ong gone are the days when Central Florida car and truck dealers zealously guarded their new models until that day in the fall, where customers lined up to see what was behind the curtain.
A lot of the 2010 car and truck models are already out — and have been for months. Still, there are some vehicles that haven't made their formal 2010 debuts. Here are five that might qualify as happy surprises, especially to Orlando area dealerships eager for new products. "This is going to be a difficult year for everyone," said Ian Riding, a sales manager for Sun State Ford in Orlando. "But the manufacturers have done their jobs, and now it's our job to make sure our customers see them."
2010 Honda Crosstour
Mark Cubarubbia, general manager of Classic Honda in Orlando, expects the average Crosstour buyer to be in his or her 40s, possibly buying it as a second vehicle for weekend travel or carpooling.
"I think it could bring some new buyers to Honda," he said.
Such as? "Well," Cubarubbia says, "do they still use the word 'yuppie?' Because that, I think, is the Crosstour's demographic."
Honda claims the Crosstour is part of the Accord line, but it's unlike any Accord you've seen before. Its big, wagonish design, familiar on some other recent vehicles such as the BMW X6, is sort of a cross between an SUV and a station wagon.
Look for the Crosstour next month, starting in the mid- to high-$20,000 range.
2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon
European brands, such as Volkswagen, Audi and BMW, never gave up on the station wagon market, but with the advent of minivans and SUVs in the U.S., wagons fell out of favor. The CTS Sport Wagon from Cadillac hopes to reverse that trend.
"I think it's going to be a major hit," said Jack Starling, general manager of Starling Chevrolet-Cadillac in DeLand. "I believe it's going to be much more than a niche vehicle."
It's offered with a choice of two V-6 engines, with a starting price of about $41,000. Will there be a hot-rod, V-8-powered CTS-V wagon? GM is considering it. The CTS Sport Wagon is just now reaching dealers.
2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
Just a few years ago, SVT, Ford's Special Vehicle Team, was busy building high-performance versions of Ford vehicles like the Focus, Contour, Mustang and F-150 Lightning. Ford neutered the SVT program for financial reasons, but the new SVT Raptor shows that there is at least a little life left in the team.
"It's a fantastic vehicle," said Riding of Sun State Ford. "The technology is there, it's bold, it's a bit outrageous. We've had one in and it sold immediately."
The Raptor is an extended-cab, four-wheel-drive pickup that SVT has turned into a genuine high-performance off-road truck, with an improved suspension, huge tires, an in-your-face grille and bright orange paint.
Unlike past SVT products, the engine remains a stock 5.4-liter V-8 with 310 horsepower, but a 400-horse engine is coming soon. Ford will build only 1,500 this year, with prices starting at about $39,000.
2010 Hyundai Equus
Hard to imagine that it was only in the mid-1980s when Hyundai had only one vehicle to sell, the little Excel. Now, the company is venturing into true luxury territory with the Equus, a sedan that, said Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford, takes on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class head-to-head, but at a substantially lower price.
Hyundai dipped a toe into the premium market with the Azera, then with the larger, more expensive Genesis, and when it arrives next year, the Equus will undoubtedly be the nicest car ever from a Korean manufacturer. Powered by the same V-8 engine as the Genesis, Hyundai is hoping to sell only about 2,000 copies of the Equus a year, as the company seeks to establish itself further as not just a company that builds inexpensive vehicles.
Expect a price of under $60,000, but how much under remains to be seen.
2010 Suzuki Kizashi
Two years ago, Suzuki unveiled a sleek passenger car as an auto show concept called the Kizashi. When a toned-down version of the concept made it to production, many of us thought Suzuki might change the name, but they've stuck with Kizashi, which apparently translates to something akin to "good omen."
The Kizashi "is targeted at the same buyer who might purchase a Honda Accord," said David Boldt, a Suzuki spokesman. "The company has worked very hard to get it right, and I think we have." Suzuki's most recent mid-sized sedan, the Verona, was actually built in Korea by Daewoo, and it was not a big success.
Suzuki, which has suffered troubling sales declines this past year, desperately needs the handsome Kizashi to be a success. Power is from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, and prices should start at about $20,000 when it goes on sale in December.
Sentinel Automotive Editor Steven Cole Smith can be reached at