It happens every year.
Come Halloween, a number of automobiles once touted as the latest and greatest pass into the history books, either fondly remembered or ridiculed and reviled. And so, it’s time to mourn the vehicles whose time has come and gone, passing into the great beyond for the 2018 model year.
Were they tricks or treats? You’re about to find out, with wishes for a happy Halloween.
Buick Verano: Sold in China as the Excelle GT and in Europe as the Astra, the Verano compact sedan isn’t particularly fuel-efficient, nor is it particularly fast. Although offered with turbocharged engines and manual transmissions, it was never the sports sedan the brand so eagerly wanted it to be. Instead, it was a compact, comfy cruiser, sold in an age in which such values aren’t always highly valued.
Chevrolet SS: What a pity that few drivers ever got the chance to savor the scintillating Chevrolet SS. Built by GM’s Holden division, this aggressive Australian sedan unleashes 415 horsepower from its naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 and channels it through a six-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels. Few automakers build cars like this and if they do, they come from the Fatherland and cost twice as much.
Chrysler 200: While the Chrysler 200’s 2015 redesign was an enormous improvement from the models that previously wore the name, it still earned the wrath of Consumer Reports, which rated it one of the seven cars owners regret purchasing. “It would be generous to say Chrysler’s 200 is mediocre,” the editors wrote in April 2017. That alone is enough to seal its fate with potential buyers.
Dodge Viper: For 25 years, the Dodge Viper was a 10-cylinder fire-breathing hellion, eschewing niceties to prove its machismo to those with Y chromosomes. While born with no outside door handles, no side windows, and no air bags, later models would make concessions to civilization. Unrepentant to the end, its home was the track, where its fierce abilities proved its name was no marketing exercise.
Hyundai Azera: Initially sold as Hyundai’s flagship in 2006, its position as Hyundai’s finest ride was pre-empted in 2008 by the rear-wheel-drive Hyundai Genesis. When the Azera was redesigned for 2012, it was repositioned as a Toyota Avalon competitor in the large car category. But its lackluster demeanor won few friends. With demand declining for large sedans, the Azera bids the U.S. arrivederci.
Infiniti QX70: Like all great sporting machines, the QX70’s styling ensures that it’s more sport than utility. For some drivers _ especially those whose spouses pine for an SUV _ it makes the sacrifice of driving one instead of a sports sedan easier to take. Always a fun drive, the QX70’s look hasn’t changed in a decade. And with newer, sportier competitors on the market, the QX70 lingered a few years too long.
Jeep Patriot: For the past 11 years, the Patriot was the cheapest Jeep you could buy. Performance, both on-road and off, was modest at best, as was refinement. Ultimately, the Patriot was replaced the redesigned 2018 Compass, which inherited the Patriot’s saving grace: it looks like a Jeep, in this case, much like the Grand Cherokee’s little brother.
Lexus CT200h: Would you buy a five-door Lexus hatchback that uses the hybrid driveline from the Toyota Prius? Before you answer, consider that the Prius is larger and returns better fuel economy. OK, the Lexus does boast very luxurious cabin trim, and it doesn’t look as dorky. But now that the Prius has been redesigned, buying the older Prius wrapped in Lexus trimmings hardly seems like smart product planning.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class: Designed as Mercedes-Benz’s subcompact in the rest of the world, the B-Class entered the states as an electric vehicle, a task for which it was never designed. This explains its unimpressive 87-mile range. The B-Class’s performance and styling were never impressive enough to justify its price, let alone the three-pointed star on its grille.
Mitsubishi Lancer: Outdated and outclassed by virtually every compact sedan on the market, the Lancer survived based on the goodwill of its high-performance Evo model and the sales rub-off it engendered. Those who couldn’t afford an Evo could by a Lancer and tart it up. The Evo’s prowess only hid the flaws that were always present, and were revealed once the Evo were no longer there to hide them.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV: While this egg-shaped car has always looked delightfully odd, its memorable styling was saddled with a name that’s sales-proof. (In case you’re wondering, it stands for Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle.) But it’s the i-MiEV’s anemic 70-mile range that’s truly sales-proof. Want to experience range anxiety? This is your ride.
Nissan Quest: You might suppose that Nissan’s minivan is dying due to its challenging exterior aesthetics or its unremarkable handling. Maybe. But these traits aren’t high priorities for minivan buyers. In fact, the Quest boasts an impressively posh interior and delivers a quiet, comfortable ride. And its seats fold flat to create a cavernous cabin for cargo. No, its Achilles heel was that it held seven, not eight, passengers.
Volkswagen Touareg: With impeccable build quality, remarkable performance and a stiff price tag, it’s hard to escape the impression the Touareg is way too premium to be a Volkswagen. In fact, it always felt like an Audi. And its name invoked questions, not admiration for its off-road prowess. Ultimately, the arrival of two mainstream SUVs, the three-row Atlas and redesigned Tiguan, doomed the Touareg.
Larry Printz is an automotive journalist based in South Florida. Readers may send him email at TheDrivingPrintz@gmail.com.