Sign Up for the Outsmart Newsletter
If you are considering buying a car, there are some great models in ’09.
By James Hurst
Even before Wall Street began its meltdown and the credit crunch came to our doorsteps, analysts were predicting auto sales this year of a little more than 12 million vehicles.That is the lowest level of auto sales since the 1980s. According to Business Week , through August of 2008, auto sales were off more than 11 percent from 2007 levels. They have not recovered in any way and, in fact, continue to spiral downward each month. There are a number of factors which are converging as automakers try to decide how to pitch the newest wares, and we, the consumers, must decide whether to jump into the game or stay home and ponder our future. Because of the bad news and obvious reluctance to spend our hard-earned money, consumers are scared. Gas prices look good today hovering around $1.90, but are likely to climb back above $4 a gallon next summer.
Choosing the best new cars for 2009 isn’t easy in today’s market. Automakers have been forced to improve their designs, build better quality, monitor their costs, and begin to face that hybrid technology is a must. Hope you enjoy the list, and the next time you have to buy a car, consider the design, innovation, practicality, and how well it drives before you buy!
A new expression of fun has come to us in the form of the redesigned BMW Z4 Roadster. Enhancing the spaciousness and better all-around visibility, this roadster offers a new, retractable hardtop that raises and lowers in just 20 seconds. The new Z4 package comes with a choice of two potent-yet-
efficient engines. In the Z4 sDrive35i, the roadster moves you with 300 twin-turbocharged horses and 300 lb./ft. of torque, or you can opt for the 255-hp Z4 sDrive 30i with a strong 220 lb./ft. of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard or opt for the 7-speed Sport with automatic transmission and double clutch. This car delivers BMW’s guarantee of precise handling, quality materials, sporty looks, and just plain fun to drive. Prices and mileage are to be determined, so check back in the spring with BMW for more information.
Designed by the its engineers as 70-percent car and 30-percent crossover, the Venza represents a new direction for Toyota. Outside, the Venza’s radical styling breaks loose from Toyota’s traditional conservative mold, creating a vehicle with innovative features and unusual design cues. Prices range from $26,695–$38,805. EPA fuel economy estimates: 18–21 mpg city, 25–29 mpg highway. Toyota plans to offer the Venza in a single model — no LE, XLE, SR5, or limited trim levels as per standard Toyota practice. There will be eight option packages and four stand-alone options, and power comes in either a four-cylinder front-wheel-drive model or an all-wheel-drive V6 with all the trimmings.
The CTS-V is the high-performance and all-new version of Cadillac’s CTS sedan. Last year’s CTS packed a big 400-hp V8 and a manual transmission, but the new CTS-V is amazingly over the top — a bigger supercharged V8 that pours out a whopping 556 hp, plus it’s available with an automatic transmission. Prices range from $60,355–$98,995. EPA fuel economy approximately 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway. The CTS-V supercharged engine is closely related to the 638-hp LS9 engine in the Corvette ZR1. Its output of 556 hp and 551 lb./ft. of torque lays waste to German rivals. Caddy claims 0–60 in a blistering 3.9 seconds!
Audi brings us a new high-performance version called the TTS in both coupe and convertible form. The TTS features a special high-performance version of the turbocharged 2.0T engine, with output raised to 265 hp and 258 lb./ft. of torque. Audi’s S-Tronic transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive are standard. Other TTs will get additional standard equipment and revised options, and 2.0T models can now be purchased with Quattro all-wheel drive. TT roadsters now come with a manually operated convertible top.
In 2009, coinciding with the 45th anniversary of the Mustang’s debut, Ford will offer a glass-roof Mustang, in addition to the existing coupe and convertible versions. This option will be offered on all premium model 4.0L V6 and 4.6L GT Mustang coupes at a cost of $1,995, which is less than the cost of upgrading from a coupe to a convertible. The Mustang’s glass roof will feature tinted privacy glass designed to keep the inside of the car cooler and to reduce infrared rays. It is designed to prevent interior fading and discoloration of the car’s fabric as well as feature a manual roller blind, allowing passengers to control the amount of exposure the roof offers.
The CC is what Volkswagen calls a four-door coupe, or a German luxury car without the German luxury price tag. The CC engine options are a 200-hp 2.0L engine as standard and 280-hp 3.6L narrow-angle V6 optional. Volkswagen sells the CC in four models: Sport, Luxury, VR6 Sport, and VR6 Motion. All get heated power-adjustible front seats, alloy wheels, electronic stability control, and six-disc CD changer, and all but the Sport get a huge full-width sunroof, dual-zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and leather seats. The car will slot in above the top-of-the-line Passat 3.6L, with prices starting at $27,480 for the CC Sport with a manual transmission and topping out at $43,255 for a loaded CC VR6 4Motion.
No question about it : the 2009 Chevrolet ZR1 is one of the all-time great cars. Just imagine a 638-hp supercharged 6.2L V8, extreme sharp handling, incredible engineering, 604 lb./ft. of torque — all for only $105,000. This car goes from 0–60 in 3.5 seconds and on to 200 mph on a lightweight aluminum skeleton, magnetic-fluid shocks, and carbon-ceramic brakes. What else can I say!