By and large, automakers are pretty good at producing the vehicles that consumers want. Otherwise, well, they just wouldn’t be around. And if they can’t, they sometimes go out of their way to make sure they do — look at BMW, for instance, and its vehicle for every niche.
But for the enthusiast crowd, there are often gaps in companies’ portfolios, either because the desired vehicles aren’t offered in the U.S. or because they’re simply not made. Hot hatches are only just catching on here in the U.S., high-performance wagons are still non-existent, and SUVs and trucks remain the bread and butter of American automotive consumption.
That hasn’t stopped many, including us, from curating a sort of wish list for vehicles that should be made — but probably won’t be. Here are 10 of our suggestions, wild or otherwise. Take a look and see what you think. You can add your two cents over at our Facebook page.
1. Ford Fusion ST
The Ford Fusion has everything going for it. It has the looks reminiscent of an Aston Martin, the attitude that the segment so desperately needed, and a wide variety of engines. But what it really needs now is a healthy dose of performance — perhaps the 365 horsepower 3.5 liter EcoBoost from the somewhat sedate Taurus SHO — in a Fusion ST trim. Firm up the suspension, add the all-wheel drive, some sport seats, and some aerodynamic work à la Focus and Fiesta ST, and Ford could have a venerable hot sedan on its hands and a valuable addition to its growing performance lineup.
2. Off-Road Ready Chevrolet Silverado
As Ford reportedly readies the next iteration of the SVT Raptor for its North American International Auto Show debut, the pickup market has yet to throw a real contender into the ring with it. Toyota has come the closest with the Tundra TRD Pro, but everyone is looking at Chevy for that good old-fashioned hometown rivalry. However, GM doesn’t seem interested in reciprocating. The closest we’ve come is the Rally edition Silverado (pictured), which adds some big wheels and fancy paint, but has no more off-road prowess than the stock truck. Jack up the suspension travel, play with the differential, add some knobby tires and the 6.2 liter V8 and offer Ford a playmate already.
3. Lexus LS-F
Of all Lexus’ new vehicles, the LS perhaps wears the new spindle-grille the best. The car oozes elegance, and in its extravagantly expensive 600h trim, it offers ample power — but there’s no hardcore version to hit BMW and Mercedes where it hurts. An F-Sport trim that offers more power and crisper handling would be a venerable addition to Lexus’ performance portfolio, and the 4.6 liter V8 that the brand uses in the LS has far more potential than the 386 horsepower that it serves up currently, if Lexus were to embrace forced induction.
4. A New Honda S2000
When the S2000 ended production about six years ago, Honda lost a piece of its DNA. In the S2000 it had a potent pinnacle of handling perfection that represented one of the best roadsters on the market for less than Porsche money. It looked fantastic, performed even better, and indicated that Honda had what it took to make a performance car — if it wanted to. Sadly, the S2000 was retired, and although there’s a new NSX on the way, part of the S2000’s appeal was its affordable price that never exceeded $35,000 at base.
5. A New Ford SVT Lightning
The performance truck world can be teased into two fields: Off-road, like the Raptor, and street, like the defunct SVT Lightning, for example. Rather than expanded suspension travel, the Lightning is brought lower on firmer springs that enable the truck to be more handy in the corners than in the wilderness. Throw in the 411 horsepower V8 from the Raptor (which may very well change with the new generation), and you’ll have a worthy successor to the street-truck of old.
6. Jeep Cherokee SRT Hellcat
The 470-horsepower Jeep Cherokee SRT is all well and good and all, but what if it were tweaked for more — turned up to 11, as it were. You get where this is going — shoehorning the 707 horsepower nuclear weapon that powers the Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcats into the Cherokee for undeniable, instantaneous super-SUV domination.
7. Volkswagen CC R
The Volkswagen CC is a car that is stunning in its simple elegance. However, it’s certainly more of a luxurious touring vehicle than a performance sedan/coupe, but we think it has a lot of potential as the latter. Volkswagen’s R line of vehicles has pumped out some notoriously amazing vehicles in the past (and present, like the Golf R), and though the CC R-Line gets it there visually, it doesn’t match up under the hood. The largest engine available now is the 280 horsepower, 3.6 liter V6, which we think is a prime candidate for some tweaks to make it at least as powerful as the 296 horsepower turbo-four in the Golf R.
8. Subaru BRZ STi
There was an actual concept made of the Subaru BRZ STi, but sadly, it wasn’t green-lighted for production. The BRZ is a wonderful car as it is, but with 200 horsepower, there’s some room for improvement — especially if it comes in the form of the 305 horsepower turbocharged-boxer housed in the WRX STi. Instead, we got the limited production Series. Blue, which adds some nifty aero bits and some more attitude, but leaves the source of power alone.
9. Acura TLX Type-S
The Acura TL Type-S was the foundation for a formidable performance sedan that combined Acura’s taught chassis with some additional tweaks and perks, but the model always seemed to be on the verge of amazing and never fully committed. It used the 3.5-liter V6 that was found in the Acura RL at the time, with more displacement than the standard TL’s 3.2-liter engine and a high-flow exhaust system, which put forth 286 horsepower with 256 pound-feet of torque. With the new TLX, Acura again has the ingredients for a Type-S variant, and with some full commitment from its parent company, a TLX Type-S could prove to be a game changer for the lagging brand.
10. A Barge-Like Cadillac Coupe/Convertible
Cadillac has built its name on large, luxury boats that float around corners and offer their occupants a magic carpet-like ride. But recently, keeping in line with trends toward smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles, a range-topping Caddy hasn’t been the brand’s top priority. However, with Mercedes betting big chips on its S Class Coupe, and Cadillac’s large CT6 sedan moving through the pipeline, it might be time to realize a large, swanky golf course-size Caddy coupe might be what the brand really needs — like the Elmiraj concept pictured above.