The global auto business is more competitive than ever, and the fight for new buyers has never been fiercer. Every automaker is pushing hard to be at the top of its game -- and that means that new-car buyers have more great choices every year.
2015's models -- yes, it's that time already -- should be no exception. Here are 3 of the hottest new models that we expect the automakers to unveil in coming months.
2015 Ford F-150
For years, America's best-selling vehicle has been Ford's (NYSE:F) F-Series line of full-sized pickups. It's no secret that these trucks are Ford's most important products: With sales as high as 70,000 in some months, the Ford F-150 and its Super Duty siblings are the company's biggest moneymakers, hands down.
Ford will reveal its all-new 2015 F-150 soon. The new truck is expected to be lighter than the current truck, thanks to some strategic use of aluminum. And it may look similar to the Atlas concept truck that Ford showed off in January.
But one thing is certain: Ford's marketing wizards will pull out all the stops for the new F-150. Expect a big ad blitz from the Blue Oval once these new trucks start to arrive at dealers.
2015 Jeep Grand Wagoneer
Another fine old Jeep model name is set for a revival: Chrysler has hinted that it will soon release an all-new top-of-the-line SUV to rival General Motors' (NYSE:GM) all-new 2015 Cadillac Escalade, Toyota's (NYSE:TM) Land Cruiser-based Lexus LX, and the plush Range Rovers from Britain. A 5.7 liter V8 and a very plush interior, along with off-road ability worthy of the Jeep name, should ensure a top-shelf Jeep experience for well-heeled buyers.
The new Grand Wagoneer should be a big step up from Jeep's popular Grand Cherokee in size, in luxury, and definitely in price. That's a formula that Jeep has tried before, with the now-discontinued Jeep Commander. But the Commander suffered from undistinguished looks and a cramped interior, and sales were slow.
Expect Jeep's new top-shelf entry to do much better on both counts.
2015 Ford Mustang
It's not Ford's best-selling car — that would be the Fusion (in the U.S.) or the Focus (worldwide). And it's not Ford's most profitable vehicle — that would be the F-series pickups.
But the Mustang is important to Ford in its own way. It's the company's halo car, the one that gets kids and adults alike all excited when they see one. More to the point, the Mustang is still a car that draws enthusiasts into Ford showrooms around the country.
That makes it a big deal for Ford. Ford has been very tight-lipped about the upcoming all-new Mustang, recently refusing to even confirm that a new version was in the works. But it's a safe bet that the new Mustang will retain its rear-wheel drive configuration, and you'll still be able to get one with a powerful V8 engine and an old-school manual transmission.
Given what we've seen with Ford's other recent products, we can also guess that the new Mustang will be lighter and more fuel-efficent than the outgoing car, that it'll be lower and sleeker and have a Mustang-ized version of the company's new corporate grill, and that its interior will be top-notch.
There's one other safe bet to be made with the Mustang: Some diehard Mustang enthusiasts will hate the new car when they see it, but they'll come to love it over time. Somehow, it always seems to work out that way.