BMW X6 ActiveHybrid
For someone, though, that traded-in leased vehicle, even with five years on it, might still represent a good value. This, in turn, will help the used market contribute to the overall market turnaround. We see a two to four-million vehicle turnaround next year as the market has been struggling back since its low point in 2007-2008.
As we were talking with folks who have just returned from the Detroit show, it looks like BMW's restyling a couple of years ago is having a definite impact on the styling of the rest of the industry. For instance, we discussed Honda's Crosstour and if you look at the rear end, you can see definite traces of BMW-type styling. The same is true of Acura, BMW and others.
Interestingly, when we discussed the impact of the Malibu we agreed that it was likely the sleeper of the decade. When it was released in late 2008, the restyled Malibu could easily stand up to any import on the market. Of course, the interior was standard American plastic, so it did lost some points there, but when we thought about the LTZ with the leather and power package, you have a vehicle that is a real value that is less expensive than some of the imports against which it is competing. Also, watch the little Aveo, it will likely be a sleeper, too as its styling has come a long way since it was introduced in 2005 (it's actually a Suzuki Swift).
Look for big things from Buick's restyled GS when it is released in a couple of years. It made its debut at the Detroit show as a concept car, but with broad hints that it will be coming out in 2013.
One vehicle that folks kept waxing poetic about was the new Cadillac that debuted at Detroit and here's one dissenting opinion. Its styling left us cold as the high beltline and squarish cab, plus the funky-looking front end just don't do anything for us. It could just be our taste, but we liked the Malibu and it's straightforward styling better and even the Buick Crossfire worked better for us.
The crossover trend will continue unabated as automakers try to combine the qualities of all-wheel-drive and small SUVs with the handling and ride qualities of cars. Also, they'll likely get smaller as gasoline prices continue to inch higher.
Speaking of smaller, you'll likely be seeing a lot of Honda Fit-sized vehicles in the product mix of all automakers. It's funny that Chevrolet really was the automaker that legitimatized the microcar with its first Aveo offering, a full two years ahead of the Honda Fit, but the Fit was the vehicle that firmly fixed the microcar in the public's mind as a viable vehicle.
Underlying both, though, was the fact that BMW's Mini series was also out there in minicar territory and that even as early as 2001, Toyota was toying with the microsedan world with its Echo. The Echo, by the way, became the first Toyota hybrid, the Prius. They used the same body pan and chassis, as well as many of the same body panels.
The hybrid trend is, as you would expect, likely to expand quite quickly as the automakers learn that the public wants vehicles that can return good mileage around town and on the highway. And, while we're speaking of electrics, look for the all-electric vehicle to become more an more part of the automotive mix. Already Toyota has jumped on the all-electric bandwagon with a special version of its Prius and the Chevy Volt is due out next year. Nissan, too, is getting into the act with its Leaf, so it will be quite an interesting show to watch as the plug-in brigade gets stronger.