The end of the road for once-hot wheels

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS - LARRY PRINTZ

T hap­pens ev­ery year. Come Hal­loween, a num­ber of au­to­mo­biles once touted as the lat­est and great­est pass into the his­tory books, ei­ther fondly re­mem­bered or ridiculed and re­viled.

And so, it’s now time to mourn the ve­hi­cles whose time have come and gone, pass­ing into the great be­yond for the 2018 model year.

Were they tricks or treats?

You’re about to find out, with wishes for a happy Hal­loween:

IBuick Ver­ano: Sold in China as the Ex­celle GT and in Europe as the

As­tra, the Ver­ano com­pact sedan isn’t par­tic­u­larly fuel-ef­fi­cient, nor is it par­tic­u­larly fast. Although of­fered with tur­bocharged en­gines and man­ual trans­mis­sions, it was never the sports sedan the brand so ea­gerly wanted it to be. In­stead, it was a com­pact, comfy cruiser, sold in an age in which such val­ues aren’t al­ways highly val­ued.

Chevro­let SS: What a pity that few driv­ers ever got the chance to savour the scin­til­lat­ing Chevro­let SS. Built by GM’s Holden di­vi­sion, this ag­gres­sive Aus­tralian sedan un­leashes 415 horse­power from its nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 6.2-litre V-8 and chan­nels it through a six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion to the rear wheels. Few au­tomak­ers build cars like this, and if they do, they come from the Fa­ther­land and cost twice as much.

Chrysler 200: While the Chrysler

200’s 2015 re­design was an enor­mous im­prove­ment from the mod­els that pre­vi­ously wore the name, it still earned the wrath of Con­sumer Re­ports, which rated it as one of seven cars own­ers re­gret pur­chas­ing. “It would be gen­er­ous to say Chrysler’s 200 is medi­ocre,” the ed­i­tors wrote in April 2017. That alone is enough to seal its fate with po­ten­tial buy­ers.

Dodge Viper: For 25 years, the Dodge Viper was a 10-cylin­der fire-breath­ing hel­lion, es­chew­ing niceties to prove its machismo to those with Y chro­mo­somes. While born with no out­side door han­dles, no side win­dows and no airbags, later mod­els would make con­ces­sions to civ­i­liza­tion. Un­re­pen­tant to the end, its home was the track, where its fierce abil­i­ties proved its name was no mar­ket­ing ex­er­cise.

Hyundai Az­era: Ini­tially sold as Hyundai’s flag­ship in 2006, its po­si­tion as Hyundai’s finest ride was pre-empted in 2008 by the rear-wheel-drive Hyundai Ge­n­e­sis. When the Az­era was re­designed for 2012, it was repo­si­tioned as a Toy­ota Avalon com­peti­tor in the large car cat­e­gory. But its lack­lus­tre de­meanour won few friends. With de­mand de­clin­ing for large sedans, the Az­era bids the U.S. ar­rived­erci.

In­finiti QX70: Like all great sport­ing ma­chines, the QX70’s styling en­sures that it’s more sport than util­ity. For some driv­ers — es­pe­cially those whose spouses pine for an SUV — it makes the sac­ri­fice of driv­ing one in­stead of a sports sedan eas­ier to take. Al­ways a fun drive, the QX70’s look hasn’t changed in a decade. And with newer, sportier com­peti­tors on the mar­ket, the QX70 lin­gered a few years too long.

Jeep Pa­triot: For the past 11 years, the Pa­triot was the cheap­est Jeep you could buy. Per­for­mance, both on the road and off, was modest at best, as was re­fine­ment. Ul­ti­mately, the Pa­triot was re­placed by the re­designed 2018 Com­pass, which in­her­ited the Pa­triot’s sav­ing grace: it looks like a Jeep — in this case, much like the Grand Cherokee’s lit­tle brother.

Lexus CT200h: Would you buy a five-door Lexus hatch­back that uses the hy­brid driv­e­line from the Toy­ota Prius? Be­fore you an­swer, con­sider that the Prius is larger and re­turns bet­ter fuel econ­omy. OK, the Lexus does boast very lux­u­ri­ous cabin trim, and it doesn’t look as dorky. But now that the Prius has been re­designed, buy­ing the older Prius wrapped in Lexus trim­mings hardly seems like smart prod­uct plan­ning. Mercedes-Benz B-Class: De­signed as Mercedes-Benz’s sub­com­pact in the rest of the world, the B-Class en­tered the States as an elec­tric ve­hi­cle, a task for which it was never de­signed. This ex­plains its unim­pres­sive 140-kilo­me­tre range. The B-Class’s per­for­mance and styling were never im­pres­sive enough to jus­tify its price, let alone the three-pointed star on its grille.

Mit­subishi Lancer: Out­dated and out­classed by virtually ev­ery com­pact sedan on the mar­ket, the Lancer sur­vived based on the good­will of its high-per­for­mance Evo model and the sales rub-off it en­gen­dered. Those who couldn’t af­ford an Evo could buy a Lancer and tart it up.

Mit­subishi i-MiEV: While this eggshaped car has al­ways looked de­light­fully odd, its mem­o­rable styling was sad­dled with a name that’s sales-proof. (In case you’re won­der­ing, it stands for Mit­subishi In­no­va­tive Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle.) But it’s the i-MiEV’s ane­mic 112-kilo­me­tre range that’s truly sales-proof. Want to ex­pe­ri­ence range anx­i­ety? This is your ride.

Nis­san Quest: You might sup­pose that Nis­san’s mini­van is dy­ing be­cause of its chal­leng­ing ex­te­rior es­thet­ics or its un­re­mark­able han­dling. Maybe.

But these traits aren’t high pri­or­i­ties for mini­van buy­ers. In fact, the Quest boasts an im­pres­sively posh in­te­rior and de­liv­ers a quiet, com­fort­able ride. And its seats fold flat to cre­ate a cav­ernous cabin for cargo. No, its Achilles heel was that it held seven, not eight, pas­sen­gers.

Volk­swa­gen Touareg: With im­pec­ca­ble build qual­ity, re­mark­able per­for­mance and a stiff price tag, it’s hard to es­cape the im­pres­sion the Touareg is way too pre­mium to be a Volk­swa­gen. In fact, it al­ways felt like an Audi. And its name in­voked ques­tions, not ad­mi­ra­tion, for its off-road prow­ess. Ul­ti­mately, the ar­rival of two main­stream SUVs — the three-row At­las and re­designed Tiguan — doomed the Touareg.


While the Lexus CT200h has lux­u­ri­ous cabin trim, it’s been out­done by the re­designed Toy­ota Prius.


With a 112-kilo­me­tre range, the Mit­subishi i-MiEV may trig­ger anx­i­ety in who­ever’s driv­ing it.


Con­sumer Re­ports rated the 2017 Chrysler 200 one of seven cars own­ers re­gret buy­ing.


Few au­tomak­ers build cars as pow­er­ful as the 2017 Chevro­let SS sedan for the price it costs.

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