Everybody in the world has different tastes from others. For many situations, this is perfectly fine — in grocery stores, there’s ample selection so everyone can find what they like or need. For cars, though, it’s a bit more tricky when you’re talking about a $25,000, ten-year investment and not a $2.50 jug of milk. And because of that, automakers have to be more discerning in what they offer.
Some, like BMW, are taking the approach that involves trying to satisfy as many tastes and preferences as possible, by constantly splitting categories into subcategories, and those into further subcategories. Others, like Chrysler, take a leaner approach and put most of their eggs into fewer baskets. But when you get an approach like BMW, it leads to redundancies — which is what this article is out to discuss.
BMW is not the only automaker guilty of this, but it’s probably the most prolific. However, we looked around the industry and found 10 vehicles that while they may be popular, don’t make a very compelling case for themselves because they either conflict or overlap with their stablemates. Here are 10 vehicles that we felt were the most redundant.
1. Honda CR-Z
In theory, the Honda CR-Z was an attempt at reviving the legacy of the CR-X from the ’80s and ’90s, and revitalizing Honda’s sporty hatch heritage. In practice, the CR-Z combined the sluggishness of a hybrid with the efficiency of a sports hatch. Buyers looking for MPGs could instead look at the Civic Hybrid, and those looking for speed are better off looking at the Civic Si. Our hats are off to Honda for attempting to merge the two, but the CR-Z sits in the middle of each and doesn’t fully benefit from either.
2. BMW’s Gran Coupes
It’s a four-door version of the two-door version of a four-door car. Though undeniably beautiful, is it really worth the added manufacturing complexity to desperately fill every conceivable niche? BMW makes a 4 Series version and a 6 Series version, which begs the question of why they thought the demand for the 3 Series and 5 Series was low enough to justify the added product lines.
3. Chevrolet Sonic
Like the BMW, the Sonic isn’t a bad car — but there’s just not really a space in the lineup for it. Between the Cruze sedan and the smaller Spark, Chevy’s low-end offerings are pretty well taken care of; The Sonic RS hatch is pretty sporty, but otherwise, most buyers will find what they need on either side of the small car.
4. BMW X4
What can be said of the X4 can also be said of the X6; it’s a less practical version of the X3 and X5 SUVs, and BMW’s quest to fill every possible market segment has led to the worst parts of a coupe coupled with the worst parts of an SUV. The result is a less sporty SUV with diminished cargo capacity, but somehow, they keep on selling.
5. BMW 3 Series GT
Apparently, having a wagon form of the 3 Series isn’t enough, because there’s also the 3 Series GT; this is a Franken-vehicle that adds a sort of SUV roofline without committing to being a utility, and asks nearly $10,000 more than a 3 Series sedan at base. If you can’t satisfy your need with the Sports Wagon, then move up to an X1. They make a GT version of the 5 Series too, because, you know, it’s BMW.
6. Buick Verano
there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Buick Verano — it’s inoffensive in styling, not particularly remarkable in any one aspect, and doesn’t really stand out from the crowd — but it’s definitely upstaged by the Regal. Buick should definitely get a small sedan in it’s stable, but the Verano is too close in stature (seven inches shorter, two inches narrower, and just two inches off the wheelbase) to the Regal to make a compelling case.
7. Ford Edge
Here’s the thing: We actually love the Edge. A lot. It’s one of Ford’s best-looking and best-proportioned utilities, but in Ford’s burgeoning lineup, it just doesn’t make sense on paper. It slots in between the the Escape and the Explorer, which shuttle the majority of buyers away from the middle, but then it’s also contending with the luxurious, three-row Flex too. The Edge is a great vehicle, but the business case for it is flimsy — at least it should be, but it’s selling quite well.
8. Porsche 911
Including special editions and convertibles, there are 25 new 911 models to choose from. Not only is that ludicrously complex from a manufacturing point of view, but there’s so much overlap that there are likely several models that could be eliminated without much fuss. Each has its own quirks and benefits, but at the end of the day, Porsche enthusiasts will remain Porsche enthusiasts — whether it comes as a Targa, a 4, a 4S, a GTS, a cabriolet, a Turbo, a Turbo S, a GT3, a GT3 RS, an S, and so on. You get the picture.
9. Toyota Sequoia
Ignoring for a moment that the new Sequoia is still using seriously dated design language, the truck-based SUV occupied a weird niche in Toyota’s stable. If you’re looking for a big SUV for suburban family hauling, check out the Highlander or 4Runner or some of its updated competition; if you’re looking for a rock-crawler that’s also appointed at near Mercedes-Benz levels of quality, there’s the Land Cruiser (though granted, it runs $80,000). There might be a place for a truck-based SUV for Toyota, but the long-in-the-tooth Sequoia needs to be brought up to speed to justify its place in the lineup.
10. Hyundai Azera
The Azera has been a staple in Hyundai’s lineup for a while now, but with the upscale Genesis and a nicer Sonata, its place in the roost isn’t as unique as it once was. It’s about $4,000 less than the Genesis, but $14,000 more than a base Sonata, implying that it really exists only to pull sales from the nicer sedans. Given the amount of tech and additional features that the Genesis offers, as well as it’s premium looks, the Azera is becoming an increasingly difficult business proposition.
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