Every year, automakers are faced with the decision as to which models will be built during the upcoming model years. A lot of things go into such decisions, but profitability and sales volume are huge determiners. If a vehicle isn’t performing well enough in its market and re-styling won’t save it, it’s bound to find itself in the company of countless discontinued cars which grows year in – year out.
It’s an annual dance that automotive manufacturers go through trying to determine what in their lineup will yield the most profit and what is dragging them down. Actually it’s not even that clear cut.
The ultimate objective is to maximize profit and the easiest part of that is to dump a dog. However there are riskier decisions that may involve discontinuing a solid performer in order to promote a newcomer with great potential or dropping an up and comer from the brand altogether to give it a chance to stand on its own. These are mega dollar decisions and the reason for so many empty Maalox bottles in the executive suites.
But, what does that mean for the average consumer? Usually, it means that the models to be discontinued will be discounted. Dealers will be having fire sales to clear their lots and make room for new inventory. The later in the calendar year, the steeper the discounts will become.
First off, we’ll start with a list of long or recently discontinued SUVs that most people would like to see back, and then we’ll move on to some relatively recently discontinued cars, trucks, and SUVs that we might see again after a while or might not see ever again depending on myriad of factors.
10 Discontinued SUVs Everyone Wants to See Back
Reuters and other sources have suggested that Ford, for instance, sees U.S. car market’s future stacked with SUVs. According to them, SUVs will amount to 40 percent of the entire market by 2020, and they see it as perfect opportunity to expand their SUV portfolio.
Of course, first thing that comes to mind when crossing Blue Oval and SUV is the good old Bronco. It really didn’t take a genius to put two and two together and figure out this was the prime time to do so. But, while the iconic nameplate is getting ready to rise and shine again, others aren’t as lucky.
Considering how SUVs seem to be the future of the car markets for foreseeable time, it’s a no-brainer to take a look at some iconic SUV nameplates that were either discontinued a long time ago or relatively recently. Some of them exhibit a serious potential for making a comeback soon (some have already been announced), while others are just wishful thinking but who knows what the future might bring.
Let us start with one of the more obvious choices. H1, H2, H3 -it doesn’t really matter. All three generations of the Hummer were highly sturdy and capable, and more or less intertwined. One didn’t simply end for another to take swing. The Hummer H1 was available since 1992 and the H3 bowed down in 2010 after the global recession did its part.
This is one of the reasons the Hummer was so special. But everyone that knows about these cumbersome beasts, also knows that they used to offer much more than simply special. Plus, since global recession is more or less behind us, there are no more genuine reasons for them not to be produced.
09. Mitsubishi Pajero
The current Mitsubishi SUV lineup (or Mitsubishi lineup in general) is nowhere near that from 10 or 20 years ago. They are, however, heading in green direction at least – I’ll give them that.
Regardless, the Mitsubishi Pajero (badged as Montero in the States) is still regarded as one of the best vehicles that Japanese manufacturer has managed to assemble. Of course, the Montero had been gone from the U.S. for over a decade now (being discontinued in 2006), but we haven’t forgotten it. Have you?
The Pajero is still alive overseas where it’s still selling better than it ever did in the U.S. Incidentally, low sales (1,609 units in 2006 compared to 24,802 units in 2001) were exactly the reason for its discontinuation.
08. Land Rover Defender
It’s unrealistic to expect the Land Rover returning to their roots with the Defender, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t like that. It wasn’t that long they discontinued it, but let’s face it – newer models weren’t the true Defenders for years now anyway.
Their current lineup of SUVs is highly capable and correspondingly luxurious, and there’s simply no place for a bare-bone SUV of old. But, imagine if they actually made one. Of course, it would have been stacked with all the necessary tech, but it wouldn’t have to be as plush as the others. That would help lowering the cost one has to pay in order to drive a Landy. It’s a win win situation in my book.
The next-gen Defender has been announced for model year 2020 and, more importantly, will finally again be available stateside. How the old school sturdiness and new age technology fuse in it, remains to be seen. The last time Defender was available on the U.S. market, Bill Clinton was still in the office. Its short stint on the U.S. market (between 1993 and 1997) was cut due to low profitability.
07. Nissan Xterra
It’s only been a few years without the Nissan Xterra in the markets, but people looking for extreme sturdiness and reliability (at relatively affordable prices) are already missing that SUV. Most of its current or former owners will attest to its indestructibility and capability alike, and there were many who bought it between 1999 and 2015.
