10 Hottest Cars and Trucks in 2004

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1. Chrysler 300

Industry-watchers compare its looks to a Bentley, which starts around $150,000, though the 300's base begins at under $24,000. Edmunds.com named the 300 the "Most Significant Vehicle of 2005," saying it's "changed the rules of the family sedan segment." The automaker sold 99,405 through November-lifting the Chrysler brand more than Celine Dion ever could.

2. Toyota Scion xB

Critics panned this teeny wagon as looking too much like a toaster, but Toyota Motor Sales USA's Toyota Division had the last laugh. Toyota sold 43,000-plus xBs through November; more than double that of the other two Scions. Toyota has become Accessories R Us, offering tons of cool add-ons to personalize and jazz up the xB. Why leave all the aftermarket sales to others?

3. Ford GT

An authentic $150,000 super sports car from the same folks that once brought us the dowdy Escort? Though this is a small volume two-seater, the car is shining a bigger halo for the Ford Motor Co. brand than the Thunderbird. The car, with 500 horsepower, is dripping with testosterone and slick looks. But hurry. Ford only plans to make about 3,000 of `em through 2006.

4. Mazda3

This affordable, sharp sedan or five-door hatchback is a driver's car, offering cheap thrills for a base price of under $15,000. AutoWeek named it "America's Best Economy Car" this year. The Mazda3 line is the rage with 20-somethings. Launched on New Year's Day, the line virtually sold out this year. Zoom. Zoom.

5. Audi RSQ

Audi made this futuristic, one-of-a-kind coupe for this year's "I, Robot" movie. The film's hero puts this two-seater Audi through its paces as he fends off attacking humanoids. The gull-winged car travels on spheres, not wheels, and is loaded with high-tech gadgets. We can hardly wait `til the year 2035, when the movie takes place, so Santa, baby, bring me one now!

6. Ford Escape Hybrid

Say goodbye to little green cars. Ford has delivered the industry's first hybrid-engine sport utility that looks just like its all-gas model. It's higher off the road so it performs better in snow than car competitors. And it operates more like a regular vehicle-no special starter buttons to push-meaning no confused valets. We predict Governor Arnold will add one to his fleet.

7. Hummer H2 SUT

The sport utility truck is the second and newest model developed by General Motors Corp. since it acquired marketing rights to the brand. This part SUV/part pickup exudes sheer brute strength. It delivers, too-via a 325 horsepower V-8 with a base price of just under $53,000. Caution: Can draw crowds, if you're into that sort of thing.

8. Dodge Magnum

Dodge has lit a fire in the wagon category with this retro, low-slung model. The Magnum is street-smart slick but with lots of cargo room. Plus, it marks the return of rear-wheel drive to Dodge. Though the base model, starting at under $25,000, comes with 190 horses in a V-6, the top-of-the-line RT version generates 40. Mom and Dad will be fighting over the keys.

9. Maserati Quattroporte

How hot is this ultra-lux sedan from Italy? All 60 special limited-edition models made for Neiman Marcus' holiday catalog sold out Oct. 14 in 36 minutes. U.S. buyers are facing an 18-month wait for the 2005-model car. Worth every penny of its $125,000 price. The V-8 engine does 0-60 in 5.1 seconds, meaning never being tardy for appointments again. Viva Maserati!

10. Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

When it comes to dream machines, Mercedes has got it. The SLR McLaren sportscar is drop-dead gorgeous. Its exotic styling and gull-wing doors is a nod to SLR racecars of the 1950s. But this is a modern racecar with a whopping 617 horsepower in a supercharged V-8. Despite its $452,000 sticker, the car is sold out in the U.S, so dream on.

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