Times are tough all over. Jobs are in short supply, millionaires are disappearing, and banks don't even want to give you any money. So why are so many awesome luxury cars coming out in the next 12 months? Blame long product planning cycles, overly optimistic economic projections, or just weird timing, but regardless, we'll see two new Bentleys, a new Rolls-Royce, lots of BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis and Acuras and even a $2 million Aston Martin. If you're an enthusiast that has somehow managed to keep your stacks fat, it's a banner year. For everyone else, well, at least we have something to aspire to, right? Either way, here is a sampling of brand new (or significantly updated) debuts from luxury car manufacturers. These vehicles are either available now as 2010 models, going on sale in 2010, or debuting in 2010 as future production models.
2010 Acura ZDX
When it goes on sale this winter, the 2010 Acura ZDX will be the second "four-door coupe" crossover utility vehicle on the market, following last year's BMW X6. The ZDX shares a similar mission by offering the utility of a crossover but the performance and sleeker styling of a coupe or sedan. With 300 horsepower, room for five and the most luxurious interior of any Acura thanks to its hand-stitched leather dash and panoramic glass roof, the ZDX has the goods. It also emulates its BMW rival in another area: Styling that turns heads, but maybe not for the right reasons. The judge is out until we see this one in person.
2010 Aston Martin One-77
The Aston Martin One-77 is the ultimate expression of everything the company is capable of doing. That's a thumbnail of the press info on the car, and from what we see under the skin, we think it's true. Using a race-derived pushrod-style suspension (bonus points to you if you don't need to Google that), a naturally-aspirated 700-hp V-12 engine, and a hand-fabricated carbon fiber body that's superficially similar to its other coupes, Aston Martin promises that the One-77 will be the fastest, best handling car it has ever made. At a cool $2 million, it is the most expensive Aston Martin ever.
2010 Aston Martin Rapide
The Aston Martin DB9 is arguably the world's most beautiful car. Its sensual styling, beautiful curves and striking performance mean you don't need to be James Bond to wind up with a countess in the passenger seat. Which makes the 2010 Aston Martin Rapide an enigma: It's essentially a stretched version of this stunning coupe with two more doors. It should be a recipe for disaster, but on the contrary, the Rapide is shaping up to be one of the most beautiful sedans ever made. With a 470-hp V-12 engine connected to a six-speed transmission, it promises to be one of the fastest, too.
2010 Audi A3
An all-new Audi A3 is coming in a couple of years, but we wanted to highlight an important change to the lineup for 2010. No, it's not the subtly restyled nose, nor the LED-enhanced headlights, nor the minor revisions to the rear end. Instead, it's the addition of an available diesel engine in the new TDI model, which in a lot of ways puts the A3 in a class by itself. Audi's banking on diesel as the green technology of tomorrow, and this is a good one: Official fuel economy numbers aren't in yet, but the A3 TDI got more than 50 mpg during a cross-country publicity stunt earlier this year.
2010 Audi A8
The next-generation Audi A8 will be unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show later this year, but there's already plenty of speculation about it. Rumor has it that the new big-boy will boast sharper styling, closer in feel to the bolder lines of the A5 and new A4 than the soft curves of the current car. Power will come from a variety of Audi powerplants, from the 3.0-liter TDI V-6 to possibly a 600-plus horsepower V-12 in S8 versions. Either way, it looks like the A8's days of being the conservative one in the luxury sedan segment are numbered.
(Current 2009 Audi A8 pictured)
2010 Bentley Continental Supersports
The Bentley Continental Supersports is the most powerful and fastest Bentley the company has ever produced. The Supersports sends the 621 hp from its turbocharged W12 engine to all four wheels, propelling the nearly 5,000-lb coupe to a 204-mph top speed. All the while, the driver will be coddled by the most luxurious interior one can possibly imagine. The topper? It's environmentally friendly, thanks to its ethanol-burning engine. OK, Prius drivers aren't going to be impressed, but rich gearheads can at least pretend they're part of the solution.
