• Dec 17, 2009
Trend-setting. Far-reaching. Record-setting. In a word: Important. Use whatever descriptors you'd like, what we're looking at today are some of the most forward-thinking cars of the last decade.

Some of our choices are hugely successful in terms of sales while not being all that interesting or important to the advancement of the automobile. That's fine, we need those kinds of vehicles, and many of us drive them on a daily basis. There are other cars, though, that are so advanced, radical or just plain significant in their segment that other automakers sat up and took notice. These are the models we'll look back at in another ten years and remember as vehicular landmarks. To qualify for consideration, a car had to either be introduced between the year 2000 and 2009 or at least receive a major redesign during that time period.

Interestingly, this list was extremely difficult for us to agree upon. Some of our team members pushed very hard for models that ultimately didn't make the list while others argued vehemently that some of our choices didn't belong at all. Ultimately, we compiled a diverse list of vehicles for you to consider, and we think it's well worth taking the time to peruse.

Click either image (or here) to begin this journey through the decade that's just about to conclude. Have fun, and be sure to nominate your own choices in the comments section.



[Source Image: piterart | CC2.0]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 53 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Real mature, guys.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This wasn't meant to go here.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't usually comment but VW new beetle should have been on this list. I hate the car btw, but if I'm not mistaken it was one of the first cars to kick of the trend of using old school styling on modern cars. Paving way for the PT Cruiser, HHR, SSR, Mustang, 300c, Camero, Challenger, hell even the Rolls Royce Phantom...old school styled cars are a HUGE segment right now and you completely left it off the list.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If it was sold in this decade then it can be considered a vehicle of this decade...at least loosely. That being said I was thinking more in terms of the styling and not considering it a premium small car. Even in the begining they were charging in the neighborhood of only 15k for the new beetle and they can be had for less then that now (new). Dramatic styling that borrows from past designs...that was my point...that's why it should be on the list.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Beetle isn't particularly small. More importantly, it's a reskinned Jetta. So if you're going to give an award for cooking up the premium small vehicle market to the Beetle, give it to the Jetta instead.

        I think the main point about the BMW MINI is that previous to it and the Prius, all high-mpg vehicles were econoboxes. It was determined that the in the US the only people who cared about mpg were people who didn't have much money and so there wasn't any point in making an efficient vehicle any more expensive than it absolutely had to be, because it would just kill your sales. The Beetle, and Jetta, not being particularly high mpg, didn't break any ground here.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You don't think the 300c incorporates old school styling? What planet are you living on? That car looks like a Mob car from the 1940s all the way. If I had more time I could find a closer match but you get the general idea...

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimkiernan/3520683267/
        • 5 Years Ago
        The New Beetle came out in 1998, which disqualifies it from being on a list of cars from THIS decade.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I do not agree the 300C was designed to look like a "mob" car from the 40s. For starters, in the 40s cars were trying to appear streamlined and the 300C is more brick shaped.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You are absolutely right, the VW New Beetle deserves to be on the list in the place of the Mini Cooper. One problem however...the New Beetle isn't from this decade, it started in the 90s.

        Which means the Mini Cooper definitely is not the first "premium small car to meet with success". :(
      • 5 Years Ago
      Pretty crummy list.
      1. 7-series - ok, flame surfacing and iDrive appeared everywhere.
      2. FCX - It hasn't inspired anything yet. And GM was pushing hydrogen fuel cell tech for a long time at the beginning of the decade (remember the Hywire?). Even then, the original FCX would be more appropriate than the Clarity.
      3. FX - It followed the X5's footsteps. The FX was not the trendsetter.
      4. CLS - sure, why not, like 5 other cars have followed its styling
      5. Mini - ok choice, did introduce premium compacts to the US
      6. Cayenne - it was a cash cow for Porsche, but how did it impact the market?
      7. xB - Should be the Element if you want to talk about the US market. Many of the comments people made about the xB had already been said about the element.
      8. Tesla - good choice
      9. Prius - eh, Insight is the real trendsetter, the Prius was just more economically successful because it was a 4-door, hardly surprising.
      10. Phaeton - definitely shouldn't be on this list. sales failure, did nothing for VW image, nor did it influence the market in any way. Why would Hyundai look at how the Phaeton did and decide they want to try the same thing? They already have 2 brands in the US, and Hyundai is the more upscale of the 2.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I say the Chevrolet Avalanche should be on here. It is the most innovative truck I have ever seen. However I like the old design better than the current one, the old one was more unique.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think that the Mercedes S-class is the most forward-thinking vehicle of the decade. Every peace of tehnology in this car is 10 years ahead of rivals.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Uhhh...no...I'm not.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The votes have spoken ;)
        • 5 Years Ago
        You are so wrong.
      • 5 Years Ago
      In the worlds of Comic Book Guy:
      "Worst, Autoblog list, EVER!"
      • 5 Years Ago
      huh? Cayenne?

