not with the Lincoln Blackwood or Cadillac Escalade EXT.

With off-the-charts margins and insatiable demand, shouldn’t one premium brand or another be able to figure out a way around the enduring conundrum that pits rugged appeal against the paranoia of poseur pickups? If not Lincoln or Cadillac, what about Land Rover or Lexus?

[Images courtesy of the manufacturers]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Driving.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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69 Comments on “The Auto Enthusiast’s Realistic Christmas Wish List for the North American Auto Industry in 2020...”


  • avatar
    namesakeone

    Come on, say it. Say what the American automakers want you to say. You wish for a three-row $75,000 SUV that will bring the automakers $30,000 per-unit profit and sell like mad. That’s what you really want, isn’t it? (All said sarcastically.)

  • avatar
    MeJ

    Okay, I’ll go first.
    The Bmw pictured and the comments about it are dead on. That is Bmw at its absolute best. What a gorgeous car even (especially?) by todays standards.
    And it would be awesome if Toyota built another FJ cruiser. Maybe make it less quirky (although, personally I like the design) and get the sales higher. A Toyota built Jeep or Bronco with the brands inherent reliability? Sign me up.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Christmas list BEV Edition

    -“Traditional” interior aesthetics.
    -“Traditional” door handles.
    -Doesn’t look amphibious.
    -Not a truck or utility vehicle.
    -At least 350 miles of real 70MPH cruising range across Iowa in May.
    -Under 5.6 0-60.
    -Recharge times comparable to the Model 3 LR.
    -Not made in China.
    -Under $46K.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @ajila:

      Good list. I’d like door handles designed for icing conditions. Don’t care how they look, just make them work in ice.

      I’ve always like the grill-less look on cars, but it starts looking a little odd on CUVs.

      Battery prices continue to fall so I think we’re well on our way to something decent for under $35k in 2024, 2025. Right now, 2025 is when I think we’ll start seeing a major shift towards EVs. That’s when I think we’ll see the technology and the charging networks reach a point it becomes viable for most people. I think the 300+ miles in 10 minutes is key for people that can’t charge at home or make a lot of long distance trips.
      The Toyota and the VW solid-state batteries charging speeds should make reduced range less of an issue. The Toyota battery can put in over 300 miles of charge in ten minutes. Both batteries are in the process of being put into mass production and we should see them for sale in 2024 or 2025.

    • 0 avatar
      chaparral

      That’s a Model 3 LR “Heritage Edition” – and you could go build one. You’d have to be good at working aluminum to get C5 Corvette door handles into it, but the rest of the wishlist is already there.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I am definitely not a good enough fabricator to completely redo the interior and exterior of a Model 3LR. Especially not for $0 considering that the Tesla alone is near the top of my comfortable budget.

        • 0 avatar
          chaparral

          I agree. Tesla could do it if they wanted, but they’d have to want to do that. I don’t think it’d need a total restyle, but different door outers, a different nose, and a “DC-9 Controls and Displays” option would be something that they’d need a good reason to do. Maybe something like that shows up to try to stretch the Model 3 model cycle if sales eventually slow down when its replacement is on the way?

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            “when its replacement is on the way?”

            They seem to quietly ship the new versions of the car without telling anyone. The refresh version with the heat pump, revised headlights, and slightly larger battery just quietly started shipping. It’s no secret about the next version. It’ll be coming from the new plants like Munich and probably Austin as well since it requires the new casting and stamping equipment. Don’t know when the 4680 cell version will be arriving. They need the new version to lower costs so it won’t be long before we see it.

            I’m waiting for the new versions myself (I think the assembly quality will be better). Covid and the lack of need to commute anywhere has given me a chance to delay the replacement of the commuter car. Unfortunately, it’s taking so long for the Tesla updates I’m starting to look closely at the EQS and EQE. More likely, I’ll give in and go for a Fremont refreshed Model 3.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        The current Model 3 door handles are much better than the C5 when it comes to icing. If you know the trick, hitting one end of the Model 3 handle with your hand causes the handle to act as a lever and it will pop the ice off. It’s also heated. For me, dealing with ice is my own personal priority for car door handles.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Other than the 0-60 time good list. Anything under 7 seconds is servicable. 6 seconds is pretty quick.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I gotta go quick. I went from 7.5 to 5.6 to 4.6 and enjoyed the change each time. I’d like to go sub-4 if I’m honest, but 5.6 is around what a 300C 5A managed and I can live with that at a price up to $50k. Anything slower and I’d want a lower price.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I like your list, especially “Performance-Branded Small SUVs”. Yes, give these little family grocery-getters some guts and handling as an option. Make everyone in the family happy, not just mom and the kids, although I’m sure there are plenty of moms who’d appreciate a little performance

