The Island of Misfit Cars: 5 Models Under $24,000 Ignored This Year

Like the Island of Misfit Toys in the 1964 Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the automotive industry has its own island of unwanted cars. Well, there isn’t an actual island, but the idea is the same. Most consumers avoided these vehicles while car shopping in 2020. They include the Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Veloster, Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf, and Kia Sportage

U.S. News recently compiled a list of 30 great vehicles that saw lower sales this year. Let’s see what might’ve driven these five under-$24,000 models to become the misfits of 2020. 

Volkswagen Golf 

The Volkswagen Golf isn’t a substandard vehicle in the least, yet consumers mostly avoided it while car shopping. Sales so far this year are at an abysmal 19,163, though. That’s 71 percent below the average for a hatchback in this class.

But facing the problems this year’s pandemic wrought and the fact that SUVs are more appealing than cars right now, the Golf didn’t perform as well as it could have if circumstances had been different.

The Golf, which retails for just over $23,000, received an 8.1 out of 10 points from U.S. News, which thought this little hatchback was a pretty decent car. With a sizable amount of cargo space and an expensive-looking interior, it rivals most vehicles in its class. It’s just too bad the past year didn’t bring as many sales as expected. 

Mazda3

Mazda makes excellent vehicles, including the Mazda3. This so-called misfit didn’t perform well in sales mostly because it’s labeled a compact car. The zippy Mazda3 boasts above-average agility, but compact cars aren’t known for that quality, so some consumers don’t even know what a gem this Mazda really is. 

Powering it is a four-cylinder engine that generates 186 hp. Though it’s not overly robust, it does a good job for a compact car. This year’s model brings some new features, like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, driver alertness monitoring, and automatic emergency braking. That’s all for the low MSRP of $21,500.

Hyundai Sonata 

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The 2020 Hyundai Sonata scored 8.2 out of 10 for its eye-catching design. It even added many more standard features, such as automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. 

But despite all the praise, the Sonata had 24 percent below-average sales this year. Though there aren’t many complaints about it, there’s one thing going against it. It has to compete with two giants in its class: the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The Sonata’s starting MSRP is $23,600.

Hyundai Veloster

The Hyundai Veloster is an unusual but interesting hatchback sedan. Having received high marks from U.S. News for its sportiness and easy handling, hits model sold only around 6,500 units this year. 

Its misfit status might come courtesy of the unusual three-door design, where the driver’s side has one door and the passenger has two. It’s a niche offering, but it has to go up against higher-volume models like the Honda Civic, which sold over 200,000 this year. The Veloster, however, costs only around $18,800.

Kia Sportage

U.S. News reported that the Kia Sportage has one of the best predicted reliability scores in the compact SUV segment. It also boasts one of the longest warranties. The publication praised the spacious interior, confident handling, and comfortable seating. 

But sales this year have been 45 percent below average for a few reasons besides the pandemic. It’s in one of the most crowded markets for a compact SUV. Plus, it hasn’t seen a new redesign since 2017. It retails for $23,990. 

These five vehicles are misfits only because of circumstances, not their performance. However, the lack of sales might work in your favor when you’re car shopping. These models have to leave dealers’ lots to make room for more SUVs.