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It's crunch time in the auto industry, there's no doubt about that. The Detroit Free Press' Mark Phelan paints the picture in the simplest -- yet starkest -- terms possible when he lays out the seven models that can make or break the profits of the major automakers.

Chevrolet Silverado: Chevy's best-selling pick-up accounts for a HUGE amount of sales and market share for General Motors, and despite its class-leading fuel economy, gas prices and other factors are shifting buyers away from full-size pick-ups.

Toyota Tundra: This full-size pickup supplies jobs to thousands of people in Indiana and Texas, true, but its real significance is as a market share cannibal to the Dodge Ram, Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado. The difference is that Toyota doesn't need the Tundra to make it, but the Big 3 need their trucks to do well in order to stabilize.

Ford Edge: It's one of just a few new Ford vehicles hitting the market this year, while other automakers like Toyota and Chrysler seem to have one vehicle after another hitting the streets and infiltrating consumers' consciousnesses. More importantly, the Edge's job is to pick up those customers leaving their Explorers and other larger trucks behind.

Honda Accord: With the new Camry out, it's easy to see that Honda must step it up with the Accord to keep its status as the better-designed, better-performing alternative to the Toyota Camry. The Koreans may not be hot on Honda's heels yet in terms of sales, but with the bold(er) design of the Camry and the less expensive Hyundai and Kia models to choose from, Honda has a tall order to fill with next year's Accord.

Nissan Altima: Nissan might have experienced a comeback thanks to risky design and impressive performance. The Altima? Not so much, at least as of late. Nissan's got a lot on its plate if it wants to put itself back on the import sedan map.

Chrysler Town and Country/Dodge Caravan: It survived the SUV craze, but can it survive crossovers? And more importantly, can it survive the import minivan craze? The Chrysler Town & Country is a pillar of strength for Chrysler, but it will be hard-pressed to stay there.

Buick Enclave/GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook: They're GM's answer to the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX330, and critics say they have the styling and fuel economy to be true contenders. Considering the importance of the segment, GM seems to be putting its best foot forward.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      "The Nissan Altima future is vary unclear to me... It really depends on what the model looks like with this one since Nissan is a middle of the pack brand. "

      #16 What do you mean what the model looks like?? Have you been in a cave for the last 4-5 months? The new Altima was shown off way back in April at the New York Auto Show. Just do a search for 2007 Altima and i'm sure you'll find tons of pics. Or better still, go to www.nissanusa.com and see it on Nissan's website. Hell autoblog itself has had plenty of pics posted of the new car. Also all early reviews of this car have been extremely positive. This is gonna be as much of hit for Nissan as the current Altima is, just wait and see.
      • 8 Years Ago

      actually the odyssey's highway rating is 25 mpg...not 22. not trying to be nit-picky though.

      regardless, i'd probably get the odyssey...my family doesn't get together often but when we do, and its more than 5 of us, we always have to take two or more cars anywhere. the odyssey would be a nice solution to our problems. on the other hand, i wouldn't be able to use the truck much except maybe to pick up some bags of mulch or move some furniture.

      if you use your truck for work thats fine and well, kind of expected too. all i'm saying is its unnecessary to apply generalizations (i.e. "all the import owners love to pat themselves on the back 'for being soooo smart'; get over it") and i don't understand your aversion to smaller cars.

      why blame people for being smart and saving money/gas/the environment?

      and here's a little quote i learned in grad school in terms of your constant reference to the past:

      "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it"
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm just shocked that we are ALL EXCITED about some truck that gets 21.1 MPG in the year 2006. Regardless of what you had in it and done with it you know damn well that Dodge can get better than 21.1 pathetic MPG.

      There is no excuse big trucks can't get 30mpg in the year 2006.

      It's a bunch of crap, this country is *so very far* behind predictions of say 20 years ago it's just pathetic.

      21.1MPG? circa 2006 for a pickup truck AND that is your best MPG figure. C'mon for your own wallets sake, you have to admit that this figure is not "all that and a bag of chips."

      • 8 Years Ago
      The Camry and Accord have had dowdy designs since day one - but the new Camry really is a looker (I credit the Mazda6 for starting the trend). Companies are finally realizing we may NEED family sedans, but we don't want them to LOOK like family sedans. Honda is going to have to be a little daring for once with their new Accord.

