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Between 2011 and 2020, a new generation of car owners will arrive on American roads and in American car dealerships seeking their first set of wheels.
On display in the North American International Auto Show, global car manufacturers are preparing for the shifting trends with a host of new designs and features catering specifically to members of Generation Y.
To get a sense of the new cars that are best for Generation Y, CNBC.com asked Karl Brauer, Senior Analyst & Editor at Large at Edmunds.comfor his top picks on this year’s models that are most directed towards the new generation. Grab those new drivers while they're young, and you have the potential to build brand loyalty and secure future sales.
“Whether engrossed in Facebook updates or just texting their current location, today’s youth expect communication and connection to be as much as part of the driving experience as tuning a radio station or filling up the tank,” says Brauer, “they may not plan to fill a tank at all but instead simply plug in a power cord, using their car as simply another (larger) electronic device.”
So, which cars are expected to appeal most to Generation Y? Click ahead for the list!
By Paul Toscano
Posted 20 Jan 2011
MSRP from: $15,900
“An all-new 2012 Honda Civic arrives this summer, and the near-production concept was shown in Detroit last week. The new Civic, particularly in coupe form, has an attractive shape and excellent proportions to enhance both interior space and exterior style. A natural gas and hybrid version will extend the Civic’s appeal to young drivers looking to reduce the impact of their transportation needs on the planet.”
MSRP from: N/A
“Joining the ranks of power-cord-equipped models like the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Toyota Plug-In Prius is Ford’s first all-electric model, the 2012 Focus Electric. This one is supposed to charge in half the time it takes to fully charge a Leaf, and it comes with Ford’s high-tech entertainment and communication suite, MyFord Touch, as well as new application for monitoring vehicle status via a cell phone, MyFord Mobile,” says Brauer.
Expected MSRP: Low $20,000 range
“For the first time in the Compass’ 5-year history it is now trail rated, meaning it can withstand the same demanding off-road test regimen usually reserved for the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. The latest Compass features all-new sheet metal, making it look like the Grand Cherokee, too. At a starting price in the low $20,000-range the Compass is an affordable option for first-time buyers looking to scale small mountains,” according to Brauer.
MSRP from: $19,500
“The company that weathered the recession better than most has a new, sporty coupe aimed at Gen Y buyers. The 2012 Veloster manages to wrap a functional, five-passenger conveyance in an attractive hatchback design with a small rear-seat access door on the passenger side,” says Brauer. “At 40 mpg on the highway it’s one of the most fuel-efficient cars in the segment, yet it features a performance-oriented dual-clutch transmission to keep drivers engaged.”
“As the smallest car in Buick’s long history the Verano wears a lower price tag while trying to appeal to a lower age group,” says Brauer. “Technology like the push-button engine start, dual-zone climate control and a heated steering wheel/seats should maintain the brand’s luxury appeal even as it chases a younger demographic with the Verano’s turbocharged engine and hands-free communication options.”
MSRP from: $15,500
“Looking to cash-in on some of Mini’s success over the past decade, Fiat is introducing the 2012 500 to U.S. buyers this spring,” says Bauer. “As with the Mini Cooper the 500 springs from a classic European model that successfully combined attractive styling, functional space and high fuel efficiency. But the new model also provides a host of personalization options that should appeal to young buyers looking to stand out from the new-car crowd.”
MSRP from: $14,500
“Easier to pronounce than ‘Aveo’ and far more attractively styled, the 2012 Sonic gives Chevrolet it’s best entry in the sub-compact category since…well, ever,” says Brauer. “It’s got an available turbocharged engine and high-tech features like Bluetooth phone pairing, OnStar communications link and remote start. It’s also got a class-leading trunk size, though it won’t offer as much interior flexibility as a Honda Fit.”
MSRP from: N/A
“Although it’s still classified as a concept car, the Prius C that debuted in Detroit should be available in mid-2012 as a 2013 model,” says Brauer.
He adds that “it will offer among the highest fuel efficiency rating of any non-plug-in car sold in the U.S. Smaller and lighter than the traditional Prius, the Prius C will use aggressive styling and feature the latest in-car technology, yet pricing should remain realistic for first-time buyers with an eye toward carbon footprint reductions.”