    Right now, Mazda CX-5 and Ford Escape 2.0T are the only ones that offer a bit of excitement at the barely sub-$30K price point, but there needs to be some thrills at sub-$25K as well

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Three things come to mind:

    1) A Mazda6 wagon for the US, I’d even take a cross country version if that is they only way they could justify it.

    2) A Volvo with more than 4 cylinders.

    3) An incredibly simple way to jump to a screen and permanently enable, disable driver assist features and auto start stop. Every thing is so buried. Why not just have a dedicated button, scroll through all the acronyms and check/uncheck.

  • avatar
    TeamInstinct

    The RAV4 TRD already exists. It’s not what you want, but that doesn’t change that it already exists.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I wish the new Ranger sold better so I’d have more to select from on the used market. If you remove black and white from the color list the pickings are very slim for someone in SFL. Maybe these sell better in other places where off roading is more popular? Or maybe I need to wait longer for trade-ins to show up.

  • avatar
    Yankee

    All good wishes. But from what I read here and in most of the comments on this website, we, collectively, are not reflective of the mainstream car buyer. I hate to use the term “enthusiasts” as a catch-all, given the diversity of people here, but I think you get the point. We care about good design. We like form to follow function. We like body lines that constitute an overall theme. We abhor fake plastic vents and seams that make no sense. We enjoy the control of a manual transmission and can visualize the parts working when we depress a clutch pedal and move the gear lever. We long for the days of truly small trucks that you could put to work but find a parking spot for easily. We wonder what happened to sporty station wagons. We miss being able to buy a good quality basic vehicle without electronic nannies driving up the price. But the problem is, we don’t buy enough cars for automakers to notice us. They sell to the masses who want bigger and bigger vehicles that have lots of gadgets and toys to play with. When I do a quick check on a customer’s car and ask them to pop the hood before they get out, more and more people look at me with a bewildered expression because they have no idea how to do it on a car they’ve owned for 5 years. Of course, there is the chicken-and-egg question of whether automakers are building what people want, or selling them on an idea they make the most money on, but either way, the die is cast. We, my friends, are obsolete.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    *A sliding-door minivan with true towing capacity.
    *More pick-ups with soft toppers / soft topper options.
    *A headlight setting specifically for rain at night.
    *Full ceramic paint coating from the factory.
    *Something that blocks the sun in that f’in space above the mirror but between the visors.
    *Different levels of factory reconditioning / restoration programs.
    *Working low window washing fluid sensors.
    *Back-up cameras with self cleaning lens or a way to clean the lens while driving.
    *Something to scare the hell out of tailgaters.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      I’m talking to you a lot– but it isn’t on purpose :)

      For tailgaters, in the bad old days of print media– like Popular Mechanics/Science-y type magazines, I don’t remember where, exactly– there was an advice column that suggested aiming the rear window washer toward the offending tailgater or installing a devoted washer jet. The plot twist is the separate washer bottle filled with brake fluid. It ruins paint and requires a stop to clean.

      Also– rigging a (diesel) fuel injector into the hottest part of the exhaust system, post-cat on cars with them, can make a nice smoke screen :)

  • avatar
    mikey

    I wish G.M could figure out. how to.. “un -fugly” .. the latest generation of full size trucks !

    With that accomplished. Please GM let me order a fully optioned, all the bells and whistles regular cab, 8 foot box Chevy truck.

    P.S …The V.I.N should start with either a 2 or a 1…Thank you.

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    “Suburbans are terrifyingly costly” Terrifyingly? Really? I know internet writers love that word and it’s grossly overused and misused but the Suburban’s cost causes extreme fear? That’s a stretch.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      As yet another concrete example of the paywall going up around the American dream he’s damn right it’s terrifying.

