Auto show has cars for nearly every niche

Automakers have plenty to crow about this year at the St. Louis
Auto Show. U.S. sales are the highest since 2008, and they’re
expected to keep growing. Buyers are being lured by cheap loans and
an improving economy.

The show, which lasts through Sunday at America’s Center and the
Edward Jones Dome downtown, will display more than 500 new
vehicles.

So what are the trends this year? Fuel-efficient cars with more
style and safety features; trendy subcompacts for younger buyers;
and small luxury sedans.

• Smaller but stylish: Gas prices have dropped from their $4
peak last spring but remain high. People looking for a more
efficient car will have plenty of choices among midsize sedans and
compacts.

Ford will roll out a redone version of its top-selling Fusion
midsize sedan. The new model, which goes on sale this fall,
features a warning system to alert drivers when they drift into
another lane. It’s the first time such a system has been on a
non-luxury car, Ford says.

Honda launches a new Accord coupe, a model that will foreshadow
the looks of its new sedan due in showrooms later this year. It’s
the Accord’s first redesign since 2007.

Both will compete with Chevrolet’s new Malibu sedan, which goes
on sale this spring. With better fuel economy, improved styling and
new features, the three cars hope to steal sales from Toyota’s
Camry, the perennial leader among midsize sedans.

• Downsized luxury: Luxury car sales grew just 2.8 percent
compared with 10 percent growth for the industry as a whole,
according to Autodata Corp. But an improving economy and a slew of
new cars could turn that around.

Hyundai will launch a new Genesis Coupe, aiming for sports car
buyers.

Ford’s venerable Lincoln brand, which is being overhauled, will
launch the new MKZ later this year.

• Mad for millennials: Millennials — the 70 million people born
between 1981 and 2000 — are a growing force in the market. Like
buyers from the past, millennials will start out with small, more
affordable cars. But unlike earlier generations, they expect luxury
and connectivity.

To appeal to this group, this year’s show will feature
subcompacts with perks like leather seats, ambient lighting and
easy connections to cell phone applications like Pandora. These
subcompacts include the sporty Chevrolet Sonic RS and a
turbocharged version of the new Hyundai Veloster. 

Leave a Reply