Xterra, however, was simply outdated in 2015 when it finally got the axe and that severely affected its sales. It’s not the only Nissan’s vehicle to suffer from the same negligence, but while the Frontier still soldiers on, the SUV is now gone. Given the fact SUV craze is still in its full swing (or yet to take the full swing), we wouldn’t be surprised to see it return. And we certainly wouldn’t mind.
06. Jeep Wagoneer
The Jeep Wagoneer rumors aren’t that scarce or strange. They have been circulating for a while now, and they make sense. Jeep still lacks the true flagship three-row SUV, and the new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer would be the perfect choice to fill that slot.
Of course, it would probably look much different than we remember it, but the nameplate is what matters. That and exterior wooden panels. Of course, the latter has very slim chance of returning, but it’s our right to dream, isn’t it? The Wagoneer first appeared in 1963 and finally got retired in 1991, making it the longest-running domestic vehicle to be built on the same platform. Being a gas-guzzler (11 mpg combined) during the Gulf War oil shock is the main reason behind its discontinuation.
Although still not official, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer nameplates have been confirmed for a comeback sometime beyond 2020. That’s great news indeed, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
05. Willys Jeep CJ
It’s been a while since this one was discontinued, but it’s impossible to forget an icon, and Willys Jeep certainly was one. A 42 year long stint of production between 1944 and 1986 only bolsters that statement. Jeep finally discontinued the offspring of the WWII veteran in order to make way for a more contemporary YJ Wrangler.
Of course, it’s impossible to expect the old school bare-boned SUV in a modern era where safety regulations play such an important role. Still, if Wrangler manages, why wouldn’t one slightly rougher version do the same? Moreover, there’s some empty space in Jeep’s portfolio since the Patriot has been discontinued and the Compass might not be long for this world.
04. Chevrolet Blazer
Also known as GMC Jimmy, the Chevy Blazer is one of the best known U.S.-made SUVs to date. Sadly, it hasn’t been around for quite some time. The Blazer first appeared in 1969 and finally got axed in 1995 when it was renamed Tahoe. It was simply a victim of a new corporate strategy which is an anti-climactic end for such a beloved nameplate.
Of course, we now have the Chevy Tahoe and the GMC Yukon, but the second generation Blazer which lasted for almost 20 years is still sorely missed. The Blazer simply had that X factor which its successors lack. It’s similar with Blue Oval’s Bronco and Expedition comparison.
Now, I know that Blazer has made its comeback for MY 2019, but that’s not the Blazer I was referring to above. The new model might be sporty and plushy, but aside from name, doesn’t have anything to do with its iconic predecessor.
03. Toyota FJ Cruiser
Yet again, a car which was axed not so long ago. The Toyota FJ cruiser retired in 2014 (2016 overseas), and left Wrangler as the only rugged, old school off-road SUV on the U.S. market (until the new Bronco finally arrives, that is). Slow sales which never recuperated after the global recession of 2008-09 were the main reason for its discontinuation.
The Japanese are still selling Land Cruisers, but they simply can’t be compared with the compact FJ Cruiser. The FJ had that X factor. That something that made it special. Maybe it were the circular headlamps, or the overall boxy appearance, but I sure wish it was still here.
02. GMC Typhoon
The GMC Typhoon was always different than the rest of SUVs marketed at the time. Two year long production (between 1991 and 1993) and fewer than 5,000 units produced wasn’t exactly the lifespan you’d wish to a car, but the Typhoon was actually meant to be limited. Being a special-edition vehicle, the Typhoon’s life was naturally short and there were no particular reasons for its discontinuation other than that.
It was a performer, and performance-oriented SUVs weren’t really a thing back in early nineties. They are becoming that now, and GMC has something to think about. It’s an expensive process introducing a new SUV to the market – especially a performance-oriented one – but at least they have the name standing ready.
Considering all the fuss surrounding it, the Bronco is arguably the most wanted comeback vehicle out there. The Expedition is nice and tough, but the Bronco nameplate has some backbone to it that rarely any other SUV nameplate has. Whether it’s the compact models (1965 to 1977) or full-size units (1977 to 1996), the Broncos were highly appreciated among the U.S. buyers. It was a sad day when the Bronco was finally discontinued in favor of a 4-door Expedition which was Blue Oval’s answer to competition – mainly that from GM.
Ford doesn’t have to sell it in white if that’s their problem with the car, but showing some love would be appreciated by everyone – especially by buyers. Come to think of it, a white-exclusive OJ Edition wouldn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Just saying.
Anyway, that was my state of mind a few years back and now that the Bronco is finally making a comeback, there’s a sense of nervousness permeating the air around it. What if they screw it up?! Hopefully, the new Bronco will be a different sort of SUV than the new Blazer.
Relatively Recently Discontinued Cars We Might or Might Not See Again
Let’s now focus on some recently discontinued models that we probably won’t be seeing ever again. Some of them, however, have already had a similar stint so not all is lost in their cases. So, say your goodbyes to the ones that are gone and say your prayers for the ones that still might appear.
The Volkswagen Touareg was introduced for the 2004 model year. It arrived on an early wave of the craze for upscale crossovers. The Touareg is sportier and more luxurious than most mainstream SUVs, but doesn’t really standout from the other upscale models.
Unfortunately for the Touareg’s future, the added luxury priced it out of many buyers’ range. VW is not going to abandon the segment altogether, though. The company is introducing the Atlas for 2018. The Atlas is being manufactured in North America and is more affordably priced than the Touareg.
While we probably won’t be seeing Touareg in the U.S. any more, it needs to be noted that the nameplate is still very much alive in the rest of the World.
The life of the Buick Verano has been short (less than 5 years). The first Veranos hit dealerships for the 2012 model year. True to the basic nature of Buick, the Verano was a very comfortable entry-level luxury sedan.
The Verano, unfortunately, is but one victim of the ever-changing tastes of car buyers. Small car sales are down across the North American market. Instead of offering another sedan, Buick plans to fill the niche with the Encore compact crossover SUV, a model that is already popular among buyers and made its debut alongside the now-discontinued sedan back in 2012.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Verano name is still very much active in China.
The Chevy SS is another car with a short life span. Introduced in 2014, the full-size SS crossed the ocean from Australia. GM subsidiary Holden designed the SS as a sporty rear-wheel-drive alternative to the Impala.
The SS offered 415 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque and was fun drive in spite of its size. Sadly, it wasn’t marketed particularly well. Very few people even knew of its existence, let alone wanted to pay the $50,000 sticker price.
Around 13,000 units have been sold over almost five years of sleeper’s tenure on the market. Still, if there was any car that deserved to remain being offered as a niche vehicle, this would be the one. In Australia, the Holden Commodore SS was downsized and is still being offered (continually since 1978).
Introduced in 2009, the Volkswagen CC was a stylish and well-equipped entry-level luxury sedan. Despite its wide array of equipment and solid dependability, the four-door CC was also VW’s lowest-volume car.
Sales started declining rapidly after 2011 and never showed any signs of recuperating, hence the upscale sedan was axed in 2017. They were actually so bad that, at one point, VW sold 40 Jettas for every CC that left a dealer’s lot. VW remains hopeful that it can gain a foothold in the near-luxury four-door market, however.
The Germans will be replacing the CC with the Arteon, but even that business didn’t go down without complications as the new car missed its intended U.S. market train due to complications with emissions testings.
All that can be said about the demise of the Chrysler 200 is: “it was about time!” This lackluster replacement for the equally lackluster Chrysler Sebring has needed to be axed since its inception in 2011. This finally happened in 2017.
Sales were decent, but many owners and potential buyers felt the cheap feeling interior and boring styling were disappointing. The sedan segment was just too crowded for poor styling and cheap interiors. Fiat Chrysler had the common sense to put this donkey to bed and add production capability to meet demands for its truck and SUV lines.
However, this move has left the Chrysler lineup seriously shallow with only the Pacifica minivan and the 300 sedan still on the books.
Mercedes-Benz dabbled in the small economy car niche with the Smart Fortwo. These strange-looking cars hit the roads in 2008 and immediately began disappointing buyers. Tiny, unstable-looking, and short on fuel economy, the Smart Fortwo proved to be short on smart and barely able to fit two.
Mercedes-Benz has decided to drop the gasoline versions after the 2017 model year, but will keep the Electric Drive version. Maybe as an all-electric, this urban crawler will finally find its niche. On the other hand, it’ll require some serious progression in terms of its own electric technology if it’s to avoid the gasoline model’s fate.
When the Infiniti QX70 hit the market in 2003 as the Infiniti FX, sales went wild. The QX70 was a radically curvaceous temptress when everything around her was boxy and staid. Unfortunately, sales have been sagging since the 2005 model year and the mid-size luxury SUV was finally dropped in 2018.
