17 August 2007

Cars That Should Be Buried for 50 Years

Now that the hype of Tulsa, Oklahoma's Plymouth Belvedere, which sat in an underground (and sometimes underwater) vault for half a century, has died down, I thought I'd take a look at which 2007 model year vehicles might be good to bury for 50 years.

Now, does "good to bury" mean that they are representative of the automotive landscape in 2007, or that they're vehicles we hate so much that our planet is better served by having at least one example underground away from human sight for 50 years? I decided on the former - the best representatives of what's popular with consumers in 2007. You may have a different list, and I'd love to hear any other suggestions or critiques of the list I came up with. Obviously, there's no "right" or "wrong" answer - it's just a fun exercise. I also have no delusions like the Tulsans did in 1957 that ANY of the vehicles in my list will be in style in "2,057," but I just want people 50 years from now to agree with some of my choices. So, let's get into the list!

2007 Honda Odyssey
The Honda Odyssey is arguably the best minivan on the market. Although Chrysler has two new vans ready for battle in this competitive-but-shrinking segment, Honda has set the benchmark with quality, comfort, family-friendly features, and decent handling and fuel economy for a vehicle of its size. They're also strong sellers and a strong profit driver for Honda.

2007 Chevrolet Silverado 1500
The full-size pickup truck market may be under attack from several angles - high gas prices, environmentalists, etc. - but the fact is, the two top-selling vehicles in the US are the Ford F-Series and Chevy Silverado. I was going to choose the Ford to bury, but since it's at the end of its life cycle and the Chevy was all-new for the 2007 model year, I'll give the nod to the Chevy. I chose a half ton because those are the most popular with personal use buyers who rarely need a pickup's carrying capacity.

2007 Toyota Camry
The Camry is the best selling car in the US, and has been for more or less the past decade. If any car defines what the public is driving in the US in 2007, it's the Camry. You see the darn things everywhere.

2007 Honda CR-V
The CR-V is all-new this year, and Honda came up with the right vehicle at the right time. While its competitors were shoehorning V6s into their "cute utes" (Toyota, Mitsubishi, Suzuki), Honda stuck with the four cylinder in a move that with the benefit of hindsight looks to be a master stroke. It gives much of the utility and elevated view of the road of larger SUVs with the fuel economy of a car. People love them - they're the #1 selling SUV in the country (even though they're not SUVs in the traditional sense).

2007 Toyota Prius
One of the founders of the "green" movement in cars, and far and away the most popular hybrid model, the Prius makes the list. I personally am tired of the way the car looks and would never drive something willingly with such an anemic powertrain, but people who have them seem to love them.

2007 GMC Acadia
The crossover segment is one of the few segments growing quickly right now - consumers really seem to take to vehicles that have much of the ground clearance, looks, and capabilities of truck-based SUVs, but with better fuel economy thanks to their unibody car-based platforms. The Acadia (along with its cousins the Saturn Outlook and Buick Enclave) are the leaders in the large crossover segment, which also can count the Honda Pilot, 2008 Toyota Highlander, and Mazda CX-9 as members. These vehicles have been well-regarded so far by the press and by customers, so the Acadia makes the list.

2007 Chevrolet Corvette
If you hopped into a time machine in 1968 and showed the owner of a new Corvette a photo of a 2007 Corvette, I bet they'd be able to figure out what it was you're showing them. The C6 Corvette has modern, yet classic lines with nearly all of the important, classic styling cues that define a Corvette (long hood, arched fenders, gills on the front fenders, four round taillights). I may be biased (since the C6 is my favorite new car), but I believe that someone in 2057 would be as thrilled to open a vault with a pristine 2007 Corvette as they would to open a vault with a pristine 1957 Corvette today. The Corvette is an icon, and I expect it to remain one.

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
Another icon from a different era that survives, and even thrives, in 2007 is the Jeep Wrangler. Sales are up this year by huge percentages, thanks entirely to the introduction of the first four door Wrangler, called the Unlimited. The Wrangler Unlimited combines more than 90% of the two door's capabilities with much more passenger and luggage space (and more convenient access to the rear seat).

2006 Scion xB
The Scion xB is the vehicle most identified as a Scion by the general public, and Toyota's Scion division has gone from zero sales to a household name in just a few years, thanks to appropriately priced products, a new selling model (low prices, lots of standard equipment, and the only factory option is color and automatic or manual transmission), and Toyota's marketing dollars/acumen. Scions are generally customized by their owners (or by a dealer at the owner's behest), in a trend that many other manufacturers are trying to latch onto because of the healthy profit margins that accessories generate. I chose the 2006 model because there was no 2007 xB, and the 2008 is too wrong to make the list.

2007 BMW 335i Sedan
The 3-series BMW is the consummate sport sedan, and the new twin turbocharged 300 horsepower 3.0 liter I6 makes the current model the best non-M3 yet. The 3-series has also been its class benchmark for decades, and as hard as they try, the competition can't out-BMW the 3. The steering, handling, braking, shifting, and acceleration are simply out of this world, especially for less than $40,000.

So, which of the above ten cars should be buried? Or should it be something else? Comment below!

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