'It's that time again.
It's time to shop the new crop of cars — sensuous coupes and flashy sedans, sturdy pickup trucks and family-packing minivans, plus the go-anywhere sport utility vehicle (SUV) and easy-driving crossover utility vehicle (CUV).
After all, this is the time when automakers around the world roll out a new year's collection of cars with promises of more of everything — more powerful engines, more stylish sheetmetal, more sophisticated equipment for driving safely and, of course, more pizzazz.
The automotive Class of 2009 also brings more choices for the kind of vehicles available and more options for the type of power employed to turn the wheels, as well as the type of fuel used to motivate the vehicle.
Ever-escalating costs for carbon-based fuels like gasoline prompt automakers to seek alternative fuels such as zero-emission electricity or E85 ethanol, as well as build more efficient gasoline-sipping engines with higher miles-per-gallon (mpg) fuel economy ratings.
Some emerge with high ratings for mpg fuel consumption.
For example, the Acura RDX, Audi A3, Chevrolet Aveo, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Dodge Nitro, Ford Edge and Focus, Hyundai Accent and Elantra, Kia Spectra and Rondo, Mazda Mazda3, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Versa, Pontiac G5, Saab 9-3, Saturn Astra, Scion xB, Subaru Impreza, Suzuki SX4, Toyota Corolla and Matrix, Volkswagen Rabbit, Volvo C30, to name a few.
Another trick is for a large engine to automatically cut back on the number of cylinders firing for combustion — when you need a power play all the cylinders are available, yet when you're just cruising the boulevards a lesser number of cylinders works to conserve on fuel.
Some examples include the Chevrolet Avalanche, Impala, Silverado 1500 and Tahoe, Chrysler 300 and Aspen, Dodge Charger, Ram 1500 and Durango, Jeep Commander and Grand Cherokee, GMC Sierra 1500 and Yukon, Honda Accord, Pilot and Odyssey, Pontiac G8, Saab 9-7x.
What's another trend?
It's the HEV — hybrid electric vehicle. That's one which scores significantly high fuel economy marks because it packs not one but two or more motors.
The typical HEV for 2009 carries both a conventional engine operating on gasoline plus a battery-powered electric motor. It can run on the gasoline engine or on the electric motor, or in a mode with both plants contributing power simultaneously.
HEV examples in the Class of 2009 include the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Silverado Hybrid and Tahoe Hybrid, Chrysler Aspen Hybrid, Dodge Durango Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, GMC Sierra Hybrid and Yukon Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid, Lexus GS Hybrid, LS 600h L and RX Hybrid, Mazda Tribute Hybrid, Mercury Mariner Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, Saturn Aura Hybrid and Vue Hybrid, Toyota Prius Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid.
What's new to the Class of 2009?
Some familiar car names return but with entirely new designs in the next generation of formats.
Example: Acura TL, Audi A4, Cadillac CTSv, Dodge Ram 1500, Ford Focus, Infiniti FX Wagons, Mazda Mazda6, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Nissan Maxima and Murano, Pontiac Vibe, Subaru Forester, Toyota Corolla and Matrix.
A few new names emerge wearing dazzling new designs.
Example: Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Challenger and Journey, Ford Flex, Hummer H3T, Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti G37 Convertible, Jaguar XF Series, Kia Borrego, Lincoln MKS, Nissan GT-R, Toyota Venza, Volkswagen CC and Tiguan.
This year also brings different types of vehicles.
Fact is, vehicles no longer fit neatly into a few simple categories as sedans, coupes, convertibles, pickup trucks or wagons. While these configurations continue in many sizes, today's class also encompasses diverse new categories, due to the emergence of the so-called crossover vehicles of multiple purposes, which blend one type of vehicle with another or more to create something entirely different.
CUV examples among 2009 vehicles include the Acura RDX and MDX, Audi Q5 and Q7, BMW X3 and X6, Buick Enclave, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Equinox, HHR and Traverse, Chrysler Aspen and PT Cruiser, Dodge Nitro, Caliber and Journey, Ford Edge, Escape, Flex and Taurus X, GMC Acadia, Honda CR-V, Element and Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, Veracruz and Tucson, Infiniti EX Wagons and FX Wagons, Jeep Compass and Patriot, Kia Sorento and Sportage, Land Rover LR2, Lexus RX Series, Lincoln MKZ, Mazda CX-7, CX-9 and Tribute, Mercedes-Benz GL Class, M Class and R Class, Mercury Mariner, Mitsubishi Endeavor and Outlander, Nissan Murano and Rogue, Pontiac Torrent and Vibe, Saturn Outlook and Vue, Scion xB and xD, Subaru Outback and Tribeca, Suzuki SX4 X-over and Grand Vitara, Toyota Matrix, Highlander and RAV4, Volkswagen Touareg and Tiguan, Volvo XC60, XC70 and XC90.
With all of these developments, we've assembled a capsule guide to illustrate what's new about the Car Class of 2009.
With this vehicle guide, discover all facets of the Class of 2009.