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Top 10 Wheels to Drive at the Detroit Auto Show

Top 10 Wheels to Drive at the Detroit Auto Show

There's nothing like a hot woman behind the wheel of the perfect vehicle. Writer Jenn Kennedy is back from the Detroit Auto Show dreaming of hybrids, convertibles, muscle and more including the new Chevy Volt, the Mercedes Blue Zero and the new Subaru Forrester.

Fresh off the plane from my first Detroit Auto Show, I have visions of hybrids dancing in my head. I saw quite a range of vehicles, in fact, something to suit just about every pocket book and lifestyle. And while the general tone of the show was apparently quiet in comparison to years past, I found the new line up of vehicles to be smart, efficient, flashy, flirty and downright fun. Here's my Top 10 list of notes from the show. 

1. Electric Cars have Arrived

GM stakes a claim on the market with the introduction of the Volt, which drives 40 miles on one charge. They along with several other car makers are committing to a fleet of hybrids, which should roll onto car lots in the next two years. Hybrids and electric car owners will still pay a premium (usually around $10K), but as production picks up, we should see that number falling.

2. Colorful Cars are Back 

Deep reds, electric greens and shimmer make the new generation of cars more personalized. Even the standard, top selling black, white and silver options are pepped up with metallic undertones and extra glossy top-coats. You'll also notice most eco minded cars are offered in only three colors: green, blue or white as those are colors that connote elements naturally occurring (such as plants and water).


 3. Convertibles will Convert You

Gorgeous, flirty convertibles were unveiled in a range of looks and price points. Mini is now offering a topless version, as is Cadillac with the buttery smooth XLR, which comes with a hefty price tag of $100K.  Saab also rolled out the newest edition of the 9-3 and Aero convertibles, which is the official vehicle of the New England lesbians in my life. This new generation of convertibles has fully automatic retractable hard tops and smart designs to keep your locks locked down.


4. Flex Your Muscles

Move over Ford Shelby, you have fierce muscle car competition in the new Camaro. Out this spring, the newly designed Camaro stop-in-your-tracks sexy. From the graphic dash, to the curvaceous body, you're going to be speechless and wanting.


5. Go Big or Go Small, but Go Eco

There are a slew of micro sized cars (Chevy Spark, Smart Car, Mercedes Blue Zero) that brag of exceptional gas mileage, but several SUVs are now offered as Hybrids, so you can relax about your daunting carbon footprint. Everything from the Escalade, to the Yukon to the Lexus RX offer luxury, room and low emissions. The eco industry leader Toyota also introduced a new version of their incredibly successful Prius, which offers updated styling, the highest mileage of any car on the road, and a slightly larger interior and faster engine than its predecessor.

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6. Gray is the New Silver

I met a fascinating GM guy who has the unique job of selecting the color for every car put out by the company. He informed me that the top three selling colors are black, white and silver, which make up 50% of all sales, followed by red and blue then a host of others. He said darker shades of gray gun metal, for example, are replacing the standard silver in 2009, which I applaud. Silver is too safe, too common.


7. Gays Love Their Cars

There were cars for every lifestyle, income level and aesthetic. Some clear front runners in terms of sales stats, advertising and general appeal for the GLBT market include: Saturn with the mid size VUE SUV and the Sky roadster; Subaru with the Forester, an outdoorsy lesbian favorite and the newly redesigned Mercedes E Class. Across the board, gays tend to be interested in gadgets and early adopters for the newest, technology-driven items.


8. Psychographics Over Demographics Lead Design

When asked about the demographics of the buyer, several times I was answered with a description of the type of person instead of the typical stats. Subaru said their customer is an adventurous, practical driver who wants a safe, reliable, go-anywhere car. In contrast, the Cadillac brand is attracting sophisticated drivers who want quality, convenience and style. Designers today care about your age, race or sexual orientation, in so much as it points to how you live and what you value.


9. Luxury will Never Die

With all the talk about green options and fuel prices, one might think the auto makers might shy away from overt luxury vehicles in their line up. No way. In fact, almost every manufacturer offered multiple high end, high priced vehicles. Audi had the sleek and eye catching A7, Cadillac offered the SRX Crossover and of course there are always the classic out of reach brands like Lamborghini, who literally had their cars behind a fence to keep the metaphor loud and clear.


10. The Auto Industry is Alive and Well (Sorta)

This being my first Detroit show, I have nothing to compare it to, however several journalists said this was the most subdued the show has been in recent memory. That said, I saw an aggressive line up for several automakers, including GM (the most complete), Toyota, Volkswagen, Ford and Chrysler. They unveiled concept cars and hybrids, luxury and family cars to address the needs of all Americans. They may have scaled back some of the flash, but their fleets indicate a commitment to keep making cars.

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Jenn Kennedy