2011 Bentley grand Bentley
The Grand Bentley will be revealed at the Pebble Beach Concour d'Elegance in August. It will replace the ancient Arnage as the company's top-tier luxury car. And that's about all we know. Bentley has kept the lid tight on this one, with only the usual public relations hyperbole about best in the business this, most luxurious that, and world-class the other. The official website doesn't offer much info, either. We'll have to wait, but suffice it to say, it's going to be something special.
(This is just a teaser photo, check back next week for a photo of the real thing).
2010 BMW 5 Series GT
BMW seems to have developed a thing for sportback-styled four doors. First was the X6, a giant crossover with a sloping rear roofline of dubious functionality, but which at least boasts distinct style. Now the company is debuting the 5 Series Grand Touring, a fastback version of its wildly popular 5 Series sedans. The resulting car looks a lot like the X6, but without the extreme ground clearance. In all honesty, we're not sure it's a good thing. The GT's peculiar roofline, cut-off tail and overall odd proportions remind us too much of the X6, which is not one of the company's most attractive vehicles.
2011 BMW X1
BMW has, officially, gone utility-crazy. The X5 was the first salvo, followed by the smaller X3. OK, keeping up with the Joneses and all that. Then came the peculiar X6 and now, the small X1. Based off the same platform as the upcoming Mini crossover (BMW owns Mini), the X1 slots below the X3 and is currently available in Europe with a variety of efficient diesel and gasoline engines. BMW hasn't said what will power the U.S. versions, but with the company's recent forays into diesel powerplants, it's possible an oil-burner could be in the offing at some point.
2011 BMW X3
The next-generation X3 is still mostly under wraps, although spy photographers have grabbed their share of prototypes camouflaged in a black and white paisley-pattern. A new X3 wasn't anticipated for a while, but the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK may have moved up the schedule. Regardless, the styling looks closer to the X5, and engine choices will likely stay true to what we know: A couple of different gasoline-burning six-cylinders and more than likely, a diesel variant for the U.S. We'll know sometime next summer.
(Current 2009 BMW X3 pictured)
2010 Buick LaCrosse
The inclusion of a Buick in a preview of 2010 luxury cars may raise some eyebrows, but then again, the new Lacrosse has been raising plenty of eyebrows in a very positive way. Buick is aiming at a competition-set that includes the Acura TL, Lexus ES, and Volvo S60, and while it's facing an uphill battle in winning over owners of those vehicles, with graceful styling both inside and out, a super-quiet ride and attractive pricing, it certainly has a winning chance.
2010 Cadillac CTS Wagon and Coupe
Cadillac's best car right now -- maybe ever -- is the CTS, and GM's luxury division isn't letting it go to waste. With a wagon already hitting the streets and a sexy coupe waiting in the wings, the mid-sized Cadillac is a full line, ready to go head to head with the likes of BMW's 3 and 5 series, as well as the Mercedes-Benz C- and E-Class. Best of all, GM has promised that a 550-hp V-series version of the coupe will debut when the standard version rolls into production. Are we giddy over that? Yes. Yes we are.
(Cadillac CTS Wagon pictured)
2010 Cadillac SRX
The first Cadillac SRX was a good luxury crossover, one that garnered lots of critical acclaim, but didn't sell particularly well. Maybe it's because it looked too much like the previous-generation CTS, which was underwhelming. The 2010 SRX looks to wipe the slate clean with an all-new design, all-new underpinnings and an all-new focus on performance and luxury. Think of it as a Lexus RX, but with sharp handling. Or an Infiniti EX, but with styling you remember. Advance press on the new SRX is very good, and as the economy recovers, Caddy may be poised to be a class leader.
2010 Infiniti M Hybrid
Like its parent company Nissan, Infiniti has fallen behind in the green technology race with no in-house hybrid technology currently available (the Altima hybrid licenses its green tech from Toyota). That will change when Infiniti introduces a hybrid version of its M35 sedan. The M Hybrid is still mostly a mystery, but the car is designed to compete against the Lexus GS hybrid and other green offerings from Europe. Rumors indicate that although it's slated to debut in Japan for 2010, it may not make it to the U.S. until the 2012 model year, but here's hoping we get it sooner.
