Do These Popular Vehicles Really Need to Exist Anymore?
In 2016, Americans bought a record 17.55 million new cars. But while the good times are still here for automakers (though evidence suggests we’re ready for a fall), we’ve recently been thinking about the state of cars on our highways and byways. Namely, there are too many car models out there.
Don’t get us wrong; we’re all for variety on the roads. In fact, we’d like to see more variety. But with an insatiable appetite for crossovers and SUVs, automakers have been falling over themselves to sell as many as possible, resulting in a number of redundant models. And there are plenty of cars that just don’t make any sense. These are 10 models we could do without.
1. Nissan Murano
When it launched in 2003, the Murano was a vision of Nissan’s bold new 21st century design language. Today, the Murano is a midsize, five-seat crossover that starts at just under $30,000. It’s just like the Rogue, which Nissan can’t keep on the lots, and is almost four grand cheaper. And for about $2,000 more, you can jump up to the larger, seven-passenger Pathfinder. For years, the Murano got by on its unique styling. Now, it just feels redundant.
Next: This car is tough to even describe.
2. BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe
Fun fact: Did you know BMW sells 25 unique models in the U.S. alone? That’s not even going into splitting hairs (330i versus 340i, for example). It sells 25 different cars. Yes, BMW practically has a license to print money, but there’s a comical amount of overlap here. Take the 4 Series Gran Turismo. The 4 Series used to be the 3 Series coupe until BMW spun it off, leaving the 3 Series as a standalone sedan. The 4 Series Gran Turismo is a slightly face-lifted four-door of a two-door version of the 3 Series sedan. Got it? Yeah, neither do we.
Next: Another head-scratcher from BMW
3. BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo
We’re not done with the “ultimate driving machine” yet. For decades, the 3-Series has been BMW’s bread-and-butter car. So considering how hot the crossover market is, wouldn’t it be a great idea if BMW took that popular formula, slightly lifted it, added all-wheel drive, and crossover-like interior space? Well, for $44,000-and-up, you can have that in the form of the 3-Series Gran Turismo. For about the same price, you can get a nicely optioned 3-Series wagon, with xDrive all-wheel drive. Or you could get the X3, BMW’s compact, 3-Series-esque SUV that offers all that and more because it’s an actual SUV.
Next: A crossover without the appeal
4. Mercedes GLC Coupe
For the past decade or so, luxury brands have been misusing the word “coupe.” Loosely defined as a two-door car with a short roofline, apparently in the 2010s it can also apply to SUVs. Take Mercedes’ GLC coupe. Ever wanted the bulbous styling and horrible visibility of a midsize SUV with none of the interior space? Well, for $45,950 and up, the GLC Coupe is for you. It’s not a terrible car — it is a Mercedes, after all. But for the money, we can think of a number of cars and SUVs that we’d rather have.
Next: This Prius fighter is the definition of forgettable.
5. Ford C-Max
The end is nigh for Ford’s compact C-max; the compact, wedge-shaped hybrid hatchback with be no more after 2018. That’s fine with us. The C-Max is practical, roomy, (sometimes) fun to drive, and has led the charge (no pun intended) for Ford’s hybrid lineup for years. But it’s a compact, sub-$30,000, five-seat hatch that slots in between the Fiesta and Focus — both compact, sub-$30,000, five-seat hatches. And with the Electric Focus getting better by the year, even the the Energi Plug-In version is starting to feel redundant. We get that Ford intended the C-Max to be a Prius fighter. But from here, the it just feels superfluous.
Next: Does Chevy need two entry-level compacts?
6. Chevrolet Spark
After a facelift for 2016, the tiniest Chevy has ditched its old, insect-like face for a handsome, square-jawed look that brings it in line with the rest of the lineup. Unfortunately, that also gets the $14,000 Spark easily confused with the Sonic, another subcompact, five-door hatch that’s a little bigger, a little more comfortable, and offers a turbocharged engine that puts out 44 more horsepower for about $1,500 more. With cars in all segments taking a beating in the sales department, we can’t really see why Chevy needs both of these models.
Next: A high price to pay for unreliability
7. Maserati Ghibli
We want to like the Ghibli; we really do. It looks cool, its interior is quirky in a very Italian way (Red leather seats and blue instrument faces? Sure!), and its Ferrari-derived V6 makes all of the right noises. But this was supposed to be Maser’s “entry level” car. Sure, you have to make all the entry-level sacrifices here — uncomfortable seats, switchgear pulled from the Dodge Dart, woeful reliability — but it starts at around $80,000. For that, you’re in Audi S7, Cadillac CTS-V, and Porsche Panamera territory, and they’re all better cars. A refreshed Ghibli is coming for 2018. We hope it can acquit itself a little better than its predecessor.
Next: The spark is still gone.
8. Chevrolet Spark Activ
Want a crossover, but don’t want any actual features crossovers offer? Then, the Chevy Spark Activ is the ride for you. The Activ is just a basic front-wheel drive Spark but with black cladding on the bumpers and fenders, an underbody skid plate (for off-roading, because sure), and a 0.4-inch increase in ride height. If you want a mediocre compact crossover, Chevy already has you covered with the Trax. We really don’t know what purpose the Spark Activ serves.
Next: Zombie cars
9. Dodge Dart/Chrysler 300
These two midsize cars were never truly as abysmal as their reputations suggested. But they were underwhelming and ill-timed. As a result, there are still tons of new ones sitting on lots across the country, even though production ended for both in December 2016. Today, these zombie cars sit in limbo — new but already discarded. They’re still even listed on Dodge’s and Chrysler’s websites. To us, it looks like they’re just padding on their dwindling lineups.
Next: Familiar name; forgettable face
10. Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
The once-successful Mitsubishi has received a lifeline in the form of Nissan ownership and is trying to climb its way back to respectability in the U.S. by focusing on crossovers. Its latest, the Eclipse Cross, is a handsome, five-seat crossover.
Of course, the Eclipse was Mitsubishi’s popular sports car. And its biggest success today, the Outlander Sport, is a handsome, five-seat crossover. With the market as it is, we don’t doubt that the crossover route could work for Mitsubishi, but reviving an iconic nameplate for a model that’s easily confused for an existing model just doesn’t seem like a great idea.