      20 years ago the Suburban and Tahoe were cheerfully middle class and sold half a million copies a year between them. Now the note on one is 1000 bucks a month and the cheerful middle class car is a Korean disposable.

      At least Bezos is doing OK.

  • avatar
    Scalewoodman

    I guess I’m a rebel as a consumer: We have 2 Italians in our garage including a Stelvio and a 500C. Why is it too much to ask for the NEW Fiat 500e to cross over to North America? We want one– stylish, comfortable, efficient size, and plug-in Hybrid. It is the ONE electric for which we’d make room in our garage!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Santa,

    I’ll take that gen 1 Trooper on the lower left.

    Thanks,
    28

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Mostly, I’d just like something family-friendly 5-door with *some* redeeming qualities under $30k. I don’t like crossovers, they do nothing for me, so the premium over an equivalent car is utterly wasted. Minivans are great, and more things should have sliding doors, but what we’ve got is bigger than I really need. Most of the options available are either sedans or hatchbacks with relatively small trunks (neither are optimal for a one-car family), and basically everything affordable never drives better than…fine. Not exceptionally powerful, and neither engaging or supremely comfortable. It’s only a golden age if you’re willing and able to shell out quite a bit more, or deal with lightly used European cars of questionable reliability.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    That’s a pretty solid wish list, Tim. To the dedicated off-road models, I think we can add the Kia Mohave/Borrego. We all know the timing was about as wrong as it could be for the Borrego in North America the first time around. The FJ Cruiser had the hardware, it just needed improved visibility and less polarizing styling. Speaking of styling, something a little more “normal” looking and a bit more powerful would have made the Element a success. Resale values indicate Honda was on to something there. Maybe Subaru should give the concept a go since it fits with their target demographic.

    For my list, I’d like to start with interior design. Specifically, I like automakers to throw “minimalism” out the window, and capacitive controls and massive touchscreen center stacks along with them. Give me a wagon version of the new Mazda6 with that turbo inline six and AWD, (I know that would be a few years down the road, not that I really expect it), and I think my wife would like Lincoln’s version of the Mach-E but with a nicer interior and some freakin’ buttons.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    I’d think it’s about time for return of the minivan’s popularity.

    After nearly a year of Covid-mandated “no flying allowed” by all my clients, I had the occasion to rent several Chrysler Pacifica (or Voyager) minivans. (not the ancient Dodge Caravan, which is entirely uncompetitive)

    I approached them un-enthusiastically, but after driving them for several thousands of miles over 2020, I’m convinced it could replace the small/medium crossover for most people (not sure about those transmissions if you’re towing, though)

    The quiet, comfort, and 30 mpgs (at 75+ mph!) on the highway convinced me I could live with one were I in the market.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Here’s my wish list:

    Ford:
    Fix the front end of the Escape for god’s sake. Can we just get the grill from the European version?
    Bring us the Puma!
    Build a new Continental!. It’s a mistake to have no sedan in Lincoln’s lineup

    GM:
    Everything you are doing at Cadillac, just please stop. Be George Costanza – do the OPPOSITE.
    Get a bigger motor in the Encore GX. it’s a Buick, not a Chevy
    Don’t kill the Camaro. The Alpha platform is still around, so the Camaro doesn’t need to die. Maybe let the driver see out of it, though

    FCA/Stellantis/whatever:
    Kill Fiat and Chrysler world wide. There is NO brand equity in either brand.
    Maybe start designing more than one vehicle at a time. It takes you 10 years to cycle through everything at this rate

    BMW/Mercedes/Audi:
    Stop selling products that people still living with their parents can afford.

    Nissan:
    If you are really going to make every Infiniti out of a Nissan again, just don’t bother. That will just make it worse.

    Hyundai:
    Start making your cars look like they come from the same brand again.

    Kia:
    Stop making so many $40k+++ luxury cars. No one wants your expensive cars that depreciate $20k in the first year.

    Tesla:
    Make cars with automatic braking that AUTOMATICALLY BRAKE. Stopping the car when there’s an obstruction in the road is literally the most important part of autonomous driving.
    Stop building cars with parts your secretaries bought at Home Depot.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Telluride’s ATP is above $40k.

