With the Detroit Big Three in shambles and the global market on the verge of collapse because of the recession that started in 2009, the importance of automakers in America was in question. Plants were closed and workers were laid off or fired. Things did not look good for American automotive manufacturing.
But 2011 marked a new beginning. General Motors, Chrysler and Ford finally began to deliver the cars Americans have been yearning for – trucks, SUVs and crossovers.
Yes, even with the influx of new compact car models from almost every automaker and the persuasion by the American government to make cars Americans actually wanted to buy, small cars sold horrifically less than their behemoth workhorse brethren.
So, with Americans undeterred in their gas-guzzling habit, here are my picks for four of the top cars from 2011 – gas-guzzlers need not apply.
2011 Ford Mustang GT
One would think a car that is faster, cheaper, ergonomically friendlier and more nimble would have no trouble becoming the chart-topping sales king, but the 2011 Ford Mustang GT is struggling against its rival, the Chevrolet Camaro.
For 2011 the Mustang brought back the 5.0-liter, 302-cubic-inch legend of a motor. The 5.0 pounds out 412 horsepower and 390-pound-foot of torque, sprinting off zero to 60-mile-per-hour runs in about 4.5 seconds.
The interior has been upgraded with new, higher-quality materials than the previous year, creating a distinct, but far from award-winning layout. Though, when you are cruising at wide-open-throttle, interior styling goes unnoticed and is instead replaced with a muscle-car-era exhaust note and blurring scenery.
The Mustang starts $29,710, excluding the $750 destination charge and replacement tires for smoky, environmentally unfriendly burnouts. The price is reasonable for the power, handling and stoplight-to-stoplight street cred the running pony brings with it.
Note: lawyer not included for tomfoolery.
2011 Chevrolet Volt
General Motors was one of the hardest-hit automakers of the recession, filling for bankruptcy in June 2009, shedding malice assets and automotive brands in hopes of remaining afloat.
One of the vehicles key to the resurgence and longtime viability of GM was the Chevrolet Volt, an electric vehicle with an onboard gasoline generator to recharge the batteries once they have been depleted.
Electric range varies for every driver, depending on commute length, traffic and weather, but GM said traveling 35 miles in electric mode is achievable. If you commute less than that a day, you could almost never have to stop at a gas station.
Even with GM’s recent PR disaster concerning the Volt’s safety in side-impact crash testing, the Volt is still a huge technological advancement not only for the company, but the entire auto industry as well, as numerous automakers begin to jump on the electric vehicle bandwagon, like Ford, Nissan and even Mercedes-Benz.
2011 Mazda Miata MX-5
This little gem of a car is an enthusiast’s dream. It might not have a honking V-8 engine or massive power numbers, but the Miata does not needs those to be a fun car to drive.
With only 167 horsepower in the top-trim level and 140 pound-foot of torque, the Miata gains its enthusiasts from its short, 91.7-inch wheelbase, sporty suspension tuning and feather-light weight of 2,550 pounds.
Even though it has been christened a girl’s car because of its cuteness, a true enthusiast will, and can, overlook the aesthetics, especially for a base price of $23,905, excluding destination charge.
The Miata’s magic connection comes from its unchallenged ability to completely envelop the driver in nothing but the driving experience. The car lets one push the car past its limits while remaining easy to control, maintain and aim through corners and curvy canyons.
Push away the girly stigma of this car and the rewarding drive will be worth the stares and jokes.
2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon
Wagons have lost their “Harry and the Hendersons” appeal long ago, being replaced my mini-vans and SUVs. Cadillac is trying to change that perception.
With the revival of Cadillac and GM’s mission to position it as a world luxury brand and reclaim its “standard of the world” tagline, Cadillac has shaken up the automotive hierarchy by making not only a wagon, but a damn fast one.
The only number that matters is price: $64,340, excluding destination charges. The price might seem like a deep grab for cash from the wallet, but the price for performance value is astounding.
Faster than a Ferrari California worth more than three times the price of the wagon, the CTS-V can also haul groceries and take the team to soccer practice.
But the V-wagon isn’t just a V-8 brawler; it’s an innovator, too, with Ferrari taking Cadillac’s suspension technology and applying it to its own cars.
When Ferrari steals Cadillac’s technology, Cadillac can guarantee it’s reclaiming its “standard of the world” title.
2011 was, again, a magnificent year for automakers, with the release of green-tech cars like the Chevrolet Volt, and performance kings like the Ford Mustang and Cadillac CTS-V wagon. Now more than ever is a great time to love, enjoy and indulge in whatever automobile gets your engine running.