Saying farewell to dying rides
It happens every year. As the new model year dawns, various automobiles pass away — some fondly remembered, some ridiculed and reviled.
And so we present the vehicles whose time has come and gone, passing into the great beyond for the 2014 model year.
• Acura ZDX, 2010-13: Looking very much like the upscale and equally unsuccessful Honda Crosstour, but with a higher price tag and less interior space, automotive designers have proven once again that most modern buyers do not like fastback styling — at least, not when it looks like this.
• Cadillac Escalade EXT, 2007-13: While the idea of a Cadillac pickup seems a bit strange, many lesser pickups, such as the Ford F-150 Limited, Chevrolet Silverado LTZ Z71, GMC Sierra Denali and Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn, come close to this Cadillac in luxury appointments and offer more utility.
• GM's hybrid trucks, 2009-13: With the introduction of a new line of full-sized pickups and SUVs, GM's truck-based hybrids all die a merciful death. Available on Cadillac, GMC and Chevrolet pickups and SUVs, their mileage was somewhat better than the rest of the line's, but their high cost easily obliterated any fuel savings.
• Nissan Altima Coupe, 2008-13: It's hard to imagine that midsize coupes were once among the biggest sellers in the United States. With the passing of the Nissan Altima Coupe, the sole survivor in this class is the Honda Accord. Sadly, the Altima two-door still has the sporty demeanor and moderate cost to attract buyers.
• Toyota Matrix, 2003-13: This five-door version of the Toyota Corolla always trailed its four-door sibling in popularity. Given the newfound variety of hatchbacks among its competitors, such as the Hyundai Elantra GT and Ford Focus, it's odd to see the Matrix disappear from the Corolla line.
• Volkswagen Routan, 2009-13: Given that Volkswagen introduced the Type 2, aka the Microbus, in 1950, you have to wonder why they couldn't engineer and design their own van. This thinly disguised Chrysler minivan never caught the fancy of VW buyers, who never quite believed that the Routan was a real VW.
• Volvo C30, 2008-13: Volvo's attempt at an entry-level vehicle mimicked the 1961-72 P1800 for its look but ignored two essential things needed for success. One: The C30 was available with three doors, but not five. Second: Its price was hardly entry-level. In the end, Volvo is losing a car filled with character in a lineup that is not known for it.
• Volvo C70, 1998-13: Convertibles appeal to those who are a bit more carefree and extroverted than the rest of us. It doesn't matter if they show up to a business meeting with tousled hair and reeking of fresh air and sunshine. Maybe that's why the C70 was never the perfect fit for safety-conscious Volvo buyers.
Larry Printz is automotive editor at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.