To be fair, there was a bit of an economic downturn between 2008 and 2012 to contend with, but sales have never hit an uptick. Infiniti is replacing the QX70 with a totally restyled QX50. With the crossover and SUV fever that has been sweeping the globe for several years, we may be seeing a retooled version of the QX70 in the not-too-distant future.
The loss of the Dodge Viper is the saddest thing we have ever had to type. Chrysler introduced the Dodge Viper in 1992 when its lineup contained more junk than a scrap yard. The only thing Chrysler was selling in 1992 were minivans and a few boxy, underwhelming cars. Then, all of a sudden and completely out of nowhere, the V10 Viper hit the pavement.
Buyers started to get excited about a Chrysler product for the first time in decades. Unfortunately, profits per unit have always been minimal. Fiat Chrysler is in need of every dollar of profit possible, so the Viper is being axed.
Even worse, there are no plans to replace it with another car of note and it’s already been a while since the FCA discontinued the Viper in 2017. So with that, we say goodbye to one of the most iconic American sports cars to date. Of all the cars to be discontinued in recent years, this one definitely breaks our hearts the most.
The Jeep Patriot and the Jeep Compass debuted side-by-side as part of the 2007 model year lineup. The Patriot has stuck around for a decade with very few changes or upgrades. Tired and dated are about the only things that can be said about it. It was finally dropped in 2017 in order to make way fro the new Renegade.
When it debuted, the Patriot was the only compact crossover that sported bona fide off-road skills when equipped with the “Trail Rated” 4×4 system. Jeep has made a terrible waste of a potential sales monster by allowing it to lament in near stagnation. Oh, about the Jeep Compass…it gets a major redesign and a fresh marketing campaign to ensure its continued success.
Just because your badge is upscale does not mean you can take a low end vehicle, dress it up, slap a badge on it and make it an upscale vehicle that people will buy. Unfortunately that’s what Cadillac did with its version of the Chevy Volt (remember Cimarron?).
Not only was the all-electric poorly conceived, it was also launched when Tesla introduced its spectacularly successful Model S. The $75,000 price tag for the ELR put a real blanket on potential sales. On the plus side, so few were manufactured that they may become a collectible based on rarity.
The ELR was only available between 2014 and 2016 and the company managed to sell close to 3,000 units during that time.
FCA Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country
Soccer Moms and car pool drivers are going to have to find another mode of transport when their existing Caravans and Town & Country vans need to be replaced. These seven passenger minivans with not so great fuel efficiency are the victims of a general reduction in demand and FCA’s shrinking share of the market that is there.
The hope was that the redesigned Chrysler Pacifica will fill the minivan needs of both Dodge and Chrysler customers and so far the Pacifica has delivered.
Dodge versions, as you remember, debuted back in late 1983 and are still being sold for the time being, while the Chrysler Town & Country arrived in late 1989 and disappeared in 2016.
The Mitsubishi Lancer is just another in the long line of compact cars to take a hike after 2018. Sadly, the Lancer grew up to be a poor car all the way around in its later years. Cheap amenities, mediocre styling, and average fuel economy for its class top the list of reasons why the Lancer was out.
The only highlight in the Lancer group is the Lancer Evolution (pictured above) with its 291 hp engine, hot hatch styling, and sporty handling. Like many manufacturers, Mitsubishi has decided to concentrate on the lucrative SUV segment with a new Eclipse Cross crossover coming in as a replacement for the 2018 model year. Nissan’s acquisition of the company also played a role in Lancer’s demise which has been available in the U.S. since 2001.
The Lancer nameplate still soldiers on in China and Taiwan, but only as an entry-level compact family car. We can only hope for the the Lancer Evo in near future as its biggest rival the Subaru WRX is already missing it.
It’s not everyday that a brand dumps its flagship model but let’s face it, the MKS is a dog and never really had much appeal. Lincoln touts its upscale image and then pinned a Lincoln badge on to what is essentially a Ford Taurus (they share the same platform and are both assembled at the same plant). The only legitimate Lincoln characteristic the MKS has is the sticker price.
Lincoln has, however, resurrected the Continental name as replacement and that’s yielded results. If your grandma needs a new ride you might want to keep an eye on MKS pricing. There are still bound to be one or two left in some dealer’s inventory out there.
The MKS was available between 2008 and 2017 and that’s nine years more than it deserved if you ask me.
If you are going to hold yourself out as a luxury sports car manufacturer even when your ride is oversized and a bit soft and cushy, then do not introduce a smaller, tighter, sportier and significantly cheaper model to compete with it.
