Market Overview

These 13 American Cars Released After the Bailout Are the Most Important

These 13 American Cars Released After the Bailout Are the Most Important

For more than a brief moment during the Great Recession, it appeared the fate of the Big Three automakers was in jeopardy.

General Motors (NYSE: GM) declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while Chrysler filed its third bankruptcy before its ownership stake was sold to Cerberus Capital Management.

Ford (NYSE: F) limped along, mortgaging all of their assets to have enough cash on hand to weather the crisis.

For better or worse, the auto bailout of 2008 happened, a move that would alter the automobile landscape in the years to come.

Cash-strapped consumers turned to alternatives from the golden years past, and automakers responded by introducing new or revamped models, in lockstep with foreign competition. The result has been a flourishing domestic market, with an array of options that hold their own against European and Japanese rivals.

Benzinga chose 13 domestic cars released after the bailout that have been an integral part of the changing landscape, prolonging domestic ingenuity while blazing paths of their own in a post-bailout America.

MSRP and gas mileage are values for 2013 models.

  • 1. GMC Acadia

    Production: 2006-present
    Generation: 1st (refreshed)
    MSRP: $34,050 - $47,945
    MPG: 17 City / 24 Hwy

    As of May 1, year-to-date sales have increased 22 percent for the Acadia since 2012, highlighted by a blistering May. The Acadia is in virtual tie for second bestselling GMC model after the Sierra. The model also ranks highly on J.D. Power's list of most improved models in terms of vehicle dependability. (Photo: General Motors).
  • 2. Chevy Cruze

    Production: 2008-present
    Generation: 1st
    MSRP: $17,130 - $23,550
    MPG: 25 City / 36 Hwy

    Following the flop that was the Cobalt, Chevy stepped their game up with the Cruze, approaching a luxurious interior. An upgrade in safety features and a construction featuring large amounts of high-strength steel, make it a superior alternative to most other domestic economy models. J.D. Power gave the Cruze 4 out 5 stars for overall quality and performance in 2012. Sales have echoed this sentiment, up 3 percent from last year. (Photo: General Motors).
  • 3. Dodge Durango

    Production: 1998-2008, 2010-present
    Generation: 3rd
    MSRP: $29,495 - $42,345
    MPG: 16 City / 23 Hwy

    Plagued by spiraling sales, the Durango of old was a bulky, gas-guzzling trainwreck with poor handling that scared consumers. Dodge's upgrades, ranging from a new unibody chasis on par with the Mercedes M-class and a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine (with an optional Hemi V8), have lit a spark.

    For a car that sold only 572 units in 2010, this year's sales of nearly 19,000 to-date aren't too bad. That marks a 30.6 percent increase over 2012 YTD sales. (Photo: Chrysler).
  • 4. Buick Encore

    Production: 2012-present
    Generation: 1st
    MSRP: $24,200 - $29,690
    MPG: 25 City / 33 Hwy

    For a brand whose customer base was once considered to be indistinguishable from the AARP board, Buick has come a long way. The Encore represents its foray into the mini-SUV market, currently occupied by the Honda CR-V and BMW X1.

    Buick hopes its entry into sub-midsize crossovers pays off -- it's a growing market GM predicts will sell 360,000 vehicles a year by 2015. Released in January 2013, Encore sales have eclipsed 7,800 units. The Encore is sold as the Opel Mokka in China. (Photo: General Motors).
  • 5. Ford Escape

    Production: 2000-present
    Generation: 3rd
    MSRP: $22,470 - $32,120
    MPG: 22 City / 31 Hwy

    Sometime during the recession, the Escape began to outsell the Ford Explorer, its improved fuel economy and price tag likely appealing to cash-strapped buyers.

    The Escape's dominance over its big brother and bulkier counterpart, the Explorer, have continued in the years following the recession. Sales are booming, up 30.7 percent from last year.
  • 6. Ford Focus

    Production (U.S.): 1999-present
    Generation: 3rd
    MSRP: $16,200 - $24,200
    MPG: 26 City / 36 Hwy

    Since its introduction in 1999, the Focus has been Ford's go-to compact car, establishing itself as one of the car-maker's bestsellers. In 2011, Ford revamped the Focus just as sales began to slide, using high-end materials and propelling it to top in its class.