      The Clarity FCX? A vehicle produced in tiny numbers at a ridiculous cost and not sold? How does this make the charts? It's nothing more than Project Driveway anyway. Honda isn't putting the vehicle in the hands of paying consumers! The Clarity FCX is going into the hands of journos and other people who will give it PR.

      I would have thought more vehicles like the Honda Ridgeline would be here (unibody truck). There will be more unibody trucks in the future, count on it.

      And if you're going to count ideas that failed (Phaeton), where the Chevy Avalanche (midgate)? Or the GMC Envoy XUV (retractable roof)?

      And if you're going to put in a hybrid, the 2nd gen Prius wasn't nearly as big a step as the Lexus RX400h was.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Honda Ridgeline? Are you serious? It should be on the flop list, not this list.

        What is the point of a unibody truck? Does it tow more? No. Does it haul more? No. Does it get significantly better mileage? No. Does it have a better ride? Debatable, the F-150 is pretty smooth and can do a lot more. It doesnt do anything well, and its poor sales reflect that. The only people buying Ridgelines are city-dwellers who dont know what a truck is supposed to be used for.
        JDM Life
        • 5 Years Ago
        "I'd say the Ford Escape Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid top the RX"


        Your crazy...
        • 5 Years Ago
        The avalanches midgate and GMC Envoys retractible roof were 100% failures though. And they didnt pave the way to anything good. Where as the Phaeton proved that quality luxury is not all about the brand name which paved the way for the Genesis (i think thats what AB is trying to say).

        I think the VW/Audi deisles should be on the list rather than the mini?
        • 5 Years Ago
        "And if you're going to put in a hybrid, the 2nd gen Prius wasn't nearly as big a step as the Lexus RX400h was."

        I totally disagree. The Prius made the RX400h possible, and has made a much larger impact on the market than the RX400h ever will. I'd say the Ford Escape Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid top the RX; but the Prius is King.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The reason the Clarity can't be sold to everyone is because there aren't hydrogen fueling stations all over the place; the only place they have them are in Southern California.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Last I check the Clarity is still being leased out to consumers in California, and even remember seeing commercials for the car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think the Honda Clarity is one of the most important cars that has been developed in recent history. Electricity and hybird technology are great and all but I think hydrogen technology is what's going to solve our dependence on fossil fuels. Good job Honda.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow...normally I'm on board with the lists you guys do. Not this one, though. Only a few of those do I agree with.
        • 5 Years Ago
        While I wouldn't really want a Cayenne, Porsche deserves credit for being one of the higher premium brands and foreseeing that SUVs could work.

        Rumors have swirled since of other brands trying to get into the SUV game...Lagonda, anyone? Whale penis-skin SUV from Russia?

        The Phaeton was a failure...I guess it was ahead of its time...or maybe just a bad idea.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm with both of you. I can't see why the Infiniti FX is over there, neither the Cayenne or Phaeton. The previous list about major automotive busts was much better than this.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Jeremy Korzeniewski. The Honda Element came out in 2003, not after the toaster xB in 2005. If anything the xB was influenced by the Element.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You left out the Tata Nano. Old Mini was an icon not the Mini cooper. Or you don't include cars from India. Or probably have to be a G8 member to enter this exclusive club. Nano is one car that had the whole world looking at India and specifically Tata, you probably don't find it qualification enough.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ok.. the FX is on the list, but the Murano gets panned for its platform... Last time I checked they are the exact same platform...

      Also the Aztek is pretty gosh darned forward thinking it what it offers... Sure it is ugly as hell and the Pontiac siding was old hat, but how many other cars got siding after that? Chevy trucks, Honda Element? Keep in mind the feature set on the Aztec is simply amazing. Although I would only own one if I was the last person on earth.
        invisiblepigeon3
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Pontiac Aztek disgusting. What does it offer over any other SUV or estate/wagon? Horrible styling?

      • 5 Years Ago
      what about the tata nano?...sure its no merc s-class but its promising to bring mobility to the masses, at virtually $2000 and it has already passed the European Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) safety tests.
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