There are many reasons to celebrate the end of the year and the turning over of a new (admittedly flawed — thanks anyway, Gregory XIII) leaf in your life. Be it the successes or the failures, the highs or the lows, you can wipe your whole slate clean with a tick of the clock. And why not be excited about that, right? You have your whole year ahead of you! Unless, of course, you’re one of the vehicles in this sad story.
Once again, we took a look back through our reportage, as well as a quick glance around the industry for any we may have passed over during the year, to come up with a list of vehicle nameplates that won’t be surviving into the 2019 model year. Below is the rundown, which reflects a bit of a lull between busy years — read through for cars to keep on the brain while you’re shopping for potential deals, gravely paying your annual automotive respects or just keeping our national retro gap as close to zero days as possible.
We’ve known about the impending demise of a couple of the soon-to-be-dear-departed — Nos. 3 and 7 on the list below — for some time. As for the rest of these unfortunate souls, we only learned of their short time left above ground over the past year. Here are the eight cars taking a dirt nap in 2019:
Alfa Romeo has a small-but-exciting roster of vehicles available here in the U.S.: the 4C Spider, Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV are all sleek, stylish and swift. (A Giulia coupe and 8C are also expected in the near future, and Alfa executives would be foolish not to have another SUV in mind.) Alas, the brand’s rarest model won’t be returning in coupe form for 2019; the 4C we enjoyed so much barely a year ago won’t be making it through despite the price for what you get. Anyone seeking the 4C out likely was looking for the sun-loving roadster anyway — and more pointedly, just 228 4Cs total were sold through November. It’s a sadly muted end for a distinctive hardtop.
Floral delivery shops and downsizing FBI surveillance teams may notice the discontinuation of the City Express small cargo van, which for all intents and purposes is a rebadged Nissan NV200. The two small cargo vans were developed on the same platform, but GM discontinued its version amid slow sales, particularly against market rival Ford’s Transit Connect. The small cargo van class is narrow but competitive, and GM believed its resources could better be spent elsewhere — like, say, the larger Express full-size van.
3. Ford C-Max
Although sales of the Ford C-Max were up slightly in 2017, it was the automaker’s lowest-volume vehicle at the time, aside from the ultra-limited GT sports car. Ford also lowered the Hybrid’s fuel economy in 2013 after internal testing revealed an error, which likely didn’t help its popularity.
4. Ford Focus
In a prelude to the fate that awaits all Ford cars in the U.S. (with the exception of the Mustang) come 2020, Ford gave its Focus compact the sunset treatment in 2018 amid sales that had been on a steady decline since 2012. For a brief moment early in the year, it looked like the more aggressive 2019 Focus — particularly the “adventure-oriented” Active trim — might have been coming our way, but getting behind the wheel of the car’s fourth generation simply wasn’t meant to be for us stateside.
For the 2014 model year, Hyundai decided to redesign its Santa Fe SUV by splitting it into two separate sizes, the three-row Santa Fe to replace the outgoing Veracruz and the two-row Santa Fe Sport to replace the Santa Fe. Half a decade on, Hyundai has decided to rename the Santa Fe as the Santa Fe XL and the Santa Fe Sport as, er, the Santa Fe. Point being: Hyundai’s sorting its lineup branding out in 2019 on the way to a crystallized 2020 (helmed by the Palisade), and the Santa Fe Sport is technically not part of that future. If you want one moving forward, just look for what you would have in 2013: a regular old Santa Fe.
6. Lincoln MKX
Like the Santa Fe Sport, the Lincoln MKX fell victim to a rebranding operation. And like the Santa Fe Sport, you can still buy this in 2019 … only it will be called the Nautilus, not the MKX. It’s probably just as well for all parties — Lincoln’s alphabet soup was a headache to keep straight, and the more distinctive, “exploration”-themed names ought to do Ford’s luxury brand some good with consumers trying to keep track of all their SUV options. It’s hard to say the milquetoast MKX will be missed when the Nautilus offers an auspicious, if hamstrung, take on the mid-size premium SUV.
7. Nissan Quest
As we’ve previously lamented, the Nissan Quest’s journey came to an end, officially, in 2018 — though some may say it was doing a “Weekend at Bernie’s” thing long before that. Minivan shoppers, take comfort in the fact that — not to speak ill of the dead — there are better options out there.
Volkswagen took an interesting approach to the rollout of the latest-generation Tiguan when it successfully redesigned the compact SUV for 2018 … but kept selling the smaller, pricier, tall Golf version of the old Tiguan as the Tiguan Limited. This was always going to be a short-term proposition, though despite a crowded market and the strong possibility of confusion at the dealership, more than 13,000 people still bought Tiguan Limiteds through November. Hopefully those owners knew what they were getting.
Rest in peace to those we lost in 2018.
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