(Current 2009 Infiniti M pictured)
2010 Infiniti G37 Convertible
The Infiniti G37 Convertible bowed earlier this year as a 2010 model, but we're including it in a fit of fairness thanks to a crosstown rival: The 2010 Lexus IS-C. The two cars are based off competing sedans -- the Infiniti is obviously off the G37 coupe, which is part of the whole G family -- but while the concept is the same, the execution is quite different. The G37's joke of a rear seat makes it more of a two-plus-two, but it boasts better handling than the Lexus. It's available now, and worth a look.
2010 Jaguar XFR
We admit that we misjudged the XF when it first debuted, dismissing it as a derivative design. However, the XF has been a much-needed hit for Jaguar, and now that we've driven it and seen it in person on the roads, we've come to like it a lot. We especially like the XFR, which offers up the slinky good looks of the standard XF but with one of our favorite accessories: More power. Boasting 510 hp from a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 engine, the XFR leaps to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. That's our kind of cat.
2010 Jaguar XJ
The current Jaguar XJ styling -- that classic four-headlight, low-roofline look -- traces its roots back to 1968. Heritage is one thing, but 41 years is a long, long time for a car to look the same, evolutionary changes or not. So with the 2010 Jaguar XJ, the company has at long last abandoned its familiar look for something much more modern. If you think that Jag has lost its luxury focus though, think again. The cabin is stunning, with wood inlays, a custom placard, a TFT screen in lieu of gauges, and more technology than China. It also flies like a bottle rocket in July thanks to a variety of V-8 engines and a six-speed transmission.
2010 Land Rover Ranger Rover
Messing with an icon like the Range Rover could be disastrous. However, for the 2010 model year, Land Rover has significantly enhanced its best-selling model without altering its appearance. The body panels are the same, but a new nose and tail hint at changes underneath, specifically, bigger and more powerful engines like the new 375-hp 5.0-liter V-8 it shares with Jaguar. The interior gets a new TFT display instead of real gauges, and lots of new electronic gizmos enhance the luxury and utility of this original off-road luxury ute.
2010 Land Rover LR4
Land Rover calls the LR4 the "most capable Land Rover ever," a tall order considering the company's history of carrying queens and kings over truly horrible terrain. Packing a new 5.0-liter V-8 engine with 375 hp, the Land Rover LR4 replaces the very similar-looking LR3 in the company's lineup. With more power comes more capability thanks to an improved Terrain Response system, and more luxury for the LR4's up to seven occupants thanks to a new, plusher and higher-tech interior. The exterior is subtly revised with LED surrounds for the headlights and LED taillights. Like the new Range Rover though, only the sharpest eyes will catch the differences.
2010 Lexus HS
The Toyota Prius has worked wonders for the brand, giving it a green curtain that cleverly hides guzzlers like the Tundra and Sequoia. Lexus has hybrids too, but the 2010 HS 250 is the first dedicated hybrid-only vehicle in the company's lineup. However, this isn't just a rebadged Prius with nicer leather; the HS 250 is a new platform with a unique hybrid drivetrain. With an EPA combined mileage estimate of 35 mpg, it's far and away the most fuel-efficient Lexus ever made. There is a downside, though: It bears an uncanny resemblance to a Toyota Corolla, not exactly the kind of impression we think Lexus wanted to make.
2010 Lexus IS-C
The Lexus IS sedan goes head-to-head with the BMW 3 Series in size, power, and pretty much every other metric you care to mention. Lexus continues to swell its sporty compact sedan's lineup with the IS-C convertible version. With a cool folding hardtop and the usual array of luxury accouterments inside, the IS-C hits exactly where enthusiasts might expect: Sportier than one thinks a Lexus would be, but not quite as sharp as its BMW rival. No matter, it looks good even with the top up, has enough bells and whistles to keep the gadget-hungry happy, and even comes with a stick if you opt for the smaller engine.