The F-Type Jaguar coupe and convertible both blew the socks off the XK immediately upon their introduction. As a result, the old sports car was soon relegated to Jaguar’s history book to make room for what the people want.
As far as the U.S. market goes, the XK did well between its introduction in 1997 and the onset of global recession in 2008. It was all downhill from then-on and the sports car was finally axed after 2014 with last 3 remaining units cleared off in 2016.
The Honda CR-Z was a car that really didn’t know who it was supposed to appeal to. It truly is a stylish design but its hybrid powertrain was weak and when you smashed the accelerator to the floor you lost any fuel efficiency that the hybrid system could deliver.
Was it supposed to be green or sporty? It was small but it wasn’t nimble and it certainly didn’t handle the way its design suggested. The CR-Z will have to come back under another car’s body and nameplate and the most natural of choices would be the Civic.
A few years between 2010 and 2016 was all the CR-Z ever got and the best sales record came in 2011 when 11,330 American buyers decided to take one of them home. Inaugural 2010 was the car’s second-best year sales-wise with 5,249 units marketed.
Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe
The lightweight 2-door sports car has been the iconic Italian automaker’s only car on the U.S. market for a little while when it arrived during MY 2014 and it will be the first of the current bunch to bow down. The Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe has already been discontinued and it’s safe to assume that the Spyder version won’t survive for too long either.
The reason for coupe’s discontinuation was apparently FCA’s plan to force buyers into spending more money for a Spyder version. The fact that the 4C Spyder’s base price has also gone up alongside the coupe’s discontinuation confirms that statement.
This is a true enthusiast’s car so don’t expect a plushy ride at any but the smoothest of surfaces. At least the still-available drop-top version does what the coupe never could and turns the lucky driver’s attention away from such trivialities like cabin comfort. Who needs that anyway, when you’re in a quirky and great-looking sports car?!
Ford Fiesta, Focus, and Taurus
Blue Oval’s pro-SUV or anti-car agenda that we’ve mentioned above has victimized a number of automaker’s models. The subcompact Fiesta, compact Focus, and full-sized Taurus are all scheduled for discontinuation. The Focus’ production has already been halted, while the other two cars are expected to bow down during 2019. The mid-sized Fusion, on the other hand, might stick around for a while yet.
Although the performance-oriented ST models of Fiesta are expected to remain for a year longer than their non-ST counterparts (and both the Focus and Taurus), the small commuter will disappear from the U.S. market by 2020 in its entirety.
Overseas Fiesta and Focus will remain available, while the Taurus is exclusive to the U.S. market, hence it’s curtains for it. Considering how fickle the automotive markets are, we’d expect all three models to make a comeback sometime in the future – when the situation allows it.
The compact executive car has fallen victim to the Cadillac’s nomenclature revision and it exits the market after MY 2019. The sedan has already been axed and the coupe is expected to follow soon. The GM’s top division will have a replacement ready, however.
The recently introduced XT4 compact crossover is a part of company’s replacement strategy for the ATS. The larger CTS and XTS will follow the compact on its way out and the trio will be replaced with two new sedans, one of which is the all-new CT5.
The ATS has been available since 2012 and Caddy has sold more than 140,000 units of it since then.
Volt will be remembered as company’s first mass-produced electric after everything’s said and done, and incidentally, everything has been said and done as far as the nameplate is concerned. Sales haven’t been particularly good lately (although company sold around 150,000 units between 2011 and 2019), and with Chevy reaching the tax credit limit, there simply isn’t enough room for two small all-electrics in its lineup right now. The Bolt will carry on, though.
Of course, GM won’t just sit idly while its competitors continue with their own electrification efforts. They’re planning on introducing no less than 20 new electrified vehicles by 2023 and sacrificing the aging Volt was one of the first steps on that way.
Too funky for its own good, it would seem – the Nissan Juke was already replaced by the all-new model called Kicks. The nameplate survives overseas but the U.S. audience has spoken and their assessment regarding the Juke was obviously what’s lead to subcompact’s discontinuation.
Sales have been abysmal in the last couple of years but buyers weren’t the only ones to blame. The Japanese simply let the Juke die on the vine by leaving it practically unchanged since its inception back in 2011 and that’s a long time without some major changes – especially for a crossover.
And so ends our list of inglorious discontinued cars from recent years. We bid a fond adieu to a couple and wonder why a few others aren’t listed as well? Oh well, something to look forward to in coming years! Speaking of which, this list will be constantly updated with new discontinued models so don’t forget to check back and reminisce about them.