California Autos Examiner

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Cars Detroit Should Build

Three Vehicles Detroit Should Build

WSJ writer Joe White penned an article recently talking about three vehicles Detroit should build:

A seven passenger family vehicle that gets 30 miles to the gallon on the highway.

A midsize sedan that gets 40 miles to the gallon on the highway -- and doesn't cost much more than a Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion or Toyota Camry.

A pickup truck large enough to do real work and comes close to 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

For the sake of discussion, let's look at the seven seater. Right now a buyer would be hard pressed to find such a vehicle, but could come close with a Mazda5 or Kia Rondo which achieve 28 and 26 MPG on the highway. What can Detroit offer?

A Dodge Journey gets 25MPG. Could some tweaking get that number a little higher? On the Ford side, I'd love to see the European S-Max make it over here. Now I'm just dreaming but bring the S-Max with a diesel and you've got a great looking vehicle with great looking mileage numbers.

The real dragon slayer, however, could be Chevy's forthcoming MPV-7. This smaller than Traverse offering could theoretically be paired with a 1.4L direct injection turbo that could produce excellent mileage numbers. Of course, this is all hypothetical since the vehicle isn't confirmed for our market. Given today's fuel prices, I would be shocked if Chevy passed on this one.

My own white whale is a diesel minivan but I'd wager that almost every driver wishes his or her current ride did a little better in the mileage department. I know I miss my old CRX HF with its nearly 60MPG highway numbers. Sure the engine sounded loud enough to be next to you and the car had no A/C but a model like that would find a lot of buyers today. Of course when I owned the CRX, gas was a $1/gallon and so $8 fill-ups didn't mean all that much.

I'd love to see someone partner with Peugeot/Citroen to bring over some of their fuel sippers. A couple of years ago there were some rumors that Citroen might have a go at Canada and then work its way south, but I haven't heard anything since then.

Back to Detroit...Yes, there is a lot of doom and gloom. I'm particularly worried about one manufacturer which doesn't seem to have much on its plate or in the kitchen. However, regardless of the laundry list above, we will see some competitive vehicles headed our way in the next two years. Should those vehicles have already been here? Yeah, I suppose so. That's all water under the bridge now, however. Whatever the home team has up its collective sleeve, I hope that they resist temptation and don't release any half-baked models that could damage brands in the long run. I believe that manufacturers have grown wiser over the years, but when desperation sets in all bets are off.

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