Contributing editors: Greg Gaillard, Alex Kramer, Kurt Gensheimer, Derek Mau
Despite 2008′s desperate measures to help auto manufacturers hold on to business as usual, 2009 brought only radical change leaving many old business practices and brands behind.
We have been spectators in this year of turmoil and watched the industry struggle to reinvent itself. Two of The Big Three went bankrupt; one emerged with a global partner, the other became lean and focused. Diesels are now faster than their gasoline counterparts. Nine out of ten EPA mpg champs are hybrids. VW bought Porsche while Porsche was buying VW. Overall sales were millions of units short of expectations. Manufacturers now pin their hopes on the Chinese market, while Americans pray that the Volt is half as good as it needs to be. Somehow, during all of this turmoil Kia became cool. What was once unthinkable has happened.
Amidst the mayhem consumer conservatism has redefined value to mean more than MSRP, monthly payments and residuals. Cars had better be good at what they do or people won’t buy them. The industry must meet the new expectation of great cars and real innovation. Tricky marketing and trend analysis will not build the product portfolios of the future.
While the industry was being shaken to its core, 2009 was a banner year for new technologies and remarkable products. Read on to find out which cars persevered as CarReview’s best choices of 2009
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