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Chris Nagy
Most Anticipated Cars of 2007

As 2007 arrives, it leaves many of us singing Auld Lang Syne (or at least pretending to do so), because various automakers have prepared a healthy New Year's buffet of new models destined for the showroom. The cars for 2007 have made resolutions to provide greater performance, more attractive styling and maximum utility in order to secure their spots on dealers lots. There is no doubt that the cars of the 2007 model year will change the complexion of our highways. Profiled below are six vehicles that will define the automotive climate in 2007.

1- Mazda CX-9

In harnessing its Zoom-Zoom image, Mazda has sold cars that have captured practicality and the sport-tuning culture. Mazda's new CX-9 transcribes their identity over to an upscale, seven-passenger crossover that combines the flexible function of a family minivan with the grace of a premium SUV. Practically speaking, the CX-9 offers endless storage and holding compartments for everything from luggage and tools to beverages and three rows of passengers.

The available surround-sound DVD entertainment center with RCA-style inputs should be considered as a bare essential; a long family trip will be evidence enough to that case. But don't just think of the CX-9 as a grocery-getter. A dignified, sport attitude radiates from the exterior styling, which starts with a curvy front end that is accented by a deep-angled windshield. If the body isn't enough to get the CX-9 noticed, low-beam HID headlamps along with exotic LED taillights will assert the CX-9's appearance.

Most anticipated feature: A 3.5-liter, V6 engine trumpets with a sports car-like 263 horsepower, which grants the CX-9 with what is possibly Mazda's most aggressive non-rotary engine ever produced. Hows that for Zoom-Zoom?

2- Lexus LS 460

The young Japanese mark of Lexus has defined 21st century luxury. Serving as Lexus' flagship sedan, the LS 460 is a pivotal vehicle to the badge's surging popularity. Starting with top-notch Lexus craftsmanship, the redesigned LS model carries much of the contemporary proportions Lexus typically provides. Added to the LS family for 2007 is a version with a longer wheelbase (LS 460L) and increased cabin room. With the aid of an eight-speed automatic transmission, both wheelbases are propelled with ease by a 380-horsepower, V8 engine.

A major ingredient in the Lexus recipe for modern luxury is the blending of advanced electronic amenities with conventional luxury items. The radar cruise control on the LS 460, when engaged, quickly adjusts its speed in relation to the vehicles in front of it, thereby preventing collisions. For your entertainment pleasures, there is a 19-speaker surround-sound stereo system that operates with an eight-gigabyte hard drive that will store more than 1,500 of your favorite tracks. The Lexus SmartAccess key also returns in 2007. The key has an encoded transmitter that will unlock the doors and start the engine.

Most anticipated feature: Certainly the most talked about new gadget for '07 is the new Intuitive Parking Assist, which debuts on the LS 460. This parking assist feature promises to lift the burden of parallel parking from a driver's mind through the use of sensors and automated controls.

3- Volkswagen Eos

Known in Greek mythology as the Titan goddess of the dawn, Eos was the sister of the sun and moon. For 2007, Volkswagen has released the hard-top convertible Eos to fill the gap left by the departure of the Golf-based (or Rabbit-based) Cabrio.

With the growing popularity of the hardtop convertible, a common problem that faced engineers was how to store the hardtop to minimize lost trunk space. VW's design team developed a top-down configuration that retains a respectable 6.6 cubic feet of trunk space from the total 10.5 cubic feet.

One thing that remains constant -- no matter where the top is positioned -- is the safety of the driver and passenger: Four airbags and a roll-bar protection system are ready to operate in any situation that the ABS with brake assist cant handle.

With either the turbocharged 2.0-liter or the 3.2-liter V6 engine (producing 200 and 250 horsepower respectively), the Volkswagen Eos simply looks like a fun car. Considering a price tag that starts at $27,990, it appears that the goddess will see many happy customers -- whether the hardtop is up or down.

Most anticipated feature: Not only is the Eos a hardtop convertible, it is the world's first hardtop convertible with a sunroof. A sizable panoramic sunroof panel offers a comforting balance between the two experiences.

4- Volvo C30

Volvo has invited itself to the growing smaller premium-level car segment of the market, as the Swedish company prepares to compete with the Mini Cooper and Audi's A3 with their C30. Introduced to the public at the Paris Auto Show, the three-door C30 -- built on a European Ford Focus platform -- features defining touches typical of the Swedish automaker. Many fans of Volvo's legendary P1800 will consider the C30's colossal rear window as classic Swedish styling.

With a renowned reputation for safety, engineers behind the C30 ensured that the entry-level car offers the same occupant protection as the larger sedans. One way in which they achieved this was to use various grades of metals in the front- and rear-end structures that strategically react in the event of an accident.

The C30 was finally befitting a Scandinavian nameplate when engineers added Volvo's whiplash-protection system and six airbags. Not wanting to be typecast as a safety car, the Volvo C30 is also a very sporty offering that features a low, sport chassis and a turbocharged 220-horsepower engine capable of hitting 60 mph in 6.2 seconds.

Most anticipated feature: The C30 features two separate rear seats that are positioned close to the center of the cabin. This configuration is comfortable for the two rear passengers, and it allows for usable storage compartments to be placed along the cabin's side.

Chris Nagy

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