Detroit is making actual automobiles again. That people want. Really.
You may not have thought about it, but “the car” has been disappearing. Buyers, particularly people with young families, prefer small SUVs and crossovers. A lot. And crossovers aren’t cars. A car...well, you know what a car is. It doesn’t sit extra high and looks like it can do light off-roading that it can’t actually do. It uses its space to, you know, hold people and by being closer to the ground, is inherently better to drive.
Families can’t be blamed for loving the crossovers, though. A couple extra inches of height is nice when you’re moving car seats and so, so many bags of groceries. As people who started out in crossovers have older kids, they buy larger ones; then, when they have some disposable income, move into the luxury SUVs, a cycle which is swiftly depleting our planet’s resources of actual cars.
This winter, though, hope is returning for car lovers, from some of America’s oldest nameplates. Both Lincoln and Buick, companies desperately trying to reinvent themselves, have decided that to stand out as carmakers maybe cars are the answer.
Lincoln’s new car is arguably more significant, as it resurrects the Continental name for a range-topping sedan, confirmed as a 2017 production model. It’s a very modern design and doesn’t really look like anything else, which alone is great news.
It’s insanely well detailed, inside and out, and could be a competitor for anything in the world. It’ll knock the huge Navigator (which is based on the Ford F-150 truck) off the top of the Lincoln line and become the sole, true American luxury automobile.
In the absence of credible competition from Cadillac, Buick’s 2017 LaCrosse will be the Continental’s stiffest competition. It’s sophisticated and nice looking, although it’s not proportioned as nicely as the Continental. No, what’s really exciting is the Avista coupe.
For now, Avista is a concept car, but it’s based on the same Alpha platform that yields the Camaro and Cadillac CTS; like them, it’s rear wheel drive. Unlike anything out of Buick in the last 45 years, it’s absolutely amazing.
The interior is pure concept car, but the exterior, well, the consensus is that it won the Detroit Auto Show earlier this month. It’s got a brutish elegance that’s usually reserved for Aston-Martin and while there are hints in the detailing that need to be addressed, it doesn’t owe anything to any other car. It’s a masterpiece.
Buick has been very clear in the past about the concept cars it won’t build. They’ve been very cagey about the Avista (which Buick fans are hoping becomes a new Gran Sport), stating that they have the capability to build it. Buick Vice President Duncan Aldred told Automobile Magazine that design and technological elements showcased on the Avista would be turning up on new Buicks in the next two or three years, “And from there, we wait and see what happens.”
One car doesn’t mean anything. Two cars is a coincidence. But three? Three cars is a movement.
We need to support these brave makers-of-cars in any way we can. The Lincoln is probably large enough for most needs, and wouldn’t your customers and/or clients be impressed to see you unloading buckets of paint/German Shepherds/toilet seats/trays of muffins from one? If you have any reason at all to get somewhere on time—like a job or picking up kids, then a 400hp Buick is the ideal conveyance for you.
There was a time when almost everyone had a car, and used it for everything. That’s what they’re for. Cars are better than crossovers, unless you actually need a Jeep, in which case it had better be a Rubicon. These are what we’re meant to be driving, Get on with it.
David Traver Adolphus is a freelance automotive researcher who recently quit his full time job writing about old cars to pursue his lifelong dream of writing about old AND new cars. He welcomes the inevitable and probably richly deserved kvetching about Air Bag and anything else on Twitter as @proscriptus.