• Jun 21st 2010 at 12:00AM
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In Pictures: 10 Smart Cars To Buy Now. Buick... In Pictures: 10 Smart Cars To Buy Now. Buick

Remember when automakers offered customers all kinds of incentives to flip their cars and trucks every three years? Cheap lease deals and seven year loans were catnip to many a driver who wanted to be seen in fresh wheels. So pervasive was incessant car flipping that many car owners became “upside down” on their car loans as unscrupulous dealers and ignorant buyers allowed customers whose trade-ins were worth less than what was owed to roll forward the shortfall into a new loan on a new car. Thus, consumers were financing 120% and more of a new car’s value at closing.

Not any more. Reckless financing deals took down Mitsubishi in the U.S., and ultimately contributed to the falls of GM and Chrysler. The companies have closed and consolidated so many factories that they aren’t over-producing cars and trucks like they used to.

Consumer research and trend analysts are telling carmakers to get ready for slow growth from this year’s projected 11.5 to 12 million new vehicle sales because the hammering of home values and 401k accounts is going to keep people in their vehicles for a good seven or eight years and maybe more.

The good news, even for people who aren’t wild about the prospect of holding on to the same wheels for a decade, is that automakers are making longer term ownership more possible through better engineering and overall quality. J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which ranks cars based on surveying car owners about three years of ownership, showed this year that Detroit automakers continue to narrow the long term quality gap between them and the leading Asian makes. Twenty-five of 36 vehicle brands have improved in long-term dependability in 2010, compared with their performance in 2009. And for the first time in the history of the study, a Detroit model, the 2006 Buick LaCrosse, had the lowest incidence of problems. Seven of the top ten models in this year’s ranking were from General Motors and Ford.

To come up with this list, we looked at three years of J.D. Power’s VDS Studies to see which vehicles showed up in the top three positions in their segments over 2008, 2009 and 2010, which would reflect vehicles sold in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Those were the LaCrosse, Toyota Prius, Honda Ridgeline and CR-V and BMW Z4. But we don’t want to be chained to Power’s rankings. We also added to our list--for reasons of our own scrutiny of the products, their history and various rankings -- the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Hyundai Elantra Touring and BMW 3 Series.

There are other vehicles that could have been added to the list if we expanded it. The Lexus ES350 sedan, Subaru Outback and Toyota Corolla each have reputations and data to make them good choices for a decade, as well. But to keep the list to ten models, we were a bit ruthless, and wanted to add some models like the Jetta TDI and Hyundai, which we feel are good bets with some added benefit of being fun to drive and not such obvious choices.

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      • 7 Months Ago
      I have had an Aurora by Oldsmobile for fourteen years and counting. It is the best car I have ever had, even over European models!
      • 7 Months Ago
      have owned 4 nissans and 3 grand marquis...gas milage great on the nissans 4wd pathfinders.4wd 25 mpg in town or out.. ride not as comfy as the gr marq...gr marq mph 24 to 25..no problems at 135000 on 1, 12700 on 1, and now have 47000 on the last one...ford will iss merc sales on the gm...see more of them on the road and customers are always happy with them....worked at merc deal fo several years and never met an unhappy customer with the gm think it over ford...
      • 7 Months Ago
      I turn wrenches on new GMs for a living. Aint of em lasting then years. Toyota Prius is gonna fall victim to the beta max effect, at least the hybrid ones. Hyundai is in a good position to be like Honda or Toyota was in the nineties.
      • 7 Months Ago
      Let's wake up to the fact when you buy American you are helping to save jobs and lower your taxies. And let's not forget that Toyota and the like from that part of the world made and sold us junk years ago. And Yes the Big 3 US auto makers let their quality slide and had to wake up or go out of business. I have own Toyota's and European car's in the past and had many problems with them. And Yes they have improved their quality but so have the Big 3 US auto makers. And unless your uneducated, blind and cannot hear then you would realize the American Big 3 now can stand up against any vehicle made around the world. I find it odd someone living in this country would put it down so much on this sight. I guess you must work for a foreign dealership or you just cannot afford a decent auto. The Cheap vehicles are junk no mater who you buy them from. I currently drive and use for sales calls a Cadillac CTS that has over 121,thousand miles on it with No Problems at all. I've done one complete tune up ,do the required oil and filter change and purchased a few good tires for the vehicle. I have not purchased a new vehicle due to the uncertain US economy and a possible double dip. And I have no plans of trading in my current CTS but will be holding out for the New Loaded Two Door CTS 4 Coupe. America's Big 3 auto makers have changed and it is time for Americans to wake up and give them a chance again.
      • 7 Months Ago
      What a bunch of jokers in this BLOG. Has anyone ever taken a ride in a NY cab? All of those vehicle are very high mileage. Why wouldn't all those Cab companies run more fuel efficient Nissans, Toyotas and Hondas. Answer, because none of them hold up like the Crown Vic. Why would the cabbies want to earn less? They don't. They save because the CV holds up in severe service.
      • 7 Months Ago
      allenstringer, you are a idiot!
      • 7 Months Ago
      • 7 Months Ago
      Sure, I helped GM out, and bought the 2009 Pontiac G8. Great car, but it is made in Australia. Maybe better that way. No issues with it the first year, it is a big car, with usable space, sporty with some real guts. Plan on keeping this one a while, especially since Pontiac is no more... GM finally got one right and then cut the line. Another reason they went bankrupt.
      • 7 Months Ago
      Americans are patriots, and prefer to buy American; no doubt at all about that. But most Americans will not long and knowingly subsidize incompetence and sloppily-made products, no matter who makes them and how well they are advertised. Foreign car makers got the upper hand in the auto industry for one real and obvious reason. They concentrated on quality product first, profits second, and did not rely totally on slick and sexy advertising to cover their bad tracks. Same lessons go for virtually all manufacturing and service industries, regardless where it all takes place.
      • 7 Months Ago
      buy American cars Period. What really frost my butt are the teachers and educators that belong to a union and will suport the unions endorsed politicians albeit the likes of OBAMA and his predesessors. My point is!!!!!!!!!!!!! there are an awlful lot of foreign made cars in the school parking lots. Under the ************* America is facing(due to OBAMA) these folks are all pin heads and anti America for not supporting the big three. P S dont give me this **** about these imports being made in America, the profits still go off shore.
      • 7 Months Ago
      GM Management Blew it big time,getting rid of the Buick Century.Who can trust them Know?
      • 7 Months Ago
      I love my 05 Impala just 2 new tires and they were still good,and it shareas much with the Buick wich I would love to have in I good afford
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