Five Cars for the Next Four Years

August 22, 2008
American flag

American flag

With the election less than 100 days away, it’s time for car enthusiasts and shoppers everywhere to get to the real issue for the next presidential term: What’s going to be cool to drive for the next four years?

The two leading candidates for president, Sen. John McCain from Arizona and Sen. Barack Obama from Illinois, have both voiced strong opinions on the auto industry in recent months. Obama, for example, says he’ll give Detroit money to stop building SUVs and start building 35-mpg cars; McCain’s been a champion of higher fuel economy laws and wants $300 million for a new generation of electric cars.'s team took this week before the Democratic and Republican conventions to predict which cars, trucks, and SUVs would be more popular with each of the candidates in the running. Though the Illinois senator is clearly in favor with the green movement, the Chrysler 300C might get a bump from an Obama administration; likewise, Toyota’s popular Prius could nab a bigger slice of the market under a McCain administration--since like McCain himself, it’s getting a second wind thanks to high gas prices.

These are’s predictions for the vehicles most likely to be a hit under the next President of the United States:

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)

Diesel pickups. Big pickups aren’t going away, but neither are drastic new fuel economy standards. Obama has been a vocal supporter of biodiesel, and each of the Detroit carmakers is planning diesel for their big trucks.

Honda Accord diesel. The diesel lead in cars might be with Volkswagen for now, but just wait until the segment-killing Honda Accord gets in on the action. It’s a new turbodiesel estimated at 50 mpg on the highway, and Obamacans will flock to it, along with some of the other 300,000-plus buyers who line up for the Accord each year.

Ford Fiesta. It’s coming in 2010, and Ford’s new subcompact is just the ticket for an Obama administration. Obama wants $4 billion for Detroit to build new small cars, and Ford is already planning on building it in North America; they could use the incentives to make a hybrid or diesel version for real 50-mpg capability.

Chrysler 300C. Be like Barack? Last year Obama was singled out by the media for driving this stylish HEMI-powered sedan. It was perhaps a little too extravagant for a Democrat, so now he’s driving the politician’s stand-by, a Ford Escape Hybrid, but he hasn’t been able to shake the 300C image.

Kia Sorento. Have you seen the Internet phenom ads? What more can we say?

John McCain

John McCain

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. Like McCain, it’s green and it’s tough as nails. Throw Mitt Romney in the backseat, have him come up with a way to lop $5,000 off the sticker price, and it’s a deal.

Toyota Prius. McCain’s come out in favor of across-the-board incentives for high-mileage cars—and the Prius’ tax credits expired long ago. The Prius is poised for an even stronger second wind under McCain.

Honda Civic GX. Natural gas is one way to divert cars from the oil stream—and McCain’s spoken out for more compressed-natural-gas vehicles like the ones your city’s bus system probably uses today. The Honda Civic GX uses compressed natural gas (CNG); you can refill it at home and you can get natural gas from domestic sources, making it a friendlier alternative to more offshore drilling.

Chevrolet Volt. The GM PR machine has been working overtime on the gas-electric Volt, the plug-in hybrid they hope to launch by late 2009. They can expect McCain to be an ally. McCain wants more nuclear power, which will help keep the Volt charged up, and he’s in favor of tax credits for zero-carbon-emission cars.

Nissan EV. With his $300 million plan to fund a new generation of electric-car batteries, McCain might be giving a lift to Nissan, which wants to sell mainstream electric vehicles by 2012. Giving power to the people doesn’t have to involve fossil fuels, and this proves McCain is as green as Republicans come.

Bob Barr, Libertarian Party

Kia Borrego. Politics is all about timing. Barr’s third—or fourth?—party run for the White House is going nowhere, just like the brand-new, handsome, and well-engineered Kia Borrego. It’s a full-size SUV that’s hitting the market just as big utes are falling from favor. Only in Barr’s wildest political dreams would there be enough domestic drilling and ethanol cutbacks to make SUVs like the Borrego big sellers again.

Ralph Nader, Independent

Ford Taurus. Surprisingly, Nader’s been sounding conciliatory with calls to help U.S. carmakers convert their fleets to advanced-technology vehicles. He needs something to drive in the meantime, though, and the Taurus shines with five-star safety. With all-wheel drive, it’s as safe at any speed as you can get.

Cynthia McKinney, Green Party

A car? Come on!

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