Objects of Desire

Does this car excite you?

I want to share with you a comment that came yesterday from one of our long-time readers. If you’re a regular on this blog, you may recognize his handle, panayoti. His comments are always provocative, to say the least. Sometimes I want to throw a bomb at him.

This time, he takes off on my question about why I put so many German cars on my Best Cars of 2009 list, which leads him into remarks on car journalism good and bad, why cars should be regarded as machines, not objects of desire, and some suggestions as to how we might reposition our editorial stance. I urge you to read his comment here.

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Cars Coming Soon->2011 Model Year Preview

2011 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG

Happy New Year’s Eve, fellow CarGurus!

I got to thinking that as 2010 descends upon us, we’re really only about 6 months away from seeing the first 2011 model year vehicles enter dealerships. That blows my mind a little, especially when I realized that my 2007 vehicle, which still feels new to me, will be four model years old. Wow.

My man jgoods just brought us a top-notch list of the best cars of 2009, so on this final 2009 edition of Cars Coming Soon, it’s time to take a sneak peek into what automakers could bring us in 2010. Behold, my 2011 model year preview:

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Another (but better) Best Cars of 2009 List

We can call it the “Jgoods Top 7,” because I think 10 is too many and 5 too few. These cars, all priced under $100,000, represent my idea of the best in category. Like all such lists, this one is pretty subjective. I put it together after looking at many others, some of which are referenced in the links.

The Cadillac CTS-V should have made everyone’s list, but it was on surprisingly few. Virtually all who have driven it (I have not) applaud its first-class handling, supercharged V8 power, and tremendous value (prices begin around $60,000). This is one of a small number of product successes GM should be proud of in 2009.

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GM Launches $7,000 Discount on Pontiac and Saturn

2009 Pontiac G8

Just think for a second about the year GM had. Holy smokes… who would’ve thought by the end of 2009 the General would have filed for bankruptcy and killed Pontiac, Saturn, and probably Saab?

As ’09 is about to give way to ’10, GM really wants to move on and put this year into the past. Problem is, there are still Pontiacs and Saturns hanging around on dealers’ lots, threatening to hang on to the General’s heels, making it even more difficult to take those first steps into the future. Now GM has a plan to shake off those pesky remaining liabilities known as Pontiac and Saturn: a good old-fashioned fire sale. With a twist.

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Green Update–>Ferrari, Audi, Ford, Chevy

Word is out that one of the greatest Ferraris ever, the 599 GTB Fiorano, will get the hybrid treatment and appear at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 2010. According to Quattroruote, the Italian car mag, Ferrari’s first hybrid road car will employ the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) the F1 team used last season. This system uses regenerative braking to recharge the batteries and provide short bursts of energy.

The Fiorano’s V12 engine would couple with a rear-mounted electric motor and lithium-ion battery in the rear, giving a 35-percent gain in fuel economy over the gas-only version. The original car is nothing short of fabulous, according to an Inside Line first-drive review when it appeared in 2006. With the KERS system, it can only get better. Finally, a supercar hybrid that adds more than fuel economy.

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Mustang GT 5.0 Comes Back for 2011, But Can It Smoke the Challenger and Camaro?

We love to argue the merits of today’s pony cars.

The Mustang/Camaro/Challenger question always inspires passion. It’s an argument that inevitably turns to (or begins with) the power output of V8 trims, and that’s where the Ford Mustang GT couldn’t quite hang with its competition.

But all those arguments happened when the Mustang GT had a 4.6-liter V8 under its hood. The famed 5.0 disappeared in 1995. Since then, many ‘Stang lovers have yearned for a proper 5.0 badge to adorn the ‘ol GT’s fenders. Well, friends, it’s back for 2011 and lemme tell ya, the Hemi-powered Challenger and SS Camaro now have reason to quiver in their rubber-wrapped boots.

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Tough Times for Toyota

Making Lexus engines

While you were all pigging out over Christmas, Toyota has been taking it in the teeth, particularly from the L.A. Times in a scathing piece. The world’s largest carmaker is accused of covering up vehicle defects with impunity for years. It’s not just the floormat issue and recall, which everyone in the world now knows about. Major safety cover-ups are charged, including: sudden acceleration in various vehicles for nearly ten years, payoffs to owners of such vehicles, steering defects, and accusations of hiding evidence from courts, lawyers, and the NHTSA.

The Times’ lengthy indictment documents numerous specific instances, among them several where owners of sudden-acceleration cars refused to drive them again and returned them to dealers. The cars were bought back under the lemon law—but then resold to other people!

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Pumped Up and Stripped Down: Toyota FT-86 to Come Track-Ready

Toyota FT-86 concept

How much would you expect to pay for a track-tuned 200-horsepower rear-wheel-drive 2+2 sports coupe with a 6-speed manual tranny?

Walk into a dealership with those demands, and you’ll probably be looking at a $40,000 Infiniti G37.

Walk into a Hyundai dealership, though, and you’ll see the Genesis Coupe, which can be had for as little as $22,000 (or as much as $31,000).

Now Toyota wants into the game, and according to the good people at Leftlane, is preparing to offer a stripped-down, track-tuned version of its new FT-86 for around $22K.

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High Speed Fun From Aston Martin and Nissan

Aston Martin One-77

I could use a hefty dose of speed after a slow-moving, mostly cathartic, heavy eating though seriously enjoyable Christmas. While I should probably hit the treadmill and turn the speed up to 11, I’m gonna write about fast cars instead. Really fast cars. In fact, two of the cars I’m most fascinated with right now are making news: The Aston Martin One-77 and the Infiniti Essence.

Neither is officially on sale. Only the Aston is entering production in its current form. But that doesn’t mean we have to stop dreaming, right?

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2009 Merry Christmas Awards

The holidays are tough enough for most of us, so we decided to honor a few people for their contributions in making the season easier to bear. But first, our Evil Act of the Season Award to two scumbags who stole cars full of Christmas gifts. And the owners were both out of work.

In the Ballard section of Seattle, Margaret wrote that a friend parked her white 1990 Honda Accord (with peeling rear window tint and a very loud muffler, we are told) which contained skis, boots, and a trunk full of Christmas gifts. The friend has been laid off for a year. In Kansas City, Kan., Carmel Vaughn, homeless for two years, reported her car stolen with, again, a trunk full of Christmas presents, some for her 7-year-old daughter. One may question why these out-of-work folk have money for Christmas gifts, but the Grinch-infected people who stole their cars did not.

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