Over the last few years, US automakers have introduced not merely world-class, but superior cars in every category, and all this has happened with astonishingly little fanfare or notice in the press. The four-door sedans include the nearly flawless 300 from Chrysler, the ultra-sharp 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, and my favorite, the redesigned 2008 Ford Taurus. Subcompacts include the Italian-looking Aveo and Cobalt from Chevy and the Ford Focus, the best small car of the last decade. Pontiac and Saturn offer sweet convertible sports cars and Ford’s Mustang is a design masterpiece. Luxury cars include the 300C as well as every model of Cadillac.
No foreign manufacturer can beat these cars for value. The fact that they are designed and made in the USA, the greatest nation in the world, seems to have been ignored, even by their marketers. The “big three” are running lackluster ads. For example, the Focus is a blast to drive and gets great mileage, but Ford pushes its tedious hands-free communications system. Similarly, they soft-sell the Taurus’s safety features, when it is a virtual S-class Mercedes at a third the price.
If personality is your thing, Chevy’s HHR and Pontiac’s Vibe deliver quirkiness as well as mechanical brilliance. Plus, both Ford and Chevy offer excellent hybrids. It’s a good thing when you can go to the big three’s car lots and smile all day. I’ve owned both German and Japanese cars. I’ve also traded them in for American cars, as soon as I saw what Detroit was producing. Ford has been especially impressive, but then I’ve always been partial to the Taurus, ever since the 1986 introduction year, even during the last few years’ jellybean designs. But Nissan gave Ford a wake-up call, which they heard, big time. And a used 1968 Malibu was the first car I owned, so it’s going to be fun to watch how the impressive new version progresses. The Japanese and Germans produce good cars, but all those profits going overseas bugs me. I admit the Honda Fit is hard to resist—until you drive the Focus. Ditto the Lancer and Impreza, until you drive the Fusion.
Now that Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep are back in American hands, God bless them. Detroit has a new lease on life.