This decade is just about toast. So time for another list — the top ten vehicles of the decade. I wish I had a definitive one to offer you.
Every time I examined the contenders on my list, I would kick some out, and pull others in. It was, and is, in constant flux — like a four-year old on a Count Chocula high.
So consider the following only my “current for the moment” nominations for vehicles with impact and/or panache, that were born between 2000 and 2009.
The third-generation Toyota Prius (2004-2009) was the one that cemented it as the hybrid poster child. The two previous generations had little impact, but this one debuted an iconic profile, pushed hybrids into the public consciousness, and eventually proved that hybrids could stand up to long years of use (and abuse).
The first-generation Nissan Murano (2002-2007) was not the first crossover, but definitely the most attractive and appealing one so far produced. It demonstrated a new and very successful mainstream and classy direction for crossovers — and one that had nothing to do with mud. Net result: unibody crossovers rule, body-on-frame SUVs drool.
The Bugatti Veyron (2005-2008) was built to impress: 8.0-litre, 16-cylinder engine, 1,001 horsepower, and a top speed of 407.9 km/h. It is beyond desirable and virtually unobtainable. It also has a decent stereo, and looks pretty good in blue.
This decade was just another one when the Honda Civic rocked the house. It is far and away Canada’s best selling car of the decade, and for good reason.
Same thing for the Ford F-150 — it is easily the top selling truck nameplate of the decade, and continues to stay in front of a very determined group of competitors. This Ford also pioneered the concept that truck interiors, particularly crew cabs, need not be stark places with rock-hard seats and no amenities.
The next two cars on our list — the re-born Ford Thunderbird and Mini — both pushed the notion that “retro” styling has great appeal and can be done effectively in a modern way. The Mini also proved that buyers are willing to pay a premium for “small,” if it’s the right kind of “small.”
The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu lead a pack of domestic-built sedans that could legitimately take back the midsize market, which GM, Ford and Chrysler seemed to abdicate to the imports in the previous decades. Based on an Opel platform, Malibu is also a good example of why global design and engineering is now the only way to go.
The 2004 Cadillac CTS rejuventated Cadillac in a profound way, and is one of the few bold designs to spring from the decade. A new-generation CTS launched in 2009, and its high-output “V” series utilizes a version of the Corvette ZR-1 V8, making it one of the fastest sports sedans on the planet.
– Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for more than 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.