Baby, You Can Drive My Car

When automakers want to sell hip wheels to the under-25 set, they need to keep boomers from spoiling the fun. A look inside a tricky business

Pity the automaker trying to pitch a new car to today's style-conscious young American. That customer lives at the end of a bumpy, uphill road--as shown by the early response to Honda's Element. A boxy, SUV-like vehicle launched last year, the Element is what Honda calls a "dorm room on wheels." It was designed to appeal to young drivers who want to pile in gear and friends; TV ads show sexy college-age kids taking it to the beach and partying beside it. It's an alluring image--especially, it turns out, if your hair's thinning, you're hankering to recapture the feel of those...

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