the minivan launched in the mid-80s, automakers made a big mistake. In an effort
to reach young families they marketed the minivan to women with kids, labeling
young, vibrant women as "soccer moms." And although the minivan was
conducive to family lifestyles it was soon resented by women across America because
of the image it represented. Owning a minivan was like wearing a T-shirt that
said, "I'm a mom with kids and no longer sexy." The resentment led to
a drop in minivan sales, an increase in SUV sales, and the subsequent birth of
the crossover vehicle, a buff version of the station wagon.
seems some automakers are learning from their past mistakes with the launch of
the 2004 sedans. Once upon a time, the sedan was known as middle America's boxy
boring blimp. Sedans, the most common of cars purchased, made a statement too.
They said, "Hey, look at me, I drive a sedan because it's practical and I
can't afford much else."
there some reason a sedan can't be beautiful instead of boring? What rules are
there that say a sedan can't look elegant instead of practical? Who says sedans
can't be stylish and safety conscious? With a price tag of $15,000 to $24,000
for the average sedan today, there's no reason why sedans can't deliver these
things and more. Finally, automakers agree.
Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have been the market leaders for years
when it comes to sedans. Why? Because they're so darn dependable and for that
reason, have a great deal of customer loyalty. However, after testing the competition,
our friends at Toyota and Honda might have something to worry about.
Chevy Malibu Maxx
Chevy Malibu has had a facelift for 2004 with all-new styling and much-improved
quality. But it's the more than 60 new safety features that rocked my world. The
Malibu Maxx offers adjustable pedals and steering wheel so people of all
sizes can drive comfortably. Airbags, positioned front and rear, will deploy in
rollover accidents. And my personal favorite, remote start, which means a Malibu
can be started from a living room or office on hot or cold days. While these offerings
are groovy, the one safety feature that no driver should live without, which now
comes standard with Malibu Maxx, is OnStar, a concierge service that is as good
as having your own personal bodyguard and secretary while on the road.
Just the word alone sounds elegant. That's the name Suzuki selected for its new
entry into the sedan market, and what a sedan it is. This car feels more like
a luxury car than it does a sedan. Style, elegance and performance all wrapped
up into a price that knocked my sox off, under $18,000. A sultry subtle wood grain
interior compliments the supple leather seats giving the Verona a quiet elegance
that is found in the likes of a Jaguar or Lexus. We liked this car so much that
we've requested it for a one-year long-term evaluation. If you've never thought
of Suzuki as a car company contender then think again.
Galant. Mitsubishi is a car company that drove itself into the ground over
the past few years with a marketing campaign aimed at young buyers who couldn't
afford car payments. As a result the Japanese automaker forecasted a net loss
of $674 million in the first half of 2003 ending September 30. The American CEO
left abruptly "to pursue other opportunities" leaving Mitsubishi in
a self-inflicted tailspin. So much for the launch of their newly designed 2004
Galant, now overshadowed by company woes. While the car is attractive, it may
be wise to stay clear of buying any Mitsubishi until its new CEO, Finnbar O'Neill,
rescues the company from its near-death experience, and cleans house of those
who contributed to its downfall, starting with those who head Mitsubishi's public
relations department. It wouldn't be fun to buy a new Mitsubishi now only to find
out later you can't get parts or service.
are the latest sedan offerings for 2004. But they're not the only ones. In 2003
others entered the market with re-designs or new entries altogether.
Altima. Now here's a car company that knows how to make cars and knows the
secret to success. Their newly designed Altima shines with the best of them in
not only the sedan market but in the luxury market as well. It's hard to believe
that a car built this well and looks this rich is even called a sedan.
Hyundai Sonata is sharp and classy easily competing on a level playing
field with all competitors in its field. Its softly stated classic lines and elegant
styling have made it a huge hit with consumers. Just check out the freeways to
see for yourself.
you really buy a luxury car for a starting price of just $15,500? Kia seems to
think so. The Optima is their entry into the high society of well-appointed
sedans. The Optima looks the part with its distinctive lines, clear-lens halogen
headlamps and chrome accents. It's also loaded with safety features.
are no longer made in the image of our grandparents. They're also no longer made
or marketed to make buyers' feel like they're driving an inferior vehicle. Style
and elegance can be had at affordable prices -- and still provide the practicality
and dependability one needs. Sedans are back in style in every sense of the word.