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Game changers: Look to these cars to shake up competitive balance - FreePress
Mark Phelan
1:36 AM, Sep. 29, 2011

A handful of cars and SUVs hitting the road over the next year or so could shake up the competitive balance among the world's top automakers.

GM's Buick and Chevrolet brands look to continue momentum in their car lineups.

Ford's adventurous design team has radically reshaped two of the brand's perennial best-sellers.

BMW, Lincoln and Cadillac will introduce dramatic new sport sedans in the luxury market's most competitive segment...

The new Fusion midsize sedan and Escape crossover SUV coming in 2012 are two of Ford's most important models.

The current vehicles are perennial best-sellers. The new ones will break new ground in style and technology.

The Escape takes its looks from the dramatic Vertrek concept vehicle that drew raves at auto shows in 2011. It's a drastic departure from the conservative looks of the current Escape.

"The new model is critical," AutoObserver's Bill Visnic said. "If it looks like the concept and continues Ford's recent track record of good fuel economy, there's the potential to hit it out of the park."

The Fusion is a similarly drastic styling departure. It will resemble the hyper-modern and upscale Evos concept car Ford unveiled at the recent Frankfurt auto show in Germany. Look for new drivetrains and the next generation of Ford's hybrid system to boost fuel economy.

There's a risk the controversial MyFordTouch control system will continue to damage Ford's customer satisfaction ratings in the Escape and Fusion...

The all-new MKZ sport sedan must inject life and excitement into the slumbering Lincoln brand.

Lincoln's best-selling model desperately needs a new look and some exciting features. The arrival of stylish new Fords with advanced drivetrain and interior features makes it vital that Lincoln raise its game to compete with luxury brands like Audi, Cadillac and Lexus.

Without new models that transform its stodgy image, Lincoln is doomed to join brands like Mercury and Pontiac in the dustbin of history.

Lincoln needs a compelling new MKZ to begin the brand's reinvention. Look for the 2013 MKZ to go on sale next fall...

The success of the outstanding CTS sport sedan, wagon and coupe has overshadowed the weakness of the rest of Cadillac's car line.......

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