Are you tired of seeing the same old nameplates out on the road? Do you want a car that's not a Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla or BMW 3-Series? These popular makes have become fixtures on highways across the country. It's only natural that you may want something different - something that stands out.
Well, you could shell out your life savings for an exotic Ferrari, but a more economical choice is to buy a car that's just arrived from the factory. There are several brand-new 2010 cars on dealer lots now. These models have never been sold before, and chances are many people haven't even heard of them yet. If you buy one, don't be surprised if you get a few jealous stares next time you're sitting in traffic.
You may have seen the GLK-Class even before it hit dealerships early this year. The first compact SUV from Mercedes-Benz made an appearance in last summer's Sex and the City movie as sexy Samantha's ride of choice. While its chic pedigree is a given, this small SUV has the chops to back it up. Those who have tested the GLK report excellent car-like driving dynamics at bargain pricing - for a Mercedes, anyway. Based on a C-Class sedan chassis, the GLK comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, but rather un-car-like fuel economy (estimated by Mercedes at 16/22 mpg city/highway). The rear seat is also on the small side; so don't rely on the GLK as a family car.
The Soul is Kia's brand new car-based hatchback. It sports some SUV-like styling and is about the same length as the Kia Rio. You can tell just by looking at the Soul's boxy, funky exterior that it's geared toward a young demographic. Initial test drives show the Soul boasts more than just fun styling. Its sporty driving dynamics give it an edge over competitors. The Soul also comes with a high level of standard features for its sub-$15K base price. These include a tilt steering wheel and a stereo with auxiliary inputs. Plus, if you opt for the Sport model, you'll get a bright red and black interior trim. However, don't count on this hatchback for your next move - the cargo area is small. Some test drivers also complain about the quirky manual transmission.
Honda's new Prius competitor, the Insight, may be the best-driving hybrid yet as well as the best value. Honda has resurrected the name of a two-seat hybrid it sold in the 1990s and has priced it a few thousand dollars less than the venerable Toyota Prius. Test drivers say the Insight is more fun to drive, too. Though it offers less power than the Prius, it uses its few horsepower well and achieves more natural handling than Toyota's car. The only downside is that it can't match the Prius' 50 mpg combined fuel economy. The Insight is expected to achieve 40 mpg in the city and 43 on the highway, though Honda says that real-world numbers could be better due to the hybrid's built-in driver coaching system. On the plus side, the Insight stands out with a quirky exterior - so everyone will know you're driving a hybrid.
Though it's not officially a brand-new model, the 2010 Toyota Prius may as well be. It's undergone a complete redesign for 2010 and across-the-board improvements help the 2010 Prius maintain the model's status as a game-changer. Now in its third generation, it is larger, more powerful and even more economical on fuel. The Prius now offers four operating modes, allowing drivers to choose whether to focus on fuel economy or performance. It's expected to achieve an estimated 50 mpg combined fuel economy. The good news continues on the inside, where the Prius has lost some of the ergonomic quirks that previously bothered drivers. It's also gained both storage and passenger space.
Ford Fusion Hybrid
With the Ford Fusion Hybrid, another Prius-fighter enters the ring. Many in the automotive press say it will prove a more practical and enjoyable choice than Toyota's popular hybrid. In fact, test drivers say it leaves behind the somewhat artificial driving feel of previous hybrid cars. The Fusion Hybrid is expected to achieve 41 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway - figures that trump both the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Nissan Altima Hybrid. And with its upscale cabin and gadget-heavy interior, it might even offer a cheap-to-own alternative to some entry-level luxury cars like the Acura TL. However, it has an almost four-thousand-dollar price premium over its closest competitor of all, the Prius.