2010 Lincoln MKT
The MKT is the big brother to the MKS, and based on the excellent Ford Flex platform. Unlike the lowrider-looking Flex, the MKS has a more traditional crossover style, although the rear quarters are a little fussy to some eyes. No matter, the interior is plush, the driving dynamics quite good, and there's enough room for a basketball tournament inside. The MKT comes standard with a 3.7-liter V-6, but we'd opt for the more powerful 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6, which gets the same fuel economy, but with a big boost in power.
2010 Lotus Evora
For years, Lotus has been defined by the Elise and Exige. These small, two-seat sports cars are excellent by any standard, but their small size and lack of luxury touches ensures they appeal only to die-hard sports car fans. With the 2010 Evora, Lotus hopes to go a little more mainstream. With a 276-hp V-6 engine mounted behind the rear seats, it may not sound like a power player. However, the Evora adheres to Lotus founder Colin Chapman's creed to "add lightness," and comes in at a relatively feathery 2,976 lbs. With what we expect will be typically sharp Lotus handling dynamics, the Evora could be a game changer for the company.
2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Sedan and Coupe
It doesn't get more mainstream luxury than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and for 2010 the car is all-new inside and out. M-B even drops the pretense and has finally called the two-door version an E-Class coupe, rather than break it out as a CLK. Available as an E 350 with a V-6 engine, or an E 550 with a V-8, the new E-Class is familiar, but its all-new sheetmetal has an aggressiveness that was lacking in the previous model. Inside, the luxurious interior benefits from multiple technologies to make life easier for the driver, such as Attention Assist, which helps keep drowsy drivers alert.
(2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan pictured)
2010 Porsche Cayenne Hybrid
The words "hybrid" and "Porsche" seem oxymoronic, but 2010 will see them combined in the Porsche Cayenne. Love it or hate it, the Porsche Cayenne is a big moneymaker for the brand, and its best-seller. Consequently, it's also a target for environmentalists in the same way as the Cadillac Escalade. The Cayenne Hybrid will counter that criticism by offering up to 25 mpg and a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, plus the ability to travel solely on electrons up to 31 mph. The downside? It's based on a V-6 engine, and at around 5,000 pounds, we don't expect Porsche-like acceleration.
2010 Porsche Panamera
With the world used to the idea of a Porsche sport utility, the company is shocking our senses once again with the Panamera sedan. Looking like a stretched 911 with an extra pair of doors -- or a squashed Cayenne -- the Panamera may not be everyone's favorite car to see. But with nearly 500 horsepower and a seven-speed automated manual, the Panamera promises the kind of performance we expect from the German sports car maker. The Panamera will go up against new "four door coupes" from Aston Martin and Audi, as well as existing players like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Maserati Quattroporte. It might just eat them alive.
2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost
For 2010 Rolls-Royce will debut a car that slots under the mammoth Phantom, so in essence it's the "baby" of the lineup, but there's nothing infantile about this mature and sophisticated luxury sedan. Aimed squarely at the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, the 563-hp 6.6-liter V-12 engine-equipped Ghost is a bull's-eye. Expect the finest luxury that your $245,000 can buy. Also expect your neighbors to come after you with pitchforks and torches for buying a new Roller in a recession. But with 0-60 times in the 4.8-second range, and a top speed of 155 mph, a quick getaway should pose no problem.
(Rolls-Royce 200EX pictured, "concept" pre-cursor to Ghost)
2010 Volvo S60
The new 2010 S60 will be a crucial car for Volvo, representing its best chance to compete in a segment full of standouts like the Acura TSX and Cadillac CTS. We received an early glimpse of the S60 when Volvo showed off an S60 Concept (pictured) in early 2009. Based on the concept, we expect the production S60 to exhibit the most evocative design from Volvo yet. The concept also hinted at technology you can expect to find on the production S60, including an Active Cruise Control system and Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake.