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It’s a fact of automotive life that every year there are models that die off, never to be seen again. There are many reasons: The car may be subpar in its category. Or it may be a bit long in the tooth. Sometimes a vehicle gets squeezed out by overlapping selections in a manufacturer’s lineup. Or it may be that it just plain did not sell.
Whatever the reason, sometimes we wind up losing an interesting vehicle that suits a select few customers’ needs perfectly. Remember the Honda Element? A bonafide Swiss army knife of a ute that could swallow a dorm room, but sales kept dwindling until it disappeared. Not that there wouldn’t have always been a limited number of eager buyers, just not enough to justify a whole production line.
So it is that we are bidding farewell to another crop of models. Some will be lamented, others, well, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Kelley Blue Book compiled a list of 10 Cars Waving Goodbye in 2012. There may be a couple on that list that fit the bill for you, and as discontinued models, you should find great deals. Let’s take a look at some of the notables on the list.
These midsized pickups are no doubt a bit outdated, but like the aforementioned Honda Element, they serve a purpose in a particular niche. With the previous demise of the Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota, the only midsized pickups left belong to Toyota and Nissan. We’ve argued before whether it really matters what’s American or not, but pickups? That’s hot dogs, baseball and apple pie territory.
Nothing terribly wrong with the Veracruz, it’s a fairly competent, inoffensive crossover. It just never sold particularly well. Could it be the very vanilla styling? Whatever the reason, it is being squeezed out of the lineup by an expansion of the Santa Fe line to include a 3-row version.
Remember when minivans ruled the family transport landscape? And remember when minivans then caught the worst case of automotive cooties ever? To avoid contagion, car makers came up with any number of alternatives for multi-row conveyance. Some worked well, some didn’t. The R-Class didn’t. Sure, it’s luxurious inside, but outside? Ungainly would be charitable, land-going orca would be accurate.
Here’s an example of a good vehicle just being squeezed out of the lineup through no real fault of its own. For years, the only SUV that Mazda had was the Tribute, sibling to then-partner Ford’s Escape. Eventually, as the Tribute/Escape twins, while still popular, started to get stale, Mazda developed the CX-7, which much better fit their zoom-zoom credo. Swoopy styling and athletic handling separated the CX-7 from the rest of the breed. But as the Ford partnership dissolved and an Escape-based replacement for the Tribute was no longer in the offing, Mazda developed its own in the CX-5. With the CX-5 and CX-7 so close in size, and with Mazda tightening their belt as a solo act, bye-bye CX-7.
Ah, the Caliber. Perhaps the least lamented departure of them all. Meant to be a more rugged replacement for the Neon, its Ram-esque styling and was just too overwrought to resonate with the marketplace. The cheesy interior didn’t do it any favors either. Roundly mocked by the motoring press, the Caliber is being replaced by the Alfa Romeo-based Dart. But is it really that bad? It may not be the most inspired ride in the segment, but the Caliber is spacious, and at least competent enough to perform as a budget grocery-getter. And you should be able to fairly steal one right now.
The Others...
Mitsubishi, as it struggles to reinvent itself for survival in the U.S. marketplace, bids adieu to the ancient Galant midsize sedan, and the inadequate Eclipse sport coupe. No one will notice.
The Lexus HS 250h, a repackaged Prius, was a snoozer and has been supplanted by the “more interesting” (their words, but we agree) CT Hybrid hatchback.
Kia sheds the overweight and underwhelming Sedona minivan. There are rumors of a less conventional people-hauler in the works for the future.