    The result has been a game-changer, a sleek European-inspired vehicle that Forbes ranked its most improved car of 2012. YTD sales from 2012-2013 are up 51.6 percent over those of 2010 and 2011. (Photo: Ford Motors).
  • 7. Ford Fusion

    Production: 2005-present
    Generation: 2nd
    MSRP: $21,900 - $32,200
    MPG: 22 City / 34 Hwy

    Released in 2006, the Fusion has established itself as Ford's premier mid-size sedan. The 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year received five stars from J.D. Power in the overall quality category and consumers seem to share the consensus. Sales for the Fusion are at a record high, up 25.3 percent from last year alone.
  • 8. Jeep Grand Cherokee

    Production: 1992-present
    Generation: 4th
    MSRP: $28,795 - $62,995
    MPG: 17 City / 25 Hwy

    For years, the Jeep Grand Cherokee descended into irrelevance, plagued by middling sales. The renaissance it has experienced has been nothing short of extraordinary, no doubt aided by its new alliance with Fiat. Back are the cabin amenities that defined its golden years, augmented by a new, sleek design and a Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine.

    American consumers seem to agree, as YTD sales for 2012-2013 are up more than 76 percent that of 2010-2011 figures. The Grand Cherokee has re-established itself as the premier off-road wagon.
  • 9. Dodge Journey

    Production: 2008-present
    Generation: 1st
    MSRP: $18,995 - $30,795
    MPG: 19 City / 26 Hwy

    2011 marked a transformation for the Dodge Journey, replacing the old V6 with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, and its accompanying improvements in power, smoothness and efficiency. Sales have steadily improved for the Journey, with a 23.7 percent YTD increase over 2012. (Photo: Chrysler).
  • 10. Lincoln MKZ

    Production: 2004-present
    Generation: 2nd
    MSRP: $35,925 - $37,815
    MPG: 22 City / 33 Hwy

    Perhaps Lincoln's saving grace, the sleek MKZ has become quite popular in the luxury car market. The hybrid option approaches an average 50 MPG, making the MKZ one of most fuel efficient hybrids -- not just luxury hybrids -- on the market. (Photo: Ford Motor Company).
  • 11. Buick Regal

    Production (U.S.): 1973-2004, 2011-present
    Generation: 5th
    MSRP: $29,015 - $34,980
    MPG: 19 City / 31 Hwy

    The rebirth of the Regal owes some of its genes to Opel and Saturn -- its sleek body a product of a model originally shelved along with the defunct latter. Regal has been swallowed up in Buick's attempt to appeal to younger drivers -- particularly in China -- and the results have been nothing short of stunning. (Photo: General Motors).
  • 12. Cadillac SRX

    Production: 2004-present
    Generation: 2nd
    MSRP: $37,330 - $50,730
    MPG: 17 City / 24 Hwy

    The luxury crossover was included in Forbes' list of most improved cars for 2012, mainly because of introduction of a new 3.6-liter V6 engine. With boosts in styling, as well handling, the SRX received four out of five stars from J.D. Power in overall quality and performance for its 2012 model. Sales have been steady, though the SRX has suffered from a 5 percent drop-off from last year. (Photo: General Motors).
  • 13. Chevy Volt

    Production: 2010-present
    Generation: 1st
    MSRP: $39,145
    MPG: 35 City / 40 Hwy

    Sales remain sluggish for the Volt, a frequent target of ire for bailout critics who tire of the subsidized electric plug-in hybrid's losses. But as far as the future of electric cars goes, the Volt's early missteps may be a blip in the broad scheme of things.

    A new type of battery that will be included in the car's second generation has GM CEO Dan Akerson feeling bullish. Indeed, Akerson believes the new battery will lower the car's costs by $7,000 to $10,000 making the Volt profitable for the first time.

Related Articles (GM)

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