2010 is going to be a busy year for new cars, crossovers, SUVs, and trucks, as the industry continues to recover from a horrific 2009. Here's a look at five new or redesigned models that might appeal to modern families. This list is presented in no particular order.
1. 2011 Buick Regal: This new Buick will be smaller than the LaCrosse, and it will be based on the Opel Insignia, which is sold in Europe. Expect it to challenge the Acura TSX and cars of that ilk. Reviving the Regal nameplate is risky, some folks remember that name fondly while others remember the more-recent Regals, which aren't really worth remembering. If GM releases the sporty GS version it has shown on the auto-show circuit, then performance-minded buyers might be intrigued.
2. 2011 Ford Edge: The redesigned version of Ford's mainstream crossover launches soon, and it needs to be strong to compete in this class. The current Edge is solid, but it doesn't really stand out. One thing that could help Ford: The new MyTouch interior, which could change the way consumers think about interacting with audio and climate control systems.
3. 2011 Ford Explorer: Ford's venerable body-on-frame SUV will be re-done as a crossover on a unibody frame, and it launches this summer. Details are sparse--expect four-cylinder and V-6 EcoBoost powerplants--but this is an important vehicle for Ford. If the company gets it right, the SUV/crossover segment may get redefined yet again. If not, then people may wonder why Ford is selling three different crossovers.
4. 2011 Infiniti QX56: Unveiled in New York and scheduled to have its media launch later this month, this redesigned large SUV will appeal to moneyed customers who need lots of size and space. It's styling may be, um, controversial (beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all) but there will be at least a few buyers who like its looks. Is that enough for Infiniti? Time will tell.
5. 2011 Ford Fiesta: We've already had the chance to drive this car, and we liked its styling and interior, while wishing for more power and rear-seat space. For families on a budget--particularly young families who live in an urban setting--this car will be worth a look. If you're shopping for a subcompact, this will go on the list, right next to the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa.
A few honorable mentions: 2012 Ford Focus, which is scheduled to launch later this year; 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is perhaps Chrysler's most important launch ever; and the 2011 Mazda 2, which will fight the Fiesta in the subcompact class.
Keep in mind this list is just one opinion, but in this author's opinion, all of these vehicles are worth watching.