The Last Mile: Cars That Will Be Discontinued For 2018
As is the case with professional sports teams, automakers' rosters tend to be fluid, with new players being added and others put to pasture with regularity. While in recent posts we highlighted the rookie cars and crossover SUVs that will be making their big-league debuts for 2018, here's a last look at the models that will be out of options by season's end.
With sport-utility vehicles now the heavy hitters in the auto business, it should come as no surprise that passenger cars account for most of the models on this list, including two short-lived full-electric cars. At opposing ends of the automotive market, the most notable models being reassigned for 2018 include the venomous Dodge Viper sports car and the at once sensible and senseless Smart ForTwo microcar.
Here's the 15 nameplates you can scratch off your fantasy automakers' rosters for next year:
Buick Verano, 2012-2017. Though eminently likeable, small car sales are way down, and so Buick is dropping its low-volume Verano sedan after a shortened 2017 model year. A fairly plush entry-level luxury car, at least Buick chose to stay true to its brand identity and avoided the temptation to make the Verano another BMW 3 Series contender. Its spot in the lineup has been usurped by the popular Encore compact crossover SUV.
Chevrolet SS, 2014-2017. The full-size SS sedan was brought here from General Motors Holden subsidiary in Australia, as Chevy's sportier - and costlier - rear-drive alternative to the sedately cast Impala. The SS was a hoot to drive, but has been on life support the last couple of years as few people outside of a small cadre of loyalists probably even know the car exists. Sales only amounted to around 2,600 units through the end of July, and that's with a 21% increase over the same period in 2016.
Chrysler 200, 2011-2017. The midsize 200 sedan is being killed off this year with less of a bang and more of a whimper, following the discontinuation of the compact Dodge Dart at the end of 2016. While fairly stylish and a decent performer, it never quite caught on in a crowded segment, and with sedan sales suffering, FCA read the tea leaves and decided to free up production capabilities for its more profitable truck and SUV lines.
Dodge Viper, 1992-2017. The biggest name, though far from being the biggest seller, to hang it up at the end of 2017, the Dodge Viper coupe/roadster helped bolster Chrysler's fortunes a quarter century ago, when its otherwise dull-as-dishwater lineup consisted mostly of minivans and boxy "K-cars." The rip-roaring V10-powered Viper was and is big and brutal, and has always been something of an acquired taste, enjoying a loyal following of committed fans. Though nobody ever claimed the car was profitable, it endured two changes of corporate ownership, and will probably be one of the few models on this list that will be truly missed.
Hyundai Azera, 2006-2017. Left behind when Hyundai spun its large Genesis and Equus sedans off to launch its Genesis luxury division this year, the midsize near-luxury Azera is being sidelined in favor of the refreshed-for-2018 Sonata. The Azera is pleasant enough, but is unnecessary at a time when the brand could instead use a larger crossover SUV; it will continue to be sold elsewhere in the world as the Grandeur.
Infiniti QX70, 2003-2017. Originally sold as the Infiniti FX, the midsize QX70 was a bit of a ground-breaking luxury crossover SUV when it debuted for 200,3 with soft and curvy styling that flew in the face of the then-boxy norm. Unfortunately, its sales have since dropped, and the model will be abandoned for 2018 in the U.S. in favor of a redesigned version of the QX50. With the burgeoning popularity of SUVs these days there's a chance the QX70 or at least a similar model might return to Infiniti's lineup in a later model year.
Jeep Patriot, 2007-2017. Lingering for a decade with only incremental changes, the compact Patriot crossover SUV originally debuted alongside the mechanically similar Compass as the more traditionally styled of the two models. At the time, it was the only crossover to boast bona fide off-road skills via an available "Trail Rated"4x4 system. It may have been the more military-looking of the two, but the Compass has since won the war with a major redesign for 2017, while the Patriot is being given its discharge papers.
Lexus CT 200h, 2011-2017. Introduced back when the national average price for a gallon of gas peaked at close to $4.00 a gallon, the compact CT 200h hybrid hatchback is an entry-level luxury hatchback that's tuned sportier than most other hybrids. Its sales have fallen along with gas prices, however, and it's being dropped from the line after receiving a 2017 freshening.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, 2014-2017. The luxury automaker's slow-selling subcompact EV will be phased out for 2018, with no immediate replacement planned. Having an estimated 87-mile range, it pales, however, against newer models like the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 that can run for more than 200 miles on a charge.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV, 2012-2017. Mitsubishi is cancelling its tiny egg-shaped battery-powered i-MiEV this year. The car's estimated range of just 59 miles on a charge is barely good enough for around-town or on-campus use, and it's underscored by underwhelming performance and accommodations. The i-MiEV is eminently affordable, especially after factoring in the $7,500 one-time federal tax credit, but it's even cheaper as a used car, with low-mileage models easily found within the $6,000-$8,000 range.
Mitsubishi Lancer, 2002-2017. Typically forgotten in a crowded segment of compact cars, the Lancer is perhaps best known for its fast and furious Evolution iterations. With sales of all small cars on the decline, Mitsubishi has decided to double down on its more-popular line of SUVs, with the Lancer's spot in the showroom being taken early next year by the new Eclipse Cross crossover.
Nissan Quest, 1993-2007. Lingering for 2017 with reportedly little more than fleet sales to show for its efforts, Nissan makes the dwindling minivan market one vehicle smaller with the Quest's ensuing demise. Though the latest generation was distinctively styled in a nerdy kind of way, sales declined precipitously along with the rest of the segment, and Nissan would likely rather shift its resources toward building more-profitable SUVs.
Smart ForTwo, 2008-2017. The smallest and cheapest Mercedes-Benz-built model is dropping its gasoline-powered coupe and convertible versions in the U.S. at the end of the 2017 model year; the brand will concentrate on the Electric Drive version instead. With easy urban parking as its primary attribute, the tiny two-seater gets good fuel economy, but its breadbox-sized 89-horsepower engine requires premium fuel, which tends to negate any savings at the pump.
Volkswagen CC, 2009-2017. While it's sufficiently stylish and is a solid overall performer, the CC four-door coupe is the brand's lowest-volume car, with sales down nearly 46% over the first seven months of the year. The more-affordable midsize Passat out-sells it by a 40:1 margin in the U.S., which helps explains the CC's demise. Perhaps curiously, VW isn't giving up on the near-luxury four-door-coupe market, with the equally swoopy looking midsize Arteon expected to take over for the CC later in 2018.
Volkswagen Touareg, 2004-2017. One of the first of a new wave of upscale crossovers when it originally hit the market, the Touareg is sportier and more luxurious than most mainstream-brand SUVs, which tended to price it out of the reach of most VW loyalists. It's being replaced in the brand's U.S. lineup by the new-for-2018 Atlas, which is both built here and is designed to more efficiently meet the needs of American families.