      And besides, the K9/K900 and Cadenza/K7 (soon to be replaced by the K8) are primarily for Kia’s domestic market where they do well.

  • avatar

    My wish list consists of one item:

    Make Transmissions Manual Again!

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      They still make them.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Refer to this extensive list of four* ‘domestic’ [?] offerings still available in the U.S. market:

        https://www.caranddriver.com/features/g20734564/manual-transmission-cars/

        *1,2,3,4 – that’s it – done. [4 is generous, since one is assembled in Changwon and one is domiciled in Amsterdam] (How many trucks? How many SUV’s? How many sedans?)

        Extra credit:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    If I could only add one thing to the list it would be to relearn how to aim your headlights. Being blinded regularly by your glare-bombs doesn’t make for pleasant motoring. Also, if your vehicle will be equipped with DRLs make the service lights automatic, for those drivers who are disinclined to do a 2 second check. And GM, for the love of all that is holy, stop making the reverse lights illuminate as soon as the car is unlocked from the fob.

    To make this entire list one item: relearn appropriate lighting design.

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      tankinbeans,

      “relearn appropriate lighting design.”

      And, please include tail lights that look like tail lights not parentheses or some other goofy shape. Driving at night can be confusing enough without some designer’s screwy light design.

  • avatar
    Old_WRX

    How about C7 light. Take the V6 and six speed from the Camaro and stuff it in a C7. Suitably reduce tire/wheel size, etc. And, voila, a 3100 lb car with 335 hp and a rear biased weight distribution. Ok, I’m sure it’s not really possible (and some would call it sacrilege — V6 Corvette), but it sounds interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      chaparral

      The LGX V6 isn’t much lighter than the LT2. What could get a couple hundred pounds out of the car would be either the LT V6 from the trucks or – sacrilegiously – the 2.0T four – with lighter-duty internals in the transaxle and driveline. Baruth would have a fit, Marketing would wonder what it’d do to the Corvette’s image – and it’d be great fun to drive.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    My wish is going to be controversial.

    I want someone other than Tesla to figure out how to sell new cars to Democrats.

    Twenty years ago, it wasn’t difficult. Decent engineering without too many obvious corners cut, good visibility, simple styling, plain interior, port-injected four cylinder, good controls, keep it under 3000#, sell it for under $25k, make it get 30 MPG, sell a few stick shifts and lock the torque converter up early on the rest. The customers will be satisfied and you can charge a premium over the cheap junk. If you wanted virtue signaling it was subtle – you gave up big power and luxury in exchange for a bit more durability and fuel economy. All of us can picture ten cars that fit that description and picked up good sales with a disproportionate number going to the Northeast and West Coast.

    Most of the advancements since then have driven us away from that. Safety improvements got rid of the “under 3000#” sedan and wrecked the visibility. Automatics and engines got better, but at the cost of complexity and a bigger sticker. To stay over 30 MPG with a bigger and heavier car, or provide the same 50% margin in fuel economy over the SUV that the Joneses were driving, the aero got weird – a 2020 Prius doesn’t look like a 2000 Prius and even that was obviously different back then. Buyers got hesitant about paying more for plain cars, when $25000 in 2000 turned into $30000+ – so cars either got fancier to justify $40000 stickers or got obviously decontented out of their underhood steel, good ergonomics, and good control feedback. AWD snuck in somewhere in that story.

    The result was that your average New Englander now buys secondhand and complains about either the poor choices in new cars or the high prices. If they can do it, they do the “Tesla stretch” and try to make the numbers work for an expensive car that’s cheap to run with strong resale value. Some drive Priuses and new Civics when they don’t mind the videogame styling and instrumentation.

    I’d guess there’s a hole in the market for a $35000-$40000 midsize hybrid sedan / compact CUV that gets 45ish MPG and behaves well – 250ish total horsepower with no strange lags, no zero-effort steering or blended-brake-pedal unpredictability, styling that’s a little different from the midsize rental but not too much, good ergonomics.

