There are times when it takes more than a quality car at an affordable price to wow consumers in a saturated auto market. The Mazda6, Hyundai Elantra GT, and Kia Optima are just three examples of cars that are outsold without good reason in the United States.
Then there are the automobiles that clearly have a fault in their styling, performance, or pricing. In these cases, automakers begin fighting an uphill battle from the vehicle’s debut onward without ever reaching the goal. Rather than going for the “try, try again” approach, automakers have the choice of redesigning the car ahead of schedule or phasing it out completely. Sales don’t improve for cars that consumers never wanted in the first place.
The cars and trucks on this list are not winning the hearts and minds of U.S. consumers yet are soldiering on in the crowded marketplace. Some are examples of models disappearing ahead of a redesign, while others are simply new cars that have not found an audience yet. Here are eight automobiles that are losing the popularity contest among consumers on the U.S. market. Statistics are courtesy of GoodCarBadCar.net.
1. Toyota Yaris
There is a new Toyota Yaris coming for the 2015 model year, which is a good thing for the automaker. A combination of uninspired styling and 106 horsepower (a powertrain described as “wimpy” by Car and Driver) haven’t sparked much of a feeding frenzy among U.S. auto shoppers. Toyota sold 676 models of the Yaris in July, which represented a drop of 61 percent compared to July 2013. Upcoming 2015 Yaris models have a redesigned interior and upgraded styling for the car’s front, so perhaps that formula will draw in more consumers.
2. Kia Cadenza
The tagline for the Kia Cadenza is “impossible to ignore,” but U.S. consumers are doing just that. At 587 units sold in July 2014, the Cadenza had one of the steepest drops (down 64 percent from July 2013) of any car on the market ahead of its 2015 model-year release. Even with the new-model effect factored in, it isn’t as if the Cadenza was flying off dealer lots last year. Kia sold 1,627 models in July 2013.
Looking at critical reception, the well-reviewed Cadenza was ranked high in J.D. Power initial quality surveys and actually won 2014 International Car of the Year from Road & Travel Magazine. It hasn’t translated into sales, somehow. The upcoming 2015 model will arrive $200 cheaper in the Premium trim than 2014 models. That’s a good start for a car that is losing the popularity content, justly or not.
3. Cadillac ELR
The Cadillac ELR is an attractive car by most standards, but the pricing ($75,000) may have been too big a hurdle to overcome since its early 2014 release, the available $7,500 EV tax credit notwithstanding. In July, the ELR hit the bottom twenty sellers on the U.S. market by volume with 188 vehicles sold.
That figure might sound bad, but it was actually an enormous improvement over June (ninety-seven sold) and May (fifty-two sold). Reports of incentives of $12,000 or more (besides the federal rebate) for the ELR are circulating, which may explain the sales “jump” in July. In any event, this green Cadillac car is experiencing low approval ratings from the car-buying public.
4. Subaru Tribeca
Head down to New York’s TriBeCa district, and it’s unlikely you’ll spot a ton of Subarus on the streets. That trend holds throughout the lower 48 when it comes to the Subaru Tribeca, a crossover the automaker stopped producing in January following a disappointing run on the U.S. market. In 2012, sales were so sluggish they didn’t break 1,000 vehicles for the entire year.
When word came out that the Tribeca would be discontinued after the 2014 model year, it was a stroke of mercy on many levels. Auto consumers have their last chance to snatch one up, but only forty-three units sold in July, down 58 percent from July 2013′s dismal performance (128 units).
5. Lincoln MKS
The impressive performance of the new Lincoln MKC crossover was a very bright spot for Ford’s luxury brand in July 2014, but that has only led to more calls for the head of the Lincoln MKS, the full-size sedan that recently was included in a recall by the automaker. July was a rough month for the MKS, which moved a total of 530 units in the U.S.
Compared to July 2013, that represented a drop of 49 percent for the MKS, which continues the direction the MKS has been headed all year. Ford may be America’s most popular auto brand, but its Lincoln division has several notable problems, beginning with the MKS’s poularity.
Even electric vehicle enthusiasts have a hard time saying something nice about the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the mini car that allows drivers to leave behind the gas pump and focus instead on the nearest electrical outlet. Reviews of the i-MiEV have punished this green car for its lackluster performance and styling. Its green credentials aren’t mind-boggling at 62 miles of electric range, though it’s impossible to find fault with its price ($15,495 after federal rebate).
Consumers have almost entirely forgotten the i-MiEV in 2014. Mitsubishi sold just seventeen models in July, with 114 units sold year-to-date. Somehow, the Smart Electric Drive that also features minimal power, golf-cart styling, and average electric range is faring much better on the U.S. marketplace. Smart sold 298 units of its electric cars in July and 1,390 in 2014. Whatever those car buyers are feeling, Mitsubishi ought to channel it.
7. Dodge Viper
In terms of performance or general awesomeness, there is no comparison on this list for the Dodge Viper SRT. This V10 supercar cranks out 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque, which is tops for any naturally aspirated sports car on the planet. Racing won’t be a problem in the Viper, as it has been known to blast from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 193 mph in its base model. The Viper’s looks are also hard to fault.
Why then is the Viper No. 10 on the list of worst-selling cars on the U.S. market? Dodge sold forty-six units of the Viper in July, which was a drop of 51 percent from 2013 (94 units) but not much in terms of volume. It’s likely coming down to the price tag. At a base MSRP with destination charges and gas tax, the Viper costs $103,990 without any track extras — an awfully steep proposition.
8. Mini Cooper Paceman
In reviewing the 2013 Mini Cooper Paceman, Car and Driver didn’t quite shower it with praise with a total of 2.5 stars out of 5. Mini has been phasing out the latest Paceman as the 2015 models near their debut (a new Countryman is also arriving), but there aren’t a whole lot of changes in the updated Paceman, a car that has a bit of a popularity problem among U.S. consumers.
Just 149 models of the Mini Paceman sold to U.S. consumers in July 2014, and that represented a fall of 34 percent from the July 2013 stats. The Paceman was also the eighteenth worst-selling car on the U.S. market for that time frame, when it jockeyed for position with new luxury models (Kia’s K900), true “mini” cars (the Scion IQ), and a handful of supercars. Mini is hoping its niche car will find a bigger market than that tiny selection of consumers. It’s a fine line between exclusive and obscure. The Paceman is currently on the wrong side of that line.