The stars align in Detroit as three new designs light up the auto constellation
Automakers love aspiring names that promote visions of the heavens like Saturn, Nova, Galaxie and Astra. Some of these stellar names were attached to pieces of flab, but there will be no shame in flaunting these otherworldly bodies named for the heavens.
Ford Taurus SHO
The original ’86 Taurus was a streamlined vision of the future that led styling for decades. In an age of oversized boxes, the Taurus was slim and trim. SHO models gave enthusiasts reason to dance. So will the all-new 2010 Taurus SHO, which is as bullish as the constellation it’s named for.
Dashing Euro looks and a Volvo-derived architecture will rocket the new Taurus into orbit.
Thrust comes from a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates an invigorating 365 horsepower, going to the road through all-wheel-drive. A six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters gives drivers complete control. Fuel economy rates 25-MPG hwy. A subtle wing and 20" wheels clue one to the devil lurking within.
Interiors are styled with leathertrimmed seats that feature Miko suede inserts, made from recycled soda bottles.
Leather-wrapped steering wheels, aluminum pedals and analog gauges encourage enthusiasts to grip and go. Push button starting, capless fuel filling, Bluetooth cell phone connectivity and reversing camera are but a start to this car’s brains.
It is also armed with blind spot detectors, radar cruise control and collision warning with brake assist. The latter detects stopping traffic and will apply brakes automatically if the driver doesn’t spring to life.
With such style and wizardry, the Taurus SHO makes you want to return to 1968 and kick Galaxies into the next one! Unlike the older rocket ships, the new SHO comes with the grace to kick it with the world’s best while carrying four in space-age comfort. Prices start at $37,995.
A kissin’ cousin of the GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX, Equinox not only gleams like starlight in its baby Traverse clothing and 19" wheels, but shines smartly with a peppy fourcylinder engine that turns in a beautiful green card.
Top models storm the ‘bahn with 264-horsepower V6 engines that will blow an old Vette in the rough, but the base 2.4-liter 182-horsepower four-cylinder engine is plenty powerful and achieves 32-MPG on the highway. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and electronic stability control come standard.
Four-cylinder models also employ GM’s first application of noise-cancellation technology, which electronically kills harsh sounds for quiet cruising. That’s all the better for enjoying XM Satellite Radio, oversized gloveboxes, twincockpit interior (inspired by Corvette) and twotone Malibu-style dashboard design. Bluetooth for hands-free calling, USB iPod jack and DVDbased rear entertainment with two screens brings up-level luxury to the bargain class. Protectionis enhanced by six airbags.
Chevy’s first-generation "Spring Equinox" was handsome, but disappointed with a cheap personality and a turning radius that would torque a school bus. This "Fall Equinox" looks like a movie star, sprints like a gazelle and preserves fossils like Ed Begley Jr. Base prices range from $22,440 to 29,795.
Adorned with a starcrossed logo on a blue background, Subarus cater to domesticated and active homos like no other automotive brand. Since the company’s marketers discovered a disproportionately-high percentage of lesbians buying its cars in the Northeast, it has played the gay card with excellent transport.
Outback’s legendary all-wheel-drive system, combined with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, can take you almost to heaven as it allows power to be shifted from wheels with slip to ones that grip automatically and continuously. Putting an abundance of power to the wheels is easy with a base 170-HP four-cylinder, or optional 256-HP six-cylinder, engine. Fuel economy is rated 22/29-MPG with the four-cylinder — excellent for a wagon with the Outback’s climbing skills.
Interiors are outfitted to ride in divinity or durable enough to tackle Hell. Wherever one goes, they can reach out via Bluetooth phone connections and satellite radio. Heated leather seats, voice-activated navigation, moonroof and 440-Watt Harman/Kardon audio comfort. A back-up camera keeps you from reversing over a cliff (or into a Bentley at the mall). Rear seats recline for comfort and fold flat for an enormous cargo zone that fits luggage, bicycles, or a couple of over-extended club boys taking their own path to heaven. Expect to pay at least $22,995 for this slice of starlight.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 4, 2009.