10 Most Improved Cars from the Last 15 Years

source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewbain/

Usually, when a vehicle doesn’t do very well in the marketplace for whatever reason, one of two things will happen to it. The manufacturer can pull the car from the lineup completely and hope that the sales blemish won’t hang around for long, or completely reinvent, reinvigorate, and otherwise redesign the car to better suite consumer needs and demands.

Cars.com has compiled a list of cars that fall into the later category by taking ten examples of vehicles from the last 15 years that have seen some of the most significant redesigns that have helped refine the nameplate. ”Some redesigns and new models replace a onetime star that lingered well past its freshness date, while others are the successor to a car that was doomed from the get-go,” said Patrick Olsen, the Cars.com editor-in-chief.

“Redesigns and new car launches are expensive undertakings for automakers, which makes getting them right important. Our list includes cars that nailed the redesign and are good options for a variety of car shoppers.” The following are ranked as per Cars.com‘s original list, which you can find here.


10. Honda Odyssey, 1999

Honda’s (NYSE:HMC) esteemed Odyssey minivan wasn’t always the van it is today. When it first arrived on American shores, it was little more than an enlarged wagon, albeit a versatile one. The 1999 Odyssey brought Honda up to speed, and gave American consumers the minivan that was expected. “This redesign replaced swinging doors with the traditional minivan sliding door, gave it a much more powerful engine, and the cargo room expected of any minivan,” Cars.com observes.


9. Ford Mustang, 2005

The 2005 Ford (NYSE:F) Mustang set off the wave of retro-redesigns that still remain popular seven years later as Ford took numerous styling cues from the 1964 model and put a 21st-century spin on them. “The new Mustang boasted a brash V-8 option, a retro twin-cowl dashboard, and an available Shaker stereo that blasted an impossible 1,000 watts.”


8. Toyota Prius, 2004

The Toyota (NYSE:TM) Prius has proven that cars need not be powerful, sleek, or sexy to do well. For some, frugal fuel consumption and a straight-forward, modest appearance are all they need. The Prius has long catered to that crowd, and very effectively, too. “Pop culture hasn’t always been kind to the Prius, but the iconic second generation cemented Toyota’s image as a green automaker.”


7. Kia Sportage, 2011

“The [Kia] Sportage’s 2011 redesign took the car from a truck-based SUV platform to a true crossover with improved drivability and an inviting cabin,” Cars.com noted. It was also an instrumental step forward for the brand, which has made significant leaps from the cheap economy cars that the company was built on.


6. Chevrolet Sonic, 2012

General Motors (NYSE:GM) didn’t do so well with the Chevrolet Aveo, which was little more than a badge-engineered car from Korea, but fortunately, it was replaced by the Sonic. “The Sonic improves on the Aveo’s low crash ratings, competes well on fuel efficiency against other small cars, and most important, like any good subcompact, it drives like a bigger car.”


5. Hyundai Elantra, 2011

“The Elantra was always a good car, but it keeps getting better,” Cars.com explains, adding that, “The redesigned 2011 version made strides in fuel efficiency, safety and styling.” The Elantra is certainly far more sleek and sporty than its previous generations, belying the compact car that it is underneath.


4. Chevrolet Impala. 2014

The new Chevrolet Impala was a badly-needed departure from the old generations that found more popularity among fleets than in customers’ driveways. “The new Impala has taken the car from one of the least desirable in the full-size car segment to one of the very best options,” Cars.com says. “It hits the sweet spot between ride and handling with the balance of a small car but comfort and features of a big sedan.”


3. Chevrolet Cruze, 2011

The Chevrolet Cruze bumped out the dated Cobalt for a seat on Chevy’s compact roster, and lime the Impala, it was a welcomed change. With it, the Cruze brought quietness, a roomy cabin, and nimble steering, all qualities lacked by its predecessor. The Cruze is only made even better by its available diesel unit, one of the few found in a car of its size in the States.


2. Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2011

“The 2005-2010 Grand Cherokee wasn’t bad, but the 2011 redesign took it to another level with its handsome cabin, impressive ride quality, and characteristic Jeep off-road ability,” Cars.com points out. They’d be right, too — the new Grand Cherokees offer a well appointed interior, but not to the detriment of Jeep’s (FIATY.PK) trademark off-road performance. The 420 pound-foot diesel V6 that’s coming soon will only bolster the SUV that much more.


1. Dodge Dart, 2013

The Dodge Dart took the place of the ill-fated Calibur, which was never really able to hit its stride. The company therefore brought back its old Dart nameplate, and gave the new compact car “better looks and better driving ability.”

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