DETROIT, Mich - Watch out, Baby Boomers. After a day spent talking about the future and dreaming about what could be if only they really could build and sell a Jeep with two Hemis, automakers at the 2005 North American International Auto Show debuted real live cars -- the kind you can buy - and did so with a decidedly boomer-ish feel.
"Older people want to buy a younger feeling car," said Jim Press, Toyota Motor Sales executive vice president and COO. "They don't want to buy a car that makes them feel old. We're seeing the market shift. Baby boomers are looking for SUV feeling with sedan performance."
At the time, Press was talking about Toyota's new concept, the FT-SX, which demonstrates an ideal crossover - SUV ride height and space, with sedan-like looks and performance. But the same applies for Toyota's production debut at the 2005 North American Auto Show, the 2006 Toyota Avalon. This thorough revamping of a longtime favorite in the Toyota lineup is directly aimed at pleasing the baby boomer market, with loads of features and a more stylish exterior.
Dodge is doing the same thing with the 2006 Charger, though they've added in a healthy dollop of nostalgia with the latest vehicle to come off of Chrysler's successful rear drive platform. This is the same platform on which the Chrysler 300/300C and Dodge Magnum are built. Dodge executives hope that the Charger awakens the baby boomers to wistful memories of drag racing down Main Street in the original, two-door version.
Even the luxury brands were aiming at the heart of the I-have-money-the-kids-are-out crowd, with a new Porsche 911 cabriolet, a more muscular BMW 5 Series and Infiniti M. The lone exception to the baby boomer rule, at least after the first spate of unveils, was the Hyundai Sonata - a nifty new sedan that may well throw a scare into the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry.
Automakers are also showing that the sedan and coupe renaissance is not over, as cars dominated the show, and new suvs were hard to find.
By Brian Chee
Photos by Erik Hanson