Top 9 Most Significant Vehicles of the Past Decade

It's the end of a decade, which means it's time to look back at the vehicles that shaped the automotive landscape from 2010 through 2019. We are singling out vehicles that had the biggest impact on their segments and the market as a whole this past decade. These are the nine cars and light trucks that we're calling the most significant of the past 10 years.

Dodge SRT Hellcat

It was easy to think that the era of the muscle car was coming to an end, at least the way we knew it, with ever-increasing emissions rules and the rise of electrification. But then the folks at Dodge's SRT brand came out of nowhere with an absolute monster. The 707-hp 6.2L supercharged Hellcat V8 was an engine that would end up in a coupe, a sedan, and even a Jeep. With later variants offering even more power, this showed that automakers still knew how to have fun, and it's kicked off a horsepower war that includes not just gasoline-powered muscle cars, but even electric vehicles.

Ford F-150 Raptor

Pickups have been popular for decades, but the Raptor moved the pickup firmly into the enthusiast driver camp. It was a truck that was advertised from the factory for its ability to jump over sand dunes. With V6 and V8 power, a raised suspension under a widened body, and the ability to conquer off-road terrain at absurd speeds, the F-150 Raptor gave birth to the factory off-road pickup. Now everyone with a truck has a seat at the table, including Ram's Power Wagon, Chevrolet's Colorado ZR2, and even the Jeep Gladiator, a truck that may never have come to market without the terrain-conquering abilities and cool style of the Raptor.

Ford GT

The rebirth of the Ford GT in 2017 was the first time that a North American automaker had built a real supercar in a decade. The Canadian-built car was sold in a way that no car had been before: Send Ford your resume and an audition, and maybe you'll get on the list. Equally impressive is the 3.5L twin-turbo V6 that borrows heavily from the F-150 pickup with components like the same block and cylinder heads. The 647-hp supercar was a great way to demonstrate to buyers just how capable the V6 as a V8 replacement. Other innovations included the carbon fibre chassis and a windshield made with the same Gorilla Glass lightweight, extra-strong glass that's found in most smartphones.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

This is the best-selling plug-in hybrid SUV in the world, which makes sense since it was also the first PHEV to offer the crossover body style that's so popular right now and come at a price point that was affordable to many buyers. The 35 km electric range isn't going to break any records, but it's enough for most people to use electric power to get to work or run errands almost every day of the week. It also had Level 2 charging, an unusual feature for PHEVs when the Outlander debuted, letting it fully charge in about 3.5 hours. Maybe most importantly for Canadian buyers, the Outlander PHEV's all-wheel-drive system still worked in EV mode, thanks to electric motors front and rear. This SUV played a huge role in making people consider a switch to electrified driving.


Nissan Juke

With apologies to oddballs like the Suzuki X90, the Nissan Juke was the first of the modern subcompact crossovers — it basically helped start a new segment that is incredibly popular today. The Juke offered the exterior footprint of a city car with the higher driving position, easier egress, availability of all-wheel drive, and taller cargo area of a crossover. The Juke also benefited from having some of the most daring styling of the decade. The Juke has been discontinued in the Canadian market, but you can see its influence every day: there are now dozens of other tiny crossovers currently on the market, and many vehicles that use a split headlight and accent light combination that the Juke helped pioneer.

Nissan Micra

It wasn't what Nissan put in the Micra that made it one of the most important cars of the decade, it's what Nissan didn't put in: A high price. In 2014, if you wanted a car with an MSRP of less than $12,000, your choices were used or nothing. The Nissan Micra arrived for the 2015 model year and broke the $10,000 barrier — it was the first time you could buy a new car for that price in the country since the 2008 recession, and even then it was only if you could manage the right deals. The Micra could be bought new for just under $10,000 and although it was pretty bare bones, it was surprisingly fun. The Micra's arrival forced other automakers to discount their vehicles to hit that magic $10k mark.

Ram EcoDiesel V6

Full-size pickups are getting ever more popular, but they're also getting bigger and more powerful, which was making them thirsty propositions at the fuel pumps. When it arrived in 2014, the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 was the first diesel engine in a light-duty pickup in more than a decade. The 240 hp and 420 lb-ft were combined with a fuel economy rating that put it at the front of the class. Now, Ford and General Motors both have light-duty diesel options, and the compression ignition engines can even be found in GM's midsize-pickups.

Tesla Model S

It wasn't the first electric vehicle, but the Model S that came out in 2012 was by far the first one that was truly desirable, which helped EVs become more mainstream. While previous electrics offered short range and oddball styling, the Model S was a tech-heavy luxury car that happened to have batteries. The success of the Model S, which now offers a max range of nearly 600 km, jump-started the rest of the EV segment, and most automakers still haven't caught up. The first real challenger of the Model S is the Porsche Taycan, a car that hasn't even arrived at dealerships yet. The Model S also lead to the Tesla Model 3, a long-range electric that's much more affordable and accessible.


Volkswagen's TDI

These cars had a market impact that spread across the world when in 2015, the story broke that Volkswagen had been using software that altered the emissions performance of the engines, including those in some Audi and Porsche vehicles here. This meant the cars ran clean on the test cell, but were not in compliance with the rules on the road. The ensuing diesel emissions scandal lead to Volkswagen AG facing tens of billions of dollars in penalties, fines, and buying back cars from owners. It also lead to a sharp decline in diesel car sales in North America and Europe including the removal of Volkswagen's own, and is likely responsible for the short lives or cancellations of some other automakers' diesels. Some cities and countries are even currently banning or looking at banning all diesel cars from their roads as a result of the increased scrutiny on the emissions from those cars.

These nine cars changed the market 12/12/2019 6:54:50 PM