Automorbit, Cars – The quantum market leap from passenger cars to sport-utility vehicles becomes more pronounced for the 2021 model year, as both domestic and import brands continue to winnow their fleets of the sedans, hatchbacks, and coupes that once ruled the roads. In addition to some models whose time has obviously come and gone, the list of models headed to the auto graveyard at the end of the current model year include a few well loved nameplates.
Here’s a look at the models being driven off into the proverbial sunset for 2021:
Acura’s full-size flagship sedan will be put out to pasture in the U.S. for 2021. This handsome and technology-infused luxury car was introduced as successor to the RL for the 2014 model year. But it never sold in big numbers, with sales of late being nearly nonexistent. The brand managed to deliver only 536 units to customers over the first seven months of 2020.
Alfa-Romeo 4C Spider
Wrapped in seductive Italian styling, the Alfa Romeo 4C is one of the purest performance cars on the road, with brisk acceleration and truly tenacious handling. On the down side it’s also one of the most punishing cars to drive around town, with heavy steering, a buckboard ride, and incredibly inhospitable accommodations. Alfa managed to move just 71 units through the first half of 2020, and so it’s being shown the door. Limited sales—with relatively few miles likely put on them—virtually assures the 4C’s future collectability.
The wildly styled and sporty i8 plug-in hybrid coupe and roadster duo will be dropped from BMW’s lineup at the end of the 2020 model year after a six-year shelf life. The i8 turned heads with its sleek exterior and (with the coupe) vertical-opening doors; it snapped necks with its surprisingly quick 369-horsepower electrified turbocharged three-cylinder engine.
Buick will become an all-SUV line for 2021 with the extraction of the midsize Regal sedan from showroom floors. This also includes the TourX station wagon, which deftly combined practicality with a sporty nature, yet was sold subject to heft incentives. Buick only sold a little over 2,000 Regals over the first six months of 2020, which would seem to make this a sound move.
The first car to receive General Motors’ high-tech Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving system is leaving showrooms for 2021. Another victim of the SUV boom, the rear-drive CT6 luxury sedan has become a tough sell since it was enthusiastically introduced for the 2016 model year. Now Caddy sells nearly five times as many Escalade SUVs as it does CT6s. The car will, however, be known in the annals of automotive history as the only model ever to offer GM’s 500-horsepower “Blackwing” V8 engine. Super Cruise, meanwhile, will migrate to other Cadillac and GM vehicles.
Production of Chevy’s large sedan halted earlier this year, with no replacement forthcoming. With a heritage that dates back to the 1960’s, the Impala’s best days are behind it. With the exception of Dodge’s muscular Charger and Challenger models, the domestic brands are exiting the large car business in favor of more popular, practical, and profitable three-row SUVs.
With small-car sales sinking fast, Chevy is canceling the subcompact Sonic at the end of the 2020 model year to free up production for a future Bolt EV-based electric crossover vehicle. The automaker only managed to move around 14,000 units last year, which is down from nearly 100,000 back in 2014. That leaves the midsize Malibu and tiny Spark as Chevrolet’s only mainstream passenger cars (the sporty Corvette and Camaro aside), and their days are also reportedly numbered.
Dodge Journey and Grand Caravan
Dodge seems to be going all in on muscle cars, as the midsize Journey crossover SUV, and long-running Grand Caravan minivan are leaving the lineup for 2021. The Journey had lingered for far too long without anything more than a refresh, and relied on big rebates and other deals to attract buyers. One of then-Chrysler’s original minivans, the Grand Caravan had been kept as FCA’s budget-minded people mover, a role that’s since been taken over by the Pacifica-based Chrysler Voyager.
Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ
Ford Motor Company’s midsize sedans will be discontinued for 2021, leaving Lincoln an all-SUV brand (with the cancellation of the Continental, below) and Ford with the Mustang and GT as its only remaining passenger cars. The Fusion dates back to 2007, while the luxury-minded MKZ with which it shares platforms and components debuted for 2013. Both were offered in conventionally powered and hybrid versions, with the Fusion adding the Energi plug-in hybrid model. Sales have been deteriorating for both models in recent years. Ford is reportedly planning a crossover-like wagon (think Subaru Outback) called the Fusion Active to take the Fusion’s place in the lineup.
This is something of a shocker, as the subcompact Fit hatchback has long been heralded as one of the best small autos in the car business since it came to the U.S. in 2006. Honda will instead be promoting the Fit-based subcompact HR-V crossover SUV as its entry-level ride. The HR-V outsold the Fit by nearly 63,700 units last year. Further reducing its passenger car stock, Honda will also be discontinuing the compact Civic coupe in the U.S. for 2021.
The midsize GS luxury sports sedan will not be returning for 2021, with Lexus marking its demise with a limited production Black Line GS 350 F-Sport version for 2020. The rear-drive GS was introduced in 1993 as the brand’s answer to European performance-minded sedans like the BMW 5-Series and Audi A6. Hybrid and F Sport models were subsequently added to the line. Sales peaked in 2005, but have since fallen to make the GS one of Lexus’ lowest-volume models.
Another large sedan on the way out for 2021, the Continental, nameplate dates back to 1939; it was resurrected for 2016 as the brand’s flagship luxury sedan. The car seemed to be well received, though has steadily lost sales since its introduction; Lincoln will, however, reportedly sell the Continental in China.
Mercedes-Benz SLC Class
The roadster formerly known as the SLK debuted in 2011 with a retractable hardtop that, at the time, was a show in itself when raised or lowered. Personal reward cars like the SLC continue to take a hit, however, with sales of Mercedes’ open-air two-seater being stuck in a free fall since the early 2000s. The automaker reportedly may also be considering axing the coupe and convertible versions of the C-, E-, and S-Class models in the not-too-distant future as well.
Further shrinking the ranks of small cars, the subcompact Toyota Yaris sedan and hatchback will not return for the 2021 model year after a 15-year run. Sales have been plunging, with only around 22,000 units sold in the U.S. last year. By comparison, buyers scooped up nearly 305,000 examples of the more expensive compact Toyota Corolla sedan and hatchback last year.