Cars That Won't Die - But Should
Product cycles, they can be long and they can be short. Some cars we hope will never die while others trip and fall right at the starting gate. The following is a list of cars that have been around for far too long and need to go goodbye.
When these GM mid-size pickups came along in 2004, the largest engine offered was a 3.5-liter inline-five. Four years later, that powerplant received a bump to 3.7-liters but it still needs more torque. Add in an old-school GM interior and this is a perfect example of a vehicle that should die or be fully redesigned as soon as possible.
The future of GM's mid-size pickup depends on how strong of a market there is for smaller trucks. With fuel prices continuing to rise, maybe there is a need for this type of utility vehicle, only better executed.
Ford Ranger/Mazda B-series
The Ford Ranger and the Mazda B-series make the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon look fresh as a daisy. The present generation Ranger hit the road over a decade ago but the same basic chassis has been used since the introduction of the pickup in 1983. Presently, you can choose between three engines. The largest V-6 can trace its roots back farther than the Ranger itself, to the 1960s.
Unlike all other less than full-size trucks, the Ranger is technically a compact pickup. Rumors continue to float about the death of the Ranger but it will return for at least the 2009 model year. Time will tell if Ford builds another small pickup and, if they do, let's hope they start from scratch.
This Lexus hardtop convertible came along in 2002. More boulevard cruiser than backroad dancer, the French Riviera styling is not aging well. As Mercedes offers updated SL models, Lexus sticks with niche versions of the convertible like the Pebble Beach edition. Trunk capacity is virtually non-existent with the metal roof folded but at least the Mark Levinson stereo rocks the house.
The only engine available is a 4.3-liter V-8. It may only have 288 hp but you're not going to play with other cars on the backroads with this Lexus anyway. Also, if you're anticipating an "F" version of the SC430 like the IS-F, it isn't going to happen.
2009 will mark the tenth model year the Saab 9-5 is sold in the U.S. market. No surprise, it's starting to show its age. Sure, the seats are still comfortable (like all Saabs) but ride and handling are not up to spec for this class, or most other classes. Plus, the only engine available is a 260-hp turbo four-cylinder and we're not so keen on the chrome exterior accents that were recently added.
The good news is that GM is working hard on their all-new 9-5 and we expect to see that for the 2010 model year. We have high hopes for this car and there are rumors that all-wheel drive may be part of the package. Kiss torque steer goodbye, finally.
This retro-mobile was all the rage when it was first shown in concept form at the Detroit auto show in 1994. For the 1998 model year, VW gave us the production version and the buzz for the cute little car was huge. Two years later, a convertible came along. But, as the buzz faded, the reality of the two-door VW came to light. It offers very little cargo or rear seat room and the styling hasn't aged too well.
VW recently updated the car and added the not so smooth or powerful 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine from the Rabbit and Jetta and fuel economy suffered. In the end, the Rabbit is still the smarter choice if you're looking for a small VW. Plus, you don't have to deal with keeping fresh flowers in the dash-mounted plastic vase in the more conventional hatchback.