    Three problems stand in the way of five manufacturers splitting 2 million of these sales per year. VW lost face badly with this market with Dieselgate; otherwise they could have built a Jetta GLE or GLD that nailed it and opened up the market for the others to join. This is a driver-centric concept, and the market tolerance for avoiding intrusive active safety features could go away. Battery costs could drop from “The hybrid premium covers the costs but even at 250k sales per year the profits on this are still small” right through “hey, it worked! This beat trying to squeeze in another CUV” and down to “Tesla can hold the line at $39,900 for a 290-mile-range car and our own company’s electric-vehicle department is saying that they’ll come in below our hybrid on cost”

    • 0 avatar
      chaparral

      That turned into an essay. The short version is: “Enthusiast-lite” cars used to sell in great numbers to middle-class-and-up Democrats, and now the cars and the customers don’t fit together as well. There’s a chance to get back there but it would take some guts for a manufacturer to go after that market before the electrics get there.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Twenty years ago is describing an Accord, which wasn’t a particularly partisan vehicle in any sense other than A, being non grata in Michigan, and B, not being a truck.

        Twenty years of culture wars later the rich and insufferable (and also the poor and insufferable, at least the white ones) have pretty well swapped parties. A Democrat car is now an import badged SUV and the more expensive the better.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    “Performance-Branded Small SUVs.” I truthfully don’t see the point to this. Nor is this concept necessary for sales. It might even be counterproductive. There’s a reason why Mazda decided not to offer the Mazda 3 Turbo in Mazdaspeed guise, or with a manual. Automakers are getting away from this segment with the exception of Hyundai and, arguably, Honda.

    A better marketing strategy would be to bring the personal luxury trim packages from the 1970s back to SUVs and CUVs. Those buyers value comfort and style and packages like the Lincoln Designer Series and Cadillac d’Elegance packages would really serve this need. That’s my wish.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    re: subcompact wagons with no 4×4–

    Call them sportvans like the Alabama DMV does a PT Cruiser.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I can no longer get into our out of current sedans or coupes. So a ‘tall’ wagon like the ‘old’ Honda Civic, Toyota or the original Kia Rondo.
    The above would increase the greenhouse of the vehicle and therefore improve vision.
    Dials and/or knobs. Not touch screens. My newest vehicle requires me to ‘scroll’ to change from AM to FM or even change radio stations. Thus requiring that I take my eyes off the road. and when it is sunny due to glare I cannot even read it.
    End the era of the tacked on video screen jutting out of the instrument panel.
    Door handles that do not freeze or break when you try to open them.
    Drip rails so that my seat and the inside door panel do not get wet or covered in snow when I open them.
    Velour upholstery.
    With the velour colour co-ordinated interiors.
    Real carpeting rather than the mouse fur that is now used.
    Heat rests that don’t push your head into an uncomfortable position.
    Real bumpers. Something that when hit at low speeds can either bounce back or be polished back. Rather than spending a thousand dollars plus to replace.
    Lifetime warranties on CVTs.
    A true 5 passenger vehicle, with room for groceries (or a dog), with all of the above, for about $25k.
    Other than that vehicles are incredibly better than what I grew up riding in or driving.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    ^^^ This. I bet many buyers feel as you do. Wouldn’t a nice Bill Blass or Givenchy Lincoln Aviator fit the bill just perfectly? I’m talking chrome bumpers, chrome wheels, real deep cut pile carpeting, and very plush velour, the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1979. Maybe even an optional padded coach roof too with opera lamps. Now That kind of bad boy would sell. I guarantee it.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Jeeze…I just got a camshaft and some new valve springs.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    Mine are all pretty simple and cheap. Except for the last one.

    1. De “angry bug” car/SUV styling.
    1A. Enough with the giant damn grills!
    2. Any car that has Stop/Start must have a simple way to set the default on it to “Off”. I’ve driven a couple of cars with it, and it’s just annoying.
    3. Make it when using remote start that the heat comes on full blast if desired to thaw out the door mechanisms, and start the ice melting. Last week my car took several tries to open over two remote start cycles.
    4.Kill the ugly ugly Camaro, and bring it back so it looks like a 2nd Gen one, with a little more greenhouse, and a usable trunk. I have the money if you do it right, but after seeing the present “stuff”, I wonder if it can be done?

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    A new STI that sets / resets the standard, just like the original..

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