Regardless of your state of overexposure to "Y2K," you must admit 2000 would be a meaningful auto industry model year even if the rest of the world wasn't treating the upcoming century switchover as certain to play out some sort of scene from a Nostradamus vision.

So the following stories are not merely a laundry list of 2000's new models. Rather, in light of the model year's significance, to offer something a bit different. Each automaker's new models are discussed, certainly. But we've also presented them as symbols to make broad insinuations about how well these models place each maker to do business in, you guessed it: THE NEXT MILLENIUM.

For each automaker, you'll also find a cute little tire to show our guesstimate about that carmaker's fortunes between now and 2004. Tire fully inflated: good prospects. Tire fully deflated: trouble in the next century. More important, there's a forecast number, courtesy of Ward's and DRI, to show not only how many vehicles each automaker will sell in 2004, but also figures to indicate what percentage of the U.S. market each will hold five years from now versus this year's forecast percentage.

This issue, along with your canned goods, bottled water, portable generator and backed-up hard drive, will be all you need to survive the coming cataclysm.