Alright, so it is two days past Black Friday. Assume I was like so many others who were making leaping dives to save ten dollars on a toaster. Black Friday is one of those interesting periods of near savage behaviour in the name of consumerism. The ironic part is day where shoppers are enticed to swarm into stores arrives after one of family togetherness and bidding thanks to simpler things (along with the generous addition of football).
On the day of Thanksgiving (or Black Friday Eve if retailers would be able to brand the November day), many of us are reintroduced to relatives we have a hard time believing are part of our family. Referred to as “Black Sheep”, almost every family has at least one member that adds a different (often positive but quirky) element to the dinner table as the turkey is served. In the car business, the desire to inhabit or create niche markets has created many Black Sheep vehicles. Is being labelled a Black Sheep really a bad thing? Consider the act that the Toyota Prius could have been seen as a Black Sheep example a decade ago.
Whether evolving the brand’s family or becoming an outcast, the automotive world’s Black Sheep of 2013 is an intriguing group of individuals.
There is no better way to stand out from a crowd than to formulate an all-new category in a marketplace. Defined as the first premium subcompact crossover vehicle to be sold in the United States, the Buick Encore is a surreal direction for the General Motors brand to explore. Built on the same Gamma II platform as the Chevrolet Sonic and the upcoming Chevrolet Trax, front-wheel and all-wheel drive options are available on this new for 2013 Buick product. Despite Encore’s small dimensions, Buick family traits will be realized through the ride and comfort.
Coming from the same brand nameplate that crafted the Corvette and Camaro, the Volt sedan without the Chevrolet ‘bowtie’ would hardly be seen as a relative. Perhaps the first black sheep that comes to mind in the auto industry, the plug-in hybrid Volt is a quiet outsider. Thanks to a lithium-ion battery pack powering an electric motor, the 2013 Chevy Volt can cruise up 37 miles without even sipping gasoline. With the Chevrolet Volt is being sold as a vehicle for the future, this could be the equivalent to the first child who graduated from high-tech university course. A possible trailblazer for newer models of Chevrolet automobiles or perhaps its extended family under the Cadillac name, the Volt could be misunderstood or disliked for its desire to trumpet techo talk. However, as time goes on, the Chevrolet Volt’s lingo could become the source for new conversation at family gatherings.
Nissan has been effective in the past several years establishing a more prevalent global fixture. While vehicles need to stand out from the competitors in a sales-oriented position, there has to be a level of restraint in place so consumers can easily envision stepping into a vehicle; The 2013 Nissan Juke is unapologetically not that vehicle. Appearing to be the lovechild between the 370Z sports car and a Rogue crossover utility vehicle, the Juke is an unmistakable creature relishing urban environments. Powered by its 1.6 liter turbocharged engine, the Nissan Juke’s ground clearance and optional all-wheel drive reveals a sense of dependability. A Black Sheep vehicle with rock and roll dreams, the Juke-R could be a persona that causes a serious double take.
In a family, the Lincoln Navigator would be the older aunt or uncle that refuses to create an Apple iTunes account. Much preferring the collection of ‘vinyl’ it accepts as tried and true, the Lincoln Navigator is a relic of a time of big American luxury (even if it is a sport utility vehicle). V-8 engine as well as large size inside and outside are feature’s the ‘new’ Lincoln line-up has worked hard to distance itself from in the new era. Remaining a steady seller in the Lincoln model range, the Navigator is a Black Sheep that holds clout within the family.
Thanks to corporate peer pressure, Porsche joined the crossover utility segment in 2002. A platform co-developed with the Audi Q7 and Volkswagen Touareg, the Porsche iteration of the vehicle was by far the most controversial. While all-wheel drive had already been explored in Porsche sports cars, the presence of a full-fledged member to the urbanized utility vehicle market was in effort to boost sales of the sports car maker. While opposition from purists still exists for this Black Sheep, strong sales overrode the initial stigma of the Cayenne. In 2013, the Porsche Cayenne is one of the division’s most diverse line-up with the addition of the Cayenne Diesel, Turbo S and the Cayenne GTS.
The Kia Soul is like the cousin that shows up to a traditional, posh family wedding wearing sneakers and sunglasses. Brought to the automotive marketplace in 2010, the Kia Soul was a radical vehicle from a company that was only starting to establish a styling ID. Though sharper design has branched out throughout the Kia model range, the Soul possesses the most Black Sheep-like personality. Existing as a front-wheel drive subcompact, the Soul’s proportions avails the vehicle to sizable cargo capacity. Despite its practicality, the Kia Soul backpack presentation is quite a party animal. Well-equipped in standard trim, the top-rated Soul ! package adds premium Kia’s UVO in-car entertainment suite. Despite its chic image, the Kia Soul is still aware of the value of a dollar presented for a price below $20,000.
Information and photo source: Chris Nagy, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Kia Motors, Nissan Porsche Cars