Need a new sedan? Tired of the same old offerings? Arriving at dealerships early this year are three brand-new models in three different price ranges: the $11,995 Saturn ION, the $32,495 Saab 9-3 Vector, and the Mercedes-Benz Maybach for about $300,000.
Saturn's economical and fuel-efficient compact ION lineup consists of two models: a basic four-door workhorse and a four-door coupe with two rear-hinged side doors for easy access to the back seats. Both are powered by General Motors' Ecotec 2.2-liter, four-cylinder inline engine, with 140 horsepower, and mated to a smooth five-speed manual transmission. Longer, wider and taller than the S-Series Saturns they replace, the IONs provide almost 15 cubic feet of trunk space, the most cargo room of any in their category.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, Saab has gone sporty with its high-performance 9-3 Vector Sports Sedan. Debuting a car built around the individualist driver, Saab has designed a cockpit-like front cabin, with bodywork that includes discreet front and rear spoilers and side skirts, yet still retains Saab's conservative styling. A turbo-charged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine is under the hood, along with a six-speed manual transmission and 210 horsepower. Standard equipment includes tire pressure monitors; sport seats; a 330-watt, 13-speaker sound system and 17-inch tires.
To truly stand out from the crowd, however, there's only one way to go. The luxurious Maybach (pronounced MY-bock), a brand name that has been resurrected by Mercedes-Benz after 60 years, is practically hand-built to order. A serious, spacious sedan that stretches almost 20 feet, it has a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter, V12 engine that produces 543 horsepower. The trunk capacity of this four-seater is 20 cubic feet. Reclining rear seats can be adjusted by each passenger, as can the two rear TV screens and DVD player.
Editor and consultant Jill Amadio has been reporting on the automotive industry for 25 years.