A new model year means that the cars you’ve been reading about and following in the news are finally going on sale. Soon, they’ll be on your local dealers’ lots, and you’ll have the opportunity to check them out, test drive them, decide what you think, and figure out whether you agree with what your favorite auto writers said about them.
You also have the opportunity to buy one of those cars, and thousands of people do exactly that. Which vehicles they buy and which ones they ignore can influence not just the profitability of the companies that sell them but also trends in the industry as a whole. The Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet might have failed to ignite the convertible crossover segment, but the Hyundai Sonata completely changed the midsize sedan segment.
For GM, 2016 is an important year. While its SUVs and trucks have been doing well, many of its cars are struggling to compete. Nine new models have the potential to make a name for Buick, Cadillac, and Chevrolet, but will they succeed? These are the GM cars to keep your eyes on for 2016.
9. Buick Cascada
Buick has been working hard to re-brand itself over the past few years as something more youthful and fun than it used to be. Recently, though, its efforts have stalled, and it hopes the Cascada and its convertible top will be enough to get people excited about Buicks again. It’s not going to be a sports car, but a comfortable, luxurious convertible that falls somewhere between the old Toyota Solara convertible and the old Lexus SC 430 should still attract its fair share of buyers.
8. Cadillac ATS-V
The Cadillac ATS has been begging for a V-Series variant ever since its introduction. The interior might not be the best in the segment, but only a few minutes behind the wheel lets you know that the ATS is the perfect starting place for a high performance version. Cadillac’s engineers worked their magic, and now the ATS-V makes 455 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque. Even better, it offers a manual transmission as standard, which you can’t even get on competitors like the Audi RS5 and Lexus RC-F.
7. Cadillac CT6
Like Buick, Cadillac has also been working on re-branding itself in America for the past few years. The CTS was a huge step in the right direction, but Cadillac sees the full-size CT6 as something even more important. It’s supposedly the car that’s going to re-establish Cadillac as a serious player among luxury automakers. It’s packed with technology, and it promises to be incredibly comfortable. The question is, though, will buyers opt for the Cadillac CT6 over competitors like the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
6. Cadillac CTS-V
The first generation CTS-V was a great car, but its inexpensive interior turned a lot of buyers off. When Cadillac came back for the second generation, the CTS-V finally made a name for itself. Its 556-horsepower V8 made it extremely fast, but Cadillac also took a few risks and offered both a coupe and a station wagon version as well as the sedan. The station wagon is regrettably gone for 2016, but the upcoming CTS-V will probably be good enough that buyers won’t care. It now makes 640 horsepower, and rumor has it that the CTS-V is even better to drive than the M5.
5. Chevrolet Camaro
Ford has enjoyed a humongous amount of publicity after the launch of the current Mustang, and even more importantly, it’s been selling them like crazy. Chevrolet is hoping to steal some of Ford’s thunder with the redesigned Chevrolet Camaro. There’s no brand-new independent rear suspension to celebrate because Chevrolet has been selling the Camaro with one for years, but evolutionary changes to the exterior design, improved engine choices, and a more premium interior will make the Camaro versus Mustang competition a fun one to watch.
4. Chevrolet Cruze
When Chevrolet introduced the first-generation Cruze, it was a marked improvement over the Cobalt it replaced, and compared to the rest of the segment, it was pretty competitive. Unfortunately for Chevrolet, several redesigns of competing cars quickly made it an also-ran. Chevrolet is hoping to take back some of those lost sales with a redesigned version of the Cruze that should be a significant improvement over the first generation. Whether it will be enough of an improvement to connect with buyers, though, remains to be seen.
3. Chevrolet Malibu
The story of the current-generation Chevrolet Malibu follows the story of the Cruze almost exactly. Chevrolet gave the Malibu a major redesign, improved it drastically over its predecessor, and unfortunately, very quickly ended up unable to compete. With sales of crossovers stealing sales from the midsize sedan segment, there should be less pressure on the next-generation Malibu to be a sales success, but if Chevrolet can’t connect with buyers after this most recent redesign, it may have to rethink its position on the Malibu.
2. Chevrolet Spark
When the Aveo was graciously killed off, the space it had occupied in Chevrolet’s lineup was filled with the larger Sonic and the smaller Spark. While the Spark isn’t the most refined car on the road, it’s still a solid choice for people who want an inexpensive city car. The upcoming next generation promises to take what made the original Spark successful and make it even better. With more power and better packaging, you can expect the new Spark to be a great choice for drivers living in crowded areas with limited space.
1. Chevrolet Volt
The Tesla Model S and the Toyota Prius get most of the attention for being cars that convinced Americans to rethink the way they drive around, but while the Chevrolet Volt never garnered quite the pop-culture following as either of those two, it’s just as technologically advanced. With the second generation Volt, Chevrolet is hoping to connect better with buyers by offering a car with a more engaging design and potentially a lower price. Whether Chevrolet lowers the price or not, the new Volt will also have a longer electric range, get better fuel economy, and accelerate more quickly.