Even with great reviews and sterling reputations, there are some vehicles that U.S. auto consumers simply ignore. It is hard to tell whether the slow sales of these models can be attributed to strong competition, ineffective marketing, or simply bad choices being made by the consumer. Cars.com recently compiled a list of automobiles that are highly recommended by the site’s editors that are not getting the proper love on the marketplace.
Are these cars overlooked because of a flaw unseen by auto experts or do they simply not stack up against the competition on crowded dealer’s lots? It is worth a deeper investigation in any event. Here are the ten automobiles Cars.com considered the most overlooked by U.S consumers, ordered by their sales performance in the U.S. from the best seller to the worst selling car. The one exception was the Elantra GT, whose sales are lumped in with the rest of the model’s.
10. Hyundai Elantra GT
The Hyundai Elantra is far from overloooked at its current place on the U.S. sales chart (No. 16 in 2014), even after its poor June performance (down 23 percent compared to 2013). Still, this hatch considered a “stylish” and “value-packed alternative” to vehicles in the segment by Cars.com’s team represents a fraction of the Elantra’s overall sales.
For a five-seat car that can produce 173 horsepower and get 34 highway mpg, there is a case to be made that U.S. consumers are overlooking a car that starts at $18,750. However, the base Ford Focus hatch (a competitor cited by Cars.com) delivers 160 hp and better fuel economy at the same base price. Maybe consumers are opting for the superior efficiency without falling for the car’s style.
9. Kia Optima
It’s good-looking, heavily marketed (see: any NBA game), and fun to drive. So why is the Kia Optima ($21,650) outsold by the Chevy Malibu ($22,340)? Cars.com’s editorial staff was perplexed by the performance of the Optima, which stands at No. 24 in U.S. sales. The Hyundai Sonata (up 30 percent in June) has no such problems. Maybe the Optima’s time will come, but as of yet it is one of the overlooked models on the market.
8. Dodge Durango
Cars.com touts the Durango’s “black-tie interior” and “brash styling” as just two reasons why this SUV ought to perform better on the U. S. market. As it is, the Durango is No. 78 on the charts, exactly sixty places behind the Ford Explorer, a fact which baffled Cars.com team. The Durango actually has a lower base price, better efficiency, and slightly more power than the Explorer, so it makes for an interesting discussion.
Critics are always raving about the Mazda3 and Mazda6, and the Cars.com team agrees wholeheartedly, citing the model’s efficiency (40 mpg highway), styling, and comfort quotient as reasons to choose the Mazda6 ($21,190). As it stands, the car is buried at No. 85 on the U.S. sales list, though it is gaining ground in 2014. Through June, it has gained 24 percent over its performance in 2013. It probably deserves better.
6. Chrysler 300
Consumers Digest named it a “Best Buy,” the NHTSA gave it a five-star safety rating, and Cars.com described it as “one of the most comfortable offerings of modern land-yachts.” Yet the Chrysler 300 ($30,895) is banished to No. 87 on the sales list, well behind pricey Mercedes E-Class models and the Acura MDX, not to mention large-sedan competitors like the Ford Taurus. Has comfort gone out of style? Perhaps the large sedan as a segment isn’t what it used to be.
5. Hyundai Genesis
It is safe to call the Hyundai Genesis forgotten at No. 126 on the sales charts, but that could change as the 2015 model makes the rounds. In the meantime, this luxurious model has a Top Safety Pick+ designation and J.D. Power awards for initial quality that are worth celebrating. Will auto consumers respond in kind? Cars.com thinks its performance and interior comforts deserve a wider audience.
4. Volvo S60
The Volvo S60 may be a treat to drive, but Cars.com lamented the fact that many consumers are likely opting for a BMW or Mercedes (one may as well add Audi to the list) when looking for a compact luxury car. This Volvo ($33,750) may start below the 3-Series or C-Class price points but it has a long way to go in rivaling the German brands for popularity or recognition. Perhaps that’s why it made the “overlooked” list and sits at No. 142 in U.S. sales.
3. Volkswagen Passat TDI
Described by Cars.com as a ride with hybrid efficiency and “the torque guts of a top diesel powertrain,” the VW Passat TDI seems to have several advantages over the standard midsize sedan. According to VW, the TDI’s efficiency stands at 43 mpg highway, which is impressive for any vehicle on the road. Add in 236 lb-ft of torque (compared to 184 lb-ft in standard gas models) and there is reason to consider the Passat TDI overlooked on some levels.
On the other hand, the TDI comes priced nearly $6,000 above the standard model, making the premium considerable. Regardless, U.S. consumers are starting to warm to clean diesel technology. In June, 2,316 TDI models sold, which was 32 percent of all Passats sold stateside. That marked the best performance of the TDI to date. Its moment may be arriving.
2. Volvo XC60
Anyone who considers the S60 overlooked has not considered the Volvo XC60. Currently residing at No. 154 on the 2014 U.S. sales chart, the XC60 ($36,200) is more forgotten — perhaps entirely unknown — than overlooked. Cars.com loves the engine choices and overall experience of the XC60, but the feature it highlighted most is the huge cargo space. Did American families forget about needing more room? Maybe it is the Volvo marketing efforts that are to blame above all.
1. Lexus CT200h
With a 10 percent uptick in 2014 sales, the Lexus CT200h may be making its move. There aren’t many luxury hybrid wagons on the market, but there is plenty to like about the CT200h’s 42 mpg combined and its base price of $32,050. Cars.com put this hybrid on its list of “Top 10 Fun-to-Drive Fuel Sippers” yet wondered why it hadn’t made its mark on U.S. consumers.
Maybe its moment will arrive soon. At No. 162 on the U.S. sales charts, it can hardly do worse. As it stands, the Porsche Cayenne and Chevy Volt are outselling this stylish wagon with top-notch fuel economy.