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The 7 Best New Cars That Nobody’s Buying

Updated May 18, 2018

In a market loaded with mediocre cars there are real gems that customer don’t seem to think of when trade-in time comes around. We’re here to correct that.

Here are 7 cars that, in our opinion, deserve more attention from prospective buyers. They offer either better value and performance than other models in their class, or provide a unique set of feature not available elsewhere.

A quick note: we’re using 2014 sales data but will have full data for 2015 soon. And by the way, these cars present less than 2% of all vehicles sold in that year, so these really are the outliers.

10. Mazda6 (full year sales: 53,224)

When you think of Mazda, you probably think of the MX-5 Miata or the Mazda3. Sports cars and compact cars Mazda seems to understand, but mid-sized cars have always been their weakness. Typically car makers count on buyers trading up from an entry-level car to a mid-sized when their lease ends. Moving from Civic to Accord and Corolla to Camry have built Honda’s and Toyota’s respective brands. But Mazda3 buyers don’t even look at the Mazda6 at trade-in time and take their purchasing power elsewhere (which drives the folks at Mazda crazy). The much less interesting Camry outsells the Mazda better than 9 to 1.

Previous mid-sized Mazdas (first the 626 then the Mazda6) weren’t the strongest players in their segment but Mazda has worked hard at building their best sedan ever (maybe its the fact that Ford is no longer involved). The current Mazda6 features a 184 hp V6 that pushes the sedan to 60 in an impressive 7 seconds. Better yet, it’s a fuel sipper on the highway, with a 37 mpg rating. The chassis is stiff and the suspension and steering well-tuned to deliver actual driving satisfaction. Zoom zoom.

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Cadillac CTS (full year sales: 31,115)

With as many versions of the tight little Cadillac sedan, you’d have thought they’d have sold more than they have. Consider this: you can start out on the economy end and order a 2.0 L turbo four cylinder, or move up progressively through the natural-aspirated 3.6 L V6 to the Vsport’s twin-turbo V-6 right up to the monstrous CTS-V with its 640 hp V8 (the most powerful Cadillac ever). No matter which motor, you receive the advantages of a very light and very stiff structure that provides the basis for real sports sedan performance (after all, it’s the same platform chosen for the 2016 Camaro).

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Cadillac ATS (full year sales: 29,890)

An excellent car from a division that has sweat the details more than any other in the corporation. This is a car that deserves to be ranked alongside BMW (and let’s face it, they each have their shortcomings), yet shoppers don’t even want to look into the Cadillac dealer’ showroom window as they drive past on their way to pick up yet another 5 Series. If it were up to me, I’d require every American who is considering buying an imported luxury sedan to at least test drive the American-made Cadillac ATS.

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Ford Flex (full year sales: 23,822)

The Flex was first shown at the Chicago Auto Show in 2005 as the Ford Fairlane and everyone – the public, the dealers, the media – loved it. Two years later Ford renamed it the Flex and set it loose in the market. And in those intervening years has yet to figure out how to sell the thing. It’s not an SUV, though they’ve now tagged it a CrossOver so at least they can claim it has a category, and it’s not a minivan. It’s available with the EcoBoost V6 engine, so it can be a real performance sleeper, or it can be spec’d as more of a soccer-parent hauler. What Ford’s failed to do is identify why someone would need a Flex over an Explorer (for example). In the meantime, you can be one of the few on the road.

2015 Flex

Scion FRS / Subaru-BRZ (full year sales: 14,062 / 7,504)

It’s quite possible that Toyota and Subaru overshot the mark here a bit. When enthusiasts heard of a “new” AE86 under development, I would imagine that they had a slightly taller, slightly larger car in mind with better day-to-day street manners. Those enthusiasts who have embraced the twins did so early, the first year showing the highest sales, the second lower, and so far this year, lower yet. These are great cars if they fit your needs, but hurry because typically car makers won’t go for more than about four model years on cars with declining sales.

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Mazda5 (2014 sales: 11,613)

A few weeks ago I was watching a classic car auction on television. The commentators took a tape measure to some enormous 1930s Duesenberg and reported excitedly that it was 17 feet long. I thought, wait a minute. That’s the same length as a Honda Odyssey. That  where the Mazda5 fits in. If you need a minivan (and who without children doesn’t) you don’t have to drag around all that extra mass when you’re primarily hauling two kids. OK, you’re driving on a field trip. Unless the kids are high schoolers, they’ll fit fine in the smallish back seat. Plus the Mazda5 is way more fun to drive.

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Porsche Cayman (full year sales: 3,417)
The Porsche Cayman will always play second fiddle to the 911, buyers finding the traditional profile (and name cache) of the rear engine car irresistible. The first-generation Cayman looked as though it had a fighting chance at the start, with 7,025 sold in 2006 and 6,027 in 2007, sales haven’t passed 3,500 per year since then, while Porsche has sold over 10,000 911s in each of the last two years. 10,000 in each of the past two years. Perhaps its connection to the Boxster is too strong, a car that was so under-powered at its launch that it became thought of as an upscale Miata alternative. With a roof, the Cayman’s structure is incredibility stiff – the secret to good handling, and its mid engine configuration provides it with a lower Polar Moment of Inertia (responds more quickly) than its rear engine big brother.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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