Detroit is definitely doing a lot better these days, primarily because for years they totally ignored the family sedan and compact car market. The small cars they made in the 70's-90's and early 2000's were jokes. SUVs and large trucks were all the rage. Cars like the late Lincoln Town Car and others of its like were holdovers, mainly sold to an aging demographic, and for public services like taxi cabs and police departments.
The issue with this was that a huge chunk of the US population lives in major metros where fuel efficient, smaller cars are more desirable for their typically longer commutes. The big 3 had nothing that was acceptable for years. Fast-forward to now, and they have the Chevy Cruze, Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Chevy Malibu, Caddy CTS, and a host of others that are 1000% better than what they used to make.
Also - ironically a lot of today's small cars have more interior space than many of the full-size cars 20 years ago. Bigger doesn't necessarily mean "bigger".
It would be nice though if some of the manufacturers that traditionally sold larger cars to older people could still produce a car that is somewhat American in looks, and not the size of a mid-size car 10 years ago, and now trying to pass as a large car. I just don't understand why everything that comes out of Detroit is trying to appeal to the under 50 crowd. There are a lot of people over 50, and many that are not, that like traditional big cars. It is a shame that we are being completely ignored now by the car manufacturers. Cars like the Buick Park Avenue, Cadillac DTS and Lincoln Town Car will always have a following; the problem is that these cars became very over priced.
Once again this is all your opinion about traditional Detroit styling of full-size, dependable cars, which is what Detroit was known and appreciated for. That's why there is a number of people in "mourning" for the loss of vehicles like this.
Also once again, California is not the whole country, I have traveled up and down 80% of the entire east coast for years, always seeing a big majority of mid-full size domestics of all eras all over the place.
Today's smaller cars have more interior space than full-size cars 20 years ago? Try finding me one small car today that has more room than a FWD Cadillac Deville from the early 90's; you won't, I know, because I owned a 93, and it had TONS of head and leg room, a lot more than my current Town Car, which is a bigger vehicle.
To me, all the full size domestics of the eighties nineties, and more recently the last of the Panther platform; I find it hard to accept that they are gone, and it is the end of the line.
A certain amount of us were kids in the 70s and eighties, and we grew up with this era of styling from TV to reality, and like myself, a lot of us felt that the traditional American gas guzzler would always be a lot more dependable and reliable than the one hit wonder flashy imports, which were also on the scene at that moment in time. Just like nowadays, only the imports or even the smaller domestics have nothing going for them, only a bit better economy, and plenty of costly and time consuming reliability issues.
Well, for starters not ALL old people want a big boat of a car. So when you put the numbers together, it doesn't make sense to manufacture a product simply for the sake of an increasingly smaller demographic. It might be my "opinion" that those old big cars aren't as practical or as stylish as today's cars, but apparently I must be of the majority, because otherwise those cars would still be made and sold. That they aren't basically settles the argument. And again - 40 million people live in California. That's more than entire regions of the country combined. Ignoring this state would be a mistake, and if there's one thing for sure, the Big 3 were not doing as well here as in middle America.
You're right, not all old people want a big boat of a car. There are people like myself in the mid 30's and many other ages, who enjoy the look and feel of a nice, big, domestic, luxury liner.
As for California having a population of over 40 million, that maybe so, but that doesn't mean they all drive; some are too young, some maybe too old. Also, many years ago, a lot of California residents couldn't own certain large cars due to the very strict emissions laws, for example; any mid-size or full-size GM equipped with Oldsmobile's diesel engine was not available in the state, along with certain gas V6s and V8s.
Not sure if you are following the auto industry of late, but the products they are pushing are not exactly selling like hot cakes either! If just one of the domestic brands, preferably Buick, Cadillac, or Lincoln would make just one large car that holds to the traditional American car idiom, and was not neglected, but kept updated as other models are, I think it would sell. It would also have to be priced reasonably, as many people who prefer this type of car are not wealthy. There is no doubt that the market for a variety of reasons has changed, with a preference on smaller economical vehicles, but if done right and priced right, this type of car can still sell well. Cars like the Mercury Grand Marquis didn't sell well anymore because they were way outdated and pretty boring cars all around. Plus, they were needlessly wasteful and not that comfortable or luxurious.
GM and Ford both are doing well with sales these days. The cars that are doing well are cars like the Focus, Fiesta, Cruze, and a few other medium to small cars. To be sure, Americans still love their big honkin' trucks. But big cars are nowhere on that list. Having them recreate another huge car for the sake of having a huge car, when it's clear consumer preferences have changed, makes no sense.
Well one good reason there are no big cars on the "list" is because they don't exist anymore.
Not everyone wants to, nor can drive a small car. In America that will always be true. When Americans can afford to, they always choose larger cars over small ones. I can guarantee you that many of the people buying Fiestas and Prius', are buying them out of necessity to ease their monthly budget, not because they have an affinity to the car.
Preference has changed? I don't think so, the big "honkin" trucks that Americans are buying are Navigators, Escalades, and a variety of other large luxury SUV's. Why? Because these are the closest thing you can buy nowadays to a large full-frame car; the cars that you don't like, but yet millions of people will remember and miss dearly.
I believe one of the domestics automakers should produce a full size RWD. WHY? Because five years and more down the road, and you want to do some DIY to save a buck, a RWD configuration is still the easiest to work on. Like someone posted in I think a GM forum, and that was (sadly the future is Mercedes limousines or public transport). Why, because it is going to be one end of the spectrum or the other for us, meaning complete and utter greed, corrupt or not, or complete poverty, that's if the world currencies don't collapse of course, which I believe they will, and then it will be complete and utter hell.