      Buick Enclave/GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook? Haven't we learned yet that rebadging really doesn't work??? Guess not.
      • 8 Years Ago

      Mr. Ed was just personifying the spoken verbiage of a typical blue oval buyer’s reprise to Ford’s product offerings. Really...he’s not really too off base with I his yokel riddled comment.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wow, I feel dumber just from reading mr.ed's comments. The buick looks really nice, I hope GM can apply that kind of style to more of their cars. It will be intersting to see if the Accord hybrid numbers change for August/September with the way gas prices have been fluxing. I know I saw 2.88 a gallon which is down from 3.14/gal 2 weeks ago.
      • 8 Years Ago
      ""..when Mazda markets on their website that the bumper panels are a constant 3mm apart from start to finish, it's like they were speaking directly to me!"

      I hope your perfectly-put-together bumpers are a consolation for all that rattling/pinging.

      Posted at 11:13AM on Sep 5th 2006 by Rob 0 stars"


      What do you want me to say and I will say it.

      Please note: That is why I'm wanting to get rid of it, you can look back in previous posts my car was rear-ended on the freeway BADLY and the car has rattled ever since.

      I was going to get a pre-owned BMW 5 series, but my other half thought the rear end was horrible looking. And after looking at it for a while I decided it was also.

      I'm paying cash for the car (just as I did the Mazda) and have up to 40k to spend plus whatever a 2004 Mazda 3 "s" with 8,500 miles on it will fetch. That's why I thought the Outlook or Edge might be nice, as I will not touch the 40k mark.

      Ron, I think you are just not as picky as I am, ergo you like your Honda CR-V
      • 8 Years Ago
      I never said pickup trucks should be 50/50, people would have to adjust the tire pressure, or get tires with a sufficiently high load carrying index, but trucks would not instantly be useless if the unladen weight distribution was 50/50.
      But 55/45 would be fine for actual four wheel drive, and what ever reduction stemming from elimination of transfer case, and front drive mechanicals 53/47 would be fine for only rear axle drive.

      A little mental time travel, flashback to 1985 Chevy just introduced the Astro Van, inspired by the gas crunches, it was unibody and had a 2.5 liter I4 and optional 4.3V6 (3/4 of a small block) and the I4 had a 4 speed manual and the V6 had a 5 speed manual standard or optional 700R4. The base work van (I4, oversquare 4" bore by 3" stroke, and not even 100hp) was light and had a 50/50 weight distribution, good for useage in snow (and 195/75 15 tires helped too).
      The carbureted V6/auto was 55/45 weight distribution with 145hp and an open differential and 205/75 15 tires. Suck-o-rama in the snow compared to the stripper version (not that the mental work of operating a clutch and stick had anything to do with, 2nd gear start if you want)
      Both vehicles had the same amount of weight in back, but there was more (dead) mass up front that reduced acceleration potential.
      Chevrolet even added four wheel drive (single speed transfer case with 38/62 torque split) that was 60/40 on the short wheelbase.

      cough Ligor, 2007 RX350
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yo, Detroit- I ain't buyin' no more ugly rides with pushrod motors, four speed trannies or numb steering. Ain'tcher toolin' paid off yet? I mean, a V8 over 50 years old, a V6 only five years younger, another introduced in 1980. Ain'tcha gonna wake up afore your funeral? D'ya think we're stoopid? Why doya think ya hafta offer cheap financin' and big rebates on new models? Yer engineers are as good as any, right? I say drown the product planners and execs who approve stuff like the Malibu and badge switched Ford/Mercury/Lincoln Mazdas.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "18. Ryan no do English good."

      -Yeah I posted that post then realized that it made no sense. But it's Autoblog, not exactly a career breaker.
      • 8 Years Ago

      Weren't you the one saying how well-built Mazdas were? I'm a little confused now...

      "..when Mazda markets on their website that the bumper panels are a constant 3mm apart from start to finish, it's like they were speaking directly to me!"

      I hope your perfectly-put-together bumpers are a consolation for all that rattling/pinging.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Honda Accord. ...."next year's Accord". That's right, "NEXT YEAR". That's a 2008 model a year from now.

      For the year:
      Accord sales are down around 8,000. Also, for the year, Accord Hybrids are down around 8,000 (the car now one asked for). Not too bad, with a 'old' model considering that the Sonata + Camry are new.
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